Sleepless

I’ve been watching the morning news since 4 AM. It comes on earlier and earlier these days. I can’t imagine there would be much breaking news to report between 11:35 PM and 4 AM that it can’t waiting until 8. Who besides me is up watching it? But then I remember Orlando, and I turn up the volume.

Donald Trump will be in town. They interview a girl in a sleeping bag just outside the gates of the special events center. “Ah’ve bain hair saince faive a em!”  she says in a heavy Southern drawl. She wants to make sure she gets in and that she has good seats. All this for a man whose only policies I can remember involve banning a billion people and building a wall to ban a million more.

Hell, I’ll be up, I might as well go. Maybe he’s not as bad as he seems. Maybe he actually has good ideas. Maybe there’s a logical reason for why people like him so much, and not the reason I fear. But then I remember where I live. The last time I stepped out because I couldn’t sleep, I found myself on the outskirts of town, driving behind a black pickup with a Confederate flag in the rear window. Going to see Trump is the closest I’ll get to attending a Klan rally. They’ll take one look at my afro and know I don’t belong.

Sean walks in buttoning his uniform and sighs when he sees me on the couch. For once, I wish he’d be happy that I’m up before him. I could’ve cooked him breakfast, fixed him a fresh pot of coffee. But who am I kidding? He’s known since our first date sophomore year in college that I don’t cook. I’m one of the few people who are actually skilled at burning coffee.

“Please tell me you haven’t been here all night,” he says.

“Just all morning.” I smile, but he doesn’t laugh.

“Sweetie.” He sits on the arm of the couch, and my eyes drift down to the gun holstered on his hip. I wonder, will he have to shoot anyone today? Someone who doesn’t cooperate, doesn’t listen, like me. Pull the trigger to silence my defiant mouth.

“We sent Matthew to your sister’s so you could finally get some sleep. Please tell me you don’t still hear the man downstairs.”

I don’t understand why he can’t just go downstairs and check that apartment. He’s a cop for God’s sake. The man downstairs is beating his wife. Her screams should be probable cause enough. I hear her struggle with him every night — the lamp crashing to the floor, the shaking of our bed when he slams her against the wall. I hear him curse her: Bitch! Cunt! I know he’s drunk. He comes home from the bar and demands she get on her knees, do her marital duties. Some nights I think he’s already on top of her when she wakes up because I hear his grunts and then her high-pitched screams. Their bedroom is directly below ours.

But Sean doesn’t hear a thing. He sleeps like a bear in hibernation. He’s sure the apartment downstairs is empty because he saw an eviction notice posted on the door last month. It’s just my postpartum, he tells me, it’s just my insomnia.

He tangles his fingers in my hair, pulls me into him, and wraps me in a suffocating hug. “Why don’t I go ask the manager if anyone’s living in 205, hmm?” he says, kissing my forehead.

“No.” I pull out of his arms. “I didn’t hear anything last night.”

“Well that’s good!” he exclaims, but he’s missed the hint again. I couldn’t sleep last night because I didn’t hear anything. Now I fear she’s dead. He’s wrapped her in a throw rug and is sorting out where to dump the body. Maybe he’ll put her in the trunk of her car and drive it into the swampy waters of Midland Lake, five miles down the road. Would he be so stupid to bury her so close?

“Babe, do you think we can bring Matthew home tonight? I don’t want him to start thinking Sidra is his mom.”

I shrug because I don’t hear him. I’m fixated on the news again, waiting for headlines of a woman’s body found. But they keep playing footage of wounded patrons of Pulse nightclub being carried off to safety. I can see they were shot, blood pouring out between their fingers as they try unsuccessfully to block the wounds, t-shirts and pants soaked through, red, a deep cherry. Are they supposed to show this much gore on early morning TV? I think of that movie — I’ve seen so many since the night I decided to stay in — Nightcrawler, staring Jake Gyllenhaal. News directors obsessed with getting the grisliest of crime scene footage, and the cameramen willing to cake their lenses in innocent victims’ blood just to get it. They wonder why we’re so desensitized now. One thousand Palestinian children can have half their faces blown off, and no one bats an eye. And then I remember my own child. How he could be watching, how he could be dying.

