Me Too

“Aye, baby, lemme get some of your water!”

“Come back with a better pickup line, and maybe I’ll think about it.”

Stacy tucks her water bottle under her arm, juggles her keys in her hand, closes her fingers around the small can of pepper spray on the chain, just in case he takes her comment as an invitation to follow her to the car.

That happened to Remy just last week, in this same parking lot. Thankfully, a cop was a few spaces down, writing up a police report for a minor fender bender. He gave the creep a stern talking-to about boundaries. It might’ve made a difference had the guy been a twelve-year-old boy, but it gave Remy enough time to speed out of there before he tried anything else.

Tisha wasn’t so lucky. Her husband is still afraid to touch her. She doesn’t go to the gym at night anymore. Too risky. Men are bolder after dark. Cat-calling no longer satisfies the itch. They upgrade to touching, groping, tackling, pounding behind empty brick buildings.

They don’t even wait until a woman’s passed out now—too much like fucking a dead person, and they enjoy the chase too much, the fight.

Stacy wishes her rapist shared that sentiment.

When she’s safe inside her car, she doesn’t wait for it to settle in. She locks the doors and puts it in reverse as soon as the engine turns over. When she glances up at the rear view mirror, she sees him standing in the center of the lane, arms raised as if to say, Leaving so soon?

“Yes, getting as far away from you as possible.” She’s built up her endurance on the treadmill in the last year. Can sprint a mile in under ten minutes and maintain a steady breathing pattern. She has to keep in shape in case she has to run again. Won’t let another man catch her.

—Nortina

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#MicroMondays: Haunted Wood

I am curious too. Enough to follow his flickering match between trees. Monsters aren’t real, but the low growling behind my ear still frightens me.

word count: 25

—Nortina


Written for #MicroMondays, click here for challenge details, and here to read more “curious” tales at 25 words. 

1MinFiction: Suicide Forest

Part 1

“Have you considered your options?”

He speaks as if I’m changing careers, or switching insurance providers, not choosing to end my own life.

But then, I guess it’s a therapist’s job to remain calm. And he has been patient, followed me all the way to Japan, to Aokigahara, where the hopeless living disappear to join the forest’s ghosts . . .

Part 2

Look! There’s the back of one’s head, though her body is turned to me.

I tighten the noose around my neck. It’s so quiet, I can hear Dr. Bowman swallow.

I hesitate to jump right away, but a sudden gust of wind blows the figure’s hair forward, snatches the chair from under me, and the rope squeezes the scream from my throat when I see she has no face.

—Nortina


I tried, I really tried to squeeze all of this into one minute. Alas, my fingers don’t move that fast. But the story just wasn’t complete without a part two, so today I’m giving you two stories written in two minutes. Feel free to bend the rules this week for the sake of some scary good micro-fiction!

Waiting Up for Ghosts

Shut up, and put your money where your mouth is,” Darin says.

If I had money, I’d be paying a taxi to get me the hell out of here. But my money is in my wallet, which is in my purse, with my phone, in the trunk of Darin’s car, parked half a block from here.

The whole point is to be completely cut off from the rest of the world—no distractions so we don’t miss anything. Just me, and Darin, and this dead tree stump, where three weeks ago a group of teenagers supposedly spotted Midtown’s prom night ghost.

But I don’t believe in ghosts, or so, that’s what I’ve tried to convince Darin of, but right now, I’m having a hard time convincing myself, because at every creep and crack, I’m shivering to my bones in Darin’s lap. And he seems to like it, let his hand slip under my skirt the last time I jumped.

“We’re supposed to be watching for ghosts.” And I recall this was how our particular ghost got herself killed. Alone in the dark woods with a man she didn’t know. And here I am, alone, in the dark, on the year’s unluckiest night, sitting by the edge of the forest with a man who pretends he didn’t see me when he touches my breast.

And I have to pretend I don’t want him to touch me again.

“It’s just the animals,” he says.

He reclines on the blanket, tugs the back of my blouse for me to lie down too. I tell him I’m not afraid— but I should be.

When he’s on top of me, the hem of my skirt drawn up to my navel, that’s when we hear the distant scream. A gust of wind splits through the tall grass, and Darin’s face flashes brilliantly, like lightning.

—Nortina


For Marquessa’s Fiction Friday song lyric challenge. Today’s prompt is: Shut up and put your money where your mouth is… She also asks us to tag one fellow writer to join the challenge. Since we’re trying to motivate each other to write more, I’m tagging my Nigerian sister from across the pond, Amina from Ameena’s Musings. I can’t wait to read what she comes up with!

