#ThrowbackThursday Fiction: Watermelon Season

I dreamt I ran him over, and the white women from work watched. Their eyes sought to spite me. I screamed to get help, but no one moved. “You’ll burn in hell for this, bitch,” the woman in the center sneered. Her face grew redder with the inflection in her voice.

Looking in the rearview mirror, I see his blond hair first, combed to the right, the sides buzzed a little too close to the scalp. He stands behind my trunk, and I think about my dream, how I stood before a lynch mob as he lay dying. I’m tempted to shift the gear in reverse, fulfill the prophesy and accept my fate, but I take the key out of the ignition, shoulder my purse, and step out.

“Hey,” he says, waving both hands.

I nod, glance over my shoulder at the eight-floor office building looming over the parking lot.

“So do you have any plans for the weekend?”

I shrug. A car pulls into the empty space beside me. It’s the woman from my dream. Her brunette hair is chopped short to her ears, with an inside hook curl at the ends all around, not a strand out of place. She cuts her eyes at me, and I quickly look down at my feet.

“Well, if you’re not busy, I was wondering if you wanted to go to the watermelon patch.”

“Seriously?”

He shakes his head, and his hair shuffles to the front of his face. He smiles, but I don’t smile back, and the loud door slam to the right turns our attention to the woman spying us over the top of her car.

I step closer and whisper so she can’t hear. “Because I’m black, you think I like watermelon.”

“No, no!” His eyes widen. He backs up and instinctively looks to the woman, who still stares. She’s barely taller than her own car; she has to stand on her toes to watch us. I wish she’d go inside already. My throat tightens at the thought of her lassoing a noose around my neck and stringing me up on the branches of one of the magnolias lining the walkway leading to the building.

“It’s watermelon season. My uncle owns a watermelon patch.” He slaps his chest. “I like watermelon. I thought…”

“You thought what?”

The woman finally leaves us, but not before casting a scolding look in my direction. She must be content that he’s in no danger. He’s completed his job in offending me, and now I will leave too, scurry off to my tiny cubicle in the back of the office, segregated from the rest of them, and do my work silently as I’m told.

When the woman is out of earshot, he shoves his hands into his pockets and sighs. “I’m trying to ask you out on a date. Obviously, I’m not doing a good job of it.”

I watch him as he looks everywhere but at me, and I wonder if he too is thinking of the consequences of my saying yes, if he’s dreamt of my death by his hand, of a mob of angry black women shooting curses, taking off belts, breaking off switches to whip him with—the same weapons his people used to beat our souls down into the ground.

“We don’t have to go to the watermelon patch. We could do something different, like the movies, or dinner—what kinds of food do you like? I just wanted to do something different, something out of the box. You’re special, you’re different. I just wanted to do something nice for you.”

“Just be quiet.”

He instantly shuts his mouth, midsentence, and I lean against my side mirror. He waits for my answer, but I’m lost for words. My mind is stuck on “You’re special, you’re different.” Is he referring to my blackness? And again, I fear this proposal will only lead to our combined demise, that I will again be reminded of what we are. I am black, and he is white, and the world will always hate us for what we mean together, for what we are about to do.

And so I tell him, “I like watermelons too.”


Originally published May 27, 2017.

Waiting on the Day, Christmas Day — A Novella

October is just a week away, which means the holidays are quickly approaching, and I don’t know about you, but whenever I think of the holidays, my mind immediately goes to 31 Days of Holiday Hooligans, specifically, Countdown

I’d like to revisit the story of Natasha, Mitchell, Renee, Bryan, Rita, and Antonio this year, but in a special way…

Bound together in a short, self-published novella kind of special way.

Ambitious given it’s already the end of September, and I haven’t even begun to tackle this monstrous beast! Will I have time when I’ve barely had time enough to write anything other than my name this year? And what about the cover? As graphically challenged as I am, who will do it (for little to no money), or will I save that money and keep it simple—a picture and some text would do, right?

I’m not sure of all the logistics yet, but one thing I do know is that the story IS written. And just this morning while lying in bed, I thought of a synopsis to go on the back cover…

Six friends. Six personal battles they must all face and conquer before one Christmas wedding.

Natasha and Mitchell have been in love since college, and finally they are ready to profess their love in front of all of their friends and family and God most of all on the most special day of the year, but will one hastened mistake derail the life they planned together before it even starts?

