Changes

The Remarkable Use of “No.”

latesnow
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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Non-fiction Saturdays

Before I Knew You

Of Vita & Virginia

Two Girls by Egon Schiele-1911

I did not know that pieces of me would fall before you — your hands cradled at the base of my neck, soothing built-up tension — years of me trapped in a soulless body, afraid to seek the light. But, then you came . . . Your wild wonder tempted me — cajoled my heart into order and my mind quickly followed. I will write of you — I will share these words with the world. They must know of your captivating light, of your equally astonishing presence. And, in so doing, I will paint a picture of the moon paired with the sun — the entwining of two bearers of light. Of you. Of me. Of us.

You came, you left your mark/Oh, how lovely is your touch/The splendor of your voice lights up the dark/My love — this heart needs you so much/I know this time of us is short/It’s bleak, at best/But know that with you here, memories become a sport/My days of living, no longer a test.

Your charm, your flattery, how crisp and fresh you were. I leaned into the scent of you and watched my husband watch me yearn to get to know you. Intent — what was it? Was it there? Your writing, ages before mine, popularity could kill the cat with its brute force. You searched for me. Why me? I, this lowly thing of a woman who spent more time with words than with my own species, what lured you to me? Some sort of enigmatic being. Mad. Crazy. Brilliant. Genius. Labeled all these things by those known and unknown to me, yet you sniffed at my feet only once and summed me up in seconds.

Vita, I have no doubt in me, I’ve set it free/Before you, my love will reign/Let’s stick this out, let’s live and be/I have him and you have me, but guide me slowly, please/With you around, I feel supreme, not the same/My mind on pause, my soul at ease.

Caught by your words — by your warm presence. Your skin touching mine, your breath near my lips. I can feel you even when you’re not around. I slip in and out of me, sometimes losing myself to the wind in the trees. I know the walls of institutions — asylum(ed) for the certifiably insane. I know the lies on the tongues about me. I know the truths too. You know what you know, still, you slip your fingers inside my warmth and a world of passion is born. This woman — this woman you found, was not here before.


I came for you in my dreams — determined to make those dreams real. I searched and searched and searched for you. I know what words can do, how they lasso and trap prey. I used mine to call you — to bring you forth. What I did not know, what I could not know, was how easily you would fall into my palms. I have you. You are here. I linger in the lush places of your body — seeping into your skin. I am found in you. You brought me here. In the haven of our restful peace, I am born again. I will never leave you alone, while I travel — my words will keep you company. We will be one. Solidified. United. Us.

I fell for your words, soon fell for your heart/Called you to me, pulled you in close/You came at my beckoning, you knew from the start/My soul caught in the stronghold of yours, permanent pose/We will always be this, we will never part.

I am younger, this is nothing. It will not stop me. My husband knows — he sees us. I tell him of you, of me, of how we can be more. His jealousy is fire but I will not burn. I will run to you, I run to you, I am running to you. At the speed of declining book sales and rapidly spread diseases, I press forward. Unstoppable for you. They threaten the removal of my boys, my money, and my mind, but — I still run to you.

Virginia, it was you, always you/I knew from the moment we met/That night at the party, you stood clearly in view/It’s embedded in my brain now, I cannot forget/I may slip, I may dabble in a few others/But from you, away will never be a thing/We are more than just lovers.

I think it happened. I broke your heart. I am avoiding it, you see. What we need are words — our writing, it strengthens us. I hear it breaking but do nothing. I want you. I don’t want you. I want you. I spiral down quickly and you look for me in the bend of the branches, in the fiber of your clothes. I am in your home, you are in mine. They told me you stood at the rocks, you watched the sea roar. You almost took your life there. I held you in my heart — pulled you out at that moment, you stepped back and away from the sea’s mouth. Not today, you thought. Not today. You lived to love me a little longer.


I became your Orlando. You became my Orlando. I lived on for years. You lived on for years. We are torn apart now. We are torn apart now. We were once whole.

We were once whole.


Author’s Note: Vita & Virginia, 2018, is the true love story of Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West. I watched this movie and instantly felt a connection to both women. Sometimes, we lean into those with whom we can connect the most. As writers, the two of them understood the depth of words and how to market them. On the subject of their love affair, I feel as though Virginia gained more and loss even more than Vita. If you want to know about their story, you can read the article above and watch the movie too. They’re both worth it.


Originally published in Something Sensational via Medium.

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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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