Cool

He silently watched the car shrink away, eaten up by the distance. Strange. Although his lips were unmoving, he had so much he wanted to say.

Cool was the only word he could utter after the car disappeared over the hill leading to the main highway.

“Cool.”

The weather was cool. First day of spring but snow in the forecast. Fat, fluffy snowflakes fell from the sky earlier that morning. It reminded him of thin strips of white confetti, like the dry stuff they’d sprinkle over a stage for a winter-themed play.

His shirt was cool. Short-sleeve—he shivered when the wind blew. Cotton. Custom made. Black canvas. “Wakanda Forever” in bold white text stretched across his chest. He wore it twice to see the movie Black Panther. Once alone, and again with his son.

The Lexis was cool. One he’d always dreamed of owning. But this one carried his son in the backseat. Away to his mother’s house, across town, across the train tracks, across the invisible Mason-Dixon line that marked his skin— though she sees no color, so she said.

His son’s Spider-Man sneakers were cool. They lit up when he walked. All the kids in school were jealous, so much that one tried to steal them off his feet during recess behind the teacher’s back, then cried foul play when the bottom of the shoe swiftly met his face.

Getting suspended from school for fighting was cool, because that was what all the other boys in the neighborhood did. They kept tally—who won, who was the punk.

But it wasn’t cool.

Not cool. He shook his head, thinking of his ex’s parting words. “We don’t solve our problems with violence. I left him with you because I thought you could teach our son how to be black.”

How to be black, he thought. What does that even mean?

—Nortina


Monday Muse Writing Prompt challenges you to use the opening line and provided photo to create a story in just 20 minutes. Click here for more details.

Also check out Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem, “We Real Cool,” which “subconsciously” inspired this story.

Fight

Vein City. That wasn’t its true name, but that’s how he felt about it. From there the very lifeblood of the world seemed to flow. He flexed his hands and watched his own veins pulse. It had cost him nearly everything within him to get there…

Please note the following story will be in present tense.


But he won’t let fear dissuade him now. He’s come too far. He walks out of the Greyhound station and heads east, to the outskirts of the city, dodging moving bodies that seem to be drawn by an outside force.

It reminds him why he prefers the suburbs. Every metropolis is the same, but here someone can really disappear. It’s probably why they chose it.

But he was smart too. Hired a PI specifically skilled at finding people who want to erase their very existence.

He finds an out of service cab parked at the entrance of an alley way. He slips into the backseat, quiets the complaints of the driver with one hundred dollars folded inside a clip, and directs him to the address written on the map in his hand.

It’s a twenty minute drive. Giving him enough time to think. Practice what he will say when he sees her. Explain why he’ll give up the game. He just wants her, nothing else. All the money and chronic in the world won’t keep him away.

When the cab pulls up to the three-story brownstone, he gets out of the car, walks up the paved pathway, and knocks on the door, all while holding his breath. Her husband answered within seconds.

Damn.

“You’re not wanted here,” he says.

“I think she would say differently.”

“You’re wrong.”

It’s possible. All of those things she said while he held her in his arms—lies, emotions, confessions she wished to take back? But he can’t let this man see his doubt, refuses to give him the satisfaction of thinking he’s won. He’s come all this way. No money left to go back. He can’t go back anyway. Dean and the boys will be after him.

“Do you really think she would leave the safety and stability of her home for a thug like you?”

The husband starts to close the door, but he blocks it with his foot, pushes his hand against the peep hole.

“Try to get rid of me all you want, but deep down inside, you’ll know that baby will never be yours.”

He catches a wince before the man finally slams the door, and he knows he’s gotten to him. Good. Plant the seed, give it life, a current to run through his veins, to prickle under his skin every time he lies down next to her, reaches toward her stomach to feel a kick.

He should know he’ll never stop fighting.

—Nortina


Written for Monday’s Muse Writing Prompt, hosted by Candice Coates over at I came for the soup… The objective is to create a story in 20 minutes using the above line in bold and the picture provided.

Adopted

He glanced back again, surely more times than was necessary. They had lost his trail and were no longer following him, at least he prayed they weren’t.

Anita said they were being tracked, and it was becoming glaringly obvious why.

When he walked through the front door, the first thing he spotted was it lying on her chest, nibbling at her breast, sucking the milk that was never meant for it.

He could only refer to it as it. Humanizing it would create an attachment, and he needed a clear and focused mind if they were ever going to escape for a third time.

He tossed Anita the dufflebag by the door, prepacked with the essentials—three pairs of clean underwear, jeans, a t-shirt, tennis shoes, a grand in cash, hair dye, colored contacts, prosthetic teeth to create new identities again (he knew a guy in Juno who made fake IDs; they’d visit him first), a bag of mixed nuts and chopped fruit for sustenance, bottles for the baby (they couldn’t risk stopping to breast feed while on the run).

“Sirens are close,” he said. “We gotta split.”

“Just a minute. He hasn’t eaten all day.”

Dammit, woman, he wanted to scream. The baby wasn’t even theirs. And could he even call it a baby? It looked nearly three, but apparently its mother never weened it, and so Anita cradled him against her raw nipples, pressed its head down to latch on, as if it were an infant, an infant like the one they lost at the hospital when her body ejected him from her womb five months too soon.

His son.

Not this source of all their troubles, lying there, drinking the drugs still circulating in her system that killed his precious baby boy. That grew into an even bigger burden the closer the police came to finding them.

He peeked out the window. Flashing blue lights reflected on the apartment building across the street. If they climbed down the fire escape, they might still make it, but Anita would have to leave the boy.

He sighed and folded on the floor. It was pointless. From the day she scooped it up from the playground sandbox, Anita would never let it leave her side.

—Nortina


Written for Monday’s Muse Writing Prompt, hosted by Candice Coates over at I came for the soup… The objective is to create a story in 20 minutes using the above line in bold and the picture provided.