Y is for… [Y]oke #AtoZChallenge

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
(Matthew 11:28-30)

 

I remember when the boys were little, their father built them a treehouse. Nothing fancy, just a few wood boards nailed together on the lower branches of one of the sycamores in the backyard.

Tony and Gregory could barely hide there excitement, planning to camp out under the stars that very night. I watched the three of them outside from the kitchen window. Tony stood at the foot of the ladder as Antonio worked, handing a new plank board up to him as he finished hammering the first.

Gregory, on the other hand, was in the tree, sitting on the branch by his father’s shoulders. The leaves nearly covered his whole body, but for his legs swinging in the air. I was surprised to see him up there at all, since he had always been afraid of heights. During our annual Fourth of July cookout at Mama’s house, when it was time to view the fireworks from the roof, Gregory would catch a sudden spell of vertigo, and someone would always have to stay on ground with him to watch the show.

But there was no fear in him that day. Maybe it was the reassurance that his father was right there to reach out his arm and catch him in one scoop if he were to slip.

After the treehouse was finished, the three of them took my grandmother’s patch quilt, torn and ragged from years of use, and a couple pillows for a makeshift bed on the boards. They spent the night outside in their boys only clubhouse. Occasionally, I crept out to the tree to check on them. Antonio lay in the middle, arms draped over the shoulders of both boys, pulling them into him and away from the edge of the treehouse floor, protecting them from falling in their sleep.

I always regretted not taking a picture of that moment. But I stood in the backyard for several minutes that night, watching them sleep, overwhelmed by the peace of night, the chirping symphony of crickets, the breeze ruffling through the leaves like a curtain of timbrels. I was so in love with my family in that moment. If there were room, I would’ve climbed that tree and joined them, laying across the planks at their feet.

The next morning, I got up early to cook breakfast for them. Country ham steak with hash browns and eggs—fried over easy for Antonio, scrambled for the boys. They cleaned their plates. “The best breakfast I ever had!” Gregory exclaimed. He was such an overenthusiastic child. Between bites, they talked of their night in the treehouse, identifying the constellations, storytelling by moonlight, how they wanted to do it all again. And they did. The next weekend, and the weekend after that. It became ritual. Antonio and the boys would sleep in the treehouse, and I would cook Gregory’s favorite breakfast for them in the morning. We did this until the boys eventually grew too old for treehouse sleepovers with their dad.

And after a while, the wood planks wore away, became part of the tree, abandoned.

When Antonio died, Gregory went back to that treehouse. He rose early in the morning, just before the sun. I heard the chime of the back door when it opened and sat up to watch his legs dangle from the lower branch of the tree. He stayed out there for only an hour, said nothing when he came back inside, and I never brought it up. But the second morning he left for the treehouse, I rushed to the kitchen, had warm ham steak, hash browns and scrambled eggs waiting for him in the kitchen table when he returned.

Only a simple gesture, and I did it just once, for he never went to the old treehouse again. Sometimes I wonder if it wasn’t enough to keep him. I look out the kitchen window now, the leaves out back overgrown, weighing the limbs down, concealing the splintered treehouse floor, but I imagine I’ll see a shoe drop from the heights, a skinny child’s leg the color of bark, swinging back and forth.

—Nortina


I struggled with a topic for today. I’ve written so much about Lost Boy, it seems, that I have run out of things to say! Finally, I settled on another kind of character sketch for Leslie (and Gregory). Also, read this post for an explanation for the opening scripture. Only one more day left of the A to Z Challenge. I think I have one last post left in me…

 

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K is for… [K]indred #AtoZChallenge

Apparently there aren’t many words in the English language that begin with “K”—that or I need to pick up a dictionary and expand my vocabulary, because this is the second time I’ve used kin (or a variation of the word) as my “K” post for the A to Z Challenge. However, be not alarmed; this isn’t a copout post. I’m still reeling on the flood of inspiration I received while writing my late “J” post this morning, so let’s hop into it!

In this novel planning session, we’re going to take a look at our secondary characters—this basically being a family story, let’s call them the kinfolk of our main characters, Leslie, Detective Maye, and Gregory.

Who are they?

