His name was Triton

close up photo of bear chested man with tattoos posing by the beach

I met him under the sea—knocked unconscious by powerful waves. He swam me to shore.

He had a goatee thick like seaweed, long rope-like dreads, skin glistening like sand under the hot sun.

He said he was divorced, never considered finding love in a land walker until his youngest daughter married one.

He proposed with a conch shell. I brought it to my ear, and his voice drew me out to the ocean like the tide.

My family didn’t believe me when I said I was marrying a merman.

Not until I dipped my head underwater and never resurfaced.

© Nortina Simmons

Morning Inspiration: Writing Prompt No. 65

woman lying down with flowers in boat

This is your morning inspiration! Let your mind be inspired by today’s prompt and awaken your will to write. It doesn’t have to be a complete story. It doesn’t even have to be a complete thought. The challenge is simply to get those creative juices flowing, kickstart a new day of writing, and discover the talented artist within.

This Morning’s Prompt

woman lying down with flowers in boat

My family didn’t believe me when I said I was marrying a merman…

Alone at last

Jeffery agreed to take the children out for ice cream and a movie. Finally, she’d have the house to herself.

She would reminisce of a life before a husband and kids.

She untied her robe, let it drop to the floor, felt the cool kiss of air on her nipples as the air conditioning kicked on for the final day of summer. She imagined a younger Jeffery behind her, cupping her breasts in his hands, biting her neck.

She kept a rose toy in a shoebox in her closet. Desiring a quick release, she would finally put it to use.

© Nortina Simmons

Morning Inspiration: Writing Prompt No. 64

This is your morning inspiration! Let your mind be inspired by today’s prompt and awaken your will to write. It doesn’t have to be a complete story. It doesn’t even have to be a complete thought. The challenge is simply to get those creative juices flowing, kickstart a new day of writing, and discover the talented artist within.

This Morning’s Prompt

Finally, she’d have the house to herself…

Birthdays after 21 suck…

man with party hat celebrating birthday alone

Today my baby cousin—who I call my son because I dreamt about him before he was born—is turning one, and though he more than likely won’t remember this birthday, I have one piece of advice for the little guy: Enjoy these while you’re young, because once you get to be my age, birthdays pretty much suck.

When you’re a kid, you get to look forward to cake and musical chairs. When you’re 18, you get to vote. When you’re 21, you get to drink. After that, just pick yourself up a box of laxatives, get your dentures at the door, and stop trippin’.

Max on Living Single, S3Ep4, “Grumpy Old Man”
man with party hat celebrating birthday alone
Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels.com

The whole concept of the birthday party is dead. At least, after 21 it is. And the person who described it the best is none other than Maxine “Ride the Maverick” Shaw from the hit 90s TV series Living Single.

A few years ago BC (Before COVID), I tried to plan a birthday party. I had just moved out of my mom’s house and into my first apartment. I’d just started a new job in a new city. I was so excited, and I wanted to share the good news with everyone. So, I posted in the family Facebook group, which has 44 members, “Come to my housewarming/birthday party!” I provided my address. I gave the time. I said, “Don’t worry about food. I’ve got that covered!” I received plenty of congratulations, but when my birthday came around, apart from the people I expected to be there—mom, brother, who skedaddled right after we cut the cake—not a soul showed up. Not even a card in the mail.

The year after, I was so disheartened by what happened, I didn’t try to plan a big get-together. I said, “F*ck everybody! I’m leaving the country!” I called up my two closest girlfriends, and we went to Mexico.

The following year, March 2020, everyone was on lockdown. I skipped 2021 because ME, MYSELF, AND EYE was still on lockdown, even if everyone else had stopped. And last year, for the big milestone, the number that starts with 3, when I felt comfortable enough to travel internationally again, I packed my bags and went to the Maldives by myself!

Well, not completely by myself, but that’s another story…

Similarly, after a traumatizing Christmas squabble with a family member in 2019, Mom and I decided we were not staying home for Christmas anymore. Every Christmas since, we have traveled (to Biltmore Estates in Asheville, NC, in 2020, to Charlotte, NC, to see the Carolina Panthers vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2021).

Christmas at Biltmore

Apologies for the grainy cellphone photos. I’m obviously not a professional. 🙂 Also, I didn’t actually take any outside pictures of the castle on this trip for some strange reason, so the last four pictures are from another visit. The snow feels befitting of Christmas though, right?

By the way, here’s what the castle looks like on a better-quality camera.

grand view of castle from courtyard of bright green grass
Photo by Francisco Cornellana Castells on Pexels.com

Christmas with the Carolina Panthers

The best pictures I could get of Tom Brady (left; #12) and Cam Newton (right; #1, on the sidelines)

Birthday in Tulum, Mexico

Mayan ruins, ocean views, cruise ship docked at port, lizard sunbathing, sunsets over the sea, selfie from the balcony, tiny birthday cake.

Birthday in Maldives

Tiny birthday cake, “Happy B’Day” flower arrangement on dinner table, watching the sunset on the pier, lounging on the beach, tiki bar, resort villas, sharks, and sipping on a papaya milkshake.


Funny that these Christmas and birthday experiences have a common denominator: family members disappointing you to the point that you just run away. Like Max said, when you’re a kid, you get cake and fun and games. Everyone wants to love on you and celebrate the little one growing up. When you’re a teenager, you’re looking forward to gaining more independence—you can get a car at 16, you’re legal at 18, and when you’re 21, you can drink!

