Muddy Girls

Muddy Girls

Sky’s Falling Girls Make Mud Pies

Photo by Daiga Ellaby via Unsplash

“Lacy! Gimme that mud bucket! Is Sky over there? Is it spitting out mud?! We need more mud for these pies!”

Lacy looks towards her bossy twin, tilts her head, and casually skips over to Missy with Sky in the muddy bucket. They have mud pies to make.

“Here! You ain’t gotta be all direct about things, Missy. I could’ve heard you all the way down the Chattahoochee River. You need to learn how to talk to people. Didn’t Mama tell you that? Didn’t Aunt May?”

Lacy, the quiet one, usually the one to smooth things over when things got out of control, has been frustrated with her twin sister for a few days. This one event lit an already fiery flame within her. She was tired of Missy and someone had to let her know. Totty follows close by. She wants to see what her two big sisters have brewing.

“All’s I said was to bring the bucket over and look after Sky too. That was a great big ole piece we pulled from behind Ms. Ruby’s shed. I don’t want us to lose it.”

“You oughta go’on and apologize, Missy. Don’t be so bossy all the time. It ain’t ladylike.”

Missy sucks her teeth, rolls her eyes, and blows out a raspy breath. Lacy stands her ground. Totty reaches for her sister’s hand and squeezes it. They both watch Missy struggle to make amends — to admit wrong.

“Okay, Lacy. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have been so demandin’. I was excited. Can you forgive me?”

Lacy looks at Missy, searches her eyes for truth, and finds it. She accepts her sister’s apology. It is pie-making time.

“Okay, I accept it. Just — you mind your manners and don’t let it happen again or me and Totty’ll go right on home.”

The girls scoop mud up by the handful, plop it into three buckets, then spread the contents in three pans. Each lump is layered atop the other and within minutes, an ultimate mud pie is made. Totty jumps at the opportunity to stick her fingers in the gooey dirt, then slaps it across her face.

“TOTTY! Whatchudoin’?!” They both scream at their toddler sister, reprimanding her for being curious. “YOU ALMOST ATE SKY! That’s not for you to eat, Totty. It’s for us to build muddy sky pies with.”

Totty shrugs her shoulders. She shakes the mud at her fingers sending muddy bits flying into the air. The sky changes color. What was once a sinner’s yellow is now a saint’s orange. It is getting late.

“We better get movin’,” Missy exclaims.

“Right. Mama will have our hides if we don’t beat the crickets’ song and Ms. Ruby’s porch light.”

The three of them run as fast as they can, buckets of muddy sky piled upon each other, dirty clothes and pruned fingertips are signs of a good time.

The night is tailing them and Sky fades to black the moment their shoes meet the front door.


Originally published in The Weekly Knob via Medium.

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Changes

The Remarkable Use of “No.”

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A Dusting|Photo credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

Claudia sits on her borrowed couch, sips Theraflu, and twists her hair from nervousness. She licks the edge of her gold tooth and sucks in the wild air of the night. It’s not hot. It’s not cold. It’s an in-between seasons kind of evening, yet there’s snow on the ground. She pets her cat Louie on the back of his head, scratches his little ears, and licks that gold tooth once more. She acquired it back in ’94 on a dare from her then-girlfriend, Cindy.

Cindy was a powerhouse. She had everything going for her, including being a mom and wife — house with the picket fence, Benz, and thousand-dollar breasts. She wanted Claudia, though, and she had her.

Then there was Dave. He was a news correspondent for a prominent journal in their city. He had red hair, freckles, and a laugh that reminded Claudia of Santa Claus. The things she did for that man . . . They snuck around town late at night, crept into places where a significant amount of money was definitely an option and had sex on every inch of furniture in her home.

He was married too. No kids. His wife caught them out together at a museum. That was the end of Dave.

Paula . . . Sexy. Sassy. Paula. She had moonbeam eyes, plump, kissable lips, and smelled like a broken heart. Claudia fell for her easily, even got her name tattooed on her left breast. A memento. A keepsake. Something she now regrets.

Paula wasn’t married, but she wanted an open relationship. She couldn’t see herself tied down to just one person and Claudia loved her so much she agreed. She made so many changes to her life and herself, she began to notice that she no longer knew what she wanted.

