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Hear, Here…

Shattered_Mirror_2_by_wolfrain319

The voice woke her up in the middle of the night.

“It’s time.”

“Okay, sure,” she said groggily. She looked over at her clock – 2:28am. Of course.

She didn’t know where she was headed, and she didn’t care. Over the last few days, she came to understand that the voice was not to be ignored. Ignoring it – her – resulted in consequences. People got hurt. She needed less of that in her life, so quickly, she learned to listen. The more she listened, the more she obeyed, the freer she felt.

The moon hung in the cloudless sky, shining a spotlight through her window. Its glow reminded her of the first night the voice spoke to her. As she stepped into her black leggings, she recalled the pain of the spider bite waking her up in the middle of the night. 2:28am. She pulled back the sheets and hobbled to the bathroom, rubbing her leg, and cursing herself for leaving the window open.

She turned on the light to inspect her leg. Where once caramel-brown, shea buttered skin had been was a shimmering, silver thigh. Still soft to the touch, it was as if someone snuck into her room and painted it as she slept. Rubbing her leg, she closed and opened her eyes. Again. This had to be a dream. She couldn’t tell if the pain was gone, or if shock had taken its place. She stepped in front of the sink, thinking somehow she could wash the paint off. She reached for the faucet and a voice came from behind the shower curtain.

“Billie. Listen to me.”

Silent tears ran down Billie’s face as she stared at the curtain through the medicine cabinet mirror. The voice she heard unmistakably belonged to her great grandmother, for whom she had been named, and who died when she was 12. Her parents didn’t let her go to the funeral. They didn’t think she could handle it; they had been so close. As she listened to the voice, she figured her folks might have been right.

“Billie Listen to me,” the voice repeated. Something else – someone else – was there. With her GiGi Willemena was someone, something darker, older, from another place and time. It flowed in and out with the old lady’s disembodied voice and settled deep into Billie’s bones. She trembled as each word bounced off her eardrum.

“You’re going to die, Billie,” the voice said. Billie noticed a hint of pleasure in the tone. If the voice had had a face, she was sure it’d be smiling. “In ten days you’re going to die. That spider that bit you tonight…”

Billie looked down at her forgotten silver limb. The site of the bite throbbed, not with pain, but with life. It jumped, spasmed. The muscles underneath her skin undulated, reminding her of her last vacation to Miami. She’d slept on the beach her last night there, and had nightmares of being pulled under the waves, to the bottom of the Atlantic. Standing in her bathroom, listening to her demon-infused foremother, the floor of the Atlantic was a welcome, peaceful thought.

“The spider that bit you tonight has decided to take your life,” it continued. “We need you on this side. There are some issues that must be attended to.”

Billie’s tears had dried, and her trembling was stilled by long, deep breaths, but her heart clamored against her rib cage, threatening to break loose and leave her standing there. Defenseless. She held on to the sink for support and looked down into the drain.

“Don’t go to work tomorrow.” Her great gran was gone. The only voice she heard now was a deep, gravelly rumbling tone, filled with knowledge that only comes from witnessing the passing of thousands of years. “Do not leave your house. You have ten days to handle your affairs, but tomorrow will not be one of them. Do you understand?” The voice spoke slowly, but firmly, being sure that Billie took in everything that was said.

“This is fucking crazy,” Billie heard herself whisper. She looked up into the mirror, just in time to see a coal-black hand reach out from behind her, and throw her head first into the medicine cabinet mirror. As she blacked out, she heard the shards of glass spill into the sink and onto the grey and blue tiled floor.

The incessant blare of the alarm pulled Billie from the darkness of her slumber. She bolted up, and snatched the cord out of the wall. Mornings were her arch enemy. She always thought they were better suited for sleeping or having sex, not getting up for work, no matter how much she loved her job. She slid from underneath the covers, walked across the cold living room floor and into the kitchen. Gotta get an area rug, she thought to herself as she tiptoed across the threshold. She reached into the cabinet and pulled out her favorite coffee mug. The paint was wearing off after years of use. It was the only memento she kept to remind her of her father. World’s Greatest Dad! She’d gotten it for him in the second grade at her school’s Santa Shop. He drank tea out of it every morning. 30 years later, when she returned to his home six months after he died, she found it sitting in the sink, a brown ring of ginger tea staining the bottom. The tears that refused to fall at his funeral, or upon hearing the news of his death, washed over her and into the chrome sink, clinking one by one into the stained mug.