#ThrowbackThursday Fiction: Harvest Wedding

Happy Throwback Thursday! This story, originally published October 8, 2014, started as journal assignment for a fiction writing course in college. The prompt was, “When I first heard the song . . . ”

At the time, the song I constantly had on repeat was Trey Songz’s “Almost Lose It,” which is about a wedding. Unfortunately, this wedding turned horribly sour. If you ever read or seen the Spanish play, Bodas de sangre, you can guess what happens. Actually, the original title for this story, when I turned it in for class, was “Blood Wedding.”


Harvest Wedding

Saturday afternoon in mid October. The leaves were just beginning to change colors. Beautiful reds, and oranges. With the right wind, they would break from their branches and swirl through the air until they found the right beautiful woman’s head to adorn. I was that woman, and I was walking down the aisle at Mt. Zion AME, about to start a new life with the man of my dreams, Prince Rossario. He truely was a prince; dressed in a crisp, black tux with the burgandy of his vest peeking above his jacket. Our colors were orange and Merlot red, the same as the fall leaves. The perfect harvest wedding.

As I stepped closer to my future husband, I saw the tears in his eyes sparkle. There was a gravitational pull in his gaze and I let it take over my muscular functions and pull me closer to him. I was gliding, not walking, down the aisle.

Everything was as it should be until someone came bursting through the doors behind me. Instantly, everything and everyone froze. Even the wedding song had abruptly stopped with a scratch just as it was reaching its climax. Prince’s glowing face immediately darkened into a look of dread and fear as his eyes grew wide, tore away from mine and moved past me to the dark figure standing behind me. A loud gasp came from the throat of the best man, Johnny, as he turned a disbelieving look in Prince’s direction; his bottom lip quivering.

My heart stopped and my tears that were tears of joy only seconds prior, quickly turned cold and anxious as they sliced a path down my cheeks. I slowly turned around to face the creature that had deliberately stolen the attention of every one of my guests in that sanctuary. To my astonishment, I came to face Constance Applewood, an old friend—really acquaintance—from college who had dated Prince before I came into the picture. She obviously wasn’t invited. I made sure of that. What bride wants her fiancé’s ex-girlfriend at her wedding, slouching in the front row, patiently waiting for her moment to object to the marriage and invoke chaos throughout the church as she pounces on the innocent woman in white, clawing her nails into her flesh, not quite sure if she wants to kill her rival or just scare her away, but indisputably willing to do anything to get her man back?

Prince thought I was being overly dramatic to think that Constance would go through such lengths. He assured me that his and Constance’s relationship wasn’t even a relationship; just two good friends who spent a lot of time together and occasionally had sex once or twice or three times; a faux-relationship that ended once he met me. Of course I had to remind him that less than a week after we started dating, I found “HOMEWRECKER” keyed into the side of my black Toyota Camry.

Seeing Constance stand before me confirmed that I was right not to invite her. Unfortunately, the absence of an invitation didn’t stop her from crashing my wedding. It wasn’t her presence that had shocked me and everyone else in the sanctuary. What inflicted horror into the eyes of the guests, myself, and the wedding party was a wedding dress identical to mine. From the rhinestones that trimmed the bodice to the ruffles of the gown to the design of the lace on the veil to the length of the train behind her, it was all the exact duplicate of mine. The only difference, an unmistakably huge difference, was that here dress was black. Even the bouquet she held in her hands was composed of drooping, brown flowers and weeds. The tears pouring from her eyes caused the murky mascara to run dark veins down her face. She began to shake as her screeching voice wailed, “This wedding is over!” She dropped her bouquet to reveal the shimmering, sharpened blade of a butcher knife.

“Oh, God!” someone screamed from the crown, and suddenly, chaos erupted throughout the church. Everyone swarmed toward the exit doors, unsure of the terror to follow but certain that they weren’t staying behind to find out. Guests were bouncing off of one another, trying to elbow their way through to freedom. Babies could be heard squealing in the background as they were being torn from their mothers’ arms in the midst of the mayhem. Young children were being trampled under the combination of high heels and penny loafers. In the center of all the running, tripping, falling, jumping, flailing of arms, tossing of clutch purses, scratching of pew legs across the floor, tumbling and crashing of flower vases, the epicenter of all the screams and shrieks stood Constance. Her obscure eyes pierced into my soul and it was as if she were pointing the knife right at my heart. It was reminiscent of the cheesy dramatics of a C rated action film, except there were no cameras rolling and no director to scream “CUT!” so that my stunt double could take my place. Oh, how I wished it were that way.

When the pandemonium finally subsided and all that was left in the church were those still frozen at the altar, and Constance and myself—more like yin and yang—standing in the middle aisle, silence engulfed the church once again. The tension in that sanctuary was so thick it could be cut with a knife. Unfortunately, tension was not Constance’s intended target. I dropped my bouquet and ran to the altar to stand next to my groom.

