Deidrick

Flash Fiction

Photo by Monica G via ReShot

Listen . . . I gotta baby on the way and I’m three weeks outside of high school graduation. My mama ain’t trying to hear me staying at her place when the baby comes. Yeah, she’s happy to be a grandma soon. No one’s challenging that. She’s just . . . How do you say it? Ready to have her space to herself.

I don’t blame her. I’ll be nineteen years old when my little one gets here. I gotta job. Her mama does too. I work nights at a distribution warehouse for a major chain and her mama works second shift at one of the local ice cream spots.
We’ve been saving. It ain’t nothing to write home about, but I got $2,300 saved so far and she has a little more than I do.

A cousin of mine owns a housing building — four floors, forty units. He said he’s willing to rent us a one-bedroom for $925.00 each month for up to twenty-four months.

It’s doable. Up in the sticks and far from the craziness of the city.

Between the two of us, we’ll make it work. We have to. I have a bike. Not no mountain bike or anything like that — a motorcycle. My girl hates it — won’t even come near it. But it’s paid for and gassing it up doesn’t cost much. She takes the train or an Uber to work.

I know we’ll have to look into some form of transportation convenient for young parents. I can’t haul my baby on my bike and I damn sure don’t want her and her mama lugging about on the train or in an Uber.

My homie Amar asked his uncle Khalil if he’d be willing to sell his 2017 Hyundai Elantra GT (hatchback) to us. He’s thinking about it. I hate that kinda shit, you know? That “thinking about it” shit. Either you want to sell the car to us or you don’t. Just be real.

But I’m trying to be patient. My girl says I’ll have to work on that much more now.

Four more months . . . That’s right around the corner. I’m scared as hell. I ain’t gonna sit here and lie to you — I’m scared. I gotta good heart, though. I make decent grades. I even have a supervisory position waiting for me at the warehouse when I graduate, so I feel confident about being a dad.

My dad is a good dude. Salt of the earth. He and Mama have their differences, but they’ve been together now for twenty-two years. That’s beautiful. I want that kinda love — that long-lasting, ain’t going nowhere until I die kinda love, you know? I think I’ll have that with Iesha. That’s my girl.

I want that. I really, really do.

I don’t talk about this kinda stuff with my boys. They’re in their feelings about me being a dad soon — said I’ll be missing out on shit, but I don’t think so. I’m gonna have a baby girl. Really, watching her grow up is gonna be the best gift anyone can ever give me. I ain’t missing out on nothing.

Not a thing.

My shift’s about to start. If you wanna drop back by sometime tomorrow to bend my ear and all that, I’ll see ya then. If not, that’s cool too. This money ain’t gonna make itself.

Stay safe out there.


Originally published in soliloque via Medium.

We Never Stop Loving Those Who We Love the Most

Sometimes that can be a hindrance

Photo by Daniela Darlene via ReShot

Intimately, on a scale of deep passion, I have loved — truly loved four people. Two women. Two men. This isn’t to say, I have only had four relationships, no . . . it is to convey I have only fallen in love with four people. Others I have liked — have been fond of — have enjoyed their presence. But . . . I could walk away from them or they could walk away from me and not one eyelash would bat.

I recognize, at age forty-one, this could seem perplexing to some. It is probably even unbelievable to others, but I have always been a person who loves hard but only with a person who could break down some effectively built walls. Four people did that.

And after each one, I threw up another wall — bigger and stronger than the previous barricade. Two years ago, the last person with whom I was in love and I stopped communicating — the wall remains. It keeps bad people out, and all the good feelings — memories and fun-filled times, in. “I just wanna be loved. Like everybody else does. I just wanna be loved.” ©Jill Scott

Recently, a friend of mine said to me, “Eventually, Tre, you will have to let someone else in. And they won’t have an easy time if that wall is still there.” I am aware of this. It sits with me for many days and taunts me. But the wall is my safety. The wall is security. Anyone willing to dive into my heart should be able to knock it down, correct?