As she placed it under the coffee machine, she made a mental note to buy herself a new one so as not to use this one up, though she knew she’d never follow through with her intent.

Billie completed her morning routine, opening her plush red curtains to let in the morning light as she dressed. She was glad that the sun was rising before her these days. It had been a long, harsh winter, and she was contemplating moving closer to the equator. She was in good spirits this morning though, thankful for the night’s deep sleep. She turned on her radio and swayed her hips to the bathroom as Hector Lavoe and Willie Colon begged her to dance La Murga. The end of her twirl placed her in front of the shower curtain and she stopped cold. As she stared at the geometric grey and white pattern, the whisper of a voice grazed her ear. Ten days. Images of mercury and broken glass flashed in her head, which was beginning to ache at the temples. She closed her eyes, and focused on the music coming from her bedroom. She moved in rhythm with the maracas, humming along with the dark, brassy call of the trombone. As the music restored her peace, she sighed heavily, opened her eyes and turned around to face the sink. The cold water on her face made her think of her father’s words: “Cold water on your face, and room temp water in your body. Every morning when you wake. You’ll thank me later.”

Her reflection upon looking into the mirror was so clear, the mirror so clean, that for an instant she reached out to herself, almost sure that the cold glass would be replaced with the warm familiar flesh of her parallel self. She chuckled at the thought, turned the water off and walked back out of the bathroom, finally ready to start her day.

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Work was mundane. Routine. Filing, assuring clients that their events would be greater than their expectations. Double and triple-checking that the caterers had their orders correct and would arrive 15 minutes before their expected time of delivery. She had two galas to get through this week, and then she could relax. Pressing send on a final review email, she considered booking a weekend flight to Puerto Rico. Her daydreams of beach-bumming with mermaids and seagulls were interrupted as her favorite coworker walked up to her desk, plantain chips and aloe water in hand.

“Ugh, you know I love you, right T?”

Terra smiled and handed over the goods. “Then you should go out for drinks with me.”  Terra had an androgynous look and slight air of cockiness that drove Billie crazy. She walked the line between masculine and feminine like a Cirque du Soleil performer and it made it hard for Billie to remain professional. She blushed and cleared her throat.

“I don’t drink. But….” She hesitated, then decided to go for it. “We can do lunch. Next Thursday? After these two events are over and have been reviewed. I’ll treat. To thank you for my aloe water and chips – you know I couldn’t make it through the day without them.”

Terra smiled again, triumphant. “Sounds good. I’ll let you get back to work. Don’t let em stress you out, okay?” She winked at Billie and continued down the hall, with that half switch, half saunter that put Billie in a trance. She tried to sneak glances as Terra walked away, but as Terra turned the corner, she looked back, winking before she disappeared into her office. Billie’s face turned crimson and she laughed at herself, remembering her best friend’s warning not to eat where she shits. But damn if the entrée wasn’t so tantalizing.

Just as they were about to begin, Billie’s second round of daydreams for the early afternoon were interrupted by her boss, Charelle. “Billie, can I see you in my office for a sec?”

Shit. “Uh, sure Boss lady. What’s up?”

When Charelle failed to respond, Billie did a quick mental inventory of all the things she might have screwed up. Coming up empty, she shrugged her shoulders and walked the ten steps down the hall to Charelle’s office.

“Please close the door behind you.” Billie complied, and sat across from the mahogany desk that was too big for Charelle’s windowless office, but the perfect size for her ego.  As Billie shifted in the hard tangerine chair, Charelle sat behind her desk silent, her face expressionless. Finally: “How’d you sleep last night, Billie?”