“One more night,” I tell Sean, and he kisses my hand.

“Fine.” I never knew one syllable could stab me in the chest so deeply. He’s disgusted with me. He thinks I’m making up these phantom screams from downstairs because I don’t want kids; I don’t want his son, his image and likeness, attached to my hip. Was it so bad just the two of us?

“I’ll be in late tonight,” he says, walking to the door.

“Are you doing the Trump rally?”

“Yea, making sure no one gets sucker punched.” The breezy air in his voice returns, and I think maybe he’ll forgive me if I try to fall asleep tonight before he gets home.

“You know, if those protesters were smart, they would just stay away,” he says.

“If they were smart, they’d keep protesting. We don’t need someone who promotes violence and racism in the White House.”

He shakes his head. I’m so much more political than he is. He’s only voted once, Obama’s reelection, and I practically had to drag him to the polls kicking and screaming. Even last summer during all the demonstrations against police, he didn’t refute with chanting “Blue Lives Matter,” or the ever-insulting “All Lives Matter,” as if to exclude Black lives from that category. Too many people are dying for us to be so selfish, he told me.

He’s halfway out the door when he calls back to me, “Why don’t you get out the house today. Go to Sidra’s. It might do you some good just to hold him.”

I consider his proposition. It could help. My breasts have gotten so sore over this past week, my nipples so tender. Then I think my time would be better spent just buying a pump from Target. But what would be the point of having all this milk and no baby to nurse? So I nod. Tonight, I’ll sleep in the nursery so I’m not tormented by the screams or lack there of from under my bed. I’ll show Sean how much I’m missing our precious baby boy. I’ll be a better mommy for him and for Matthew.

—Nortina

Breastfeeding Mannequins

The mannequins at Macy’s are often naked. I’ve complained to a manager twice. Display clothes that actually fit or buy bigger mannequins. No woman is that size anyway.

Harold’s mother gives me money for formula. She doesn’t agree with our plan to wean Ryan after six months, but he’s already teething, and he bites.

The formula’s on sale, so I have extra money to stop by Macy’s and try on jeans I know won’t button. The baby weight hugs my hips; I’ve gained more since giving birth.

While checking the price tag on a pair of Kim Rogers, I notice Ryan leaning over his stroller. He’s sucking on the nipple of a bare-breasted mannequin half my dress size.

He’s just like his father, I can hear my mother-in-law saying, but I’m sure you know that already.

—Nortina


moral_mondays_logoJoin Moral Mondays, a new weekly challenge to write a 100-word fable or story based on the moral/lesson provided in the prompt. This week’s moral: look, don’t touch

Screaming (Buried Series)

We didn’t speak. On Highway 29 North to Danville, we were the only car for miles. He drove in the right line, repeatedly drifting toward to the guardrail until the loud vibration from the rumble strips under the tires caused him to jerk the car back onto the road.

“Are you sleepy?” I asked, but he didn’t answer, remained focused on the road—though, how he could even see the road through his foggy windshield, I wasn’t sure. He’d tried to clean it twice, but that only made it worse. The windshield wipers had smeared a cloudy layer of dirt and wiper fluid across the center just as we were approaching a curve, forcing him to suddenly hit the brakes and wait for it to clear so that he could see well enough to continue driving. Still, it was like peering through muck.

Maybe the glass was just old—aged with the car, a ’96 Camry—and he never thought to replace it. Years of sweaty palms and fingers touching the glass, of food and drinks spilled due to a careless knock of the elbow, of bird droppings in the spring, of bug guts splattered at fifty miles an hour in the summer, of dirty rain water spread from corner to corner by dull wiper blades had added up to a cataract-type vision driving down the empty highway in the middle of the night, barely able to see the road ahead or the dashed and solid lines marking the outside of the lane, even with the high beams on.

