Family Owned

Part I: A Snapshot

Open Arms|Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

“Davie Boy, pull that branch away from the main walkway, please. We don’t need anyone tripping and breaking their neck … The last thing I can stomach is a lawsuit, especially during a damn global pandemic. And while you’re at it, see if you can take a proper photo of the Jane Magnolia trees. I wanna showcase them in the new magazine for the shop.”

Starla beckoned from behind the desk of her family’s bed-and-breakfast. Davie Boy, her younger brother, helped to keep the place up and running. He was what you’d call a “handyman,” but he was more man than he was handy.

“And where is that God-forsaken niece of mine?! CHLOE! CHLOE! GET DOWN HERE, ASAP!”

The walls of the shop creaked. Starla was a loud woman. Always heard. Barely seen. She made the lives of everyone around her miserable. She now lived as a divorcée who owned two cats, a dog, and hundreds of handmaid quilts from the elder women in her family. And … part of the bed-and-breakfast. Buddy, her older brother, is the other owner.

“Starla, I don’t get paid enough for this. I threw my back out messin’ ‘round with them branches and those magnolia trees aren’t half-bloomed yet. Be a pity to waste good film on them in that state. Probably best to wait another week.”

Starla listened to the saucy words of her kid brother, knowing full well he was half-right. A lump formed in her throat. She swallowed hard.

“Whatever. Thank you.”

Buddy didn’t stick around much. The only things he had on Starla was age, favored gender by their dad, and the uncanny ability to lie in the face of danger. He could talk himself out of trouble and talk himself into bed with anyone. Starla, if she were truthful, envied him.

“I’ll just see if Buddy can do it the next time he swings by this way. He should’ve dropped the deposit off last Friday, haven’t seen the fool yet. Don’t worry about any of it, Davie Boy. It’ll get done. Can you collect your daughter and run to the store? Here’s the list.”

She handed Davie Boy the shopping list and watched as her niece came bouncing down the stairs in a revealing top and some short-shorts — Daisy Duke short.


“No, ma’am. No, ma’am! Head right on back up those stairs and put on some more clothes, young lady! What in the name … Have you lost your mind? Davie Boy, you let her dress like this? Showing her business to the world? You will march right up those stairs and find something else to wear.”

Starla rubbed her temples and sighed a great sigh. Her head throbbed. She needed a drink. Davie Boy’s voice snapped her back into focus.

“You know I can’t do anything with her, Starla. Since June died, Chloe’s been acting out — talkin’ back, breakin’ curfew, smoking weed — ”

“She’s been doing what? Aw, hell no! Leave her here with me. She can help me with the B & B and the flower shop. Don’t you fret, Davie Boy. Things’ll be back in order around here soon. Just you wait and see.”

Chloe descended the stairs just as her aunt finished her speech. This time, she had on a mini-skirt, a halter top, and some thigh-high boots.

“Davie Boy, go get me that vodka and some ibuprofen.”

Starla shook her head in disbelief, tutted the air between her teeth, and shot her niece a devil-filled stare.

“Tomorrow. I’ll deal with you tomorrow.”


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.

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Absent-minded

silhouette of man holding two childrens on shore during daytime
Photo by Jude Beck via Unsplash

Hurriedly, he slathered butter on the toast & shoved the kids out the door.

“Come on girls, quickly! You don’t want to miss the bus!”

The girls followed behind him, their bare naked bodies bopping in sync with Daddy. He thinks, has he forgotten something?

He has.


This microfiction piece is in response to a Twitter #vss365 prompt. The word: slather.

When the Night Barks

And love has no bite

Photo Credit: Luis Quintero via Pexels

If I had a magic wand, my life would not include me saying the following statement multiple times a week: “No, I am not taking any visitors at this time. Due to my line of work, it’s best that I do not.” For those of you who do not know, I am a Patient Access Specialist turned Screener for an imaging facility. My transitional position, due to the Coronavirus COVID-19, places me front and center in surveying patients and taking their temperatures prior to entering our waiting areas. I screen anywhere from one hundred twenty to one hundred eighty-five people per day with a low to moderate percentage of exposure to the virus.

Some family members get the importance of my refusals to their requests, others want to test the waters of me and see how far they can take their reach without me blocking it or shutting it down. I am not one who likes repeating herself but for this, I make sure I am loud and clear.

I will miss out on a few opportunities for gathering with family this summer and it is because I have to take every precaution to ensure my safety and the safety of others. My health is important. I want to be sure it remains intact for the foreseeable future.

I have brothers, cousins, uncles, and aunts who want to visit from various Coronavirus, COVID-19 hotspots across the nation and in my mind, all I can think is, “Why would you want to visit me while we’re in the middle of a global pandemic? Why do you think I want you to?” Politely declining family gatherings and visitations is becoming my forté but I have no regrets. At least, not right now.

But how will I feel when the night barks and love has no bite? What will I do when the yearning for a hug becomes the one prayer I lend to God religiously? Am I strong enough? Will my defiance of running toward “some sense of normalcy” get the best of me? Only time will tell.

Right now, I am in avoidance mode and for several reasons. I cannot, in good faith, slack off in any way on the methods of survival and remaining virus-free if I give in to the simple requests of others.

To an unbearable extent, everyone is antsy. They’re ready to experience life the way they knew it to be Pre-Coronavirus days, but I am faced with the reality of its deadliness every single day and I am in no rush to gain a life back that does not have what I mostly need from it.