Bryan and Rita both have troublesome vices Renee is desperate to have them overcome before the year ends. For Bryan, it’s cursing like his drunkard, retired navy sailor grandfather. For Rita, it’s a lifetime of bad choice, usually involving the opposite sex. Will they finish the year in victory, or will the pressure to turn their lives around for the better be too great to handle?

Antonio is recently saved and struggles to come to terms with his new Christian life and the remnants of his past, sinful life in the form of his ex-girlfriend and mother of his child, who repeatedly finds ways to get under his skin. Will he find a peaceful balance, or will he backslide into despair before he discovers the exuberance of being a follower of Christ during the most wonderful time of the year?

All of these stories come to a head on THE day, the day when most people celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world. Christmas Day.

Will it be worth the wait?

If you’ve never read the original Countdown series, does this synopsis interest you? Would you want to read more? Would you want to read it in book form (more like Kindle form)? Let me know! I’m eager to get started. Christmas will be here before you know it!

#ThrowbackThursday Fiction: Kindling the Fire

I knew he was gone when I awoke shivering. Silly me for thinking this time would be different, that a random man I brought home from the bar would have the decency to stay at least until sunrise.

The hardwood floor feels like ice on the bottoms of my feet. I need carpets, but with what money? I’m too cheap to turn the heat on before the first deep freeze. Bedroom slippers will have to do for another month. At least the alcohol leftover in my system keeps me warm from the waist up. What need do I have for a man?

But I remember the sweet heat we made, driven by the booze that filled us to our limbs, when it was just our skin and sweat that separated us, and his tongue explored every inch of me, lapped me up like a steaming mug of cocoa.

How we made it from the bar five miles down the base of the mountain in his rattling 1992 Toyota pick-up remains a mystery to me. The air conditioning blasted our faces—he had no heat either—but it didn’t matter because we both sweated through our clothes, and I sat on his lap naked, bouncing on every pothole, every bump in the road. But it wasn’t to make the ride more titillating.

He couldn’t see.

I remember now. I was helping him drive–and teasing him at the same time. He juggled whether to put his fingers on the steering wheel or lift me up by the rear and slip them between the cracks.

But it was dark. No. Foggy. And something was falling. And the wipers did nothing but make the dirty windshield dirtier.

Damn him. I wish we crashed. It would have been better for me to die than to have him fill me up and empty me out all in one night.

I glance at the clock on my bedside table. There’s more light coming through my window than is normal for quarter to six. A thought comes that maybe it’s the headlights from his truck. He hasn’t pulled out of the driveway yet. I rush to part the curtains and give him a full view of what he’s leaving behind, what he’ll surely miss when he’s back home with whatever woman who’s got him running from me.

There’s always another woman. It’s my fate–my curse–to share, or have nothing at all. But now I long for nothing, because I’ve never felt this abandoned since the night my father left my mother and me in darkness in the middle of a blizzard to pay the electric bill and never came back.

And now my glowing backyard tells me what was falling from the sky last night.

Snow. At least an inch or more.

I shiver again, deep within myself, bones knocking. This day feels too familiar, too much like my childhood. I spot a trail of boot prints stretching from the back of the house toward the woods. His truck is still here. Damn thing must have died. Fluids frozen. He left it here. Somewhere there’s a man, half-naked, hungover, marching down the side of the road to the nearest service station, maybe looking for a hitch. With my luck, it’ll be a girl prettier and tighter than me, with less baggage.

I feel more used seeing his truck–here to remind me of every poor decision I ever made in life, drunk or sober. I’ll call a tow to have it removed, make sure he’s the one who has to pay for it.

I’m a traditionalist when it comes to communication. No cellphone. I still keep a phonebook by the landline downstairs. I jog down two flights to get the feeling and the warmth back into my thighs and my feet. But a crackling halts me at the bottom step. I’m still naked, and despite what happened the night before, I’m not willing to let another stranger in.

I notice it’s warmer down here. The chill in my joints is gone. I cover my breasts and follow the heat through the foyer, to the living room, where the fireplace I haven’t touched in years is brought to life by dancing flames.

And he is standing over it, tending it with the poker.

“You’re still here?”