But what happens after 21? It’s as if everyone who’s been in your life all these years suddenly stop caring until you die. And it’s ironic, because I have family members will totally guilt trip me if I don’t buy them a present for their birthday every year, and yet I spent my birthday in 2018 completely alone.

It’s hard to be sincere when you’re around people like that. And so I leave.

gif of kid doing the peace sign with his index and middle fingers and then disappearing

Anyway, getting back to my “son,” I’m sure the little man will enjoy his birthday no matter how old he is. As for me, I haven’t decided what I’ll do for my birthday next year. Maybe escape to some place foreign or tropical. Or if the money isn’t there, maybe I’ll book a Getaway cabin in the mountains, where it’ll be just me, myself, my notebook, Mother Nature, and maybe a hot beverage.

My mental health deserves it.

logo: cartoon of girl with glass and her hair tied in a bun reading a book

—Nortina

Guilty conscience

“Guilty!” the judge declares.

I lose all feeling in my legs.

My sister helps me up, and I watch, through tears, the bailiff handcuff Michael and guide him to the door left of the defendant’s bench.

He doesn’t take one glace back at me.

“This can’t be happening,” I say breathlessly. “I can’t let him go to prison for something I did.”

“Shut up!” she snaps. “What’s done is done. Let’s go.”

But I can’t move. Because the man in my freezer isn’t the first. And with Michael locked away, what will happen to me when the next one dies?

© Nortina Simmons

Morning Inspiration: Writing Prompt No. 63

This is your morning inspiration! Let your mind be inspired by today’s prompt and awaken your will to write. It doesn’t have to be a complete story. It doesn’t even have to be a complete thought. The challenge is simply to get those creative juices flowing, kickstart a new day of writing, and discover the talented artist within.

This Morning’s Prompt

I can’t let him go to prison for something I did…

Desperate housewife

Woman in Red Dress Leaning on the Wall

Waiting outside his hotel room, I feel desperate. This defeats the whole purpose of a one-night stand.

“No strings,” I told him with slurred speech.

But I’m sober now.

My husband is dead.

And I need an alibi.

Like I said, I’m desperate.

When the door opens, I straighten against the wall. He jumps when he sees me.

“Oh, it’s you.”

I should be relieved he remembers me.

“I need you to say you were with me last night.”

He scoffs. “I’m late for a conference.” He puts on his blazer and sidesteps me. But I’m desperate, so I follow.

© Nortina Simmons


A longer fleshed-out version of this story (or maybe even a serial) could be in the works. 😉 Let me know what you think.

Morning Inspiration: Writing Prompt No. 62

woman in red dress leaning on the wall

This is your morning inspiration! Let your mind be inspired by today’s prompt and awaken your will to write. It doesn’t have to be a complete story. It doesn’t even have to be a complete thought. The challenge is simply to get those creative juices flowing, kickstart a new day of writing, and discover the talented artist within.

This Morning’s Prompt

This defeats the whole purpose of a one-night stand…

When He Calls

It’s just five in the morning—the sun’s made no plans to rise—but Sharon’s shift at the 24-hour McDonald’s two blocks away ended early, and all evidence of my presence has to disappear before she gets back… including me.

I shouldn’t have come. I’m not the one to console him while he cries about his unlovable wife. And I should have told him enough after his third shot. Better yet, I was supposed to be gone before his homeboy arrived with the weed. Instead we three hotboxed in his car parked on the street, and I got so high I couldn’t feel the ground beneath me. Or his lips when he kissed my neck once back inside the apartment. When he slipped his cool fingers under my shirt, looped his belt around my ankles.

“This isn’t right,” he said, but pressed inside me anyway, and I cried into his oversize shirt while still grappling for his hips, needing to feel him closer, telling myself again and again, This is wrong. You’ll never get over him if you keep fucking him… 

Photo by @IAMCONNORRM from nappy.co

He sits at the end of the bed, fully dressed, his back turned to me. He lights a cigarette, blows smoke toward the spinning ceiling fan overhead. I wish he’d just look at me, assure me that we’re still good, that we can at least remain friends.

You know that will never work, that nagging voice of reason tells me.

I shake into my too-tight skinny jeans, denim scratching against dry skin. I try to ignore the images that arise when my breasts slap against my chest as I bounce to pull the jeans over my hips. His teeth, his tongue, the urgent ins and outs of his strokes. Last night never happened, I tell myself, if we want it to remain a secret.

Only, I can’t find my bra. I pat my hair for loose ties, hanging Bobbi pins. I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I look like a fucking slut with no shame, and it’s how he treats me.

“Will you walk me out?” I cross my arms over my chest, tuck my hands under my armpit, try to conceal my sagging breasts, scrapping at my last bit of dignity.

He takes another drag, blows, nods, still avoids eye contact. I follow him down the hall to the front room, where he checks the window before twisting the deadbolt.

“I’ll call you,” he says with a shrug. He leans against the open door and drapes his arm over the top.

Don’t answer. All he has to offer is drunk, lonely sex, that voices says again, but in my heart, I want to stand on my tiptoes and stretch for his lips.

He dips his head, pecks me like birdseed, so quick it’s easily swallowed and forgotten. He scans the parking lot for his wife’s car, then pushes me along. The door is slammed shut and locked before I can take the first step off the stoop.

Part of me wants to stay here. Part of me wants to be caught, so I can stop living this lie. I’m drained of dreaming a fantasy that my love whom I’ve loved since high school will finally love me back.

© Nortina Simmons 


Originally published September 22, 2017