“Uh…fine? And you?” What the hell is this? Billie was now confident that she crossed all her Ts for these events. Not just for her own sense of pride, but to avoid having to come into Charelle’s office to explain her fuck-ups. She waited impatiently, wiping invisible lint off her skirt and reminding herself that she only had two more years before she ventured out to start her own event planning company. As if she could hear her thoughts, a slow, knowing smile crept up on Charelle’s face, hiding more than it revealed. She rolled her eyes at Billie and looked over at the blue abstract painting that hung on the wall behind Billie’s head. She sat motionless, staring at – through – the painting for what seemed like an eternity.

“Is…is there a problem with one of the clients?” Billie asked, unable to hide the irritability in her voice. Obviously, this woman didn’t get enough sleep last night, Billie thought. Or she needed some – 

 “You always were a hard-headed chile, nuh?” Billie looked up from her watch and into her boss’s face. The Caribbean accent taken on by this Missouri-born woman made Billie’s armpits itch. Familiar whispers of long summers with her gran caused her heart to quicken.

“Charelle?” Charelle – the woman across from Billie – didn’t answer. She continued to look above Billie’s head, beyond the wall, beyond the office, past the buildings and into another world. “Charelle,” Billie spoke again, louder. Then: “GiGi Willie?”

Finally the woman looked at her. Charelle was beautiful, a young Grace Jones with a head full of tight black curls that stretched to the heavens from all sides. Always red-lipped, her minimalist sense of style was impeccable, and save for the pretentiousness, Billie admired her. Sometimes she desired her. But in this moment, she looked into her boss’s eyes and saw someone else. In this moment, she was frightened by her.

Sensing her fear, Charelle lazily rose from her desk and sat on top of it. She crossed her right leg over her left and swung it seductively, nearly kicking Billie in the shin. Placing her hands at her sides, she leaned closer. “I told you not to come to work today, did I not?”

Billie shook her head, blinked in response. Her pulse began to race, and she rubbed her sweaty palms through her closely-cropped burgundy hair.

“I specifically remember telling you not to leave your house,” Charelle continued. The accent was gone again, but Billie thought she’d heard something else. The low, rumble of the Other. The One who shattered the mirror with Billie’s face last night. It wasn’t a dream. “And you indicated that you understood. I’m disappointed in you.” The Other barely spoke above a whisper, but its voice filled the space of the office. Billie trembled.

“Unh-uh!” Billie snapped. She jumped up from the chair and walked toward the door. “What the hell is this? This shit ain’t funny Charelle,” she spat over her shoulder as she placed her hand on the doorknob. She turned the knob, but the door refused to open. A force on the other side kept Billie in the office. Struggling. Trapped.

“Sit down,” the Other commanded. Billie stood facing the door, and reached out to the doorknob to try again when she felt a tightening around her neck. She was pulled backwards into the middle of the office, and thrown into the orange chair. She strained against the invisible leash around her neck, and hot tears ran down her face as she struggled to breathe. Charelle sat patiently on top of the desk, her hands folded in her lap. Billie tried to slow her breath as she looked up at her boss’s face and into the sunken black holes where her coffee brown eyes had once been.

Charelle pushed herself off the desk and onto her knees in front of Billie. She placed her hands on Billie’s thighs. She could smell the intoxicating sandalwood oil that Charelle always wore. In different circumstances, being this close to her boss would have made Billie’s panties wet. Instead she shuddered with fear, but made no move to run again.

“You don’t run shit,” the voice hissed. “You have nine and a half days. Go home and do not leave until you are told otherwise.”  This time it didn’t wait for a confirmation of understanding. Charelle rose from her place in front of Billie, walked around to her side of the desk that now seemed a miniature replica of the one Billie had seen almost daily for three years. Charelle reached into a drawer and pulled out an engraved letter opener. She raised the blade and it glistened, reflecting light through a window that Billie couldn’t see.

She was paralyzed with fear as Charelle stood over her. She looked down into Billie’s face and smiled a large toothy grin. Charelle jammed the pointed end into her neck and blood spilled from the opening, splattering against Billie’s sheer cream shirt and matching pencil skirt. Billie screamed and the office door flew open. Terra ran inside and yelled Charelle’s name just as her body slumped to the floor. “Billie!” Billie, what happened?” Covered in blood, Billie stared down at the floor in shock, hearing nothing. When Terra grabbed her shoulder, she jumped and screamed again.