He looks up, smiles at me trying without success to hide the body parts he’s seen and touched and kissed and licked all through the night. And I remember the set of footprints I saw from my bedroom window, how it lead into the forest. But then there was a second trail, afar off, coming back.

He’d gone to get firewood.

He comes over, touches my hand still covering my breasts.

You start a fire burning…” I say, but I’m short of breath. I’m shaking once again, but it’s not from the cold. I still can’t believe he came back, and for me. What did I do to deserve this? Can any of it be real?

“Come by the fire,” he says, but he draws me into him, wraps his arms around me, cups my bottom, a middle finger slipping in between the cheeks, kisses me with his open mouth. Our tongues meet in the middle, our hot breath touching our lips, and every inch of me is set ablaze.


Original post written for the #LyricalFictionFriday challenge November 3, 2017.

Sugar Free

He asked me if I could go a month without sugar.

I hadn’t considered that he wasn’t referring to the pint of ice cream I’d eaten by myself when I told him yes.

The next morning, I reached up for a kiss, and he pushed me away. “Day one,” he said.

By Day 7, I was making love to my body-sized pillow.

On Day 15, he told me prayer could help. “It’ll teach you how to survive on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

“But I thought the test was to survive without sex.”

He still questions if I’m really religious.

I made it all the way to Day 29 without touching him, though I touched myself a few times–Lord, forgive me. 

On the eve of Day 30, I parked my car in his driveway with the Bible in my lap, waited until the clock struck midnight, then knocked on his door and demanded, “Give me some sugar.”


Challenge: Monday’s One-Minute Fiction (#1MinFiction)
Objective: Think up or write a complete story in one minute or less
Prompt: sugar

#ThrowbackThursday Fiction: To Rewind Time

I remember that he’s married now, so I ask about his wife.

“Pregnant,” he says.

I wait for details, but he only adds, “Very pregnant.”

Out of decency, I think to congratulate him, recite some drivel about how happy I am for him, how I wish him nothing but the best—all lies.

“How’ve you been?” he asks. Such a generic question, but there’s a hint of genuine concern in his voice, as if he’s picked up on my misery. I make no effort to hide it, and he had always been empathetic toward my feelings, even when he was the cause of my grief.

I look up into his eyes, and their weariness makes me feel safe. Reason would convince me that his visible tiredness is because of a demanding wife who, big with child, has driven him to take extra shifts—ringing up chips and smokes for night owls and runaways like me would be less strenuous than whatever hormonal crisis is unfolding at home—but I hold on to hope that seeing me again for the first time in five years has brought him to hate his own life, as I do mine.

“I’m being stalked by my boyfriend,” I tell him.

He laughs at what he thinks is an obvious joke, and a customer I don’t hear approach from behind taps my shoulder. His touch sends a surge down my arm as if I’ve just been electrocuted, and I feel I could literally jumped out of my own skin. I drop my bag of nabs along with the liter bottle of water onto the floor and curse under my breath for allowing myself to get distracted.

“Excuse me, ma’am, I didn’t mean to scare you,” he says. He bends down to help me, but I shoo him away and quickly gather my things—I’ve stayed too long. What good will it do me to explain to an ex—one who’s happily married—that I’ve continued making bad choices, even after he was out of my life? I’d only be giving Craig more time to find me and force me back into his bed. I’ve wasted enough time; I must leave.

But I make the mistake of turning back before I exit the door, and he stares at me as he takes cash from the other customer.

I am still frozen by the door when the man brushes past, giving me a faint smile as he exists, and we are again left alone in this silent gas station convenience store save for the hum of the coolers on the back wall to remind us that we are still being watched.

“Why don’t you call the police?” he asks.

I’ve tried. Even as they promote campaigns to end domestic violence, to look for the signs, to pay closer attention to the most subtle ones, they don’t believe me. The absence of physical scars doesn’t help, and the fact that they know Craig further discredits my case.

“He is the police,” I say.

“Damn.” He drums his fingertips against the counter. I notice the nails are clipped too close to his skin, and I wonder if he still makes a habit of chewing them. He turns his head toward the short-circuit television, which displays the security camera footage in the store, and I step back, just out of shot, as another customer walks in, drawing the air conditioning outside with a draft. The bell above the door jingles, and I glance down at the time on my wrist watch. Fifteen minutes and counting.