  • Antonio Fields, Sr. – Late husband of Leslie Fields and father of Tony and Gregory Fields
  • Antonio “Tony” Fields, Jr. – Older brother of Gregory and eldest son to Leslie and Antonio, Sr.
  • Stella Johnson – Mother of Leslie and grandmother of Tony and Gregory
  • Tammi White – Gregory’s Fiancé
  • Jacquelyn White – Mother of Tammi and future mother-in-law of Gregory
  • Giovanni “Gio” Maye –  Missing (presumed deceased) father of Detective Frank Maye
  • Clara Maye – Deceased mother of Frank, wife of Gio, and older sister of Bethel
  • Bethel Simms – Younger sister of Clara and aunt to Frank

 

What I love about planning a novel is that things so often change as the story comes together. Looking over this character list, I’m sure you’ve noticed some changes. So let’s look at the first significant change:

1. Tanisha becomes Tammi.

I wasn’t totally in love with the name Tanisha when she first appeared in Broken Vow, but for the sake of finishing the flashback and not getting stuck on something as small as a name, I just threw one in there, with the prevision to change it later. My thinking behind the name Tammi was that I wanted her to have a pretty, feminine name that would be in direct contrast with her succubus nature. Tanisha just wasn’t doing that for me—my mind kept going back to Bad Girls Club.

So Tanisha is now Tammi.

Also added is her mother, Jacquelyn. Jacquelyn won’t play a major part in the novel; we probably won’t even see her, apart from her antics being recounted by other characters. All you need to know about Jacquelyn is that the apple (aka Tammi) doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Both Tammi and Jacquelyn use Gregory for the little money that he does have. When it comes to anything that may cost them their time and energy, their only thought process is, “What can I get out of it?” To them, Gregory, who was taught at an early age the importance of giving, is a walking ATM. While it is said that the man is supposed to be the provider of the home, Gregory is more of a slave or servant to Tammi and Jacquelyn. What’s worse is that Jacquelyn is married, yet she takes from Gregory what her husband should be giving. I won’t even bother to give him a name, because that’s how insignificant and worthless of a man her husband is.

2. Frank is already a missing persons detective when his father disappears.

In Frank’s character sketch earlier in the challenge, I mentioned that the disappearance of his father—now named Gio—was the reason Frank became a missing persons detective—he desperately wanted to find his father.

Well, that all changed with Ice Cold. In this flashback, Frank is remembering the circumstances surrounding his father’s disappearance. He was deep in a troublesome (possible sex-trafficking) case of a missing five-year-old. That day was also his parents’ anniversary. He last spoke to Gio that morning. Gio was on his way to the florist to buy a last minute anniversary gift for Clara. Later that day, when Frank arrived at his parents’ house, he learned from his mother that Gio had never returned. That was nine years ago (previously two).

I think this change strengthens Frank’s story, because 1.) He’s a missing persons detective who for nine years can not find his missing father. 2.) His mother, Clara, dies earlier this year without ever knowing what happened to her husband, which would definitely eat away at Frank’s psyche. 3.) When he’s assigned to Gregory’s case, he meets another grieving widow, who lost her husband around the same time Gio disappeared. Now her son is missing, and Frank wants more than anything to bring her that closure he could never give his own mother.

Also gone is Gio’s dementia. Someone that far gone, probably wouldn’t be allowed to leave the house by himself. It’s possible his dementia was still in the early stages—like his sister-in-law, Bethel—and he was able to hide it from his family. This could explain why Frank is overprotective of Bethel, studying her closely for the signs he failed to see in Gio.

3. Tony’s character is growing more in importance.

Who is Tony? We still don’t know. You’ll get a in depth character sketch soon enough, but stay tuned for some flashback scenes featuring an adult Tony. Is he still the jackass he was as a teenager at Antonio Sr.’s funeral? To say it plainly—yes. But he’s not a jackass just for the sake of being a jackass. In truth, I think he’s jealous of Gregory. Being the younger son, Gregory receives more attention from Leslie. It is apparent in Eulogy, in how quickly a distraught Leslie dismisses Tony (her excuse being his attitude) yet coddles Gregory to the point of suffocation. Is it because Tony’s the problem child, as is explained in that flashback? Is there favoritism between the brothers? How does this translate into Tony’s adulthood—his relationship with Leslie, with Gregory? What is his response to Gregory’s disappearance? I won’t go so far as to say he doesn’t care, but it’s definitely not the same as Leslie’s. We’ll see that in the climax of the novel.

4. Prodigal Son* has a new name!

Switching gears, let’s talk about titles. I’m horrible with them. Rarely do I have a title before I finish a work. And even after I finish, it sometimes would take me days to come up with a title. But my temporary title, Prodigal Son* was so cliché and cringe-worthy, I thought long and hard on a new title. It’s still a work in progress, but may I present to you… Lost Boy!