“It’s okay, it’s just me. My god, what happened?! Are you okay? Oh god. Come on baby, let’s go. Someone call 911!” Terra barked orders as a crowd began to gather around the door. Billie looked back at Charelle’s lifeless body as Terra guided her away. She stopped when she saw Charelle’s head turn toward her and red lips fall open. “You really should learn to listen, my heart.” Her GiGi’s disappointment rang through as she spoke the pet name she had given Billie as a toddler. Billie fell to her knees, sobbing – for her GiGi, for Charelle, for so many reasons -  as Terra gently lifted her off the ground and out of the office.

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Book Review: The Twelve Tribes of Hattie

“You ain’t strong like she is. You got a soul that cain’t be still. Your mama did too at one time, but she wrestled it down. Yours look like it’s running you.”

"The Cradle" by John Thomas Biggers, 1950

“The Cradle” by John Thomas Biggers, 1950

Ayana Mathis’ debut novel, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, is a collection of short stories that speak life to the complexities of Black motherhood, healing and the loss of and search for peace. Threaded by the intersecting lives of the children of Hattie Shepherd, The Twelve Tribes tenderly, yet honestly examines issues of Black social mobility, sexual identity, disillusionment with religion, and mental health.

Hattie is a prideful, sacrificing mother disappointed by the way her life has turned out after migrating from Georgia to Philadelphia. Loss surrounds Hattie from a young age. After the murder of her father forces her family to move North in the middle of the night, she meets her husband August and gives birth to twins Philadelphia and Jubilee, named for the hope of a new life for them all. After her babies die of pneumonia just seven months later, 17 year old Hattie mothers nine more children, yet a part of her dies with the twins. She closes herself off to the people she loves, lest life snatch them from her grasp as well. The stories that follow portray the effects of Hattie’s mothering on her surviving children and one grandchild.

Called The General by her children, and described as a “lake of smooth, silvered ice, under which nothing could be seen or known,” Hattie approaches motherhood in a way that is familiar to many Black parents and children – from a place of protection and preparation for the cold world that awaits them. Love is shown as food, clothing, shelter and discipline, and there is no time for affection, vulnerability or the dangers that love brings. Hattie admits not knowing how to care for her children’s spirits, and her “tenderness […] was always hard,” but she kept them alive, safe, healthy and ready to meet a world that would bring them new disappointments and challenges.

The novel is heavily character-driven and Mathis does an excellent job of digging deep into their psyches and breathing life into them. The members of the Shepherd family are authentic, every day people that readers will find themselves easily connected to. The layers of their lives, circumstances and personalities are familiar; it is easy to see yourself in one or more of them as they attempt to cope with, heal from or even escape their past. The stories told are the stories of our family members. The Shepherds are our uncles, brothers, mothers and grandmothers.

Mathis’ writing is graceful and descriptive; the dialogue intimate and natural as it changes not only with the characters, but also with the time. Over a period of 55 years, the stories take place primarily in Philadelphia and the Deep South (mostly Georgia and Alabama). In that time she weaves in glimpses of the socio-political world that surrounds them, through run-ins with a would-be lynch mob, the Vietnam War, and references to the sit-ins. Mathis doesn’t focus on those issues – to do so would make the book about those issues, I think – but she makes them a part of the characters’ everyday lives.

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie is captivating – it reads like an (fictionalized) historical narrative from Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns, an incredible, extensive historical study of the Great Migration. Mathis has justifiably been likened to Toni Morrison, through her rich and moving writing voice, but also in the way she portrays the realities of Black motherhood. It also brings to mind Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood in its depiction of the hardships of mothering, maternal sacrifice, and culture and community expectations of such. The portrayal of love, both distorted and clear, recalls bell hooks’ Salvation: Black People and Love, in which she discusses how racism, sexism and economic inequality color our expressions of love as children, parents and partners.