“Hey.” He comes from behind the counter, and in two strides he is inches from me. I can feel his warm, steady breath blow just above my forehead. I forget how tall he is. He towers over me. I remember how he frightened me at times, even more when we argued. Now his eyes show a fierce anger, the deep amber in his irises pops out as in those of a predator, and all I want to do is fall into his arms like a damsel.

“I get off at eleven. Will you wait?” he asks.

I know I shouldn’t, and it’s selfish of me to keep him from his growing family, to worry him with my own feeble problems, especially when I’ve done this to myself. My eyes roll closed, and I imagine how different my life would be if five years ago I had only said those four simple words he was desperate to hear come back to him as he cradled the velvet ring box behind his back.

Original posted on May 31, 2017.

#ThrowbackThursday Fiction: A Love Affair With Jazz

From an earlier version of Love Poetry, here’s a Throwback snippet that will hopefully jolt me back into writing this novella, so I can finally, finally finish it.

To see how Love Poetry began, read my very first A to Z Challenge here. With the monstrous blog hop not even two weeks away, it feel  fitting to take you back to the beginning… 


A Love Affair With Jazz

Jessica didn’t know much about Eartha Kitt—only that she played Catwoman in the Batman television series and had an affair with Eddie Murphy in Boomerang—but she would’ve done anything to get out of her dismantled apartment. Her grandmother’s shattered china on the kitchen floor. The hole in the wall next to the photo of her mother. The front door, almost completely off its hinges after Whitmore slammed it behind him and kicked it with all his strength before finally leaving.

When Bruce called in the aftermath, Jessica said yes before he could ask the question, and now, as she sat at the table in the dimly lit restaurant, listening to the jazz musicians’ tribute to the late singer, she couldn’t help but feel intoxicated. Transcending the problems of her current relationship, she snapped her fingers, rolled her neck, and let out a deep moan.

“I knew you would like it,” Bruce whispered in her ear. He was suddenly standing behind her, massaging her shoulders. She hadn’t noticed him leave his seat across from her.

“You’re trying to seduce me,” Jessica said. “You know I have a man.”

“A man?” There was a hint of sarcasm in his voice. Jessica tried to laugh, but her weak chuckle pained her side. She knew this blissful moment couldn’t last. Even as she yearned for Bruce to wrap his arms around her and move her body with the soothing notes of the trombone, saxophone, and trumpet in harmony, every other man in the restaurant resembled Whitmore. She felt trapped, the walls closing in, the airways to her lungs blocked.

As if reading her mind, Bruce placed a hand on Jessica’s cheek. He wiped away invisible tears with his thumb. He nuzzled her neck and inhaled her perfume. “Lilacs,” he said smiling.

Jessica pursed her lips. “Dance with me.”

Bruce took her hand and together they glided to the dance floor just below the stage. The music had stopped, replaced with a rhythmic beat on a djembe drum. Jessica lifted the hem of her skirt, bounced and rocked her hips as the woman on stage sang into the microphone deep from the back of her throat.

Come oooonnnn-a my house . . .

Jessica danced and spun and let Bruce take her by the hips and pull her into him, his lips grazing behind her ear. She forgot about Whitmore. His unreasonable demands for affection. The tantrum he threw after she’d declined his third proposal. She threw her head back, wrapped her arms around the back of Bruce’s neck, pulling him closer to her. They danced for what seemed like hours.

The final beat on the drum sounded, and the piano, bass, and horns returned.

Oooooh, John, pleeease don’t kiss me. Ooooh, John, pleeeease . . .

Jessica rubbed her cheek against the coarse stubble on Bruce’s chin.

Oooooh, Bruce,” she echoed. “Pleeease . . .

And he kissed her.

—Nortina

Originally published February 12, 2015

 

Countdown to 31 Days of Holiday Hooligans: Rendezvous

We ride together in silence. Mitchell glances at me but says nothing. I wish he would speak to me. Open his mouth and say something, anything, even if it’s to curse me for relapsing back into the binge drinking habit I’d promised to give up for him, for God.

