Expecting

Finish It! #34 begins with:

She saw the bundle in the corner, covered by dirty blankets. It moved. It was freezing cold. No wonder it was trying to find cover or at least a little bit of it under the shredded and filthy fabric. It must be desperate, she thought. She was just about to walk on when she heard the sound coming from under the blankets. And it was not what she had expected to hear. She froze and slowly turned around….

And here’s my story:

Diane slowly unwrapped the blankets.

It couldn’t have been more than a day old, it’s eyes barely able to open in the sunlight. Its tiny fingers clamped onto her thumb. Despite its small size, it pulled her closer, drawing in her body heat.

It cried louder. Clothed in only the dirty blankets it lay in, it spread its legs to reveal that it was a girl.

Diane scooped the baby into her arms, pressed her against her chest and pulled her fleece coat tightly around her to seal in the heat and warm the child’s shivering, cold body. She looked around and inside the nearby dumpster for evidence that a birth might have taken place there. She walked further up the sidewalk, searched the alleys between buildings for the unwed teenager or homeless mother who’d assumed this innocent child had a better chance of survival abandoned on the side of the road when the closest hospital was only two blocks away.

Diane paused before turning the corner toward Hudson General. The child’s shivering had stilled, her breaking steady. She pulled back the collar of her coat to look down at her. Her skin was caked in dried blood, but Diane could see her natural color beginning to flush her cheeks as her body temperature slowly rose.

She would wash her when she got home. Maybe there was a pack of diapers, some bottles, a few onesies still stored in her garage from her fraudulent baby shower last spring. She would have to check the expiration date on the formula, but she was certain there was a can on the top shelf in her kitchen cabinet.

Diane smiled to herself as she bounced the baby against her chest. Pregnant women are magnets for touchy hands. However, none of her friends, or colleagues, not even her husband, thought to reach out a hand and feel how squishy her stomach was.

Unfortunately, faking a birth was more difficult. She had to go to the hospital, and her Griffin had to go with her and discover her whole charade. If only she had found this little bundle three months prior— before Griffin moved back to West Memphis and mailed her the divorce papers.

“My water broke while you were at work,” she imagined telling him. “I had her in the bathtub. She came so quickly, I didn’t have time to call you.” Of course, she would have had to obtain some fake blood to corroborate her story.

“Come on, Stephanie,” she whispered into her coat, kissing the top of the baby’s head. She turned in the opposite direction of the hospital. The lights emitted from the facility dimmed against her back. “Mommy’s got some clothes for you to try on.” They were blue for Griffin, Jr., but the doctor had obviously gotten it wrong. Besides, fingers are often mistaken for little wangers on the sonogram.

—Nortina

Finish It! #26: Vows

She could feel the blade of the knife on her neck while he pulled her into the bush. She had not seen or heard him. He came out of nowhere. Keep calm! She had to keep calm. What did they teach them again? Her heart was pounding while she was trying hard to remember what they told them to do in such a situation. His breath was heavy, his grip firm and seemed strong and calm. He knew exactly what he wanted to do and how he was going to do it…

“Don’t make any sudden moves, or your throat is slit,” he whispered harshly in her ear.

She swallowed hard, the sharp blade tickling her throat. His heavy breath prickled the back of her neck, the short, thin hairs standing on end. He brushed his lip across her bare shoulders, sending shivers down her spine. She couldn’t decide if she was frightened or aroused.

“You pushed me to this point,” he said as he pulled her up by her elbow, dragging her toward his car. He ducked her head down, folded her into the trunk.

“This doesn’t have to be it. This doesn’t have to be us,” she said. The moon above cast a shadow over his face, but she didn’t need to see his eyes to know he was the man she once loved. The man she left at the altar when she saw her freedom drifting away with the chime of the wedding bells.

He held the knife to her chin. She flinched, slashing her jaw.

“We could’ve been happy. That’s all I ever wanted for you. You did this to yourself.” He slammed the trunk shut.

—Nortina


Written for Finish It! hosted by Author S B Mazing

Finish It! #20: The Aisle Passenger

Finally! Boarding time! She made her way to her seat and stowed her carry on away. As much as she loved traveling she was not keen on this 12 hour flight. She sat down and fastened her seat belt, wondering who would sit next to her. After a quick look out the tiny window she started scanning the other passengers entering the plane, wondering who would eventually sit down next to her. She glanced out the window again and observed the busy world out there. Then someone sat down next to her.

His phone was attached to his ear. He nearly whopped me in the face as he slung his duffel bag off his shoulder and slid it underneath the seat in front of him. He slammed down the arm rest and leaned his back against it. I could see the sharp outlines of his shoulder blades through the thin white t-shirt he wore. His long dreadlocks were tied in a ponytail at the nape of his neck and cascaded down his back like a horse’s tail of black licorice.

