This is Josey's story. I will let it speak for itself. Please read it, and please read other stories written by students enrolled in the Scriber Lake High School Writing Program, recently published in I'm Finally Awake: Young Authors Untangling Old Nightmares, stories of abuse, drug addiction, mental illness, and homelessness, stories that need to be told and heard and understood. These students are our children. Their stories are all that we are.
SHARDS OF GLASS
by Josey Lane Daniel
The ice cold water feels like shards of glass on my skin, causing my jaw to clench.
I swear they do that on purpose.
I’m weak and helpless. The withdrawals make my skin feel soft and fragile, like an overripe plum. When they checked me in the officer gave me slippers three sizes too big and pants I trip over. I step out of the shower, throw on my oddly huge clothes, and walk out.
"Where do I go?" I ask the guard. I feel like a robot; all my movements are pre-programmed. I’m walking, but it feels like someone else is walking for me. She takes me to a room the size of a cubicle containing only a toilet and a mattress. My legs become heavy, lead-like. I feel small and tired.
The guard hands me a sack lunch. "I'll come get you when I’m ready to transfer you downstairs," she says in a tone of disgust.
How long is that going to take?
I sit down on the bed and pull out a sandwich—the bread looks discolored, the meat slimy. The apple should've been eaten a week ago, and I’m scared to drink the cup of juice. When I take a bite, the sandwich tastes like dirt and mold. I immediately throw up.
My body shakes, but I can barely lift the blankets to cover my body. I’m cold but I'm also sweating. Anxiety washes over me as I go through the events from earlier today.
Why did I have to punch her?
"Apologize to me!" my dad's girlfriend, Ksenia, demanded as she lunged forward to grab me.
"I didn't do anything wrong!" I yelled. I tried to say this calmly, but it didn’t work.
Ksenia pushed me out of my room toward the bathroom. She was trying to stop me from leaving because she knew I would just go use.
"Stop! Don't touch me, you bitch!" I shouted, the smell of fresh detergent on her clothes making me gag. I hated feeling trapped, and I could feel the addiction tugging at my chest, pulling me toward my next fix.
Why won't she let me go?
My fight-or-flight instinct kicked in: I raised my fist and punched her in the nose. All I could hear was my own heart beating, and everything in my sight turned red.
She towered over me, flailing her arms—the size of twigs—and her hair moved around like a match in the wind. Her skin was so pale it blinded me as the sun shone through the window and reflected off her as her open hand hit me, but I couldn't feel the pain. I heard her screaming, but I couldn't make out any words.
"Get out, get out!" came through clearly, though, as Ksenia threw my clothes down the stairs outside my room. As I followed her down to the front door, I picked up clothing on every step. "Don't come back," she yelled. "I don't want you here!"
I heard the panic in her voice and saw the terror and anger in her eyes. It made me happy that she was scared of me. Even though I was still furious, I picked up the last of my clothes and shoved them in my backpack. I closed the front door and felt my blood rise.
What a bitch. She's not even my mom. She can't treat me like that. I hate her.
As I walked quickly to the McDonald’s around the corner, the sound of bumper-to-bumper traffic on Lake City Way calmed me down. No one ever bugged me there.
When I got there I lit a cigarette and paced back and forth, listening to the sound of my rubber shoes scraping against the cement.
Where can I stay tonight? I don't want to sleep at the park again.
I had slept there a few nights before because my parents had changed the locks.
After smoking almost the whole cigarette, I started to feel the cold December air creep up my spine. I finished and stepped inside. I sat down on the green, plushy chair and texted my meth dealer, who had smoked so much heroin with me the night before that I couldn't even get up. I had been sure I was about to overdose.
I finished sending the text, then set my phone down and bit my nails nervously. Every time I put a nail in my mouth, I smelled tobacco smoke on my fingers.
I heard the door opening behind me. I turned around and panic washed over me: a young, inexperienced-looking cop was walking through the door. My hands started to sweat and I felt light-headed. I looked around thinking where I can run? But it was too late.
He approached me and said, "Miss, is your name Josey Daniel?"
The words hit me hard, along with the smell of coffee on his breath. I had no way out. I felt like I was about to cry, but I wasn't going to let him see that. "Yes, that's me," I answered, almost choking on my words. What's going to happen? Am I being taken to juvie?
"You're under arrest," he said. "You have the right to remain silent."
My mind went blank as I felt the cold metal of the handcuffs on my skin, secured too tightly around my wrists. I became numb.
When am I going to get my next fix?
I was a 15-year-old girl addicted to meth, heroin and GHB, a brain surgery/date rape drug. I treated my family like dirt because I wanted to be a drug addict. I had been one for a couple of years, ever since meeting a boy named Tanner. I was in seventh grade, visiting my mom in Granite Falls, when he gave me my first hits of heroin and meth. I had said "yes" when he asked because I was afraid of what he would do if I didn’t. I was abused by him in more ways than one, so I thought doing these drugs would make it all go away.