Before we  left, I had insisted on putting Stephan in his car seat. I surprised myself at how quickly I’d done it without hesitating or asking for direction, pulling tightly on the seatbelt to make sure he was secure, as if my brain had suddenly registered that I was a mother now and trickled all the necessary knowledge down to the rest of my body. When I leaned forward to kiss his forehead, I felt another force control me altogether. Stephan was now my primary concern. He’d just lost a mother, and contrary to what his father might believe, he’d lost a father in infancy. I was his only hope for a normal childhood, a normal life. All my actions that night meant nothing if I didn’t return to him doting parents who would love and care for him unceasingly, even if one of those parents was me.

I turned to check on Stephan, to make sure his car seat  hadn’t fallen forward or slid across the backseat into the door due to his father’s sporadic driving. He was sound asleep. His head bobbed only when we hit a pothole in the road— nodding “yes,” shaking “no,” answering questions in a dream, in a police station, sitting next to a man with a badge. Do you know what happened to your mother? Did your father do it?  The anxious thoughts invaded my mind suddenly, and just as quickly, I replaced them with images of Hershey’s chocolate bars and Hot Wheels Thunderbirds and projected them into his dreams. If not for the darkness, I believed I would’ve seen his lips curl into a smile. My first motherhood test passed—expelling the nightmares. Not even the thrash of heavy metal from the radio would stir him—I hoped.

I never thought of his father as someone who enjoyed rock music. I’d always assumed he listened to urban hip hop—Lupe Fiasco, or Wale—but without a word, he’d slipped Bullet for My Valentine’s The Poison into the CD player, and we continued down the highway under blood curdling screams.

“Is this really appropriate?” I asked, thinking of the dead body in his trunk, of how perfectly it matched to the lyrics— “. . .betrayed one more time . . . you’re gonna get what’s coming to you . . . now is your time to die . . . cover her face . . .” —as if it were the soundtrack to his violent break-up. I envisioned him turning the stereo in his apartment up full volume to muffle her screams as he straddled her torso and pulled the pillow over her face, driven by his hatred of her and the aggressive shredding from the speakers egging him to press harder, not to let up, until her arms stopped flailing.

“It might wake Stephan,” I added, and my voice sounded so out of place against the rock music, like a dove trying to coo over a lion’s roar. He only turned the dial down a notch, as if that would make a difference, but Stephan didn’t move, so I kept quiet the rest of the ride—cracked the window so that the inrushing air would slightly drown out the music and relieve my ringing ears—until we were fifteen minutes from the border, and he finally asked, “So what are we gonna do when we get there?”

—Nortina

Next:
Buried

Catch up on previous installments:
Motherhood
Accessory
Drive
To Live
Murderer
Body
Odor
Ringer

Motherhood (Buried Series)

I twisted the knob but hesitated to open the door. His cries were strong, desperate. Not high-pitched squeals like a baby’s cry for milk or to have his diaper changed, but deep in his gut, a low, steady moan like a dying man, as if he already knew, already sensed that his mother was gone, and that sudden awareness was slowly killing him.

The front door slammed shut, startling me, and I quickly snatched my hand off the knob.

“Oh, Stephan’s crying,” he said and brushed past me into his room.

Stephan. His name was Stephan.

I lingered at the threshold, watched as he took the boy from the small Hot Wheels bed and rocked him.

He was much bigger than I had imagined; his feet dangled over his father’s crotch. I couldn’t remember if he’d ever told me the boy’s age. There were only the pictures in his phone from when he and his ex were still together and living in Philadelphia. Stephan was only five or six months old then. Old enough to sit up, utter single syllables, and possibly even stand—if he held onto someone’s leg, or a flattened cushion on the couch, or the dulled corner of an end table—but not quite able to walk. He was still too top-heavy; his body needed time to grow into his head. Time lost when his mother took him in the middle of the night and disappeared.

