Don’t worry, Sprite, bad decisions always make for good stories …
I could hear my dad’s gruff voice, lightened with humor, in my ear as he told me those words every single time I got caught doing something I wasn’t supposed to do when I was growing up. I was always doing something I shouldn’t then and now, so I heard those words a lot from him. Unfortunately, as an adult, my bad decisions resulted in consequences far worse than a scraped knee or a broken wrist from falling out of the tree in the backyard he warned me repeatedly wasn’t sturdy enough to climb. And sadly, my dad reassuring me in his firm and gentle way, while calling me his little Sprite as he kissed my boo-boos, wasn’t going to help my current situation at all.
This boo-boo was big-time.
This boo-boo was life-changing.
This boo-boo was anything but a good story waiting to be told.
This boo-boo very well could be the end of me, the end of the rope where my patient parents had dangled precariously for years, and it very well could be the end of any kind of future I may have had. A future I was well on my way to letting a lifetime of bad decisions and even worse choices screw up. At barely twenty-two, bad decisions had sort of become my stock in trade and were as familiar to me as my own face. I was almost legendary, at this point, for putting all my trust in the absolutely worst kind of people. If there was a wrong path to take, I was going to skip gleefully down that road and not look back until I ended up exactly in the kind of situation I found myself in at the moment. It wasn’t like this was even a new dead end; it was the same one I ran into over and over again. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get myself turned around, and the longer I was circling this dead end, the darker and more wicked it became.
I knew better. I really did, even if there was a boatload of evidence contradicting that fact.
I wasn’t stupid, naive, immature, or senseless. I might appear that way to anyone on the outside looking in, but I had my reasons for being a consummate failure and lifelong loser. All of those reasons had nothing to do with me not knowing better and everything to do with me knowing exactly what I deserved.
For a long time now I had been spiraling out of control, whirling, falling deep and deeper into a pit of really awful actions and consequences, each seemingly worse and more painful than the last. I also hadn’t made any kind of effort to try and pull myself out of the tailspin, so logically I knew the only place I was going to end up was right here, right at the lowest part of rock bottom. I never imagined the landing would be so jarring.
I had been in need of rescue for a long time and now I really needed it because I was facing a very real prison sentence, and a very real attorney dressed in an immaculate suit, while I sat there shivering, locked in handcuffs, and choking on fear. I never in a million years would have imagined rescue coming in the form of a man like the one sitting across from me. He looked like temptation and ruin, not salvation and redemption.
I wasn’t guilty of what they were saying I did, but I wasn’t exactly innocent in all of it either. Sadly, that was the story of my life. I was always the girl that wasn’t quite good, the one who was just bad enough to be trouble, and the man seated across from me looked like he didn’t have the tolerance or patience to deal with any of the chaos that I always seemed to be drowning in.
I laced my tense fingers together, and fought not to wince, or even worse, break down into sobs as the handcuffs snapped around my wrists, knocked loudly on the metal table that was separating me from the man that was supposedly here to save the day … and me. He told me his name, but I couldn’t remember it. I was a mess of nerves and confusion, and he wasn’t helping put any of my anxiety to ease. I was also sleep deprived, and terrified of what was waiting for me after this meeting was over. My future had always been uncertain, resting on shaky and unstable ground on a good day. Right now, I was longing for that wobbly foundation, and scared shitless that my latest bad decision had finally landed me in a spot that I couldn’t lie, cheat, steal, or manipulate my way out of.
The stoic and startlingly good-looking lawyer seated across from me didn’t look like any white knight I had ever seen. He was too slick for that, way too calculating in the way he looked at me while he silently judged me. No, this guy wasn’t the good guy riding in to rescue the damsel and prove himself a hero; this was the guy that the villains paid megabucks to in order to keep them out of jail. In all that I had done, I’d never considered myself a villain. I knew I was a bad guy (or girl), but I wasn’t a corrupt, amoral criminal with the actual intent to harm anyone other than myself. However, under the scrutiny of this man’s unusual gunmetal-blue gaze, which held not even an ounce of warmth or reassurance in it, I was starting to reconsider my stance. He made me feel like I was well on the road to corruption and disgrace, and he had yet to utter a single word. I’d never done anything bad enough or stupid enough that I required a professional to defend my actions before now, and I was having a hard time believing this guy gave a single shit whether I was innocent or not.
All I wanted to do was cower away from him, and pretend like I was anywhere else in the world but in this tiny room with a metal table that was bolted to the floor between us. I moved my hands again, and couldn’t hold back a flinch and a tremor as metal scraped across metal. Rock bottom was going to leave more than bruises if I ever managed to pull myself up and dust myself off. This was going to scar, deep and vicious, and I hated that I deserved every single stinging mark.
“I don’t want your story.” His words were sharp and to the point. I blinked at the rough sound of his voice in the sterile room.
“I don’t want to know if you knew what your boyfriend was up to or not. I don’t care. All I want to know is if you understand what you’re being charged with, and how serious those charges are. If the answer is yes, all I need to know is if you are willing to do whatever I tell you to do moving forward.”
Did I understand how serious the charges were?
Was this guy fucking kidding me right now?
I was hooked up in cuffs. I was wearing an orange jumpsuit, and had on rubber shoes that squeaked across the floor when I walked. I hadn’t slept in two days because, after everything went down the night I had been arrested and booked, I’d been locked up in a cell with one woman who was so strung out she kept seeing little gremlins coming out of the floor and, as a result, kept jumping up on the rigid bunks suspended from the concrete cell wall, barely missing stepping all over me. The other woman in the holding cell was there because she had tried to run her cheating husband over with the family minivan when she found him in bed with their next door neighbor. He had been in the family’s dining room at the time, so not only was the woman fighting mad about the affair, but she ranted and raved well into the early hours of the morning about how her unfaithful spouse better be on the phone with the insurance company to repair the damage she’d caused. She was a bag stuffed full of crazy, and the more I tried to ignore her, the more she seemed determined to tell me her entire life’s story.