Nothing good ever happens when you drink, he always says. Noah cursed his own son for not looking away from his father’s naked drunkenness, and the brothers have been warring ever since. According to the New Testament, drinking only leads to wild orgies. Hell, Lot slept with both his daughters! I wonder how that conversation played out—his daughters pregnant after both his sons-in-law were already dead—when he learned that his grandchildren were also his sons.

The way Mitchell explains biblical stories to me is the way I want for him to talk to me now. I know one day he’ll become a minister. He has that calling over his life. I sensed it the day he recounted his own salvation to me, with such vigor and enthusiasm, remembering ever detail, despite his youthful age of seven years old at the time. Reverend Murphy has already taken him under his wing, inviting him to the bi-weekly ministers classes he holds at the church on Thursday nights. He practices his sermons on me, speaking with boldness, his speech seasoned with salt. I love that part of him, but is it selfish of me to, every now and again, remove his cloth and ask him to just be Mitchell, my fiancé, my husband, the man I fell in love with?

He stops the car, and the glare from the red light illuminate’s his face. Every feature enhanced, from the natural arch in his eyebrows I’ve often envied, to the downward curve of his eyes and the puffiness of his skin around them that often causes people to mistake him for Pacific Islander. I look down at his nose, his tiny little rabbit’s nose. While mine curls up, the tip of his nose dips down toward the center of his upper lip, his nostrils slanting inward. His nose quivers when he breathes, like a little bunny sniffing the freshly cut grass in the spring air, and I remember how I nibbled on his nose last night as I lay on top of him, joking that a wet nose meant you were happy and that all my slobber signified he was the happiest man in the world.

And when I said that, as if in confirmation, I felt him rise and harden inside of me after momentarily going limp, and it was so gratifying that I dropped my jaw and released a slow and steady exhale as I rocked my hips back and forth in a rotational push and pull like rowing a boat, as we drew nearer to the both of us letting all our liquids flow.

The light turns green, and I grab the steering wheel. “Do you love me?” I ask.

“Of course I do.”

“I want to hear you say it.”

“I love you.”

I shake my head. “That’s not good enough.” A car behind us honks the horn, and he presses his foot down on the gas lurching us forward as the light turns yellow and then red again. “Pull over,” I tell him, and I am surprised when he does so, without question or complaint, just stops the car on the curb, shifts the gear into park, and rests all his attention on me, staring deeply into my eyes. If he were searching my soul, he would find himself, my mate, my second half, I the very rib missing from his side.

“I want to hear you say it, and mean it.” I close my eyes and bite my bottom lip as I prepare for his words.

He sighs, and I’m so deflated that he sighs. Was our night of lovemaking so disgraceful, so scandalous, that he can’t bring himself to say the one thing that keeps me breathing? But just as I am about to lose hope, he opens his mouth, and I am pulled in by his words.

“I love you, Natasha. You know that. I’ve love you for so long. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. That’s why I want to fix this wedge between us, bring us back to where we were, before we— I want to start fresh.”

While he speaks, I’m drawn to his lips. Full, glistening like a moist brick of melting fudge in the night light of the Christmas street decorations. I long to feel them pressed against my neck as they were the night before. How intoxicating they were, caressing my weakest points, until my knees gave way, and I collapsed into his arms and allowed him to lay me on the bed and continue with his kisses, his smooches, his wet pecks of love, marking his territory down my spine, and on my thighs, and when he flipped me over, both breasts, and on my stomach, and around my navel, and below my navel, and oh, how my gut did a somersaulting dance to have his face in such close proximity to where my legs parted.

“Kiss me,” I say.

“What?”

“Don’t think, do.”

And he swoops in and kisses me, the urgency in his lips pressed firmly against mine, and I graciously accept him, open my mouth and let his tongue flood in. He briefly tries to break away, I assume, because he tastes the liquor lingering on my breath, but I take him by the neck and pull him closer, and he doesn’t relent. We stay like that for what feels like an eternity, until I can contain myself no longer, and I climb over the armrest and straddle his lap. We separate for air, breathing heavily, and I watch him for hesitation, wait for him to protest that we can’t do this again, that this is how it started last night, that we’ll hate ourselves after—I wouldn’t; I could never hate him.