We think we know what we want.

Sometimes, we don’t. Sometimes, we are clearly flailing about on this earth, grasping at strings of air, yearning to survive another day. I can tell you who I think would be most compatible with me, but it doesn’t guarantee a positive outcome for us. I can tell you what I want most in a partner, but there could be things within me that person may not want or gravitate toward.

“I just wanna be loved. Like everybody else does. I just wanna be loved.” ©Jill Scott

On a good day, I can say with certainty, this is all I need. On a bad day, other things cram into the spaces of my brain and force me to believe there is more. There is so much more. But what? And why?

Learning to love more than the four.

Currently, I am teaching myself the importance of loving more than the four. What does this mean? It means I have to be willing to know someone else can do what the four did. Someone else will want to do what the four did. And if I don’t keep my eyes open and be mindful of this person’s attempt when it occurs, I could miss out on the fifth because of the damn four.

You still here? Are you following me?

We never stop loving those who we love the most. No one’s asking us to. No one expects us to. We fall in love for so many reasons, many of them understandable to most, and some, not so much. The things that make us reminisce about our lost loves during our transition back into the dating world will always hang in the shadows — dangling their hindrance devices.

Can we move on? A better question . . . do we even want to?

Currently, I am teaching myself the importance of loving more than the four.

I want to believe I have enough strength in me to let loose and let love have its way when it tries to sneak in again. But first, I’ll have to do something about this damn wall. I don’t want to tire myself out from the heavy lifting. Stripping away one’s barrier could end up being a test on “survival of the fittest.” Am I fit enough to survive?

The four won’t hold me back.

This is my mantra. It is what I am telling myself these days to get through the lonely moments. The four can only do what I let them. The four will only be as harmful to me as I allow. I won’t be held back any longer.

There is a whole life in this world waiting to be had, and love is a part of it. Opening up is a part of it. Being able to be vulnerable and willing to take a risk is a part of it.

We never stop loving those who we love the most. No one’s asking us to do this at all. No one expects us to. But we have to differentiate between holding on to our past loves because the experiences were positive, and we’d like more like them, and holding on to our past loves because we are afraid every other one will not be like them.

If we keep holding on to them, what else will we be willing to grasp. Today, I refuse to allow the four to be a hindrance.

Where’s the sledgehammer? I’ve got a wall to destroy.


Originally published in Age of Empathy via Medium

Clover

Part VIII: I think we’re going to be all right.

Photo by Angel Eyes via Reshot

I close the door to Daddy’s truck. It lands with a loud thud. The hallway monitor stands by our lane and eyes me with a look that could slice sin. I wave goodbye to Daddy and begin my day. After landing a spot on the dance squad for Soulful Legs Dance Studio this past weekend, nothing can pull me down from the clouds.

Just before I enter the front doors of our school, I spot Selena. Her older brother is driving her to school today. He has on a weird mask — something like a cross between a monster and a rabbit. She waves goodbye to him and rushes over to me. I get goose skin.

“Hey, Clover! Little birdies all around town tell me someone made the squad! That’s great!”

It’s not like I’m not grateful. I have manners. I know when to say, “thank you,” but I can’t get the image of the monster-rabbit mask out of my head, and I make this known.

“Um . . . thank you. That was your brother driving, right? What did he have on his face?”

“Oh, the mask? He works for Sloppy Carl’s. It’s a sloppy joe restaurant/playground for kids. The getup he wears is the spot’s mascot, Carl the Rabbit. I hate that thing, but he needs the money since he’s trying to go to college out of state in two years.”

I hear her, and I don’t hear her. Her lips are moving. I see them flap about her face. I still have goose skin. Why would her brother drive around in that mascot uniform? An even better question I ask myself is, Who thought this type of thing would be welcoming to little kids?! I know one thing, I’m not going to Sloppy Carl’s.

“Oh. So, he wears it before going to work and not change when he gets there?”