She wanted to be loved. She wanted to be lifted up and gazed upon as if the sun rose from the cleft of her chin. She wanted commitment — the totality of oneness with a mate, and happiness. She wanted happiness.

Leon, the gas station guy, changed her whole perspective on dating and she thought, This is what I want. Yes, this is it!

But Leon had a long-standing relationship as a coke-head and Claudia found out the day a few items began missing from her home. It broke her, the last straw. Her back shattered in places bones were not supposed to be.

Take away the addiction and Leon was perfect. And maybe that was the problem. He was so well-put-together that Claudia did not search for hints of faults or flaws. At the age of fifty-two, she made the decision to just say “No” and live her life without someone else attached to her.

When she did this, the doors of opportunity opened. New job. An advance of $2,500.00 on her first fantasy fiction novel. Relocation. Two new books edited and published within six months of each other. Bestseller’s list. And on and on and on, it went. Her life was an avenue of great things and she enjoyed skipping down the unknown path.

Until . . .

Laura. Five years later, she was forced to say “No” out of fear of who Laura could actually be and what she would potentially lose. Laura was single. No kids. No drug habits. No crazy antics of horrible events to come. And to Claudia, something was wrong with this. She was too perfect. Laura could not be true.

Because of her past, Claudia passed on Laura. She wasn’t going to take another chance at being the underbelly of a broken creature. She skipped her casually — afraid of what could be behind that unopened door. She used “No” so often after her, she forgot “Yes” existed.

She forgot life existed.


Originally published in The Junction via Medium.

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Mindful Musings

ACG Newsletter #1

Photo by Jon Tyson via Unsplash 

Hello, beautiful people! It is a new month and a lovely new day and we are moving right along here in ACG. There have been a few changes and will be a few more throughout the year. I will share a couple of those changes with you at the end of this letter. Thus far, the year has been great here for our small community. We are nearing the 1200th mark for followers and we are also making our way extremely close to the 200th mark for contributors. A Cornered Gurl is growing and this pleases me greatly. I wish I could express how happy it makes me to be able to work with an amazing group of people, grow with them, and be able to encourage one another regarding our craft.

We kicked off 2020 the right way with an awesome challenge focused on an invigorating and solid poetic form: the nonet with a theme of “Nonet the Night.” The challenge took off swimmingly and I was happy to see so many people try their hand at it. Here are a few of those entries:

Mary Keating

Rachel B. Baxter

Marta Mozolewska

You can view the rest of those responses by checking out our “Community” tab.

We just ended the first Young Minds of Medium challenge for this year and as always, the young ones brought that fire, people. This past month’s theme was What Is Your Favorite Song & How Does It Inspire You? Music is an instant connector — it pulls us together more than it tears us apart. Every submission met the requirements and they were a joy to review and publish so as to share with all of you. Here are a few of those responses:

Niharika Gursahani

Nour

Ameaka

Anto Rin

You can read the rest of those responses by clicking on our “Young Minds” tab.

Due to ACG’s steady growth, I find it important to work on ways to be able to get our contributors’ voices out to the masses. Yes, Medium is one avenue and I also mention and feature writers via the ACG website, however, social media is a demanding force and many people flock to one of the big three in order to get their gossip, good reads, and fellowship fix. I have selected Twitter for A Cornered Gurl and we are now heading out of the dark ages and into a source of ever-evolving light. You can connect with and follow us at A Cornered Gurl. We hope to see you there.

ACG has been up and running as an all-inclusive writer publication for one year and almost two months and nearly up for three years prior to making that change on January 5, 2019. With this in mind, I have decided to make it a point to publish a literary magazine each Spring which will be comprised of ten-fourteen selected writers’ work, included a few of my own as well. This Spring’s issue is nearly done and is entitled: QUINTESSENCE: A Literary Magazine of Featured Medium Writers. I look forward to sharing its essence with each of you when it is complete.

A Cornered Gurl has welcomed a few new contributors this past month and at the beginning of this year. Please help me give them a proper welcome: Simran Sawant, Abdullah I. Shawaf, Sylph Hemery, and nan fischer.