I have had the ungodly task of living through sixteen days wrought with worry while a co-worker panted through the depths of Hell and came back from a rigorous bout with said virus and the last thing I want is to be in his shoes. No, thank you.

It breaks my heart to not be able to see, spend time with, and share in the love of my beautiful family, but I love them enough to know I am bad for their health and to keep myself away from them regardless of their pleas. I love them enough to want them to live through this phase of life, come out unscathed, and tell the story of it.

The night does pull at me and oftentimes, I haven’t the strength to conquer it. A few loud barks from its deep voice doesn’t scare me. I don’t even flinch.

But, I will be completely transparent, it’s the absence of the vastness of love and all versions of it I miss the most. It is the intensity of a thing I’ve forced myself to believe I want more than breathing. I want to live through this pandemic and share stories of it with the same loved ones pressing me to open up my door and let them in.

Will I lose their admiration and perhaps the closeness we’ve had over the years? It is a possibility. But, I’d rather keep the potency of love in its full form in my heart than run the risk of losing its bite.


Originally published in P. S. I Love You via Medium.

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Matriarch

Micropoetry

Courtesy of Tamara Natalie Madden/Goldilocks

I listen as
Her mind cracks
And disappears into the wind.
Losing her independence
To age —
Eighty-two years young,
Fading in the
Arms of dementia.

How do you tell
The head that she is now
The tail?


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium on December 26, 2017.

Young Minds of Medium Featured Piece #3

Subodhini Vignesh (Subo)  is a young one I am happy to have in A Cornered Gurl. She is encouraging, strong-willed, open-minded, and takes on a challenge like it’s second nature to her. She recently turned sixteen years old and the second way she decided to respond to the Young Minds of Medium What Do You Miss Most During This Pandemic call was to write about how she experienced her birthday this year. Her first submission was just as detailed and definitely a gut-punch, but this piece truly touched my heart as I read it. I give you, “My Sweet Sixteenth Birthday . . .”


My Sweet Sixteenth Birthday

Young Minds of Medium Missed Things Call

My Birthday Cake ❤|Photo credit: Author’s Dad

A few days ago, I found myself sobbing under my covers at night, with the rest of my family in a deep slumber. Until that moment, I hadn’t felt dejected for not being able to celebrate my 16th birthday with all my close friends and family. I felt a little lonely, but this wasn’t only because of the future physical absence of my friends on my special day; this would be the last birthday I’d be celebrating in India before shifting to another country, and my friends wouldn’t be there. They would forget me soon anyway, might as well celebrate what had once been- the celebration of the end of years of friendship and memories.

When I woke up the next morning, 15th May, I no longer felt the sadness that had fueled my tears; instead, I felt stupid and a bit embarrassed to take responsibility for the thoughts that had clouded my more rational reasoning. My friends would never forget me, even if I’m 1000s of kilometres away. So what if they are absent for a little cake cutting? There are still so many memories of them I can hang on to. It isn’t really their fault they can’t come — it’s beyond any of our control. It’s okay to feel bad for their absence — it’s human.

Out of sight, but not out of mind.


As of 15th May, I had zero expectations for my birthday — that is what my parents and my brother had fooled me into believing. I’m generally good at putting pieces together, so hiding something from me isn’t a piece of cake; it turns out, they hid an entire cake. That night, my parents, my brother, and I were watching a 1980s Rajinikanth movie — it being a reason to keep me up till 12 o’clock.

May 16, 2020- The Birthday

When the clock struck twelve, all my friends and family stood at my doorstep ready to wish me a happy birthday, and the beautiful blue dress my fairy godmother had gifted me turned into my rags, leaving me with only one glass slipper. Nah, not really.

My brother and my parents gave me the gifts they had secretly brought home, and all of them sang the happy birthday song at the top of their lungs. I was awestruck, to add to this, several of my relatives and buddies had swarmed my landline and Whatsapp with their wishes and love.

I had expected them to forget my birthday, yet they had won my heart with all their love.

I woke up to a video my friends had curated; it began with a picture of me in a ridiculous pose and sunglasses and then a series of pictures where each of them held an alphabet to spell “Happy Bday”. I was delighted and a bit surprised because, to be honest, for the last three months I hadn’t had a proper conversation with many of the girls — except maybe some Whatsapp “Gm’s” and “Bye’s.”

One of the most significant moments of the day was by one of my best friends. She had created an entire card and left me a long beautiful message which got me to smile so much that my jaw hurt. She and I were going to take completely different paths in our lives, and our personalities don’t really coincide, yet we are thick as thieves. I have always known that even if we end up in different parts of the planet we’d never lose touch. The gift of sweet words she had given me a pleasant reminder of our togetherness and friendship which will last forever.

She’d be amongst the ones I will miss the most, but never forget.

In the evening, I cut a delicious cake my parents had smuggled home. I was courted by my grandparents, cousins, and best friends singing the birthday song through video conference.

Throughout the entire day, I felt special and a little spoiled — a break from my scheduled day.

For me, my birthday was a refreshing reminder that everything will be fine soon, and until then, we are in this together.


I am not forgotten, I am loved — this is all I needed to know.


Stay Home. Stay Safe.
Have Hope.


Author’s Note: I would like to apologise to those who believe that, in this period where several are losing lives, I shouldn’t babble about something as childish as a birthday. This is a tough time for all of us, even me, and I wish to share the little insignificant moments that make my life more joyous. Through this pandemic, we all have different problems with varying magnitudes; each a story unique to the individual. This is part of my story.


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.