Prince wrapped me in his arms and spoke up to the menacing woman in black. “Constance, have you lost your–”

“Shut up!” she interrupted him. “You don’t get to speak.” She took a few steps closer and everyone scattered to opposite corners of the church. Johnny inched to the door behind Constance, hoping to escape unnoticed. Three of my bridesmaids created a barricade of pews in the far left corner. My parents and future in-laws hugged each other while trembling underneath the organ. Prince and I crouched behind the podium with the reverend. It wasn’t the best place to hide because no sooner than peeking over the edges of the podium did I find Constance hovering over us with the blinding blade in her hand.

Prince held up his hands in surrender. “Constance,” he started. “I get it. You’re upset.”

“I’m upset?” she blurted, in shock of Prince’s little words to her.

Reverend Jacobs stood up and approached Constance. “Sweetheart, give me the knife. We can resolve this in a peaceful manner.”

“Stay back!” she demanded, pointing the knife to his chest. She turned to Prince. “What does she have that I don’t, huh? Is, is her hair prettier than mine? Is she skinnier than me? Does, does she please you better in the bedroom?”

I wanted to correct her by saying that I was a virgin, but images of her carving me with the knife reminded me of the importance of silence.

“What is it?” she continued.

“Constance.”

“What is it!”

“I love her!”

I melted when he spoke those words. I wanted to jump into his arms, kiss him passionately, and profess how much I loved him too. Constance could not succeed in breaking us up or this wedding. I was confident of that. Her behavior, no matter how irrational, would not force him to change his feelings for me. He knew the day he met me—Super Bowl party at Johnny’s house. I was wearing a Richard Sherman jersey and held a hot wing in one hand and an open Bud Light Platinum in the other. He walked right into me and promised me that I would be disappointed and that Peyton Manning would expose Sherman for the mediocre cornerback that he was. By halftime, he was begging me for my number.

“But you don’t love me.” Constance’s voice had softened. She begin to lower the knife.

“Constance, we were never that serious. You gotta know that. When I started dating Alicia, you told me you were fine with it.” Prince held out his hand for the knife. I rose to my feet as gracefully as I could without stepping on my train and inadvertently stumbling into the butcher knife that separated me and Constance. I stood behind Prince, wrapped my arms around his waist and looked at Constance over his shoulder.

“I didn’t think you were gonna marry her!” she said. “I thought . . . I thought . . .” She turned her back to us. “I guess it doesn’t matter now,” she whispered, shrugging her shoulders.

Prince started toward her, but I pulled him back, squeezing his torso with the little strength I had. He turned to the reverend, who stepped to Constance and touched her shoulder. “Sister,” he began.

Constance didn’t turn around. She raised the knife above her head, and before the reverend could snatch it away from her, plunged it into her chest, right into her broken heart. I screamed. My parents and in-laws hidden underneath the organ screamed. My bridesmaids behind the barricade of pews screamed. Johnny has already exited the sanctuary.

Constance’s body collapsed to the floor. The reverend dropped to his knees. His hands hovered over the end of the knife in her chest, debating if pulling it out would help save her life, or just accelerate her inevitable death. He bowed his head to pray, his hands still hovering over the knife.

Prince broke free of my grasp and ran to the opposite side of Constance. He cupped the back of her head in his palm and repeatedly slapped her check, screaming, “Why? Why would you do this?” When he looked up at me, I could see the tears in his eyes. They didn’t sparkle. They didn’t tug at my heart, draw me to want to be closer to him and his bleeding ex-girlfriend. I backed away, let the weight of my wedding gown press me down to the floor. I heaved loud sobs, and when I saw the first teardrop land on my left hand, void of a wedding band, I knew we had missed our harvest.

—Nortina

Forecast

“Careful. Hurricane’s out there churning.” Steve says. “Rip currents are strong.”

Always the meteorologist. Even on vacation. I hate it. I don’t need his job reminding me of how sad I am.

I step closer to the water’s edge, seashells making crescent moon imprints on the soles of my feet, spume from the crest of the waves kissing my toes.

It’s forecast veer north, fizzle out in the ocean, but how I wish it would stay the course. Make landfall. Pull me under and drag me out to sea. How I pray he would dive in after me, swim through the crashing waves, the salt in his eyes, the entangling seaweed and obstructing driftwood, to bring me back to him. Hell or high water. My life guard to press his lips against mine, breath the air back into my lungs, the beat into my heart.

Two days ago, he proposed, and when I told him no, he said work was moving him to Texas. There he’ll be an anchor, he tried to justify, more than just a weekend weatherman. People will see him.

How far is Texas? I Googled—nearly 1,500 miles. And away from me. He makes a living predicting the future in weather patterns, but he can’t see what’s right in front of him—the storm clouds gathering above my head, that I’m caught in a whirlwind, being pulled and tossed in different directions, falling apart.

Though he hasn’t explicitly said it, this trip feels like goodbye. Why continue in a relationship that will never end in marriage?

