Darryl & Delilah

Flash Fiction: A Tale of two squirrels

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

“I’ve named them, you know?”
“The squirrels that keep coming to the stoop. I’ve named them.”
“You have, have you? Let’s hear the names!”
“Darryl & Delilah.”

MacKenzie’s older sister shoots her an odd look — one that questions her name-choosing skills, but the younger sibling stands her ground.

“Darryl & Delilah!? Mack, why on earth would you . . .”

“It’s simple. Remember that song Mommy used to sing when I was like 5? The one by Billy Joel, ‘Just the Way You Are’? I hear that song every time I see them running around, gathering acorns, and hoarding them under the flower pot on our stoop. Their names fit them. They seem like a happy couple — one that can’t live without each other.”

Misha stares at her kid sister in total disbelief. She can’t believe what’s coming out of her mouth, but then again, she thinks it’s best not to question 11-year-old girls whose parents recently divorced. She continues to listen without judgment.

“I see Mommy and Daddy in them. Mommy rushing to gather all the acorns. Daddy hustling to the stoop to lift the flower pot so Mommy can place the acorns there. They make a great team!”

And then the tears fall. Misha watches her kid sister turn into a mush-mouth full of anger and resentment and pent-up sadness on the corner of Circle Way and Todd St. Divorce isn’t simply dividing their family, it is changing them in ways they never thought it would. MacKenzie is anthropomorphizing the squirrels in the neighborhood now. What’s next?!

“Mack . . . it’s okay to cry. You know that, right? It’s okay to just cry. You don’t have to make up stories or see Mom and Dad in the squirrels that use our stoop for storage. You can just . . . cry.”

MacKenzie shifts her thinking head to the left, bats her lashes slowly, and leans into her sister’s personal space. She whispers . . .

“I know. But it hurts less when I make up stories.”

Misha pulls her sister into a tight embrace, smooths back the wispy hair from her eyes, and kisses her forehead.

*Sighs* “I know, kiddo. I know.”

Billy Joel, Just the Way You Are

Originally published in Hinged on Medium.

Writers: A Challenge

I Am Sharing This Here As Well . . .

Writers: A Challenge

50-word Story: Animate your life

Photo by Donald Wu on Unsplash

Hello, beautiful people! Welcome to the second challenge since A Cornered Gurl’s relaunch. What do I have brewing in my mind for you now? Something I truly hope you can get into. We will tackle the task of animating your life or telling me about your life as it is linked to or related to your favorite animated movie, cartoon, claymation, etc. You get the drift.

And how will we do this? We will do so using the 50-word story (or a minisaga).

50-word story (minisaga)

A minisaga, mini saga or mini-saga is a short story based on a long story. It should contain exactly 50 words, plus a title of up to 15 characters. However, the title requirement is not always enforced and sometimes eliminated altogether. Minisagas are alternately known as microstories, ultra-shorts stories, or fifty-word stories.


The challenge: Please tell me about your life, but do so by comparing it or linking it to your favorite animated movie, cartoon, claymation, etc. Are The Flintstones your favorite go-to cartoon? How so? How is it directly related to your life? Dexter’s Laboratory is closely related to who you are and how your life operates — tell us how. The Incredibles directly define you and your family in some sort of way . . . really? Give us the details, but guess what — do so using exactly 50 words.

An example:

I was blessed with a quick wit, nearsightedness, and too much useless information packed into my head. I had an oddball gang of friends who didn’t mind carrying on with me. Sarcasm was my bosom buddy and I wasn’t popular, but I was well-known. Daria should have been my name.

Let’s get our thinking caps on, beautiful people!

•Request to be added as a writer by emailing me at acorneredgurl[AT]gmail[DOT]com with “Please Add Me” as the subject line and please include the link to your Medium profile. Don’t want to be a writer in A Cornered Gurl? Simply comment with your response in this challenge post, or create your own post to your profile or in another publication, however, please use the tags, “Challenge” and “Pandemic.”

The challenge will run from Sunday, January 22, 2023, until 6:00 PM, Sunday, January 29, 2023 (with publishing days as Friday, Sunday, and Monday based on ACG’s publishing schedule). Please have “Animate your life 50-word story” as the subtitle for your submission. CHALLENGE SUBMISSION BEGINS NOW!