I’ll probably change it again, but we’ll stick with it for now. Tell what you think? Do you have any suggestions for a title?

Well, that’s it for this post. I hope you’re just as excited about Lost Boy as I am! I’ll be travelling for the Easter Holiday this weekend, so tomorrow and Saturday’s posts may be delayed, but I promise you I haven’t disappeared again! Writer’s block will not win!

J is for… [J]ail #AtoZChallenge

Where’s the justice?

As you may know, this year’s A to Z Challenge is all about planning my novel for NaNoWriMo… because for once I’d like to start and finish a project this year.

In this brief brainstorming session, we’re going to look at our (America’s) crooked justice system and how large (or small) a role it will play in Prodigal Son* (yes, title is still a work in progress).

This post is a day late, unfortunately (I will not fall behind. I will not fall behind). The lid to my well of inspiration was temporarily shut, and I spent most of yesterday in a tug-of-war match with my writer’s block, trying to get it open. Finally, at a little after midnight, when I was dead-dog tired and barely able to keep my eyes open, the idea came to me.

If you’re a writer, you understand how absolutely frustrating it is to have nothing for most of the day, and then the second you are lying in your bed, wrapped up comfortably in your warm, freshly washed sheets, on the brink of sleep… ding! the light bulb comes on.

J is for jail . . . or justice system. (Looky there, they both start with “J”— basic, easy, obvious for this particular novel, yet for some reason, I couldn’t think of it before midnight last night.)

These days, the justice system has been under a lot of scrutiny. (Black Lives Matter ring any bells?) Of course, if you’re black, or at least “woke” (adjective. definition – aware of or updated on current events, especially if they pertain to race), you know this is nothing new. Our prisons are overcrowded, and yes, we’d like to think that everyone behind bars is there because they committed a heinous crime, but that’s not always the case. And thanks to easy accessibility to news (and fake news) through social media and 24/hour news networks like CNN, we’ve seen how money, connections, race, and begging and pleading parents can get a despicable criminal off scot-free, and how it can also get a suspect (who may not always be guilty) tossed in jail (if not killed by police or crackpot vigilantes first) with an excessively long sentence for a victim-less crime.

Will Gregory go to jail for his crime? We don’t want him to. We’ve seen how desperate he’s become in previous backstories—finding out his girlfriend is pregnant, losing his source of income, dealing with Tanisha’s leech-like family—but he still broke the law, and by law, he has to pay for it (pun not intended but surprisingly satisfying). Where’s the sympathy?

This is where Tony, Gregory’s brother, comes in. We still don’t know much about him, but as a teenager, he was sort of a dick, to say it plainly. Is he still that way as an adult. How will he respond to his brother’s disappearance, to his transgressions? Keep in mind, this novel (as seen in my interim title) will allude back to the biblical parable of the Prodigal Son (also called the Lost Son) in Luke 15:11-32. If you get a chance to read it, I want you to look particularly at verses 28 through 30. Notice how the older brother reacts to the return of the lost son. This should give you a clue to Tony’s possible motives/actions toward the climax of this novel.

I’ll leave you to guess on it for now. Then when I post my official outline later in the challenge, we’ll see how many of you guessed right.

How else will we see jail and the justice system used in this novel? Well, besides the obvious—Frank Maye, missing persons detective—I want to take a closer look at Leslie’s work in the Prison Ministry.

For Tuesday’s “I” post, I almost wrote a scene titled “Inmate.” In that scene, Leslie visits the county jail downtown with the other members of the ministry. For most church prison ministries, when the small team of evangelists go to minister with the inmates, the men usually meet with the male inmates, and the women with the female inmates. I won’t deviate from that in this novel, so if you thought that Leslie would discover her son in jail while doing the work of ministry, sorry to disappoint you, but that would be way too easy.

However, she will meet with a female inmate (and as I’m writing this, the idea suddenly popped into my head that maybe she develops a friendship with this woman, oftentimes visiting her outside of ministry work), and the conversations they have—though I haven’t figured out the how yet—will help her to figure some things out about Gregory and his situation (bring her peace, bring her understanding?).

The more I thought about this scene (or scenes) and watched it (them) unfold in my head, the more I realized that I wanted to put it (them) in the novel itself (and the plot thickens), and since the actual “novel writing” won’t begin until November, Tuesday’s post was changed to a backstory on Frank—looking at the circumstances surrounding his father’s disappearance and giving you a little more on his character—since we still don’t know much about him yet.