I am still so bothered by this — my focus cannot go anywhere else. I feel my legs moving. I know we’re entering the school. I know we’re walking down the hall. I know we’re turning onto our wings for class, but I just . . . I am stuck on that freaky mask. Please don’t tell Mama I said the word freaky. She’ll have my hind-end for sure.

“Yeah. Sometimes when he’s running late, he just puts it on and takes a set of clothes with him for later. I don’t like it. It scares some of my friends, but I can’t do nothing about it.”

She shrugs it off and turns down the path leading up to her wing. We say our goodbyes and that’s that.


I am anxious and the day couldn’t end fast enough. Although Daddy drops me off in the mornings, sometimes I take the bus home in the afternoons. Today’s one of those days I take the school bus. It’s quiet. Our bus driver’s name is Ms. Chelsea. She’s sweet. She has hair that smells like peppermint and penny-colored eyes. She kinda reminds me of Mama. I nod hello to her as I step onto the bus.

She is what Daddy calls “no-nonsense.” On her bus, you will follow her rules. I sit in a seat near the back of the bus. There’s a group I’ve gotten used to seeing — three girls and four boys. A couple of fourth, fifth, and sixth graders. I sit close enough to hear them but far away to not get involved.

My stop comes and I bolt from the bus fast enough to shoot lightning from my feet. Mama’s home. She’s snapping beans for dinner. She asks about my day — if I enjoyed it.

“Selena’s older brother dropped her off this morning. He had on his work uniform — it’s a scary monster-rabbit mascot type thing. It scared the bejesus outta me, Mama.”

Mama looks at me, stops snapping beans, and stares at me square in the eyes. I feel like I’m on fire. My heart races and my skin gets all sweaty.

“Don’t you take the Lord’s name in vain, Clover. Now, what’s got you all in a hissy about this getup that child had on?”

I know Daddy will understand. Mama’s not the best person to talk to about this type of thing. She loves horror movies — goes insane for them, really. Halloween is her favorite holiday, and she gets a great kick out of dressing up and handing candy out to the neighborhood kids. This year will be different, though. There aren’t any other children around for miles.

“I just . . . it was creepy, Mama. I can’t describe it. It was like looking at something both alive and dead at the same time. Something that shouldn’t be what it is. And he works at a children’s restaurant and play space! If it scared me, I know it scares others.”

Mama smiles sweetly at me, pats my leg, and simply says, “Do you know there is someone under that getup, Clover?”

I pause before speaking. I know what she’s trying to do. I do. But like I said, it’s hard talking to Mama about this kinda stuff.

“I do. But that doesn’t make it any less scary.”

She snaps a few more beans, wipes her hands on her apron, and begins humming softly to herself. And now I’m thinking about how I know someone was behind that mask — in that uniform, and well . . . I feel a little better.


Daddy is home. He asks about my day and Mama cuts him short. “Clover had a bit of a fright today, Paulie, and we don’t need to get back into it right now. Let’s enjoy dinner. Will you say grace, please?”

At this very moment, I am truly thankful for Mama — for knowing what to do. I really don’t want to think about that freaky monster-rabbit mask again.

Daddy says grace and I shove a forkful of beans into my mouth. I think we’re going to be all right here in Hopeulikit.

I really do.


*This concludes the Clover series. Thank you so much for reading.

Originally published in Hinged Press via Medium.

Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IV,  Part V, Part VI, and Part VII

The Eyes Don’t Lie

Living with keratoconus and the treatment I’ve sought.

Important things. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt ©2021

I had my follow-up visit with the Duke Eye Center for my recent diagnosis of keratoconus on Friday, October 22, 2021. The news my ophthalmologist/corneal specialist shared was good. There is no scarring and no significant change in my eyes — no additional con-caving or coning of my corneas. This is good for multiple reasons, but I’ll just mention two of them. 1. Negative progression of the corneas is minimal. 2. It keeps me out of the tunnel with surgery (a cornea transplant for both eyes) as the light at the end. If you remember, I mentioned not wanting to even think about surgery, so I am ecstatic about this recent news.