But he surprises me by initiating contact. Our lips meet again and he wraps his arms around my waist, pulls me deeper into his lap, my bent knees hanging off the edges of his seat awkwardly. We sit like that, kissing, lapping up the taste of each other, and I savor every moment, not wanting him to break away and come to his senses that everything we’re doing is wrong, when everything feels so right. I slip my hand underneath his coat and pull it off over his shoulders. He follows suit, yanking his arms out and lifting my sweater over my head. We continue to undress each other until we are both naked from the waist up, and the chill inside the car draws us closer together like magnets. Without the barriers of clothing our movements become more animated, generating heat. We cling to each other, as if to let go meant to lose the other forever. The sweat on his chest moistens my breasts against it, and out hearts beat in synchronization.

I run my hand along his belt buckled and wonder if he will stop me, but he beats me to the top button of my own jeans, and before I know it his hand is inside and his fingers inside of me. And I let out a breathy moan, dig my nails into his shoulders, lean back against the steering wheel, and I wish I was wearing anything but pants because it would be so much easier just to hike up a skirt, give him less time to change his mind. But when I open my eyes and look at his face, he’s considering options too, and finally he tells me to lean over the armrest. So I do as I’m told, even more aroused at the sound of his commands, no hesitation or fear in his voice, only brash determination.

I sit up, pull my leg closest to the door in, and bend over the armrest, my elbows planted firmly in the passenger seat, my stomach pressed against the cushioned hump in the middle, my knees sunken in the space between the cup holders and the driver’s seat, and my behind arched in the air. He positions himself between my legs behind me and slowly pulls my jeans and panties down together over my hips. Again his fingers slip between my most delicate places. They’re cool to the touch, refreshing like quenching one’s thirst on a hot summer day. It makes me crave for him even more.

“I love you,” I whisper, but with my face down in the seat, I don’t think he can hear me. And it doesn’t matter because soon after, there is a tap on the window, and my pants are being forcibly dragged up over my hips, my sweater shoved in my face. I inadvertently kick the steering wheel and honk the horn trying to climb back over to my side of the car, and when he rolls down the window, we are both greeted by a blinding light.

“Is there a reason why you’re pulled over to the side of the road?”

“No problem, officer.”

“I’ll say. Looks like I interrupted a party!” I can’t see him for the bright flashlight he shines in our eyes, but I suspect there’s a mischievous smirk on his face. He sticks his hand inside, curls his arm around the driver’s side door and slides his index finger down the glass of the back window to show us how much we’ve fogged the windows.

“She’s my fiancé,” Mitchell says.

“For the night, right?” There’s a chuckle in his voice, and Mitchell and I exchange worried glances at how this may look, especially on South Tatum, where there’s a hooker on ever corner.

“Can I see your license, please?”

“It’s in my back pocket.” Mitchell leans to the side toward me to retrieve his wallet from his left back pocket. He holds it open to slide his license from the clear sleeve, but the officer reaches in, snatches the entire wallet and bolts behind the car, down a darkened side street and into the trees.

“Hey!” Mitchell screams. He opens the door and sprints after him. He is halfway down the street before I can call him back.

“Just let it go, baby. They could jump you. You don’t know who is with him.”

He hesitates, as if considering his options—to risk our lives chasing after the cop impersonator for an ID and a couple bucks, or to get back in the car? I sit anxiously as he stands balling and unballing his fists. The street lamp and the snowflake decoration attached to it hang over him, casting a blue spotlight, as if he were about to perform a solo in an urban musical. As if the fake police officer and his posse would soon emerge from the woods snapping their fingers and beatboxing.

Finally logic wins out and he reluctantly returns to the car, slamming the door.

“I hate South Tatum,” he growls.

I reach up and squeeze his arm. “At least you have your life. We’ll go home, call the real police, and cancel your card before they can take anything.” Thankfully, Mitchell doesn’t believe in credit cards—what’s appealing about going into debt with money you never had, his reasoning—so there’s only the one debit card to worry about.

He nods and merges back onto the road. I keep my hands on his arm, curling one under his armpit and massaging tenderly. Selfishly my mind drifts to the night’s possibilities, what still remains of our activities interrupted. As if reading my mind, at the next light he turns to look at me, his eyelids hanging low. He dips his head down and kisses me, soft as a breeze, our lips barely touching, and I squeeze him tighter, eager to get home.