Towards the center aisle he yelled out, “Call the police, bitch! They’ll take one look at you and know I never laid a finger on you, or my son!” His licorice tail swished side to side, swatting away my fingers as I attempted to tap his shoulder. He held the phone in front of his face, snaking his head, pointing his finger, and if he were face-to-face with the woman on the other end.

The other passengers stared, and I cowered into the corner between the window and chair, willing myself invisible, praying the other passengers wouldn’t think we were together, that I was his next domestic victim, and on the phone, the bitter ex. We can’t control who they sell plane tickets too. Luck of the draw, I projected into their minds. As a child, I believed I was a telepath. I closed my eyes, scrunched my face, and compelled others to say what I was thinking. My sister often told me she could hear my voice in her head. Even when I wasn’t trying, she’d tell me to stop, screaming there wasn’t enough room in her brain for the two of us.

She should’ve been in the seat next to me instead of this Rasta man. I wanted to do something special for her birthday, take her to see the Wimbledon Championships in London. But her favorite tennis player had recently pulled out of the tournament with a wrist injury. He couldn’t serve a 130mph ball with a broken wrist, she’d told me. I tried to convince her to come anyway. She would still get to watch the top players up close and personal, enjoy the prestige of the sport’s most sophisticated Major, maybe even see the queen or Kate Middleton. For the love of God, it’s London! Who wouldn’t want to enjoy a city with such history?

I turned to the dread head who was still arguing into his phone despite the pilot’s announcement to turn off all electronic devices. “All you women are the same. You get mad when a man doesn’t want your crazy ass no more, and the first thing you do is take it out on the kids!”

I had the money to buy her ticket. I’d even prepped her mind the night before, sending my dreams across the train tracks to her downtown apartment. Dreams of our squeezing each other’s hands as the plane took off, once in London, speaking in fake British accents and complaining how America ruined the language with it’s y’alls and ain’ts, having drinks with one of the lower ranked tennis players in a historic English pub.

“Excuse me, sir, we’re preparing to take-off,” the stewardess said with a smile, though her eyes were fearful that he would, in response, direct his anger toward her.

He nodded and shifted to face the seat in front of him. I could hear the high-pitched voice of the woman on the phone, like a frantic mouse caught in a trap.

“That’s the damn flight attendant, dumb ass.” He pulled the phone from his ear, as if yanking out a connecting cord, and hung up. As he leaned to his left to put the phone in his pocket, he looked at me and smirked.

“Girl problems?” I asked.

“We’ve all been there, right?”

My mind drifted back to my sister, who left me confined to a window seat for 12 hours next to a man whose hair looked like candy but probably tasted as bitter as his attitude and his bitter ex-girlfriend who would probably try to call back some time during the flight, and he’d answer, ignoring airplane policy, calling her a bitter bitch, accusing her of using their children as crutches to smite him, and in listening, I would find myself growing bitter, tempted to knock on the skull of my sister with my voiceless words and tell her she chose a 12 inch TV inside of a tight studio apartment over top of a shut down strip club over Wimbledon and me and a birthday in London, and I’d tell her not expect me to do another thing special for her other than crowd her brain the way she hated when we were kids with 12 hours of licorice candy, battered women and children, and bitter custody battles until she fell asleep in front of a blank television screen and static.

—Nortina


So, I just noticed how this story quickly switched to first person, haha! I’m not going back to change it. 😉

Written for Finish It! #20. Click here to read other stories and add your own!

Finish It! #19: Reading the Revolution

Finally everything seemed to fall in places. She couldn’t remember the last time she felt so happy and excited. Finally! She couldn’t stop smiling. What a wonderful day it was.

She sat on a bench in Center City Park—a plot of grass and fountains surrounded by office buildings and banks in the middle of downtown—licking the melted strawberry ice cream from the waffle cone, her hand, and her wrist, and reading an anthology of poetry.

She ran her finger tips along the edges of the crisp pages, reciting the poems of her favorite African American poets, their lines etched in stone, depicting her heritage. Narrating her past, her present. Revealing her legacy. She read the names of ancestors who paved the road on which she strolled freely. Phillis Wheatley, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Claud McKay, Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Gwendolyn Brooks, Amiri Baraka, Lucille Clifton,  Yusef Komunyakaa, Rita Dove.

And then, on page 182, her name, printed in serif, carved into history. Her contribution to the next generation’s education of themselves. She pursed and spread her lips as she channeled the voice from the page, spoke aloud the words so white-collar businessmen stepping over her extended legs as they race to their offices could hear. She is a black woman. She exists. She is present.

She stood, held the book above her head, blocking the sun, as if offering it up so that God could bless it and feed the multitudes.

—Nortina


Written for Finish It! #19. Click here to read other stories and add your own.