by Karen Steelman

Nonfiction, Arlington County Detention Facility/Heard/OAR writing contest, August 2022


In life there are crossroad [where] we need to take responsibility for our lives. I went through the crossroad and chose the wrong path. I was supposed to die but by the grace of God I was given another chance. I have been clean for 16 months.

I have lived most of my adult life as an addict, I was governed by drugs. The end result was crimes, prison and poor health. I was so focused on getting what I thought I needed that I ignored most of the moral boundaries most people take for granted.

I stole, lied, scammed and robbed and in the end I was in the street’s twenty four hour’s a day looking for money and drugs. My life became miserable this resulted in a vicious cycle.

My pain was from childhood abuse, I medicated the pain with drugs. They made me feel better, but in the end the drugs drove me to the brink of death.

Now if I was to use street drugs it would be suicide. I still carry the pain of my childhood, it’s not always present but it arises from time to time. As a child I lived in a world of fantasy in effort to escape from my emotions fear, pain.

I have a disease it’s called addiction as I have been an addict all my adult life. I am powerless I hand my will and my life over to God, which has relieved me of trying to control things. It is up to God now – the results and footwork is up to me.

I thank God on a daily basis for my life and my recovery. I treat myself with respect and I love myself because I deserve it. I look at my behavior throughout the day. Today I’m more able to say I’m sorry. I forgive myself but not forgetting the crossroad and the path.


Life’s A Game; Game of Life

By Aaron Johnson 

Nonfiction,Heard/Alexandria Detention Center writing contest, August 2021

Chapter 1—God Chapter 2—Pain Chapter 3—Money.

You win some. You lose some. No pain no gain. Do what’s hard, so your life will be easy. If you do what’s easy your life will be hard. What is life compared to death or death compared to life. It’s one big contradiction, but ultimately it’s fair. My life hasn’t been all good, neither all bad, it’s been what I made it & and for that I’m grateful, some people are forced into poverty, genocide, rape, adoption, hate, wealth, abundance, music, family business etc. Not all good not all bad but they all have choice, free will & decision-making to decide what will be there ultimate path.

You can begin in one destination & end on the next, that is what makes unfair Fair and Unjust, Just. God is Great, Merciful, Kind, Forgiving & Loving. So why would he allow man to suffer such fate at it’s own hand? Me personally I’d rather be just a humble servant of the Lord. Why give a choice to choose evil & not only that but give us satisfaction when doing it. Now Im not saying thats all I have done was be a servant, but I rather not have the choice to do anything else but be a humble servant. I feel it would be for the greater good. Life is a constant Push-Pull Give-Take & in the end it becomes more about how much you can withstand and keep going. Rather than dodge the blac itself sure you can dodge certain events & manifest destiny but it’s constant pain and suffering whether you like it or not, good or bad, outlaw or inlaw we all fall short to the glory of God. I love life & life is love & like I said before I’m grateful for the life given to me, family etc. I’ve made decisions in my past thus creating a certain future, a future that is mine and mine only but those decisions have brought wisdom & discernment that must be shared with others, so that they not suffer the same fate or misfortune. I will break everything down in the following chapters. Just keep an open mind & spirit. God bless you.

Chapter 1

God is good all the time & all the time God is good, depending on what you believe in this thought may differ for you but nonetheless he still is good to you whether you share that thought or not. There is no such thing as creation without creator, Son without Father & Daughter without Mother. There is a delicate balance to the Air you breathe in & let out, you do not tell your heart to beat or hair to grow. Things are all put in place by something much greater all to your benefit. Like a raindrop in an ocean you must start somewhere, religion distorts the facts, a culture put in place by man to get closer to God, but backfired & we’ve been dealing with it ever since. Now when I say humble servant & rather not have a choice let me break that down. To serve a being so great that it has made you & I two uniquely different people but of same flesh would be an honor, to be of service is the ultimate show of gratitude for an example your phone is of importance to you (for some people their entire lives are in their phone). It provides you a tremendous service in multiple aspects, in return you pay a bill faithfully to keep the relationship between you and the phone provider in good standing. Me personally I would like to just serve without the option to betray such a debt, giving free will & the choice to choose. Bad is a blessing & curse, some can’t control Temptation, Envy, Lust, Greed, Pride, Hate & fall victim to themselves. If you exercise self-control and steadfast you will be fine, but in a world design to test you & your faith, design to break you, design to make you a savage or die. I’d rather not have a choice to choose wrong. Just let me be of service to the one who serves all, but he is so good he allows us the freedom to sink or swim. There is a cost associated with this freedom it’s called PAIN. Saint and Sinner must pay the cost no one is exempt as long as you live you’ll have to endure. Makes a little more sense to just serve, but God is good all the time & all the time God is good.