My ophthalmologist wanted the same tests done as my previous visit, but two more had been recommended as well. One process required a numbing agent for my eyes. The nurse’s assignment was to assess the pressure of each eye. She announced her need to get near me in order to do this — as she rolled on her stool closer to me, my breathing halted. I am not a person who cares for people in my personal space, however; I recognize sometimes; it has to take place in certain situations. As she dropped the numbing agent in the first eye, I stopped breathing and she held her hand up to go to the other eye and said, “I need you to breathe, Tre. This doesn’t work if you don’t breathe.”

I instantly exhaled and inhaled as I normally would. I apologized — informing her it was simply my body’s natural defense and reaction to someone getting so close. She smiled and said, “It’s absolutely normal and expected, but you still have to breathe.” And breathe, I did. After the numbing agent had been applied, she said softly, “Blink. Blink. Blink.” I did as instructed. She announced coming closer to me again and this time, there was a device in her hand (it looked a lot like this, I failed to ask what it was and I beat myself up for it when I left the building) and she rubbed the tip of the device on my eyeball rotating it in small circles. She did the same thing for the other eye.

The look on my face caused her to giggle. She said, “Wasn’t expecting that, were you?” I most certainly was not! To have someone rub some type of device which captures the pressure of your eyes on your actual eyeballs was clearly not on my list of to-dos that morning when I awakened. Afterward, I saw little black dots for a few moments. It took a few more minutes before I could see clearly again without the little black dots and swirlies, and then we were off to yet another room where I would wait for the ophthalmologist.


I appreciate my ophthalmologist. His bedside manner is one I’d rank a 10 out of 10 and he’s also pretty funny. He entered the room as he did six months ago — ecstatic and noticeably happy to do his job. We elbow-bumped, and we were off to him asking me a few questions to which I had the answers. He began by telling me about the numbers collected at the most recent visit versus my previous one. He also showed me the slight change in my corneas by using the cornea model in the exam room. Just in case you’re wondering, a healthy cornea model looks like a huge contact lens and a cornea model deformed by keratoconus looks like that same huge contact lens bent bottom-up as if it were going to tear in half and come clean off the eyeball. *shudders*

He was pleased with the numbers, and images gathered from the testing. The reassurance I received from him about my current status eased my nervousness and worry as well. I am in a good place to still be a candidate for scleral contacts, however, no surgery is needed at this time. The scleral contacts are supposed to help sharpen the blurry images and my need to squint (natural reaction) to try to see small writing or images far away. To have a sharper vision will be a godsend and I await it like the day awaits nightfall.

Taking into consideration the fact I am severely near-sighted, have astigmatism in both eyes, and have also been slapped with keratoconus, and my vision has not changed drastically in the last six months, was paramount. The news was the best I had received all morning, and I could not contain my elation. Before leaving, they had advised me to continue with the changes I have made, keep up the Pataday regimen, and take as much time as I can away from devoting my eyes to the blue light of electronic devices.

Listen, I appreciate the $5.00 off coupon the center gives for the Pataday eye drops. That mess is expensive for a teeny tiny bottle. But, I digress. It is necessary, and it works.


As it stands, I have an appointment with my optometrist on Friday, February 25, 2022, for my annual eye exam and the fitting of the scleral contacts. I will follow up with my ophthalmologist/corneal specialist on Friday, May 20, 2022. He wants me to have at least a few months under my belt using the scleral contacts before coming back for additional testing. The flip in visits between the two of these doctors for my eyes will take place for as long as my ophthalmologist deems necessary. Keratoconus is lifelong and currently, there is no cure (outside of surgical procedures), so I’d better get rather comfortable with the entire process of it all.

