Habits By: Tremaine L. Loadholt

Second Best, But First Born

Tre: high school days.

I think about how crazy my upbringing was sometimes and there are bits and pieces that stir me up in ways that I cannot clearly understand or explain. 

I am a child of divorce. 

A further description: I am the eldest child from a divorced parents home who remembers so much more than her siblings and who has a lot more good memories of her Father to hold on to than her siblings as well, except her youngest, which is her sister. 

To be frank, I am head over heels about my kid sister. There is nothing (within my power) that I would not do for her. Being nineteen years older than someone gives you such a distinct perspective on life when there’s a need to share experiences and my kid sister comes loaded with questions. She’s an intensely intelligent young lady and I am not surprised by this. Often the saying in our family to her is, “You are so much like Tre.” Or different variations of that phrase and I want to shout to everyone telling her this to stop!

While I’m appreciative of their comparison, I see the dismay and feel the worry from my sister as she struggles to make a name for herself. I am so proud of her. I do not know what it feels like to have a Father raise his daughter beyond twelve years. That connection has to be an intense one and my sister has that. She has had our Father since her birth and at the age of nineteen, he is still very involved in her life. My Father and I only recently began renewing a bond that fell from its pedestal when I was still in grade school and it is awkward, but we are both growing within this process. 

Tre: College Graduation Day.

Last year, my sister entered a University in close proximity to Atlanta, GA. The kid has a full ride, Presidential Scholarship and is excelling in every way possible. Again, I am not surprised. From the moment she began speaking, I could tell that she was going to press on in life in a way that could be considered unstoppable. I did not/ do not worry about her. Not in that realm. I had/have other concerns about her growth, like first heartbreak and how will she heal from that? But, those bridges have not yet formed, so we cannot cross them. 

What sparked this post? Our Father’s worry over her entering school for a higher education four hours away from them. Not within his immediate reach. My kid sister was sheltered. Someone’s eyes was always on her. I grew up quite independent and left for college at eighteen, worked full time, and never returned home. I have been out of school for fifteen years, however, last year, when my sister was beginning to make her path into an unknown world, my Father called me up frantic and nearly in tears. 

My cousin Chrissy & I. I’m the little one with the thick plaits.

“Tre! Hey. Hey.  Can I talk to you? Will you tell me about your college experience?” The question came as an instant gut-punch to me. I thought, “Now, you wanna know about my college experience?! You mean, the one you had no hand in, the one I struggled with, the one in which I worked full time and had classes full time, busted my face too many times to count regarding love because I had no MALE figure to point me in the right direction, the college experience that left me with debt after a lost scholarship?! THAT COLLEGE EXPERIENCE!” I thought these things, but I did not say them. I am good at pushing my feelings to the side in order to cater to someone else’s and I could tell my Father was hurting. The one child he truly raised was beginning to leave the nest. It wasn’t a time for me to break fool on him. 

But, I did so after our phone call. I cried.  I thought about the many years I spent time giving myself to boys, men, girls, women, searching for that love I did not have from my Father, and I just broke down. I screamed. I shouted. And then, I thought about something my Father said before we ended the call and it helped me put things into a better perspective. “You were always so independent. You did everything fast; walked, talked, learned, and became an adult before your time. I did not have to worry about you. You had it altogether. I worry about your sister. She’s not like you in that aspect, baby. ” 

Tre: Christmas of ’82.

I knew what he was trying to say, but it didn’t make me feel any more loved. It actually made me feel like he had an idea of who I was but did not know I had to be who I was because of what I did not have, a Father. Parents do not know what they do to their children unless they’re told. They do not see us when our pain is most visible. In that moment of my breakdown, I felt second best. I felt as though my life was no longer a concern, I am grown, there’s nothing more to my growth that can be watered on me to help me grow even stronger, and I did not like that feeling. 

I have yet to tell my Father how his asking about my educational life so many years after it has taken place makes me feel and I doubt that I will. When you have voiced your opinion on so many things with one person and you get reactions that are often wrought with accusations and finger-pointing, you learn to just be quiet and accept it for what it is. It is a part of life that keeps me on my toes. Truthfully, I have to be. 

There will come a day when my sister will ask me of my college experience and I will tell her all that she wants to know. But, that day isn’t here yet. But, I will be ready when it arrives. 

The Blood Of Old Souls

Part V: Opal

The Old Witch, Baba Yaga: Courtesy of An306/DeviantArt

She presses the steamy pot into a hole in the ground outside her log cabin. There are canned tongues, eyeballs, and lips curing inside. Opal has been waiting for this day to come. 

The Day of the Big Feast.

Her goal is to devour ten children in less than three days.

She fasted all Winter, storing up more than enough fat in Autumn to be able to excel accordingly for this challenge. Hazel, her nemesis, is the only witch in Gutter Way who has eaten nine children in two days. Opal knows that in order to be Top Witch, she must beat Hazel. In the pot is a blend of lizard toenails, butterfly wings, owl eyes, vinegar, seaweed, bear jawbones, water, and wasabi. Not only will she beat Hazel this year, she will beat her for years to come.

Or so, she thinks…

Opal summons the forces of the ancestors before her, casting a spell that only she could reverse. Her intent? Poison Hazel and gather all of her spells while garnering a vast reward from the Witching Panel. The stew stews, sending a luring cloud of steam into the direction of Hazel’s cabin. Before it finally reaches her door she opens it and counters Opal’s attempt with a secret MASTER reverse spell.