Chapter 2

No pain. No gain. Pain is constant throughout your journey especially the more accomplished or sucessful you are. If your life is carefree you’ll have the pain of seeing others succeed. If you’re fortunate enough to succeed, then pain is inevitable, how much & how great depends on God. Good decision making can help a great deal you want to avoid trouble and dysfunction at all cost. Trouble will find you no need to go looking for it & pain is the result of thge last two I named. Pain humbles the unhumble & has made wise of the unwise. Never be envious of others because you do not know their pain, it’s easy to wish for a better life much harder to make one. “Heavy is the head that wears the crown.” You don’t truly know life until you know pain. Here’s a little cheat code so things won’t seem so down, Pain is 93 Premium gasoline in the car of life. The smartest use pain to fuel them & take life to new heights, since it is so constant and keeps with relentless intensity it makes for a great source of energy. As long as you live Pain will come so see it as another obstacle to overcome, a building block. As I said there is a price for free will & to live a life according to your own rules. God doesn’t miss a beat, he is the beat and the beat maker so try not to be in debt give much praise and be grateful for everything even the small stuff. If he inflicts pain & it is feeling unbearable rest assured it could be worse. That’s one thing about life’s pain, it could always be worse, create a pain tolerance & try to endure every bit you can because eventually it will get better it has to it’s the law “What goes up must come down” (universal law) like inflation in the economy. Ever lost “Money”? Now that’s pain, but you’ll get it back. It won’t be the first or last time it happens. Speaking of money let us begin!!!

Chapter 3

Money is the currency of the world this energy exchange from person to person, generation to generation has established dominance for centuries. A social structure put in place by mankind that has lasted ages. See in our society “Money isn’t everything but having it is” What are you in this world without money? Or better question Who are you when you have it? Pride. Greed. Lust & Envy. All are manifestations of money. So is money the root of all evil depending on who you ask you may get different answers. Nonetheless, it’s still essential whether you’re a pastor of a congregation or a Vicious Dictator of a nation your regime is funded with money. So how could good and evil have a fundamental base they both share, how could a piece of paper dictate the balance of life & death, good & evil, right & wrong. (Birth & burial, church & politics, school & prison). It’s the energy that makes money so powerful. It’s just wax paper but we the people give it the value, to the average person “Money” is their God. They idolize it, chase it, & worship it all their lives, wrongfully so. Money should be just a tool in your utility belt to make life easier. Money has only the value you set for it. You tell yourself a $100 bill is worth $100. Therefore it is. Don’t believe me? Give an infant a $100 bill. They might tear it because it has no value to them. They see it as a paper nothing more. However you give them a toy they will play with it & you can buy toys with money. See life is a big contradiction. Money is no different. Don’t be fooled with the illusions of grandeur. See no amount of money can buy time. So money lost has nothing on one wasted. We will continue time in the next book. Be safe. M ay God bless you.

Clean, Laugh, and Pray

Clean, Laugh, and Pray

by Aaron Bunche

Heard/Arlington County Detention Center/OAR writing contest, August 2020

I am convinced, with a zeal of a crusader, that I’m in the safest place, a twelve by four cell. I’m a recovering addict addicted to Fox News, and I fear knowone but God. For I have with me the whole armor for germs. I have on my gloves of laytex, my mask which is the preparation for the virus, and a bar of soap and water which is sharper than any two-edge sword; may you find yours today.

I have my own swag, I wear nothing but clean. If you want what I got on then you gotta pick it up at the showers. I’m a year sober from narcotics but I picked up a mean habit of washing my hands. I told the nurse my issue, she showed me tough love, she said “you’ll live.”

My hobbies are mopping my cell and scrubbing down my toilet and sink, but on the seventh day I rest. I can say then that my quarters were pleasing in my sight.

For sport I watch Trump reflect and dodge questions during briefings; if you say he won’t make the championship then you decieve yourself and reality may have passed you by.

On my shelf I keep many books. I have literature on the respiratory system to pass the time. I read articiles about how the Caronavirus swept Rome. I practice distance-learning, I stand exactly six feet away from the television as I watch the forcast’s temperatures decline like our stock market.

I look out not only for my own interests, but also for the interests of my mother. She would always tell me “submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee. I’ll tell her “commit to using hand sanitizer, resist touching your face and you will live.” For this is the victory that will overcome the virus—stay home.

Also, bless those who are not cautious like you, and pray for those who spitefully go out and about. What profit is it to man if he goes out to gain income, and looses his health and dies.

I have no vociferous rebellion to the state law anymore. When I leave this safe place, I press on towards the next safe haven, my home. Once I make it there I can truly say, I have fought the good fight, I am home and safe, I have kept the faith.