The lives of the Shepherds are hard and full of struggle. There are definitely more downs than ups, but the story doesn’t dwell in darkness. It’s not morbidly sad or emotionally overwhelming; it is authentic. The uplifting twist at the end mirrors life’s unexpected minor, yet significant changes.

Its raw honestly plays a significant role in the healing element that comes through reading these stories and coming to understand these characters – both in the book and in our lives.  The Twelve Tribes of Hattie will reach tired, honest and understanding mothers – and their children everywhere.

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Go to the River (unfinished)

riverbottle

I stood at the river bank and envied the water. Despite the scattering of debris left by my careless fellow humans, the water flowed, disturbed yet determined. Twisting, turning. Making paths around, over and through plastic water bottles, lost toys and a used condom. I longed to be like the river, to keep to my path and maintain peace amidst internal chaos. I rolled up my pant legs and stepped in. Balancing myself on two half-submerged rocks, I reached down and extracted an empty bottle of Light Beer from the sand. I turned it over and poured the water out, feeling my stress ease into the river along with it, and my tears.

I woke up that morning feeling inadequate and sorry for myself. I wanted to do more, be more. More than a mom. More than a receptionist. More than someone who spends her barely-existent free time watching indie films and reading books. My friends were child- and care-free. They were brilliant, ambitious, creative geniuses who won awards and accolades for their artistic, scholastic and political achievements. They traveled the world and met interesting people, engaged in conversation about white supremacist patriarchy and the evils of capitalism. They had dinner parties with sexy women who had multiple letters behind their names. I wiped noses, kissed boo-boos and changed sheets on pee-soaked mattresses at three o’clock in the morning. We all chose our paths, but somehow I felt like I hadn’t been told the whole story before I chose mine – or maybe I didn’t want to believe what I’d heard.

I salted my self-inflicted wound by social media-stalking my crush’s lover: an amazing writer who combines the same words afforded to all of us, and weaves them into a beautiful, soul-stirring tapestry of poetic prose. She’s a natural – artistic and dynamic and free, the perfect other half of a boho-chic power lesbian couple. They traveled the world together, wandering in love and lust. I hadn’t had a vacation in seven years.

So I went to the river – the only entity that can hold all my tears, listen to me bitch and moan, watch my pity party of one and never judge. I knew She would help me find my purpose. Give me something to do – a way to be more. The awards and recognition wouldn’t come, but peace was guaranteed. The love I’d been looking for whispered to me through the rippling of her waves.

I wasn’t prepared for the remnants of an abandoned party. I wanted it to be just the two of us, the river and me. I wanted it to look like it did when I last visited, six months earlier. An unrealistic expectation, I knew, but it was the one area of my life that I’d hope had gone unchanged.  

Aluminum bins overflowed with paper plates, red cups, and cardboard boxes that once contained 24 cans of beer. Squirrels and ants dined on leftover rib and chicken bones and birds picked at the dried up baked beans and cole slaw. Trash that wouldn’t fit in the cans besieged picnic tables and accompanying benches. A forgotten football sat alone next to a tree whose heavy branches kissed the water’s surface. I wondered if maybe the football, now without hands to appreciate its form, was left unsure of its purpose, or if it was happily at rest, no longer subject to be sent spinning through the air to fulfill someone else’s temporary desires to end their boredom.

I sat on one of the rocks and planted my feet, burying my toes into the sand. I watched the minnows scatter, then return and swim between my legs. They knew me. They remembered me, and welcomed me home. The birds, full from barbecue side dishes, sang melodies in worship of the sun that blazed above. I felt a fullness that couldn’t come from eating and released a sigh of gratitude.

It’d been six months since my mother died from a drug overdose, and it left me empty. The depth of this void was unimaginable and unexpected. I’d felt like a motherless child for 15 years ago when she abandoned my sister and me, and I’d often felt like (and sometimes hoped) that she was already dead. But three years ago, when she came back, she told me she was clean.  She lied, as parents often do.

