Sam Patterson was hands down the most popular boy at school. He not only had lead their football and basketball teams to championships, he was an excellent student with a 4.0 GPA, and was humble and kind. It did not hurt matters that he was good looking and had eyes that twinkled when he smiled. Although he was popular and everyone wanted to be seen with him; he never felt there was anyone he could trust. People had a specific image of him and in their eyes he was perfect in every way.
Sam Patterson held a large secret that those around him would never suspect. He had been born an only child to a runaway mother. He had no knowledge of who his father was. They lived together in a rundown apartment complex on the edge of town and often had stale bread and water for dinner. His mother never finished her education and tried to get whatever work she could, which included selling herself to the highest bidder. In the beginning of 1957, when Sam was ten, his mom just didn’t wake up; Sam set off on his own.
By the time he reached high school he was street savvy and could fool just about anyone about his home life. The reality was that Sam was a great thief, stealing all of the clothes he ever wore. He would offer services to wash dishes at the local restaurants for food; often having enough left over for the next day. He had learned to survive on his own. It was that skill that made him confident and the boy everyone wanted to be around.
He had a steady job after school every day and his boss allowed him time for practices and games. He had no other extracurricular activities besides sports and work. Everything he owned could be found in a duffle bag in a locker at the bus station. Often he would find a quiet corner of the station to sleep; waking early enough to get to school and shower. He had not counted on an Amanda entering his life.
Carrying books between classes turned into having lunch together which in turn became sitting on the bleachers after school and talking. Neither Sam nor Amanda had anyone waiting at home for them; neither one had anything else to do. Amanda spilled her heart to Sam, explaining her early child of accolades, her father’s disappearing, her mother’s inability to cope with reality, and her brother being absent. She explained everything that was going on in her life and Sam was a great listener. He would make comments like, “That must be tough for you,” or “I am amazed at how strong you are,” and “I feel so bad for you.” All of these were words that Amanda had not realized she had longed to hear.
The couple was never seen at the usual spots on Friday or Saturday nights; they did not really have any other friends and began to rely on each other heavily. Amanda feared for the summer break that was coming up. Sam seemed to sense her fear as they sat together under a tree on the side of campus the first Friday in June.
“Mands,” Sam said, taking her hands in his as he looked into her eyes, “I have something I need to tell you.”
Fearing the worst, Amanda quietly replied, “Okay.”
“I know school is out next week, and it seems like we are only together when we are here, but I don’t want to have to miss you for summer vacation. Do you think we could hang out during the summer?”
Exhaling (not having realized she’d been holding her breath), she said, “I would really like that.”