Short Fiction: “Petty Criminal”

There I was, just standing there, when what I wanted to do was forbidden. I had the option to potentially commit a felony or go home and I decided to commit the felony. What were my friends and I going to do? We were going to attempt to shoplift from Rodgers, the major department store that we deemed easy to steal from as what we planned to steal was considered not particularly difficult to take.
One of my friends, Ella, would be the lookout while I went with my other friend, Jessica, to track down the items that we wanted to take. I did feel a pang of guilt when I thought of what my mother would think if we were caught. She would be so ashamed and disappointed and wonder how she could have raised a petty criminal. The thrill was so enticing though so I put aside those underlying feelings of guilt and went all in.
I slipped some earrings into my purse first before grabbing some necklaces and bracelets while Jessica stuffed a bra into her pocket book before we furtively exited the store. No alarms went off and Ella, Jessica, and I hopped into Ella’s Lexus before speeding away from the scene of the crime.
We thought we were home free until later on when blurry pictures of Jessica and I surfaced online with a message requesting help to track down the brazen thieves who had stolen expensive jewelry and other items from Rodgers. Jessica and I had to figure out what to do with what we had taken and we decided to dump the items in a wooded area by the local high school. Ella got us latex gloves from her dad’s stash and we put them on before grabbing what we’d taken and setting off deep into the woods. We dug a hole and buried the items before quickly leaving out of the woods.
I was really anxious that we’d still be caught and sure enough we were that night when the cops came to my house. My mom was horrified and tearfully asked me if I had actually done what the cops had accused me of doing. I couldn’t lie to her and confessed my guilt.
“Where is the stolen merchandise?” Officer Thompson asked me sharply.
“My friend, Jessica, and I buried them in the woods by the high school.” I replied truthfully.
“How could you do something like this?” my mom asked, “Did we do something wrong when we raised you? We always taught you that nothing in life is free and that you needed to pay your way through life. I think you need help and I’m not just going to stand by and let you continue down a path of crime.”
She let Office Thompson arrest me for shoplifting and I was taken away in the police car. I was terrified wondering what was going to happen to me and I was placed in a holding cell in the local jail. Jessica was eventually escorted in and gave me a sad smile. I knew that now my life was in the hands of the police and I regretted committing the crime in the first place.
Jessica and I were kept apart from one another and I knew that my mom was not going to bail me out of jail. I was led to my own cell later on and on the hard bed I put my head in my hands and began crying hysterically. All my life I had always tried to do the right thing and now I was in jail for something so stupid. I was so ashamed of myself as I had always envisioned myself having a bright future. Now this felony could jeopardize any chance I had for a good career and stable life for myself.
My trial was held a week later and my mom begrudgingly had her lawyer defend me. I guess she wanted me to have a fair chance at a good defense. I was guilt-ridden and hung my head in shame when I saw the expression on my mom’s face in the courtroom. She could barely even look at me and I wondered what kind of sentence I would receive as a first-time offender.
My lawyer spoke to me and I told her that I wanted to plead guilty and be subject to whatever sentence the jury deemed was suitable for me. She wasn’t thrilled with that but knew it was the best decision in the long run. After my lawyer defended me and requested clemency since I was a first-time offender the jury deliberated and finally sentenced me to six months in jail since the value of the items I had stolen was under $200.
I was escorted out of the courtroom in handcuffs and when we arrived back at the jail I was placed in the same isolated cell I’d been in before. My reputation was tarnished now and it would take time to redeem myself to my family. While I hadn’t committed a violent crime I still had done something that was worthy of imprisonment and felt numb thinking of the future I had destroyed with one major lapse in judgment.
There was very little to do in my jail cell as there was only a small TV with a limited number of channels and a bookcase that contained old magazines and books. I wondered what I would do for the next six months and whether my family would even consider visiting me in prison. Why would they though now that they realized I was a criminal?
I contemplated suicide as a means to an end as I felt that I couldn’t possibly handle such a long time in jail. Six months was almost an entire year and I thought of all the family events I’d be missing out on and the time I could’ve spent with my friends engaged in fun social pursuits. All of that was out the window now and I knew that I was a lost cause.


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