Let’s explore what we can do with a fun topic that will allow us to reminisce, and hopefully have a great time while we get creative, too.

Bring it, beautiful people!

A Cornered Gurl Guidelines:Instagram

Originally published as a newsletter via A Cornered Gurl on Medium.

Their Hungry Hearts Were Fed in Full

Flash Fiction

Their Hungry Hearts Were Fed in Full by Tremaine L. Loadholt

He lay in the middle of the road, shivering from the intense cold. Darius slows the car down to a stroll. Serena opens the door — tightens the feel of her winter coat around her, and rushes to scoop up the precious thing into her arms.

It is a cold, late autumn night. She and Darius had just left a charity event thrown by her company — a non-profit organization built on the premise of revitalizing their city and finding homes for stray dogs and cats. What were the chances they would land upon a chocolate Cocker Spaniel/Labrador mix in the middle of the road on their drive back home?

She looks into its eyes and rolls it over onto its back, staring past its belly to check its gender — male. She whispers to the drenched ball of fur, “Fate. I think we’ll call you, ‘Fate.’”

She runs toward their car, pulls the door open, and quickly slides onto the heated seat. Darius is thumping his ashy thumbs on the steering wheel. He stares at her intently and says, “Who could leave such a sweet baby to fend for itself out here in all this?!” His hands flail dramatically in front of him.

“I named him ‘Fate.’ I think he will be a great addition to our family, Darius. Sebastian and Nora will fall in love with him. They truly will!”

Darius and Serena had a two-year-old Goldendoodle and a four-year-old Maine Coon cat at home. Both were rescues. Sebastian, the Goldendoodle, had been found in a ditch three miles away from their home on a sunny July morning. Nora, the Maine Coon, had been seen running feverishly out of a burning shed one mile away from their church.

Their home had been a quiet, welcoming spot for both animals. And now, it will be one for Fate, too.

As they pull into the driveway, Serena towel-dries Fate with one of the heavy towels the couple keeps in their car as part of their “emergency kit.” The little thing moves gingerly in her care as if to signal he understands what is going on. She scoops him up and places a gentle kiss on his snout.

Inside their home, Sebastian sits with Nora in their living room — his fluffy bottom faces the fireplace. Nora nestles alongside his chest — sleeping to the sound of his heartbeat.

Serena tiptoes to their kitchen — pulls out a favorite brand of puppy dog food, and sprinkles one scoop into Fate’s bowl. Next to this hearty meal, she fills another bowl with fresh water. She places Fate on the floor and watches his reaction.

The puppy lunges toward the bowl housing the food — hungry for a meal he hadn’t had in days. He swallows hurriedly, breathing in small pants between each bite. He shuffles his furry little body over to the water and sips until his belly pokes out.

Serena’s eyes fill with tears. One slips away and slides down her cold face. Darius stands at the kitchen entrance and gazes upon his wife and their new baby as they bond.

Who’s feeding whom? Who saved who?

As time passes, Fate grows along with Sebastian and Nora. The three of them fill Darius and Serena’s hearts with so much love. The couple watches their three fur babies interact with each other daily. The connection can only be described as “kismet,” — they were meant to be.

And with Fate’s name literally tying the family closer, Serena knows it is time to announce their newest addition. She turns to Darius as he watches the threesome plop around playfully in their backyard, leans closer to him, and nudges his chin. A glimmer in her eyes appears when she says, “Babe, I’m pregnant.”

The news floors Darius. It overcomes him with joy. They had tried for years to conceive and now … they could breathe easier. As the two of them zoom in on their small family, they envision it becoming bigger.

The work they do — the families they connect with when finding the best homes for stray dogs and cats invigorates them.

How will they continue their cause with a baby in tow?

They can and they will.

Someone has to fight the brutal fight of maintaining beauty and comfort in their thriving neighborhood. Someone has to feed the babies of the world — both humans and animals. Someone has to clear the streets of garbage, lost sneakers, and cigarette butts.