—Nortina


Part of Countdown to 31 Days of Holiday Hooligans
——
Previous: Party Crashers
Next: Mommy’s Home

#ThrowbackThursday Fiction: Once Upon an Alcoholic’s Dream

Dear Craigslist,

I never thought I’d get this lonely. That you and this half-emptied Jack Daniels would be my only companions. My pint of Coke fizzled away after I mixed it all, downed it with whiskey. Now I throw back straight shot after shot until my words blur on the screen and the burn fades to a smooth glide like water.

Don’t send me any more boys who think my alcoholism is cool. Who take me to parties where my eyes burn red in the THC-induced clouds and my liver ferments in yeast. Where they pull out their cellphones to film my head hanging low under a funnel of foaming beer, shouting, “Worldstar! Worldstar!” Sideline the daddies who string me along while they decide if they want me or their kids’ mom. And Craigslist, use your promised anonymity to hide me from the men with anal fetishes, the men who don’t believe in love and marriage but wish to impregnate me with their fifteenth child, the men who, at age thirty-five, are still trying to get on their feet, the men with credit card debt, the men who aren’t looking for a relationship but will screw me anyway, the men who say I remind them of their ex-fiancé… or their mother.

Where is my Renaissance man, Craigslist? Send my ad, scribbled on parchment, by way of carrier pigeon to his bedroom window. Tell him to meet me at the Barn House Theatre where they put on morality plays in the winter. The final showing of Doctor Faustus begins at eight. I’ll be waiting in the lobby, wearing a ruffle, black dress, a wilted rose pinned in my hair. Direct him to blow on it, Craigslist, the magic from the cool breeze escaping his lips causing it to bloom three months before spring.

Sincerely,

Drowning in Sorrows


spf11-23Originally published November 23, 2015 in response to the Sunday Photo Fiction prompt.

 

#LyricalFictionFriday: Kindling the Fire

I knew he was gone when I awoke shivering. Silly me for thinking this time would be different, that a random man you bring home from the bar would have the decency to stay at least until sunrise.

The hardwood floor feels like ice on the bottoms of my feet. I need carpets, but with what money? I’m too cheap to turn the heat on before the first deep freeze. Bedroom slippers will have to do for another month. At least the alcohol leftover in my system keeps me warm from the waist up. What need do I have for a man?

But I remember the sweet heat we made, driven by the booze that filled us to our limbs. When it was just our skin and sweat that separated us, and his tongue explored every inch of me, lapped me up like a steaming mug of coco.

How we made it from the bar five miles down the road in his rattling 1992 Toyota pick up remains a mystery to me. The air conditioning blasted our faces—he had no heat either—but it didn’t matter because we both sweated through our clothes, and I sat on his lap naked, bouncing on every pothole, every bump in the road. But it wasn’t to make the ride more titillating.

He couldn’t see.

I remember now. I was helping him drive, and teasing him at the same time. He juggled whether to put his fingers on the steering wheel or lift me up by the rear and slip them between the cracks.

But it was dark. No. Foggy. And something was falling. And the wipers did nothing but make the dirty windshield dirtier.

Damn him. I wish we had crashed. It would have been better for me to die than have him fill me up and empty me out all in one night.

I glance at the clock on my bedside table. There’s more light coming through my window than is normal for quarter to six. A thought comes that maybe it’s the headlights from his truck. He hasn’t pulled out of the driveway yet. I rush to part the curtains, give him a full view of what he’s leaving behind, what he’ll surely miss when he’s back home with whatever woman that’s got him running from me.

There’s always another woman. It’s my fate, my curse, to share or have nothing at all. But now I long for nothing, because I’ve never felt this abandoned since the night my father left my mother and I in the middle of a blizzard to pay the electric bill, and never came back.

And now my glowing backyard tells me what was falling from the sky last night.

Snow. At least an inch or more.

I shiver again, deep within myself, bones knocking. This day feels too familiar, too much like my childhood. I spot a trail of boot prints stretching from the back of the house toward the woods. His truck is still here. Damn thing must have died. Fluids frozen. He left it here. Somewhere there’s a man, half-naked, hungover, marching down the side of the road to the nearest service station, maybe looking for a hitch. With my luck, it’ll be a girl prettier and tighter than me, with less baggage.

I feel more used seeing his truck, here to remind me of every poor decision I ever made in life, drunk or sober. I’ll call a tow to have it removed, make sure he’s the one that has to pay for it.