There may be other areas where I’ll use jail and/or the justice system, but I don’t want to go too deep into it because this isn’t a crime novel (actually, I haven’t figured out what the genre is—Christian fiction? Adult literary fiction?). The focus will still be on our main characters, Leslie, Frank, and to an extent, Gregory. This story is about them, their shared experience through the storm on the road to healing, reconciliation, and maybe forgiveness…

Pausing to look over this post, I realize I did a lot of rambling. Sometimes you just gotta talk things out to urge that brilliant idea forward. I’m definitely at a better place a day late than I was last night. There’s a method to my stream of consciousness madness, I promise!

So, I conclude this post with a potential (rough) outline/plot to my novel in progress.

↗ Climax – Tony’s jealousy/malice

↗  Rising action – Prison Ministry 

Beginning – Missing Gregory

It’s slowly coming together! See you later tonight, when I hope to post “K” and get back on schedule!

—Nortina

I is for… [I]ce Cold #AtoZChallenge

He remembered it being cold that day. First day of Spring and ice cold, not uncommon in North Carolina. The state was known for its erratic weather patterns. One could experience all for seasons over the course of a week—14 degrees on Sunday, 70 by Thursday. He’d seen it happen more than once.

He remember laughing at the forecast as he dressed for work that morning. A high of 39 after such a warm February. Trees budding early, pollen already upsetting allergies, people wearing shorts and flip flops despite the groundhog predicting six more weeks of winter.

He remembered misplacing his service weapon. The case he had been working on for the last three months was getting to him. Five-year-old girl missing. Drug addicted mother suspected of selling her into sex slavery for a hit. The night before, he and Spence chased a lead all the way to the Virginia border. Black male, long dreadlocks with gold tips, fitting the dealer’s description, entering the woods behind a park with a little girl in a pink floral Sunday dress. Emerging a little over half an hour later alone.

In collaboration with the local police department, they swept that park until well past midnight, brought the hounds, half the town, the father and his family from Texas. No luck finding a body, or any trace that the little girl had even been there. It was disheartening for everyone, to be so close and still not find any answers, but what upset him more was that father. How he could leave his daughter in the hands of someone clearly unfit to be a parent.

The mother’s addiction didn’t start overnight. He remembered interrogating her back at the station. How she looked—skeletal—her words incoherent, sentences choppy, laughing at her own flat jokes, referring to random events in her past that had nothing to do with the case or her daughter, not knowing her own daughter’s name. How it was so easy for her to sell her child to the devil for a day’s high. This addiction sprung from years of seed taking root. The father knew this, and left anyway. As far as Frank was concerned, he was just as responsible.

After calling it a night due to darkness and fatigue, he remembered taking out his handcuffs, threatening the father, decking him hard in the jaw, ended up spraining his hand pretty badly because the man was built like a linebacker.

Spence dragged him home after that. He remembered crashing on the couch, waking up what seemed like minutes later to bright sunlight and his cell phone’s obnoxious ringtone.

“Don’t tell your mother I forgot our anniversary,” he remembered his father had said.

“Aw, Dad, at your age, I think she’ll forgive you,” he’d said laughing. He rolled to his side, found the floor, and balancing on the arm of the couch, pulled himself up to his feet.

“Remember, you gotta get this old one day.”

He remembered he flicked on the bathroom light, studied himself in the mirror. His disheveled hair, the ring on his cheek from how he slept on the couch. “With this job, I don’t think I’m gonna make it to that age, old man.”

“Bad news on the case?”

“Worse news is no news.” He sighed, squirted toothpaste on his toothbrush and ran it under the faucet. “At this point, we’re looking for a body. I just hate that his happened to a little girl.”

“We all do, son. She didn’t deserve this. There’s a special place in hell reserved for people who do that to children.”

He held the phone away from his ear and spat into the sink, then took a towel from the rack and wiped his mouth. When he finished in the bathroom, he said, “Yea, well they better hope I’m not the one to send them there, ’cause I’ll make sure it’s painful.”

He remembered they were silent for several minutes. Frank noticed his father’s heavy breathing on the other end and asked if his sleep apnea was getting any better. Of course the old man denied ever having a problem.

“I’ll probably be over tonight after work, around six. If nothing new happens with the case.” Frank said later.

“Don’t rush. I’m gonna run over to the floral shop, see if I can’t buy your mother some flowers.”

“Anything but roses.”

The old man chuckled. “Funny, I can remember she’s allergic to roses, but I can’t remember our blasted anniversary.”

