By: Samantha Towle

“My brother, Jesse. He’ll be leaving school soon. I need to be home for him. He’ll worry if I’m not there.”

“Don’t worry. Jesse is being taken care of.”

What does he mean, Jesse is being taken care of?

I part my dry lips to ask him when the door opens. A policeman in uniform is standing there.

The detective rises from his seat. “I’ll be back in a minute,” he tells me.

I watch him through the glass pane in the door as he talks to the uniformed officer. Their expressions don’t give away anything as to what they’re talking about.

My heart is thundering in my chest. I’ve never felt fear like this.

The door opens. The detective comes back in with the uniformed officer following behind him.

The detective takes his seat in front of me while the officer remains standing. “Daisy, while you’ve been here, officers have been searching your apartment…and they’ve found one of the items of the stolen jewelry.”


This can’t be happening.

“I didn’t steal anything!” I cry, getting to my feet. “I didn’t do this!”

The uniformed officer moves quickly, and before I know it, I’m being restrained, my hands behind my back. I struggle to get free, begging him to let me go.

Then, I hear the voice of the detective saying, “Daisy May Smith, I am arresting you on suspicion of theft. You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defense if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.”

Oh Jesus. I’m being arrested. For a crime I didn’t commit.

A holy terror, unlike anything I’ve ever felt before, seeps into every part of my body.


Present Day

I stare at my reflection in the small mirror.

My long brown hair is tied back into a ponytail. Face clean, free of makeup. I glance down at my clothes. Jeans and a baby-blue T-shirt. Black ballet flats on my feet.

The clothes and shoes that I wore when I came to prison.

The jeans and T-shirt are a little loose on me. I knew I’d lost weight in here. Daily use of the gym and stress will shed pounds off a girl. Not that I was heavy to begin with. I look too thin. I could do with putting some weight back on.

“You ready?”

Turning from my reflection, I look at Officer Roman standing in the doorway. “I’m ready.”

So ready.

I have never been more ready for anything in my life.

One last look around, and with nothing to take with me, I leave the cell I spent my last night in and follow her down the corridors.

I was moved to a release cell last night, so I didn’t spend my last night in the cell where I’d spent the past eighteen months. Not that I’m upset about it. Quite the opposite.

I’m frigging ecstatic.

I’m being released.

Eighteen months, I’ve dreamed of this moment. Counted down the minutes, hours, days…praying I would be released on parole after serving eighteen months of the three-year sentence I’d been given.

Being out on parole means I’ll be living under conditions set by my probation officer, but at least I won’t be here.

I’m getting out of this hellhole.

I’m holding the relief back, keeping it restrained.

I won’t let myself feel anything until I’m out of here and back in the real world.

A world where I get my life back. A world where I can get back to the only person who has ever mattered to me.

My brother, Jesse.

I say my brother, but he’s my kid. When I was sixteen and Jesse was six, our drug-addicted, waste-of-space mother bailed on us, disappearing with all the money we’d had and leaving me alone to raise him. But I’d been raising him since he was a baby because all my mother cared about was herself, drugs, and whomever she was screwing at that time.

When she left, I quit school and got a job, working in a factory, to get money to feed and clothe Jesse and pay our rent and bills. Not glamorous but it helped. Just barely. We scraped by. I’d buy the cheap food and go to the supermarket just before closing time, so I could get the reduced food, like dented tins because the price had been dropped on them. Sometimes, they would get dented on purpose. I’d shop in secondhand stores for clothes. I did everything I could to make sure the money would stretch.

It was hard, but I always made sure that Jesse was okay. He came first.

He always comes first.

I worked at the factory for a year, but I got laid off when they had a cut in the work force. It was last in, first out. I was the last one hired, so I was the first to be out of a job.

It got hard until I found another job. I didn’t have savings because there was never any spare money to save.

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