MY NOVEL has two voices. The first voice is Samantha (Sammy) who opens the book...
I, Samantha J. Evans, am a product of the United States Virgin Islands. I was born on June 26th, 1980 on the island of St. Thomas or Rock City as it is affectionately called by those born and raised there. There were a lot of things I loved about my hometown that made me proud of my heritage and where I came from. First, there was the way the sun glistened and shined on the sea like sparkling diamonds. Then, there was the warmth of the smooth, pearly white sand and its soothing, therapeutic touch. And let’s not forget the verbal accents of the lively, spirited people that lived there. Growing up in a Caribbean territory of the United States, I felt like I had a great amount of exposure to the world. I had the pleasure of studying V.I. History, Caribbean History, U.S. History and World History. I appreciated my exposure to a wholistic view of the world.
As much as I loved my island home, the threats of hurricanes every year were not easy on my young soul. If I had to be honest, that is the main reason I wanted to leave once I grew up; if you ignored the fact that I also couldn’t handle the gossip and drama that goes along with small town life. An island the size of thirty-two square miles with all of its melodrama was destined to destroy my claustrophobic, anxiety-ridden soul.
Starting from my elementary school years, I realized how much I loved school and learning. Because I had high cheekbones and hazel-colored eyes people expected me to be a prissy girly-girl, but I was not. My schoolmates called me a bookworm because I always had my nose buried in a book. On most nights, I read an entire book in one sitting. Reading was what I loved most. If I ever walked onto a school stage or cheered on a team you better believe it was for a grade or extra credit.
By the time I entered the 9th grade at Charlotte Amalie High School nothing much had changed. Reading remained my favorite activity. I read so much that I rarely had to study. For me, the information became a permanent part of my brain. I did not think that I was a genius or anything. It was just a natural effect of consuming an enormous amount of information and literature.
Outside of books, I was severely lacking in social skills. I was only comfortable talking to a small number of girls. I admired the girls who were sociable in their daily life and were able to communicate confidently with the opposite sex. Over my early school years, I was able to make a few male friends, but those friendships were based entirely on our collective bookish tendencies. The only male friend I had that was not considered to be a bookworm, was David John Leslie. Well, that’s what his grandma, Carol called him when he was in trouble anyway. The rest of us simply called him DJ. Carol was my grandmother Lisa’s best friend. They also lived in our neighborhood. One quick hop and a skip down a hill and we would be standing in front of their house. When DJ and I were younger, both of our grandfathers passed away. Due to this occurrence, and our grandmother’s friendship, DJ and I would often be at each other’s houses multiple times a week. The women would cook and gossip while DJ and I watched TV or played on the front porch. DJ’s mom Cynthia was pretty non-existent in his life. She lived on the island but was rather estranged from her family. As for me, my mom and I lived with my grandmother. Mom worked a LOT, so I spent most of my time around my grandmother.
Being a book-worm helped me get along well with my grandmother, because the woman was a worry-wart. Even at the age of 15, I was lucky if I had the opportunity to set one foot onto our front porch at all. Growing up, I hadn’t been allowed to go outside of its latched gate. I can blame my mother for this over-protectiveness. As a young girl, my mom, Ann Marie, had gotten pregnant at sixteen. My grandmother blamed the mishap on her spending too much time outside with the neighborhood boys. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on who was telling the story, she miscarried the baby. No one had ever told me the story to my face. I learned of these things while I had my head buried in a book. My ears would perk up on occasion when pieces of gossip were shared between the elders.
I would hear Ms. Carol say, “You must let Sammy go outside sometimes. All that reading will make her stupid. She needs to learn to deal with life outside of these walls and those books.”
Grandma would reply “So she can end up pregnant like her mom at sixteen? I don’t need that trouble. Those books will save her from herself!”
In reply Ms. Carol would suck her teeth so hard it would sound like “Schuuuppps”.
It took everything in me not to snicker at their exchanges. I appreciated Ms. Carol’s bid to push me out into the world but I would’ve been too afraid to go anyway. Books were my safe haven.