Second Chance

( Advanced Level )

Joshua sits, waiting for his parole officer, reflecting on his choices as a youth. How the choices he made went terribly wrong. Ended up being incarcerated at the young age of fourteen.

Now he has the opportunity, to not undo the past, but to keep others from making the same choices as he did.

His release came a little earlier than expected. He had made a deal with the powers that be. Two and a half years shaved off his sentence if he agreed to be a mentor or a big brother figure for young adolescents in his neighborhood.

John, who has been a parole officer for over sixteen years, was on his way to pick up Joshua. He is all too familiar with the troubled youth of his city. Most came from single parent homes or born into families of crime.

He always told himself it was a vicious circle you cannot get out of. You need money and opportunities to succeed. Not many were given chances so they resorted to a life of crime. From petty theft to sale of drugs.

Upon arriving, John saw a very scared young man now. Not the cocky overconfident teenager who sat before him years ago. Something changes when you are sent to jail. You go into survival mode.

“Are you ready?” Joshua looked up. “Yeah I guess. I don’t know what they expect from me or what I should do.”

“Just be yourself and be honest. If the kids ask questions, be truthful. Let them know it is not worth it. Be their friend. Be their big brother. Some don’t have people who care about them.

The car ride to the city youth center was quiet. Both Joshua and John lost in their thoughts. John was familiar with Joshua’s plight. His father left his mom, Evelyn, when he was seven.

She struggled with raising him alone. She wanted to leave the neighborhood to raise her son in a better environment but it never worked out.

Unfortunately, Joshua got caught up in life on the streets. Initially he wanted to earn extra money so his mother didn’t have to work so hard. He hated seeing his mom work twelve to fourteen hours a day to come home exhausted.

Selling drugs was the easiest answer for quick money. He was told to go to certain locations each time he took a job and the customers came to him. In the end he was apprehended and incarcerated.

Nearly forty-five minutes passed and the two pulled into a parking lot stopping in front of a small building where plywood covered openings, what were once windows. “Okay. We’re here.”

It had been awhile since Joshua had seen the old neighborhood. He was shocked to see how much more run down it looked. He let out a tremendous sigh and got out of the car.

John stood waiting for Joshua and ushered him to go ahead of him. As the two approached the door a group of younger kids ran out and gave him a hug. “Hi, Officer John,” they chanted one by one.

Whenever John had spare time he spent at this makeshift youth center. He played basketball and other activities with the kids. It gave the kids a chance to get off the streets and the temptations in the area that may lead to a life of crime.

The building didn’t have much inside. Whatever sports equipment or supplies they had were from John. He would set aside money each month to buy something new.

Sometimes the building was broken into and everything was taken. This never discouraged him from continuing on with what he did.

“Guys, I brought a friend with me today. He will be helping me here for a while. Everyone say hi to Joshua.”

“Hi, Joshua.” The oldest and tallest kid of the group, Seth, grabbed his hand. “Let’s go play basketball. I’ve been practicing my shots. I hope one day to play for the high school team, like my brother did.”

“He died before he graduated. My mom doesn’t want me to be stupid like my brother so I come here everyday after school and on weekends.”

Joshua thought to himself how matter-of-fact Seth said this. He could have ended up like Seth’s brother. It was a good thing he was caught. It was hard enough knowing what he put his mom through. She had raised him better.

“Sure, but let’s involve everyone. You be one captain and I will be the other. We will pick teams. Officer John will play too.”

John soaked in everything that he saw and heard. This was a great choice he suggested to the judge. He knew he saw something deep inside that tough guy exterior of Joshua’s.

He pleaded with the judge, “This kid deserves a chance. His mother raised him alone for years by herself. He was young and dumb. I see something in him that I hadn’t seen in others. Let him out on early release .”

“I will mentor him and keep an eye on him. He can, also, help me at the youth center. It seems I am getting more and more kids and it is difficult somedays to manage all of them.”

He was pleasantly surprised when the judge agreed. “I believe you know him better than me John. He will be under your supervision for two and a half years. It will be his parole stipulations.

As the months passed by, Joshua found himself enjoying going to the center. Sometimes catching an earlier bus so John didn’t have to go out of his way to pick him up at his house.

He spoke to the kids quite openly about what he did and how he was arrested. He hoped this would keep others from making the same mistakes he made.