“Gutter Way, beware. Witches drenched in jealousy will fall to their own spells.”

Hazel blows the cloud back to Opal’s cabin, spits another spell behind its steam, and closes her door. On her table lay a plump, little boy with his mouth stuffed with an apple and his belly glazed in pig fat. He is Hazel’s fourth meal of the day. Opal stirs her pot some more and tosses a set of twin toddlers into the stew. The ancestors toil and bubble. In the girls are the souls of Hazel’s Aunts–popular witches of Gutter Way from two hundred years ago. They awaken as soon as the bodies touch the heat.

“Your life is on the line. Our blood will carry on. Of this, you can be certain.”

Opal stirs the stew, sips it heartily, then begins to lose her balance. Her eyes bleed, her tongue splits down its middle, and her hair catches fire. In less than two minutes, ashes lay near the stewing pot. In the quietness of the fields of Gutter Way, Hazel can be heard agreeing with the Ancient Aunts,

“Our blood will carry on. Of this, you can be certain.”

The Blood of Old Souls

Part IV: Dilan

Courtesy of the young and extremely talented Iris Van Thol. Thank you, young one.

Dilan raced on all fours, leaping toward the Summit’s House, trying to out dodge the dawn. His hair, swaying in the evening breeze, a cloud of smoke trailing him. Moments ago, he snatched Mr. Noble’s throat in only three seconds — veiny mounds of flesh staining his beard, his teeth pulling in a pool of blood. Mr. Noble died whispering the combination to the company safe, but Dilan was already miles away.

The day started out like any other. Dilan was working the third shift at Noble’s Warehouse. He decided that today would be the day he’d ask Mr. Noble for a raise. Thirteen years as a lowly Entry Level Clerk weighed on Dilan. He had dreams, ambitions. He wanted to travel to amazing places and spend unnecessary amounts of cash that he did not have. He wanted to do what Mr. Noble did, be privileged. He tortured himself day and night. He had the courage, but whenever he thought to ask Mr. Noble, the crushing blows from his past crept into his bloodstream. He knew it would be best to wait.

And wait.

And wait.

And wait.

And before Dilan knew it, thirteen years to the day had arrived. He shrugged his shoulders, tucked in his previous lives, and mumbled a few words of motivation before approaching Mr. Noble.

“This is your day. You can do this. Noble owes you. Noble owes you. It’s yours. If he doesn’t give it to you. Take it.”

The sound of his past lives’ grumbling marked his ears and pushed fear into his soul.

“It’s yours… Take it.”

Dilan approached Mr. Noble. He fumbled with his words at first, but soon, he found stability and spewed out a number of truths about his work ethic and spotlighted his strengths too. Mr. Noble sat in his tiny chair, in his tiny office, twiddling his tiny thumbs, and spoke in a tiny voice, acknowledging Dilan’s presence, but ignoring his words. He is a shrewd creation of a man who smells like buttered cabbage stew and cured ham. His words spilled out of him, flowing without measure as Dilan patiently waited for his response.

“Now, Dilan. Ain’t no way in the Devil’s Hell you can have a raise. I can barely keep the lights on in this joint. Look around. Open those beady eyes of yours. Do you see any glimpse of glamour hanging on these walls? Hell, I can’t even upgrade the fax machine. So, that’s what I got on your raise, buddy. Nothing. Not a dime.”

Dilan began to fade. His arms bloated at his sides. His eyes inflated, poking out of their sockets. His teeth began to protrude, each enamel-laced protrusion now layered with saliva. He tried to subdue the past lives, keep them at bay, but each one gathered up, measuring thirteen years of waiting for happiness. The weight of this was heavy. Dilan’s legs grew three sizes bigger and he began to sprout up like a tree. Mr. Noble sat in amazement, unable to speak. A beast growing before him would soon have its feast.

A moment passed and before Mr. Noble could speak, Dilan exploded toward him, bit down on his neck, and pulled his throat from its rightful place. The past lives warned Dilan. They charged him to run — get away. Far away. Mr. Noble laid quiet at his tiny desk. His tiny thumbs rolling over paperwork. The tiny room shrinking in on him.

Mr. Noble died whispering the combination to the company safe, but Dilan was already miles away.

The past lives urged Dilan to continue, to get to the Summit’s House where a commoner’s throat would make a person two million dollars richer. Louder, the voices became. Louder and Louder. Dilan ran, his mouth slowly shifting to human form, his legs losing their tenacity, his arms, squaring off into their previous formation. Inside his demented head, the only words that remained were:

“It’s yours… Take it.”

Making Moves While Moving Minds While Striving To Stay Alive

Say boy, we make the decisions. I need all hands in the air. Tired and shaking. Shaking and tired. DO NOT SPEAK! Orders are shouted at us before we can talk some sense into our hearts…

Keep them from beating too fast. 

Before dawn, four of us lay sprawled out on a cold ground. Blood spilling from our heads. Mothers of boys cough on constant tears, voices held hostage. When can they speak?  Make room for empty promises and ignoramuses stepping on pointed toes. 

Give them an inch and they take ten miles, none of them green. 

I got 5 on the next incident that’s an accident that’s not really an accident, but they’re logging it as such as we count the bodies piling up. Killing us softly with more than songs. Your word is as good as your false teeth. Who amongst you will fight for an honor that is batted down at every turn?

Don’t you all speak at once. We can only swallow a few lies at a time. 

Make way for hardened hearts and stealthy forces. An untimely exodus is long overdue.