I felt numb. Part of me was relieved, and that made me feel guilty. I didn’t want to admit that I loved my mother. She’d hurt me. Continuously. Made promises that maybe we both hoped she’d be able to keep but we both knew she wouldn’t. I often found myself angry at myself for wanting her to be the mother her sickness would never allow, and angry at her for not being what I needed. There were times when I wanted her dead so I wouldn’t feel the pain of the reality of our estrangement. So when she died, I was confused.

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Letting Go: The Ex Files

I found this just browsing my writings. I wrote it near the end of September 2013. Don’t know why I never posted it, but I like it. I hope you do too…

lifebalance

I had dinner with my ex two weeks ago. The ex. The woman to whom no one else could ever compare.

She was the first and only woman that I wanted to settle down and spend my life with. We were perfectly opposite and complementary – yin-yang type shit. The reformed hood chick turned semi-conservative police officer, and the free-spirited hippie with Black Panther leanings who can’t stand the police (though seeing her in her uniform turned me on). Our meeting and walking into long-distance love was completely unexpected, gradual and everything I wanted and needed it to be at the time. I had never felt so connected to someone. The best part about being a lesbian (for me) is getting to have sex with your best friend. And for a long time, we had that. With her I felt safe, protected, loved and at home.

It took me two years to get over her. Two years of false starts and start agains. Two years to be able to be completely emotionally available to someone – most importantly, to myself.

Our break up was hard. There was no bad blood or drama, only fear, lack of communication, too much assumption and unhealthy comfort. We thought we could handle the distance – we were wrong. We equally contributed to the demise of our relationship and I think we both wish we would have done things differently. Now, we watch The Fosters and see who we think we could have been.

But I also think we both knew that our time has ended, and there’s no need for us to hold on. I think we – okay, lemme stop speaking for this woman – I know that I spent too much time comparing other people to her. Women I met after we broke up would never measure up to who I imagined she would be as a full-time, close-distance lover. I’m a dreamer, and I was in love with a dream. I loved who I wanted us to be, not who we were.  I knew that was foolish and based in ego, but I was afraid that once I let go of the dream, of the longing for her, all I would have is… me. As if I’m not more than enough. I knew better. I just needed to give myself time to do better.

When we had dinner, I was finally able to make peace with the fact that we were over. But the love will last. My love for her reminds me that when it’s real, it never goes away. It just transforms.  I’d like for us to be friends one day, but I’m open to whatever the universe has in store for us. Accepting that our relationship was not about the destination of marriage, but the journey of growth, made it easier for me to understand that we’ll always be connected by our love for one another. That kiss two weeks ago was a goodbye kiss. It was a “letting go with love” kiss. Through dinner and the processing of my emotions, I found myself embracing the modification of our connection. And now I’m ready to move on.

So many lessons I gained from our relationship. Learning some of my partnering necessities: tons of laughter, being able to cuddle in bed or on the couch, watch a movie and be content in the simplicity of it all. I felt free to be my complete self – silly, sarcastic, cynically optimistic. Emotionally vulnerable.

Because of my experience with her, I’m constantly developing new ways to actively love myself – beyond quoting positive affirmations and posting “no filter” selfies. It’s a life-long process, this self-love thang. And it’s something I have to commit to every day. It’s cliché, but it works (it’s cliché because it works): I focus on the things that I have and love. My health, employment, a working car, healthy happy children, friends that love me, books, the ability to wake up in the morning and sit in silence, stretch and do five push-ups before I start my day. It means not worrying about how the world may see me. It’s okay to not wash the dishes every night. It’s okay to just be.

I’m more in tune with and observant of myself. I’m deeply aware of and unapologetic about my needs, and my desires. I hear my quiet voices and the ones that scream at me. I’m learning when to listen to them and when to tell them to shut the fuck up.

Those moments when I feel lonely – and they can happen out of nowhere – I stop and allow myself to feel the sun on my skin. The breeze kisses my face and I listen to the birds and crickets weave their tales. And I know the loneliness is just passing through, giving me a chance to remember that I am surrounded in, and held by Love, that I am one with the Great Mystery that sustains life. I am walking, swimming in Love. Living it and breathing it, every day.