Fate brought more to Serena and Darius than just peace — he brought love — deep, everlasting love.

And now, on a chilly night in late November, not only have their hearts bloomed with indescribable joy, they are fed in full.

©2022 & 2023 Tremaine L. Loadholt

This is a slightly edited version of a piece written for Hinged.press’ (formerly, The Weekly Knob) annual participation in “Thankmas”. Thank you for reading.

Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.

Checking In After Hours (Part V)

Flash Fiction: Arresting Tess

Topher Brocklin stood there, weary-eyed and unfocused on the serious issue building before him. Had he seen Tess or Daphne earlier at all? Did either of them clock in? He scratched his oily head as if to unearth the answer.

“Well, officer … I — I can’t says I have.”

“You can’t say or you don’t know, Topher. Topher Brocklin? Those are two different things, you know?”

“I mean … I don’t recall. I can’t remember.”

Tamara huffed out an exasperated sigh and just shook her head. The officers stood there, flummoxed by the situation unfolding right before them. And the strange old man cried.

Just as the first tear fell, the shadow reappeared.

Officers Bends and Dibbs direct Topher Brocklin to the motel’s lobby. With what could be Tess’s hair sample bagged and tagged, they needed to know where she lives. Topher shuffles his Oompa Loompa’d body back to the lobby hurriedly. The intensity of what could be a harsh issue for the motel settled in his system unwantedly. Officer Dibbs has the first words since they exited the family’s room.

“We gon’ run this to the lab — have the forensics team flush this out. Run it through the database and see if we get any hits. We need a sample of Tess’s hair — DNA purposes and all.”

Topher searches for his address book and lunges toward the desk phone.

“I think I should be the one to call her . . . I mean — I think . . . this could end up being a lot for her. She ain’t the brightest of the three, but I can’t imagine how torn up something like this would make her.”

Officers Dibbs and Bends stare at each other intently. Both think the same thing, but only one will say it. Bends begins . . .

“Now, Topher, if Tess is the one that’s got herself into this mess, how you reckon us confronting her with the possibility of committing this crime is going to be too much for her? If she’s our gal — I highly doubt that.”

“Tess couldn’t do something like this. Had it been Daphne’s hair, I’d probably lean toward an ‘Oh, I can see that,’ but Tess?! She is quieter than a church mouse — lives with her aunt, Hazel, and their three cats, attends Sunday service religiously — both of’em, and has never missed a day of work. I just . . . this ain’t her.”

Officers Dibbs and Bends get the green light from the lab — Tess Lynne Windermere is in their criminal database — but from fifteen years ago. An arson, second-degree charge from back in her high school days. A sample of Tess’s hair isn’t necessary now — they have their proof. The two officers zip over to Tess’s house to make the arrest.

Tamara and Dale say their goodbyes to Topher and they head up the road to find another place to rest for the duration of the night. It is 3:00 AM, and the children have been asleep in their car for the last two hours. The family has had their fill and wants to be done with this town and the creepiness within it.

Dibbs bangs on the door of Tess’s home. Outside are three squad cars, including theirs, and four other officers. Each of them stands armed and dangerous, yet scared shitless after hearing about the story and the weird shadow.

Tess’s Aunt Hazel is the first to wake up. She slips on her robe, slides her feet into her slippers, and shuffles quickly to the door. Tess isn’t too far behind her.

“Who is it?! This time of mornin’, ain’t nobody out but trouble or the devil or both. Ain’t nothing godly comin’ at my door at this time! Who is it?!”

Officers Dibbs and Bends shout in unison . . .

“This is the Bloomfield Police, ma’am. Open the door! We’re here for Tess Windermere!”

Aunt Hazel turns her head sheepishly toward her impish niece, sucks her teeth, and unbolts the door.

Dibbs flashes a shiny pair of handcuffs before her eyes as soon as the door opens. He fancies himself a wrangler of sorts with the small contraptions and is eager to slap them on Tess’s wrists. Bends announces the Miranda rights to the air as if he’s singing them as a celebration. Officer Dibbs clamps the handcuffs onto Tess’s hands and smiles sinisterly in her direction.