And now, a little music, yes? Cameo: Back and Forth

As always, thank you for your mind, time, and eyes. We appreciate your presence here.

Peace and blessings.

A Cornered Gurl Guidelines.

Non-fiction Saturdays

Black Firsts: Octavia Butler

The “Queen Mother of Science Fiction”

Octavia E. Butler. Image via curiousfictions.com.

Octavia Butler, born on June 22, 1947, gifted us with a genre of writing we had not experienced from African-American artists and writers before her or alongside her. Her work transcended time, broke down universal barriers, and shifted the category of “science fiction.” She wrote with a vigilance that somehow felt oneiric yet quite real while reading her work.

We could have been her characters. We are her characters.

The way she beckoned a plot and described her settings could pull you from wherever you were while reading her books, short stories, and essays and deposit you to that very spot. She was mythical yet real. She was defiant yet obedient. She was skillful yet willing to learn more about her craft.

She was a writer I simply had to read. My first book by Octavia Butler was the enthralling and still incredibly popular, Kindred which was given as a reading assignment in my African-American Literature class when I was in college.

It is a story of a young writer (Dana) shifting through time, traveling from her current period of the 1970s in California back to the days of antebellum slavery in Maryland. There, in the throes of thriving slavery, she meets her ancestors (Rufus and Alice Greenwood) and experiences the life and times of what it meant to be enslaved, but in temporary doses brought on by dizzy spells that initiated the time traveling.

She was mythical yet real. She was defiant yet obedient. She was skillful yet willing to learn more about her craft.

Butler depicts just how painful the shifts in time can be by bringing on dizzy spells that land Dana in various places during the antebellum slavery days where Rufus always seems to be in some sort of trouble and Dana arrives in the nick of time to help him.

By her third trip shifting, she and her white husband Kevin are both placed at Rufus’ home where they had to prove to the young master that they are indeed from the future and their stay in that time gets longer and even more intense.

It is an invigorating and impressive read as well. However, I did not expect anything less given the reviews I read before diving into reading the book for the first time. Plus, my African-American Literature professor gushed openly about it and was sure it would change our lives after we read it. It changed mine.

I wanted to know more about this writer who was unafraid to test the waters and completely transform the way I looked at science fiction. Thus, over time, I bought Parable of the Talents, Parable of the Sower, and Fledgling. I was not disappointed. Butler shares her gift of diving into the unknown, encountering mystics, and the push and pull of spiritualism with every read. I read her work and want to know what was growing in her mind — how did she come up with the talented work she gave us?

Butler became a receiver of firsts. She was the first science fiction writer to earn the McArthur Fellowship, class of 1995. She was forty-eight years old when she received the award. A few accompanying her within this class was journalist Alma Guillermo Prieto, writer Sandra Cisneros, and filmmaker Allison Anders. Butler also won the Hugo Award and Nebula Prize respectively, for not one, but several of her written works; Bloodchild and Speech Sounds, and Parable of the Talents and Parable of the Sower.

She is also known as the “godmother of Afrofuturism” which is a title never bestowed upon anyone else. Much of her vision for her work can be seen in videos by Beyoncé, in episodes of Black Mirror, and in movies by Ava DuVernay.

Butler shares her gift of diving into the unknown, encountering mystics, and the push and pull of spiritualism with every read.

When I mention my favorite writers, she is on that list. I have written a few pieces that toe the line of science fiction, spiritualism, and fantasy because of reading her work. She inspired me to push the envelope and never be afraid to try new genres in writing.

Read: The Trinity Marson Two-Part Series and Calypso, the Robotic Woman

Octavia Bulter died at the age of fifty-eight on February 24, 2006, from a stroke. It is hard to believe that it has been nearly fourteen years since her death, however, the work she produced lives on. I will always remember her as the “Queen Mother of Science Fiction.” Butler’s body of work, the way in which she devoted her time and skills to encourage young writers via workshops, and public speaking about her personal growth in the sci-fi genre (which was traditionally dominated by white men) are symbols of Butler’s willingness to help writers hone their craft.