The most important thing to me right now is to build a village for myself and my daughters. I want them to know they are held up by strong, vulnerable, intelligent, emotionally mature, protective and protected women. Women who are full of flaws and forgiveness. And when the time is right, I hope for one of those women, one of those villagers to be my partner. But for now, I am in an open relationship with myself. I know the success of all of my present and future connections – friendship and romantic – depends first on the relationship I have with the many women that make up the whole of who I am.

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I’m On a Boat!

Not really. I’m actually in a book. But I do love that boat song.

Anyway,  “G.R.I.T.S. – Girls Raised In the South: An Anthology of Southern Queer Womyns’ Voices and Their Allies” is just that – a collection of fiction and non-fiction from southern Queer women (and our allies) that affirms our existence, our dreams, loves, hopes and stories.

Grits

 

My piece, “Green Love in a Red State” was influenced by a crazy dream I had after watching Kevin Smith’s “Red State.” It was my fourth time submitting a piece and I was expecting it to be my fourth rejection. So I was over the moon when I found out I’d been added to the list of poets, historians and storytellers. 2013 has been a year full of hard-learned lessons, pain, acceptance, grieving and letting go. So I’m holding on to this bit of joy and taking it with me into the New Year.

You can review (and purchase) it here.

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A Perfect Face for Radio

Radio_Microphone_medium

Claudia Moss, host of internet radio show Talk Shoe, asked me to speak with her this afternoon about some of my blog pieces and my love for editing. I was very nervous at first, because for one, I cuss a lot and I’m afraid to let one fly on the air, and also because I’m fearful of public speaking. I’m a writer – I write, I don’t talk. But Claudia made me feel so very comfortable, and at the same time she motivated me as a writer, and reminded me that I do have people out there that are learning and growing and healing from my writing. She made me renew my dedication to writing and realize how very much I love copy editing and how passionate I am for it. And not one cuss word left my mouth!

If you’re interested, you can listen to the interview here.

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“I’d expect more out of someone who was pre-med. You should wash your hands.”

She licked her fingers, smacking loudly as she pulled each one from her mouth. “I told you not to expect anything from me.”

“Don’t you have to live up to some Hippocratic oath of cleanliness?” She waved me away as she pushed the body off the operating table and hopped on, swinging her legs like an excited child. I watched Smalls’ hollowed-out carcass hit the floor with a thud. I smiled, satisfied. I conjuretold that bitch not to fuck with me.

“I don’t have to live up to shit,” she said, bringing my attention back to her. “Besides, I haven’t been pre-med in 300 years.” She wiped the remainder of the blood on her pants and licked her lips, catching the pieces of flesh that stuck to the corners of her mouth. “Don’t look at me like that.”

“You’re a vampire,” I said.

She laughed, deep and dark. “I’m not a vampire. I was just hungry.”

My stomach threatened to reverse the chicken salad I had for lunch.

“Killing her wasn’t enough? You had to rip her fucking heart out of her chest? And eat it? You’re so dramatic Marchelle!”

“But it’s what you love about me,” she reminded me. “ And it’s why you called me; I show up and show out. So, what are we going to do about the body?”

“You’re the expert, you figure it out. You may as well finish it off. Or are you full?”

I asked more for my own benefit. If she hadn’t gotten enough, she would feed from me, and I’d be paralyzed for days. That was always the risk when I summoned her. Knowing this, I rarely called, but Smalls had to be dealt with, and Marchelle was the only one to do it.

And I missed her. I would never admit it to her, but she knew. I hadn’t summoned her in over two years. Not since the last time – I liked it more than I should have.

“Come here.” She reached out and grabbed my belt loop, pulling me to her.

“No. You’re all bloody. And we’re not going there again. I don’t even know what that was that time, but -”

I was lost in her gaze. The soft spot between my legs pulsated with whispers of her name. She kissed me, and the blood that she missed on the underside of her lip found its way into my mouth. I closed my eyes and tasted her – and Smalls – and we traveled through the darkness of eternity, stars bursting around us as forgotten souls cried out. I didn’t want to go back. And she wouldn’t make me.

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