I wasn’t allowed to see Stephan when they moved in—the consequence of dating a man with a child and a selfish baby momma who could vanish without a trace. However, his baby pictures stayed with me. Even when I knew how fast children grew in year, I still dreamt of him as a red-faced newborn wrapped in a blue blanket, wearing a blue cap on his head, and lying on my chest. As in infant, I pictured the tiny little body that could fit snuggly in my arm—his head resting on my shoulder, his bottom in the crease of my elbow, his pudgy feet in the palm of my hand where I could curl my fingers in and tickle the bottoms of his feet until he laughed so hard, he passed gas.

Watching how he bounced Stephan up and down against his chest, I realized that round, cheery bundle of joy was what he had hoped to reunite with when he received the email from him ex promising to give his son back. He was expecting to hold his baby boy again when he left me to meet them at the Greyhound station. Instead, he found his ex standing alone, and a toddler, taller than his knees, walking without the assistance of inanimate furniture, who looked up into the eyes of his father and failed to recognize them.

“I didn’t know he was here,” I said.

“Where else would he be?” he said over his shoulder as he tucked Stephan back under the covers.

“Maybe a neighbor’s house. A friend’s.” I could’ve taken care of him, I wanted to say. It would’ve come natural to me, like sex. Even without the experience, you still knew exactly what to do once it was in your hands, right? How to position your bodies so that you were both comfortable. I could’ve kept Stephan for however long he needed. Fed him sweets and teach him songs so he’d feel comfortable with me. Tell him stories of an important trip his mother was about to embark on, so that neither of us grew suspicious of her sudden disappearance. All the while, unbeknownst to Stephan or me, his father would solicit the help of someone else, maybe a co-worker or drinking buddy, with a similar baby momma issue, who could sympathize with his actions and help him get rid of the body. And then, once all evidence of her was erased, we could get back together, I’d move in, and the three of us could be a family, pretending there was never a fourth person in the equation.

That way was less messy for me.

“I mean, what if he found her?” I asked.

“Watch him until I get back,” he said, dodging my question. He left to retrieve the box spring and drag it down to the dumpster.

Stephan’s eyes were still open, though not enough to signify that he was conscious. His heavy eyelids hinted at being on the brink of sleep, but the furrow in his brow suggested he was questioning who I was and why I stood in the doorway staring at him. Did he think he was dreaming, or had he heard what I’d said about his mother and wanted to understand. Could two-year-olds comprehend the meaning of death? Did they know it was final? That death meant someone was never coming back?

Before I could talk myself out of it, I let myself in and sat at the foot of his bed. The mattress was thin and sunk down to the floor under my weight, bringing my knees level with my chest as if I was squatting.

“Hi.” I reached out and touched his leg. He didn’t flinch or draw back,  but the room still felt cold. Maybe it was the ice blue coat of paint on the walls, or the fact that his eyes still looked open although I was sure he’d fallen asleep by then.

“I’m a friend of your—” The permanent frown on his face stopped me from saying “dad’s.” It was the same frown, I imagine, he gave his father when they met again for the first time—a look of disbelief that he or I could be anything but strangers.

“I’m a friend of your mother’s,” I said, and a sudden draft sent a surge of electricity through my body and raised all the hairs on my arms so that I searched the room expecting to find his mother’s angry ghost. Instead, his father leaned against the door, having returned from outside.

“Let’s get this over with,” he said.

“Are we taking him?”

He shook his head.

“We can’t leave him here alone. Who knows how long we’ll be gone? What if he wakes up again?” What if he woke the neighbors? What if they called the cops? What if the cops came and found Stephan home alone? No parents, no babysitter, but an ever-present stench of something recently dead that had been decomposing for days.

“We’re just dumping the suitcase.” He rolled his eyes. I could tell he was getting annoyed with me. I was being too worrisome. “You’re such a nag,” he used to joke back when our relationship was less complicated. Naggy, an unwelcomed nickname he gave me when I complained too much about his hot apartment, or the fact that he never wore more than a robe and boxers whenever I visited.

Sometimes I wondered if my constant whining was the reason he never made us official. Now that I knew his secret, held the power to send him to death row and take his son from him, again—this time permanently—did he regret inviting me back into his life? Did he regret introducing me to his mess now that I was making it too difficult to clean it up?