“You are under arrest for the murder of one Magda Kowalski. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”

Tess looks around the room, stares into her aunt’s eyes — sighs heavily — cries into the thick air, “I knew you were comin’. I just didn’t know when.”

Officer Beau Dibbs and Officer Clive Bends escort Tess away from her home, each hanging on to one of her arms, the handcuffs clinging in sync with their footsteps.

The three of them headed toward the arresting officers’ squad car, and the entourage readied themselves to follow behind them.

Bends gently guides Tess into the backseat, checks the handcuffs one more time, and closes the door.

As he turns away from Tess, she winks at the shadow sitting next to her and smiles.

Originally published in Hinged.Press via Medium.

This completes the Checking In After Hours series. Need to catch up? Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV.Thank you for reading.


Part III: Searching for a new home

Flash Fiction

A black and white image of a Black couple standing back to back.
Photo by 1MilliDollars on Unsplash

We are tasked with finding another temporary residence while my building undergoes renovations. His parents are kind enough to usher us in on such short notice, but I don’t feel welcome here. I know we won’t make it for the next eight months. That’ll be impossible.

I see the look in Cleveland’s eyes — the intensity — the strain. He wants more than anything for us to be in our own place without the looming gazes of others beating down on our backs.

I want that too.

To say that I am blessed to have Ruthann would be an understatement. She’s been by my side for the last three years, and if I had to do them without her, I don’t think I could. My folks whisperin’ behind our backs. I can hear my father wake up in the middle of the night and press on our floorboards with the weight of his body — pacin’ back and forth. Pacin’ . . .

We ain’t causin’ no trouble. We’re just here — just here, tryin’ to make it. Ruthann’s been searching for a place that’ll house us for the next eight to nine months. We are hopeful her place will be done by then. While she searches and works, I work double shifts at my job and save up some money.

Her pops beatin’ down her cellphone with his text messages. Some of them happy. Some of them sad. Some of them angry. Ruthann just shakes her head, sends a simple and respectful response, and keeps it movin’.

Between the two of us, we’re gonna make it. We don’t need them. We got us.

Cleveland hasn’t been himself lately. I know this struggle — the one of us searching for yet another place to stay is overpowering his strength. He hates imbalance. He is always centered. He is the only man I know who meditates before the sun rises and runs two miles before he showers, kisses my head, and rushes off to work.

When we talk, we have meaningful conversations. He is fluent in expressing himself about various artworks; both literary and visual, music, construction and engineering, and the current state of our roller coaster economy.

Being that I spend most of my days conducting research on authors, science, and the best way to make our library stand out in our city, I love delving deeper into things outside of this realm. Cleveland gives me that.

I think I may have found the perfect temporary spot for us. It’s a place not too far from my oldest sister. She sent me the landlord’s information. I’ll meet with him tomorrow after I talk to Cleveland about it tonight.

I am crossing my fingers and toes for this space. It would be a ten-minute walk to the library and about a fifteen-minute drive to Cleveland’s job. Talk about convenience! Wish us luck!

Before I started dating Ruthann, I dated an older woman named Val. She may have been older, but she was not wiser. And her folks loved me! Her pops took one look at me when I first met him and said, “Now, Val, if you can’t stick with this one, what are you going to do? Come on over here, son!”

Her folks instantly accepted me. I didn’t have to jump through any hoops — didn’t have to mourn my dark skin while I’m still livin’ — didn’t have to constantly prove myself.

We didn’t work out. And it had nothing to do with her folks, nah. She had other plans for the future — plans that didn’t include me cuz she started messin’ around with her mechanic.

After I shook the weight of that relationship offa me, seven months later, Ruthann appeared. And here we are.

It’d be my demise if Ruthann dogged me the same way Val did. That’d be the kinda wound I wouldn’t be able to heal from quickly.

I just got a text message from Ruthann. She may have found the perfect spot for us. She sent some photos my way — place looks great! I’m excited to see it. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll be out of my folks’ place soon and into one we can call ours — if only for a little while.

The stink of being unwanted is travelin’ along with us and lemme tell you, it’s not a welcoming stench.

Originally published in Lit Up via Medium.

Part I and Part II