I’m a traditionalist when it comes to communication. No cellphone. I still keep a phone book by the landline downstairs. I jog down two flights to get the feeling and the warmth back into my thighs and my feet. But a crackling halts me at the bottom step. I’m still naked, and despite what happened the night before, I’m not willing to let another stranger in.

I notice it’s warmer down here. The chill in my joints is gone. I cover my breasts and follow the heat through the foyer, to the living room, where the fireplace I haven’t touched in years is brought to life by dancing flames.

And he is standing over it, tending it with the poker.

“You’re still here?”

He looks up, smiles at me trying without success to hide the body parts he’s seen, and touched, and kissed, and licked all through the night. And I remember the set of footprints I saw from my bedroom window, how it lead into the forest. But then there was a second trail, afar off, coming back.

He’d gone to get firewood.

He comes over, touches my hand still covering my breast.

You start a fire burning…” I say, but I’m short of breath. I’m shaking once again, but it’s not from the cold. I still can’t believe he came back, and for me. What did I do to deserve this? Can any of it be real?

“Come by the fire,” he says, but he draws me into him, wraps his arms around me, cups my bottom, a middle finger slipping in between, kisses me with his open mouth. Our tongues meet in the middle, our hot breath touching our lips, and every inch of me is set ablaze.

Nortina


Written for #MarquessaChallenge, a Fiction Friday challenge that uses song lyrics as prompts. Today’s prompt is: With the touch of your hand, you start a fire burning…

Countdown to 31 Days of Holiday Hooligans: Before the Wedding

You rise and turn your back to me. I so desperately want to see your face, to cradle it in my palms as you lie on top of me, fill me with your love, your gray eyes piercing in the darkness, glimpsing into my soul, watching my insides blossom, but you turn your back to me.

I never knew a man, who wanted nothing more than to make me his wife forever, could in turn, make me feel so dirty.

“This is wrong,” you say. “We should’ve waited.”

But we’ve waited long enough. For six years, I’ve endured hand holding, side-shoulder hugs, pecks on the cheek and forehead, a couple on the mouth if it’s Valentine’s Day, but never enough to make my inner thighs tingle. Always falling just short of making me want you the way I want to want you, need you the way I need to need you. To grasp you between my legs and bloom for you, the way I imagine Rachel did for Jacob after fourteen years . . . of waiting.

“You can’t use that against me,” you say, and the painful look in your eyes is reminiscent of the way the corners of your eyes slanted at a sharp angle when you poured all of your spirit into me, and I am again desperate to touch you, to feel you.

“What about the five love languages?” I say to you. “You remember the sermon. How important it is to know which is your partner’s.” Mine—physical touch.

“That’s for marriage.”

But we are married! Right here, in this bed, we wed in spirit, and you cleaved to me the way a husband should, the way I want you to again. Forget your vow of celibacy and sin for me just this once, and then again. God will forgive us for jumping the broom three weeks too soon. Because that’s what He does. Because His unconditional love is worth more than what you show me tonight.

“Maybe you should go.”

“But, baby, it’s cold outside,” and I wish the roles were reversed, and you were the one singing the song to me as we held each other by the fireplace, only our skin and the flames before us to keep us warm.

But you’re already pulling up your pants and tossing me my sweater, not bothering to help me into my clothes the way you so quickly got me out of them—slowly, savoring what you will surely miss until our scheduled wedding night, if that is still a possibility.

“Call me when you get home,” you say at the door, and a gust of wind blasts me in my face, freezes the tears fresh on my tender cheeks. You won’t walk me to my car. Too tempting to kiss me. You know I won’t settle for the forehead. I’ll clasp your face in my hands, pull your lips down to mine, slip my tongue in between, beckon you toward the garage where I know there’s an empty table, clear of the Christmas decorations you hung the day after Thanksgiving, ready to receive our naked bodies as we consummate our betrothal for a second time tonight.

But I am in my car alone, and the air is taking too long to turn warm, and the steering wheel feels like ice touching my fingers, and you are already safe inside—the door closed and locked—before I back out of the driveway.

—Nortina


Part of Countdown to 31 Days of Holiday Hooligans:
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 Next: Time to Decorate the Tree