“We can’t just dump it anywhere,” I tried to rationalize. “Doesn’t she have family?”

“She doesn’t have anybody. Nobody knows she’s here. She said she was renting some guy’s basement before she moved down.” He shrugged his shoulders and sighed. “But she lies, so I don’t even know.”

I looked down at Stephan, still asleep or at least pretending to be. “Well, regardless, your neighbors have seen her. If we just dump the suitcase anywhere, the police will eventually find it, and if they show her picture on the news, it could lead back to you.”

“So what do you suggest?”

“We go far. Virginia, maybe. Or at least the border. That’s about an hour drive.”

“This late?” he asked.

“No traffic.”

He turned into the hallway, swinging his arms back and forth and pacing in a small circle. “Fine,” he finally said. “I’ll get the suitcase. You take him. We’ll drive my car.” I wanted to protest taking his car, but he raised his hand to silence me and left before I could say anything else.

Stephan was breathing heavy, though I feared if I lifted his chin, I’d find his eyes still partially open, staring down at me with distrust. I tucked the comforter around him like a cocoon and scooped him into my arms. It felt too natural to lay him on my chest, position his head in the crook of my neck, as if I’d done it many times before. His steady breathing paused for a moment, as if he’d noticed a change and needed investigate the new environment to be sure it was safe. Eventually, his body relaxed, and his soft snore returned. Looking at his face—his smooth skin, his rose-colored chubby cheeks, his flat nose, slightly bigger than my knuckle—I wondered if he was still young enough to forget his mother. If I stayed around long enough, held him more, kissed him the way she did, sang sweet lullabies until he fell asleep, would he start to believe that I was her, that I had always been a part of his life?

—Nortina

Next:
Screaming

Catch up on previous installments:
Accessory
Drive
To Live
Murderer
Body
Odor
Ringer

Wishing For Emily

She lived a life that some would describe as being on edge.

Reckless, they called her. An irresponsible mother.

They never spoke when she was being beaten every day. She only heard crickets those nights she went to bed with a black eye, woke up the next morning too sore to bend her body or sit in the tub and heal her wounds in water and suds.

They testified on his behalf when she filed for custody. She had no job, she left a surgeon, a good man. There was no evidence of such abuse. Where were the police reports?

Their daughter collected coins with custom backs. Quarters for all fifty states. Nickels paying homage to the old frontier. The bottom of the wishing well was littered with coins, none like these. She pressed the five cent buffalos against her closed eyelids, lay in the shallow blue water as the sprinkles from the fountain rained down on her, and wished for Emily.

word count: 150

—Nortina


2015-11-02-c2a9-2015-barbara-w-beachamMondays Finish the Story: a flash fiction challenge where we provide you with a new photo each week, and the first sentence of a story. Your challenge is to finish the story using 100-150 words, not including the sentence provided.

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

WODW: Letters to Devon

I wrote this poem three or four years ago, and I think it best embodies the prompt for Write or Die Wednesday, which is the following quote:

image

I had plans to include this poem and a handful of others into a chapbook about pain and loss and emerging out of a toxic relationship a better person. Unfortunately, I have a problem with finishing what I start. Hopefully, sharing this poem will reinvigorate my desire to publish that chapbook. Enjoy!

Letters to Devon

I
Breaking
Entering
Hiding
Jewelry, shoes, phones, TVs, guns, galore.
Law enforcement pushes through the door
Collecting
Arresting
You call me to implore.

Eating junk
Vomiting it up
Pulling hair
Crying in despair
Visiting
Calling
Writing
You promise we’ll be together soon
I pray it to be true.

II
Hair thinning
Weight climbing
Tears flowing
Same routine as before?
Walking
Pacing
Pacing the floor
Wondering why you don’t write to me anymore.

III
Mother screaming
Hands trembling
Stomach churning
Different routine from before.
Positive test hits the floor
Doctor’s appointment set
Doctor’s appointment broken
Still pacing the floor
Wondering why you don’t call me anymore.

IV
Writing
Erasing
Scribbling frantically
Begging you to come back to me
Others make visits
Notice my name removed from the list
Return to pacing the floor
Wondering why you don’t want to see me anymore.