“You remember what you want to, old man.” It was the last thing he said to his father before they hung up.

He remembered first reporting his missing service pistol that morning when he arrived at the station, figuring he must have lost it back in Virginia, after all the chaos of the scuffle. Then he had a meeting with the captain to discuss the consequences of his behavior. The father was threatening to sue, said Frank broke his jaw. Unbelievable. He could barely hold a pen long enough to write a report, but he had managed to break the man’s jaw.

He remembered there were no new leads that day. After all the promising evidence in Virginia, they found nothing. The suspect got away. The girl was still missing. He left the office an hour earlier than he expected. When he got to his parents’ home, his father had yet to return from his run to the florist that morning.

—Nortina


Written for the A to Z Challenge. This year, I’m getting a head start on planning my novel for NaNoWriMo. Prologues, character sketches (2) and monologues, brainstorming, outlines, backstories (read more here and here). In today’s post we take a break from Leslie and Gregory and look deeper into the disappearance of Detective Maye’s father. Stick around as I try to figure out what the heck I’m going to write in November!

H is for… [H]ungry #AtoZChallenge

Stella had never seen someone eat so fast. It was as if he hadn’t had a meal in days. Looking at his scrawny frame, maybe he hadn’t. He had been a husky boy since birth—all those powdered donuts his mama guzzled down while pregnant with him. Now it looked as if he weighed no more than 150 pounds. It terrified her.

She considered calling Leslie, but decided against it. That woman would be flying down the road like a bat of hell to get here, not caring whose car she sideswiped, how many cops were on her tail. If Gregory wanted to see his mother, he would’ve called her. Instead, he called Grandma, and lucky for him, she was just putting up the leftovers from Sunday dinner.

“We missed you at church today,” Stella said with her back turned to him. She wrapped a plate of baked macaroni and cheese in foil and put it into a plastic bag. Her prayer partner, Wanda, had finally caved in and given her the family recipe. The secret ingredient: almond flour. That would explain why some church members suddenly broke out into hives whenever they took a bite.

“You know I don’t live in the city, Grandma.” His voice was muffled for all the food crammed in his cheeks. Stella resisted the urge to chide him for talking with his mouth full. She was thankful just to have him here, talking with her at all.

“You’re not still at that nasty trailer park, are you?” When Gregory and Tanisha first met, she was living in her parents’ mobile home, across the street from the old landfill that had been shut down after reaching capacity a few years ago. Stella didn’t have anything against people who lived in mobile homes—some mobile homes looked nicer than the ones on foundation—but the neighborhood was complete trash, and that had nothing to do with the landfill—the people were trash.

She watched the ten o’clock news every night before bed, and she couldn’t remember a time when there wasn’t a report of a mugging, or a rape, or a gas station robbery in the area. A few years ago, when the city began building a greenbelt through downtown for joggers and bicyclists, they tried to extend the trail to that part of town, as a way to clean up the streets. The expansion was immediately tabled when a woman on an evening stroll sat down to rest on a park bench and while leaning back, planted her hand on top of a used condom, semen still inside. That night, the evening news showed graphic footage from the traffic cameras nearby of a man having sex with a girl barely of age just hours prior, in broad daylight.

Stella was so disgusted when she’d found out that Gregory had been living there with Tanisha and her parents. She’d blessed Leslie out when she finally came clean about it after three months.

“Why don’t that boy want to come home?” she’d demanded.

“I don’t know,” Leslie’s response.

“Where’s her mama? She let him shack up with her like that? She don’t have no more respect for her daughter? For herself? There can’t be no room in there— they sleeping in the same bed?”

“I don’t know.” It had become Leslie’s answer to every question concerning Gregory. A shrug, a sigh, a rolling of the eyes, an “I don’t know”—it was as if she had given up hope on ever reconciling with Gregory.

“We got an apartment,” Gregory said after washing down his food with sweet tea in consecutive gulps. Instinctively, Stella walked to the refrigerator, took the pitcher and refilled his glass. “Thanks,” he mumbled.

At least he still has manners, Stella thought. She returned to packing his to-go bag, arranging a large barbecue chicken breast and leg and thigh in a Styrofoam dinner tray, along with wild rice and collards, because Lord knows the boy needs his greens. “Just you and her, right?” she prodded. “Her mama not living with y’all, is she?”

“Sometimes it feels like she is. She don’t never go home, and when she does, she takes half of what’s in our fridge with her.”