“There isn’t any reason to disrespect your mother or father, most of all yourself. If you want something, earn it don’t steal it. If it seems too easy then you are doing it the wrong way and it is probably against the law.”

Learn from me guys. I thought I was tough. I was on top of the world. Well guess what? I was scared. I cried many nights in jail.”

” How could I have let my mom down the way I did. I needed to survive so I could see her again. She never stopped loving me. She was just disappointed in my choices. I am always here to talk to if you want,” as he looked around at all the kids’ faces.

John, eventually, retired from the police force and would, occasionally, show up at the youth center. It is now, Joshua, who looks after the neighborhood kids. Giving them a safe place to hang out.

The youth center was unofficially named John’s Center for Kids. After all, it was he who started it. Maybe, sometime in the future, they would be able to have a new youth center with all the equipment needed.

One day, he too, could give someone a second chance as John gave him. John’s legacy would live on through all the kids who were given a safe place to play and not worry about temptations of the streets.

Written By: Angel

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Twitter: AngelOfTheMorn5

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reflecting – verb: think deeply or carefully 

incarcerated – verb: imprison or confine

powers that be – noun: the authorities

shaved – verb: to cut off or crop

mentor – verb: advise or train 

parole officer – noun : officials appointed to supervise the conduct of convicted offenders on probation

vicious – adjective: brutal, non ending

resorted – verb: turn to

petty theft – noun: non violent crime

cocky – adjective: arrogant

plight – noun: a difficult or unfortunate situation

struggled – verb: forceful effort

exhausted – adjective: very tired

apprehended – verb: arrest

run down – phrasal verb: in bad shape, old

tremendous – adjective: huge

ushered – verb: show or guide

makeshift – adjective: temporary

discouraged – adjective: lost confidence or enthusiasm

matter-of-fact – adjective: unemotional

exterior – adjective: outside of something

stipulations – noun: condition or requirement

disappointed – adjective: sad or unhappy

retired – adjective: stopped working

unofficially – adverb: not official or confirmed

legacy – noun: heritage, gift

Question ( s ):

Have you ever given anyone a second chance? Why?

Obviously, Joshua learned from his mistakes as a youth. Do you know anyone who made a mistake and learned from their mistake?


( Intermediate Level )

Each day fades into the next for Benjamin. He lives on the streets and calls the sidewalk his bed. People pass him every day and do not give him a second look as if he is a bad person.

If only they knew him in his past. People would not be so easy to judge him. He keeps his eyes lowered and minds his own business. Trying to survive day to day.

Benjamin, once, was a very successful businessman. He had worked in the downtown business district in New York. Now, he shares the streets with so many other homeless people.

He had a loving wife, Anne, and a beautiful eight year old daughter, Katie, until that tragic day six years ago. A day he wished he could rewind and do it all over again.

He remembers that day as if it was yesterday. He woke up late and had a early business meeting. He was rushing around getting dressed when his wife called up the stairs and said , “Breakfast is ready.”

He immediately yelled back, “No time. I have a meeting and I am running late.” He ran downstairs and grabbed his suitcase.

He looked at his wife who was holding a cup of coffee for him. He shook his head and said, “I will get coffee at the office.” He smiled at his daughter and rushed out the door.

His daughter looked at his wife, with a sad face, and said, “Daddy didn’t say I love you to me.” Anne quickly responded, ” He forgot me, too, but daddy is running late for a special meeting. I know he loves you and he would want you to have a good day at school.”

Katie smiled and continued eating her breakfast. Anne gathered Katie’s homework and stuffed it into Anne’s backpack. ” Come on kiddo, finish up so you can be ready when the bus comes. We don’t want you to be like daddy and run late.

Anne ran upstairs to get her shoes from the bedroom. She would always walk her daughter to the bus stop. Katie quickly followed her up the stairs. She wanted mom to put her hair up in a ponytail.

In the rush of the morning, Anne had forgot to turn off the burner on the stove and take the skillet off the burner. She had made bacon and eggs for breakfast. The pan was too hot to move and she simply forgot to turn off the burner. Her husband had come downstairs just at the moment she had finished cooking the bacon.

As Anne was brushing Katie’s hair up into a ponytail , she looked at her watch and said, “The bus will be here in less than five minutes.