V
Rubbing cream
Looking inside
At pictures black and white
Smiling
Laughing uncontrollably
Thought you’d love to see
What you’ve always desired your first child to be
Continue pacing the floor
You still don’t write to me anymore.

VI
Checking phone
No missed calls
Peeking in mailbox
No white envelopes
Months passing
Tummy rounding
One debt to society paid
Again pacing the floor
You still don’t call me anymore.

VII
Rage swells
And dwells within
Circulating
Body pulsating
Typical that you wouldn’t stay through thick and thin
Letters ripped and torn
Disheartening confetti float to the floor
I’m glad I don’t have to write to you anymore.

VIII
Stomach spreading
Hair still shedding
Too weak to pace on feet
Resting in bed
Wishing you dead
You still refuse to come see me
Friends gossip
Love’s blossomed
Your new heart and soul
Says I’m a lying whore?
Hee . . .hee . . . whoo . . .
You better pray you don’t see me anymore.

IX
Puffy face
Red eyes
Stained cheeks
Sensing an air of defeat
Wiping tears
Hand dropping to belly
A strong kick felt within
Creeping smile
Warm radiance embraces
Why should I cry over you?
Someone pure and new
Will be arriving very soon?

Baby’s coming
Father’s missing
Pushing
With no hand to hold
A bittersweet delivery
Tears of joy
Tears of pain
Cuddling my new man against my frame
Eyes connect
Fingers caress
Affection encompasses
As his lips touch my breast
Love returns
Anger recedes
No longer pacing the floor
I don’t care that you don’t call me anymore.

—Nortina

 

A Spring Poem English #frapalymo

I’ve been out sick for the past few days (sinus pressure was so bad, it hurt to sit up and stare at a computer screen). Spring and summer colds are the absolute WORST! Who knows, it might be allergies. Although I seem to clear up whenever I step outside, so maybe it’s the building I work in. Ah, yes. That’s it! I’m allergic to my job!

Anyway, I hope to feel better by diving into this prompt for #frapalymo: “write a spring poem without the word spring in it.” Hopefully it will clear my sinuses, and I’ll be able to smell and hear again. Thanks, Bee, for translating again!

 

I awake to knocking on my windowsill.
I rise, pull open the blinds.
It is a young robin—
first time mother—
building a nest
between the rotting wood of the
windowsill and the brickface
of the front of my house.
We lock eyes for a moment—
touching our round bellies;
it is time.
The snow has melted away;
patches of freshly grown grass
glisten in the newborn sunlight—
icy water droplets lingering on the blades.
The trees are budding,
stretching their limbs towards the sky,
absorbing every ray of sun
to birth rose pink, alabaster silk,
and saffron tulle flowers.
I want to open my window—
sniff the crisp, pure air
of the  fledgling season,
but I mustn’t disturb a mother
preparing for her young.
She nods. I nod back
and turn to start the construction
of a nest for my own tiny suckling.

—Nortina

frapalymo

All Through the Town

At two thirty, she leaned over the banister of her front porch and watched the yellow school bus slowly make its way down the narrow street of Cherry Drive. The brakes squeaked as the bus came to a halt in front of her house.

The last seven hours had been unbearable, spent scrubbing down countertops, vacuuming underneath furniture, and tossing spoiled milk from the refrigerator all to keep from worrying if she’d packed enough food for his lunch, if the other children teased him for his missing front tooth, if his jacket was warm enough in the air-conditioned classroom.

He disembarked the bus—holding onto the bar and jumping because the stairs were too steep for him to simply step down. He ran across the yard and hopped two steps onto the front porch and into her outstretched arms.

“I learned a new song today, Mommy.”

“Ah, what’s that?”

“The wheels on the bus go round and round!” he sang as she carried him into the house.

word count: 168

—Nortina


This is in response to Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers: write a story in 100-150 words (give or take 25 words) using the provided photo prompt as inspiration.

Click on the froggy icon to read other stories and add your own!

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