I did GHB the next year. My so-called best friend put some in my vodka at my birthday party when I lived in South Seattle. I had gotten sick and was in the bathroom the entire time.
In ninth grade, I really started doing it. I was at a trap house with my friend, and we borrowed a friend’s car and drove to Renton. At the time I didn't know where we were going, but when we got there, he told me he was getting some GHB. He put it on a cigarette, let it dry, and then we smoked it. It made me feel kind of drunk, but still in control of my body. At that moment I knew I loved it. I wanted more.
"Do you have any weapons?" the cop asked. I realized I had left my knife at my house, but I had a dime of weed in my breast pocket. If he found that, I knew it would be a possession charge. Tears started to build up again so I swallowed, attempting to get the metallic taste out of my mouth. I tried to look as normal as possible while he searched me.
I can't let him find it.
Luckily, he just patted me down, put me in the car, and went through my backpack.
Thank god he didn't find the weed.
But I knew he’d find a drug pouch in my backpack with a tooter, bubble and tin foil. He found the tooter and called it a "glorified meth pipe." I smirked to myself. I don't know how you would smoke meth off of plastic without melting the plastic.
He put my stuff in the trunk and got in the driver's seat. "I’m keeping this," he announced, gesturing to my drug pouch. Then he drove me around the corner to my dad's house.
His partner was already there talking to my dad and Ksenia, so he got out to join them. I watched through the car window.
Great, now I don't even have a chance to tell my story. No one will believe me anyway.
I felt the anger and resentment take over. I couldn't sit still and started to overheat. The arresting officer came back and took me by the arm out of the car to talk to my parents.
"Miss, you realize what you did was domestic violence, right?" the officer asked.
I turned around, got on my tippy toes and yelled in his face, "I was defending myself!"
Both cops threw me to the ground. One cop's knee was on my upper back, almost to my neck, and the other’s knee dug into my lower back. I was too angry and full of adrenaline to feel the pain of my face pressed against the pavement or the weight of two full-grown officers pushing me into the rough cement. But I did feel the pressure.
My parents chose to keep me at home and not have me incarcerated. They wanted to give me another chance.
I waited a few hours, until everything had settled down and I was sitting in my room. I put my shoes on and tried to run for it, but my dad grabbed me as I tried to get past him through the living room. He called for my brother, who grabbed me by my legs, and the two of them dragged me back upstairs to my room asI kicked, scratched and screamed. When he shut the door, I threw a stool at it, stood on my bed and ripped my full-length mirror off the wall. Shards of glass flew everywhere. I had to leave.
I didn't want to feel the withdrawals.
I didn't want to feel the mental weakness from my addiction.
My dad heard the ruckus, walked back in and saw the damage. He pinned me down, so I tried to bite him. "Stop, Josey, just stop!" he pleaded with tears in his eyes, shaking me because I wouldn't listen.
"Get off me!" I screamed, lifting my head to get in his face. I only wanted to be set free.
While he held me down, my brother walked in and took my knives away. It was like watching movers bringing boxes in and out of a house. Being claustrophobic, I felt my anxiety hit hard; my breathing became uneasy and I felt my stomach in my throat. I felt like I would die if he didn't get off me.
"Get off! I can't breathe!" I yelled. I wriggled out of his grip, crawled to my window and flung it open with too much force. I heard a loud smack.
"Call the police," my dad said to Ksenia. I could hear the sadness in his voice as he tried to get me to stop hyperventilating. "I'm sorry. Josey, calm down, I didn't know I was hurting you."
I was sobbing, curled up in a ball, thinking Life's hopeless.
A different squad came. The female officer put me in cuffs and helped me get my shoes on.
"You're being arrested for domestic violence and malicious mischief," she said as she led me me to the squad car. I saw my brother run down the driveway. I thought he was coming down to say goodbye, but he was only acknowledging that I was in custody. I clenched my fists, feeling betrayed, as he headed back to the house.
The ride to Alder Detention Center in downtown Seattle felt like it took four hours. I was furious with my family. How could they do this to me?
As we pulled into the fenced-in, gray facility with flood lights and cops everywhere, I felt the pain of abandonment.
A Note from Josey
I spent Christmas in rehab without my family, which was devastating. I woke up from that nightmare and changed who I was—now people no longer feel like they're walking on eggshells around me. I'm over a year clean, and I'm a completely different person. I've learned that the people who look like they're trying to hurt you could be the ones trying to help you, so it's important to take a step back and assess the situation. When I wrote the first draft of this story—one year after it happened—I cried because I still wasn't over what I did to my family. Writing it has helped me work past it, though, and I hope someone will read my story and try to change before things get too bad. When my dad read it, he was happy to finally hear my side, so it also feels like this is my chance to tell it how I remember. After a lifetime of problems with him, we are now hanging out regularly. Ksenia and I have found a common ground, too: we no longer bump heads. I’m working really hard on respecting my family and myself. When I graduate in 2019, I'm going to become a writer because I want others to read my stories and learn from them.
Josey Lane Daniel