“That woman,” Stella began, but she stopped herself, remembering the morning’s sermon about having a slanderous tongue. “And what does her husband do?” she asked instead.

“Sit on his ass.”

“My God.” Stella tapped her foot, looking toward the ceiling. She prayed Gregory’s eyes would open to the hell he was living. Couldn’t he see that nothing about his relationship with Tanisha was normal? Toxic was more like it. As toxic as the air surrounding that landfill.

Only one thing could possibly be keeping him with that girl, and when she realized what it meant, she both praised and cursed Antonio’s teaching him of a man’s responsibilities before he died—this being the one exception when she would not only condone Gregory for bolting, but commend him, to save his own soul. But she knew she couldn’t keep him here. No more than Leslie could keep him in her own home. Even if she made a bed for him, he’d be gone by morning. So she opened the refrigerator and took out more leftovers. “What does an old woman like me need with all this food anyway?” she said.

Nortina


Written for the A to Z Challenge. This year, I’m getting a head start on planning my novel for NaNoWriMo. Prologues, character sketches (2) and character monologues, brainstorming, outlines, backstories (2), and more. Today’s post is an other backstory. Stick around as I try to figure out what the heck I’m going to write in November!

G is for… [G]iving to God #AtoZChallenge

I’m still waiting on the floodgates to open, still waiting on my blessing to pour out. There’s plenty of room in my pockets for it. My wallet holds more empty gift cards, expired coupons, and overdraft slips from the bank than it does little green soldiers, but I still tithe. Been tithing since Pop taught me how to cut grass, made a business of doing the neighbors’ lawns. A dime for every dollar, one for every ten.

Pop told the neighbors to pay in change so it’d be easier for me to give, because once the money was in the bucket, you couldn’t get cash back. One Saturday, after a week of rain, our next door neighbor Mrs. Wick gave me twenty dollars, and Pop said, “You always reap more than what you sow.” So I sowed more that summer, sometimes putting everything I earned for a weekend in the bucket, and when it was time to go back to school in the fall, Ma and Pop started me on a weekly allowance.

That was the year Pop died.

Somewhere between then and now the well dried up. I give when I can. I don’t always make it to church, but technology’s so advanced now, you can log into services online, pay the offering through PayPal. Every Sunday I scrap together ten percent of all the money I made for that week, which usually ain’t more than $300, and pass it up to the altar with a smile on my face, because “God loves a cheerful giver.” Still, I’m more broke than I was as a teenager. Just wondering when God’s gonna cut me a break.

Don’t make no sense that I have to wake up a quarter past five every morning to walk half a mile to the nearest bus stop, catch the bus to the depot, then hop another bus to Burlington Steel in time for my shift when I have a car. I damn sure feel the payments come out of my check every month—$250 on the eighteenth like clock work.

The car’s just under three years old, worth about eleven grand, but Walt, the lot owner, charges me extra in interest to overlook my credit. I’ve had it six months and haven’t driven it twice. Tanisha insists on keeping it. For what? She works the night shift, and I’m home by six. “The twins,” she says, but you don’t rack up 500 miles a month driving to doctor’s appointments and the store for formula.

They do pile up when you’re going back and forth to some nigga’s house in Charlotte. Lamar has a homeboy down there, says he’s seen her. I swear, if it turns out to be true, I just might kill her this time. Got me out here looking stupid, begging Roscoe to find me some work again because Burlington Steel handed me the pink slip today, saying I’m a good worker, but they can’t keep an employee who doesn’t value being on time.

Meanwhile, she’s driving God knows where in my car, doing God knows who. Got her mama back home babysitting the kids and charging me for it. Her own damn grandkids! She’d leave them babies out in the cold if it meant she got paid for it. And she knows they ain’t mine. The whole fucking neighborhood knows they ain’t mine.

Rent’s due in three days, and I got fourteen dollars in my pocket. The apartment manager’s threatening to evict us if we’re late again. Sometimes I wonder if it’s better just to let it happen. What more do I have to lose? We can sleep in my car, or I can. Maybe she’ll finally leave, with no roof over her head, move in with her parents—if they even let her—or that nigga down in Charlotte. I got three days for a miracle, and if it doesn’t come, I might as well stop waiting, figure things out my own way.

—Nortina


Written for the A to Z Challenge. This year, I’m getting a head start on planning my novel for NaNoWriMo. Prologues, character sketches (2), brainstorming, outlines, backstories (2), and more. Today’s post is a different kind of character sketch for Gregory. Stick around as I try to figure out what the heck I’m going to write in November!