Also read: Sky’s Falling Girls

At first, I thought Butler’s work an esoteric brand, but as time passed, that view has changed. Not only is her legacy a strong one in the African-American community — she is widely known and acknowledged for her efforts and accomplishments as an African-American science fiction writer.

To Octavia Butler: the first to do so many things in the world of writing. There will never be another.


Originally published in Our Human Family via Medium. The link shared is a friend link as the piece is behind Medium’s paywall. Thank you for reading.

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Sex Ed

Flash Fiction

Photo by Chris Barbalis via Unsplash

“They gave out condom samplers at school today.” The soiled air of their single-family home embraced Jazmin as soon as she entered the front door. Her Mom was sitting on the couch reading the latest issue of her favorite magazine. She looked up from the article as soon as the door slammed.

“They did what?!”

“Condoms. They gave them out today during my Sex Education class. You know . . . The one you signed the permission slip for me to take?”

“Condoms? What the hell? Why didn’t they ask me if I am okay with you receiving condoms? I don’t recall that being a blip or description of the course on the permission slip.”

“It’s a part of the course, Mom. They showed us a video about sex, sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy prevention, and even one on how to put a condom on your male partner.”

Cara began to rise up from the couch, but thought against it and sat back down. She sat there listening to her daughter — this fifteen-year-old communicating to her about sex, condoms, and birth control. She sighed heavily before speaking again.

“Jazzy, I didn’t even think about what could possibly be discussed outside of ‘Do this. Don’t do that. And, make sure you protect yourself’ when I signed that permission slip. I am grateful your school offers this type of education, but you know we can talk about these things too. You know that right?”

Jazmin looked up at her Mom, smiled at her gently, and silently thanked the heavens for a woman so understanding as her.

“I know, Mom. Besides, I have no use for this type of condom — I’m a lesbian. I asked if they had any dental dams or if they intended to show any videos on how to use those and the program organizers dismissed my questions. I’d been meaning to tell you, just hadn’t had the time. Now, seems perfect, though.”

Cara smiled sweetly at her girl. This time, she slowly gathered her slim frame from the couch, walked over to Jazmin, and sheltered her with her arms.

“Oh, Jazzy. I’ve known. I’ve always known. I wanted you to find your way, to share with me whenever you felt you needed to. And now . . . Well, now you have. And just so you know, condoms can be used as dental dams. I will pull up a few YouTube videos for you on how to turn a condom into a dental dam, okay?”

“What?! How?! Mom, why do you know this? I mean, I am glad that you do, but — how?!”

“Watching you grow up has prepared me for impromptu happenings. You have never been any kind of normal society likes to place on children and knowing this, I made certain I would be ready for whoever you are or want to be. When you were about ten years old, I noticed how closely you clung to Amanda, the neighbors’ girl. I still notice. I’m no fool, Jazzy.”

“So . . . you know about us?

“I do.”

“And, you’re okay with it?”

“I am. Why wouldn’t I be?”

Jazmin twiddled her thumbs and wiped a single tear from her eyes. She knew her Mom was great, but now she really knew. The soiled air closed in on the two of them and their hug was the safest place to be at that moment. Then, Jazmin thought about the possibilities of Cara slipping up and outing them in front of Amanda’s parents . . .

“Her parents would die! We can’t tell the Thompsons, Mom. Amanda would kill me and I really, really want her to be my girlfriend for a long time. Forever, even. I kinda love her. No — I love her.”

“Well, I hope you would want to explore other women too, but for now — I understand your heart is where it wants to be. You let me worry about the Thompsons. I’ll talk to those program organizers at your school too.”

The two of them stood in the middle of their living room, embraced in a hug that never had to end, and enjoying every second of it.


Sex education laws vary greatly among the states. Most states have laws that address some form of sexual education in schools, differing between what may or may not be taught and whether a parent may remove their child from certain sexual education programs with which they disagree.

The majority of states allow parents to remove their child or “opt-out” of sexually-related instruction, while other states require affirmative parental consent for a child to take sexual education classes or participate in school-based health clinic services.” — FindLaw’s Team of legal writers and editors


Originally published in The Weekly Knob via Medium. The link shared is a friend link as this is a piece behind Medium’s paywall.

 

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