But the truth is I love him. More than the air in my lungs, more than the salt in the sea. More than I want to see the sun rise over the ocean in the morning, or his back shrinking behind the radar green screen.

Water splashes my hips. I’m deeper than I want to be, and when I turn around, he’s a retreating blur in my periphery. I’ve been drawn so far out already. Maybe it’s easier this way. He can climb back over the sand dunes and leave me here to prune. At least then he won’t see me cry, and I won’t have to explain again why it hurts too much to marry him.

Nortina

#1MinFiction: Knock, Knock

“Don’t open the door!” Jason screams. He dives toward me, shoulder first, and slams it shut just as I’m turning the knob, pulling it back.

“Are you nuts? Mom is out there!”

He twists the dead bolt. “Can’t you see? Mom is gone.”

On the other side, low guttural moans increase. Shuffling of feet, a frantic clawing against the wood . . .

—Nortina


Monday’s One-Minute Fiction challenges you to write a story in one minute, no more, no less, based on the prompt provided. October will be full of terrifying Halloween-themed prompts. Today’s prompt is: don’t open the door.

Recurring Nightmare

It was only a dream, but when I see him in the checkout line, three aisles down, my heart quickens, and I remember his eyes shooting bullets through my chest, two thumbs applying pressure to my throat.

The air in here is stifling—I can’t breathe. Leaving my groceries on the conveyor belt, I dash for the exit, nearly colliding with a woman steering two shopping carts; one carries the children who will devour the food in the other within a week.

The humid air of the late summer afternoon is a surprising relief to my lungs. But the reprieve is brief. A whisper of sliding doors behind—he’s followed me.

He doesn’t even know how much he should hate me. Suspicion of what I have done far from his imagination. Yet it haunts me every night while I sleep.

He’s seen the woman with the three kids. That will be us soon, he tells me, with his two and our one on the way.

Only, it’s not on the way. At least not his third. And it’s only after he bends to hug my expanding stomach that I notice who is with him.

His companion shakes his head, knowing what I want to say. How long can we keep this secret? Until the baby’s born? How long before family resemblance can no longer hold as an excuse for why his child looks more like his brother than him? And would he ever believe me if I tell him it was rape?

He stands to kiss me, lips dry and rough like the first time I told his brother no.

He says he’ll be working late tonight but will come by after his shift—the ex watching the kids. As much as I love him, I tell him no. I must sleep, don’t want the truth of my nightmares to slip out while he holds me.

A friend once offered me sleeping pills to make the nights more bearable—at risk of hurting the baby, but I’m desperate to do anything. I’ll bury my head underneath a mountain of pillows because I fear his hatred more than never waking from a dream that kills me.

—Nortina


 

Fright Night Fridays:  Every Friday night, dare to venture into something spooky, something paranormal, something suspenseful, something that would surely give you a fright. Are you brave enough to stick around?

#1MinFiction: Poltergeist

“Do you hear that?”

“No,” I lie. Has he been awake as long as I? Up an hour listening to the knocking on the roof, trying to write it off as insomniac squirrels, acorns falling from the oak tree in our backyard.

“Do you see that!”

He doesn’t answer, pretends to be asleep, but I can’t shut my eyes to the mist approaching from the foot of our bed.

—Nortina


Monday’s One-Minute Fiction challenges you to write a story in one minute, no more, no less, based on the prompt provided. October will be full of terrifying Halloween-themed prompts. Today’s prompt is: poltergeist.

Bad Decisions

“I would get down on my knees, I would do anything for you…”

I didn’t think he would take it literally. But then, he has a simple mind.

I’m too old to be on the floor that long, joints still popping when I enter the house hours later. And was it so hard just to do it in the bed? I’d disappear under the covers, lay my face in his lap. But then, he likes to tower over me, watch me be submissive.

Dick.

I slam my keys on the kitchen counter, open the refrigerator and stand there like anything’s changed since this morning. I stretch my neck. My jaw is still tight, my lips raw, when I burp I taste him.

I shut the door and take two fiery red cinnamon flavored gum sticks out of my purse. Suck on them between my tongue and the roof of my mouth.

Suck. Poor choice of words. Too soon.

It’s hard to swallow, my throat still sore. He grabbed the back of my head and forced me down the length of him. The least he could’ve done was warn me before—

I dive for the sink, dry-heave over the drain for a solid five minutes, until my sides hurt. If only I can regurgitate the rest of him out of me before the seed takes root, leaves me planted here to rot forever.

Nortina


For Marquessa’s Fiction Friday song lyric challenge. Today’s prompt is: I would get down on my knees, I would do anything for you. She also asks us to tag one fellow fiction writer to join in this week. I’m tagging a blog I recently followed, SoloRien. She writes great stories in response to fiction prompts, and I’m eager to read what she comes up with for this one! 🙂