By Santanio Cooper

Nonfiction, Arlington County Detention Facility/Heard/OAR writing contest, October 2023

Some meetings aren’t by chance or coincidence.  People cross your path because they are supposed to.  I’m at a point in my life where I realize that my long-standing relationships were “shams” along with my life!  Now, after being fed up, I must focus on myself to better my future.  I was moving with such precision and starting to learn the brand new me.  But, as always, I would make the wrong decision.  Either I stand by my code or go to where I know is my safe place!  Now, I feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders.  Then my dilemma is to change and live or don’t and then “be forgotten”?  I have to want to rectify myself and focus (real talk).

So what happens when you meet the one person you could see a future with but the time is all wrong?  They say love comes when you least expect it.  It can also come when you’re in the midst of a fight for your life and freedom!  Love is just a word when secrets, lies and betrayal threaten its existence.  But it is also a beautiful thing when handled properly.

I have recalled the consequences that come with every action that I do.  That’s why I never put off tomorrow what can be done today!  As I grew up, I was told to be wary of the type of people that I associate with because how I react in the scariest of moments is how I will be remembered.  That’s why I stay strong minded with myself.  Lies don’t care who tell them.  They just want to be told.  No one is exempt from slander.  I’m saying life is a constant progression.  It doesn’t stop.  I remember things that were said to me ten, twenty years ago and realize that a lot of what was predicted has actually come to pass.  When I built a certain reputation, I thought I should protect it but, it seems to me now, I need to let it go.  I’m just saying that as time diminishes the muscle and getting old becomes a reality its always harder to accept that your body can no longer do what your mind thinks it can.

I entered this place called Jail in 2004 in which I thought was a place of the past that I have made into my future.  All because I did not want to learn from my past mistakes.  I have done half of my life in jails and penitentiaries and now I can say I have learned the skills I need to stay out.  I digress!  Time always reveals everything.  Just be patient.  Don’t become this young man cause the young man was me!