#AtoZChallenge A Drabble for a Tag: Bad Decisions

Thirty. Thirty years old and all I have to show for it is this drink and a lifetime of bad decisions.

I gulp down to the ice as he watches me, waiting for approval. He did buy me a drink after all. After the bartender accused me of lying about my age.

Who would lie about being thirty?

“Thanks for making this birthday a little less forgettable.” I raise my glass.

“I can make it unforgettable,” he whispers. His accent is laced with something exotic, dark and dangerous…

It wouldn’t be my thirtieth without one more bad decision from my twenties.

—Nortina


The A to Z Challenge is back, and this year, I’m giving you 26 drabbles (~100-word stories) using some of my favorite unused or underused tags.

Today’s tag is “bad decisions,” and for a blog that’s known for its twisted love stories and other peculiar tales, you’d think I’d have more stories about bad decision-making on this blog. I have a feeling there are more bad decisions in store for this couple…

Stay tuned for “C” tomorrow.

 

Black Poetry Writing Month: Write a Song from the Front Yard

A Song in the Front Yard

I’ve stayed in the front yard all my life.
I want a peek at the back
Where it’s rough and untended and hungry weed grows.
A girl gets sick of a rose.

I want to go in the back yard now
And maybe down the alley,
To where the charity children play.
I want a good time today.

They do some wonderful things.
They have some wonderful fun.
My mother sneers, but I say it’s fine
How they don’t have to go in at quarter to nine.
My mother, she tells me that Johnnie Mae
Will grow up to be a bad woman.
That George’ll be taken to Jail soon or late
(On account of last winter he sold our back gate).

But I say it’s fine. Honest, I do.
And I’d like to be a bad woman, too,
And wear the brave stockings of night-black lace
And strut down the streets with paint on my face.

—Gwendolyn Brooks, from Selected Poems (1963)

 

We end our Gwendolyn Brooks weekend with “A Song in the Front Yard.” Following the theme of the last two days, the speaker of this poem, a sheltered child, sees what she thinks is greener grass on the other side and wants to go there. The “back yard” or the “alley” could represent the other side of the train tracks, the rougher side of town, the bad neighborhood. She’s curious; she sees the children there having more fun, doing what they want, but her mother keeps her in the “front yard” where she’s protected and not influenced by those no good kids with no home training—because either their parents don’t care, are as young as they are, or just aren’t around, leaving the task of raising the children to the grandparents—who have no future but prison (George) or prostitution (Johnnie Mae).

I love this poem because it embraces the innocent child’s voice so effortlessly. Children are notorious for wanting the very things their parent forbid them from having. “But all the other kids are doing it,” I can hear her whine, “and Johnnie Mae looks so pretty.” It’s only natural that they look at other children doing something they’re not allowed to do and automatically think that it’s cool. “Why not?” they cry, “it doesn’t look so bad.”

road-869589_960_720

Brooks balances out the child’s “song” with the inclusion of the mother’s rational thinking. With age, she’s old enough to understand. She sees the path the other children are running toward, and she wants to save her own child from that. This mother reminds me so much of my own, who wouldn’t let us go to certain parks by ourselves, or play with certain kids in our neighborhood, or stay outside past the time the streetlights came one. At the time, I just thought she was being overprotective and too strict.

Years later, those kids I wanted so desperately to play with don’t have careers; they aren’t working, or if they are, they’re working low-wage jobs because they didn’t go to college. Their priorities are messed up because they live beyond their means. Most of those boys are in jail, and those girls have kids of their own with deadbeat dads, cursed to follow the same fate as their parents. Maybe they’re happy with the paths they chose, but boy, mama sure does know best.

For today’s BlaPoWriMo prompt, write a song from the front yard. What does the child see that she just has to have? What makes it dangerous? Who is the voice of reason that saves her from a life of poor decisions and a permanent residence in the unkempt “back yard”?

Hump-bug

Hunger, a lingering cold, a headache, and writer’s block kept me from writing a new tale for Day 10, but I must continue the tradition, so let’s revisit a pair of Holiday Hooligans from a “Christmas” story I posted in July…

Bathroom Affairs

(Originally written for Literary Lion. View original post here.)

I am the product of too much Eggnog and Bourbon balls consumed before 10pm. Conceived between the flimsy, paint-chipped walls of a men’s bathroom during the office Christmas party. Under the mistletoe, he breathed into Mama’s mouth that he had to take a piss, and she, drunken by his words, followed, not even waiting a few minutes between their trips to avoid curious glances and scandalous whispers from their co-workers.

At least Mama wasn’t slutty enough to do it in the urinal. She stood barefoot on the seat of the toilet, not wanting her high heels to slip on the porcelain, stretched her other leg over the wall, posing like a cheerleader atop of a pyramid. He climbed aboard, balanced one foot on the seat, the other leg wrapped around her waist, foot pressed on the tank cover. He never took his pants off, just unzipped his fly, flung out his dick and rhythmically thrust it into Mama for a minute and a half until his convulsing body caused him to slip and flush the toilet with his big toe.

If only it had flushed half of me down that drain, but his sperm was already mingling inside her fallopian tubes, racing for an egg to fertilize by the time the water returned and Mama pulled down her dress.

The company hasn’t invited temps to the Christmas parties since.

Mama was never that smart. She was hired because she was cute, fired for the same reason. Maybe it was a pitiful joke to herself, or a vindictive reminder to her non-child support paying, married then divorced bathroom lover, or maybe she just couldn’t spell. Nevertheless, she named her only daughter Merry Crystal. I was cursed before I ever exited the womb—feet first, I might add.

—Nortina