These were Anne’s last words. The hot grease, from the skillet, had started a fire and an explosion soon followed. In a matter of a few moments the house was engulfed in flames.

This was the day that Benjamin’s life had changed completely. He was given word that his wife and daughter had perished in the fire. He lost everything. His life spiraled downward to a bottomless pit of sorrow.

If only he took a few minutes more to sit down and have a few bites of breakfast with his wife and daughter. He may have realized the burner was left on. He took full blame for their deaths. He shouldn’t had been in such a hurry that morning.

He was unable to concentrate at work. His company was sympathetic for a long time following that day but they had to eventually let him go. He had lived at a hotel since the fire but without work and no money he had to find other means to sleep.

In deep state of depression he couldn’t find work. It felt as if he stopped living when he lost his wife and little girl. This is how Benjamin ended up homeless. This was his story.

The people who walked passed him on a daily basis didn’t know his story. If they could, they would avoid him completely. They would cross the street to reach the other side, in order not to have contact with him.

In some ways Benjamin felt he deserved this. Other times, he felt he shouldn’t be judged so quickly. This is human nature, he guessed. You assume before you know the story.

One late autumn evening, he had found a spot to settle down for the night. He tried to give himself a little variety where he would sleep each night. He usually found an area out of the way of heavy pedestrian traffic but close enough to people where he felt safe.

Sometimes people would drop off a few non-perishable food packages or bring him a sandwich and a hot cup of coffee. Whatever he received he was ever so grateful for. He still had his dignity about him. He never wanted to beg. He felt others needed before him and he didn’t deserve.

Benjamin was drifting off to sleep when he felt as if someone was watching him. He looked up and seen a small framed woman around thirty years old standing over him. She said, ” So mister, you want to tell me your name?” .

There was a street light behind her and as he looked up. It was difficult to make out her face. He said. “Benjamin ma’am.” She bent down and said, “Well Benjamin, my name is Annabel but you can call me Ann.” She reached her hand out for a handshake.

Benjamin just stared up at her. He had not heard that name in a long, long time. His mind drifted back to memories of the past until she began to talk again. “I believe everyone deserves a second chance and I am needing workers for my printing factory.”

I am not asking for free labor, you will be paid. Nor am I asking for hard labor. I need a few good hires to supervise the machines, as they print, and keep watch of the place at night. Are you interested?”

Without thinking, Benjamin’s answer was, “Yes, ma’am.” He had sat up by now and saw Ann’s face. She had a warm smile and beautiful chocolate – colored eyes. Just like his Anne.

“Alright then Mister Benjamin. I will be back tomorrow early in the morning. You will not need to worry about anything. You will have simple accommodations at the factory where you can sleep and cook. Nothing fancy but you will stay warm. Once you get on your feet you can make other arrangements to where you want to sleep.”

She turned and glanced back at him before she walked away, “See you tomorrow at seven in the morning. We can discuss all the details on our way to the factory.” She had turned the corner and disappeared.

Benjamin sat there just staring down the street where she had disappeared. He thought to himself, “Out of all the places I decided to hunker down for the night, he had picked this particular spot. What were the odds? Maybe this was the break he was needing. Maybe, this Miss Annabel was sent by Anne to turn his life around.”

Written by: Angel

If you appreciate what I do:

Follow me on:

Instagram: morningangel847

Twitter: AngelOfTheMorn5


fades – verb: disappear

judge – verb: opinion or conclusion

district – noun: area of a city

rewind – verb: back to the beginning

ponytail – noun: a hairstyle

engulfed -verb: sweep over something, surround or cover

perished – verb: sudden death

spiraled – verb: continuous and dramatic increase

sorrow – noun: a feeling of deep distress caused by loss

sympathetic – adjective: feeling sympathy

assume – verb: without proof

variety – noun: state of being different 

pedestrian – noun: person or people walking along a road or street 

grateful – adjective: showing an appreciation of kindness

dignity – noun: worthy of honor or respect

hiresnoun: one who is hired

supervise – verb: observe or watch

accommodations – noun: temporary lodgings

on your feet – phrasal verb: well enough

glanced – verb: quick look

hunker down – phrasal verb: stay in one place

particular – adjective: special


Are you quick to judge people by first impressions?

Are there many homeless in your city?

Do you believe people deserve a second chance?