Seven Year Sentence by Collin Haworth


The oldest brother got sent from a mental hospital to a correctional camp on the other side of the world. The middle brother is sitting in jail, smelling of booze and weed after getting arrested. Mom announces with a crack in her voice that she has cancer, a nightmarish cry that I can still hear today. Dad decides at least one person in the family should have a good life.

Off I go to private school. At age 11, my parents sign my 7 year contract to a religious, predominantly rich-white kid school. I can see they have the best phones, clothes, and family. I have few friends because I did not fit in. I jump from one drama-infested social bubble to another. My 7 year sentence had been a roller coaster, ranging from isolate depression to appreciating what I had.

Everyone goes off to their fancy, private university. I’m still here. A few years later, I’m in touch with the people I once knew. Two are single mothers. One aborted their baby. My friend got an STD. Three friends are in AA. One in jail. One committed suicide. One survived suicide. Drug addicts here, alcoholics there. None of them are happy.

Some just weren’t ready to leave the nest.

For a long time I believed happiness was the state of not being depressed. But now I can see. The importance of appreciating what you have now: the good in a bad world. I now understand my 7 year sentence.


Collin Haworth is a student at SJSU.

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