I am thankful for decent vision insurance — I could not afford this level of care without it. By stating this, I am not flaunting the value of my healthcare coverage, but the truthfulness of the aspect to the level of care of which I am receiving. The care is not an inexpensive one and my pockets do not run deep. Take care of your eyes, beautiful people.


Originally published in soliloque via Medium.

Read more about this: The Beginning and The Follow-up.

You Should Take More Chances

A letter to myself from a moment of clarity.

Image created with Canva. Words, ©2021 Tremaine L. Loadholt

If you were to ask me what more do I wish I had, I would tell you . . . courage. Courage to face my fears. Courage to be uninhibited in the face of love. Courage to give more of myself in my writing — to denounce holding back. True, I do share myself with the reading world and true; I find it important to be vulnerable, but some things I wish to lie out and which are completely bare, I . . . hesitate. I shoot for the moon but always miss — my aim isn’t what it used to be. I’ve lost my touch.

There is a woman — there’s always a woman or a man, yes? Isn’t that how most stories go when we’re reminiscing or thinking about what we could have done differently or what we may have missed? There is someone or something perfectly placed within our path to mislead — misdirect us. But, there is a woman. She is new. And she could be someone on loan to me for a short while to lend what my life needs at this moment. Or, she could remain here for an entire season and a few more seasons to come, but who knows? She is here now, and I am terrified.

I wish I could explain what the issue is or how I have merged into this lane of fear, but these days, building new friendships is harder for me than they’ve ever been. I am debating with myself daily on what I should and shouldn’t do and the sanest part of me is louder . . . I should take more chances.


The worst isn’t always the outcome.

What do you have to lose? Everything you’ve gained has had struggle related to it and this should not be any different. So she doesn’t know the biggest parts of you yet — that’s life. These things arise and gift themselves to our newest members with time. Day by day, bit by bit, reveal who you are. It’s scary, yes! It’s completely and utterly horrifying, but she will do one of two things . . . Stay or leave. And you will not know which one it will be until you open up your mind and break down the wall to let someone else in.

The thing with new people is, when you’re queer, coming out is a constancy — something that doesn’t disappear. New people will get to know that aspect of you and you will have to remove the cloak and make the big reveal. There is never any fanfare and no one is around to throw confetti and play your favorite 90s rap songs, but . . . it will happen. And when it does, the moment you fear most, the “will they stay or leave” moment you shiver down to your toes about will introduce itself. Will this person be a lifer or will they shift away from you without the tiniest bit of acknowledgment?

I am debating with myself daily on what I should and shouldn’t do and the sanest part of me is louder . . . I should take more chances.

Of course, you think about the worst that could happen because there have been so many situations with the worst outcome in the end, but then again, there have also been outcomes of acceptance — of love — of understanding. Every new person isn’t a test drive dummy to see how strong they are in the face of the sweetest taboo. Stay here in the baby steps of things for just a while longer. If she’s ready to walk and you’re no longer afraid to move away from crawling — get there, but . . . don’t rush.

Everyone doesn’t need the biggest parts of you. You can give them morsels. They’re easier to chew.


You are a strong enough writer to do more.

And what do I mean by more? Those children’s books your friends and family members keep suggesting you write — that type of more. That one creative nonfiction essay you’ve been meaning to pen and submit to The New Yorker — that type of more. The poems you have built up in your heart, leaking out of your mind, and filling up space in your soul you state will be your next collection to publish the traditional way — that type of more. You can do this! This is what you do! You write!

What are you really waiting for this time? What else needs to occur to allow you to move forward with making at least one of these things happen each year? What?! That good old friend of yours, yup — fear. Listen, didn’t you say a couple of years back you would not allow fear to take up residence in your mind anymore or in your heart? What happened to that person who was coming out of her shell, refusing to be cornered? I had a great time with her. She was cool. Bring her back.

I find it important to be vulnerable, but some things I wish to lie out and which are completely bare, I . . . hesitate.

Life isn’t always going to be this fresh and this full of hope and ready for you to spelunk and take full advantage of it. You must strike while you can. Go explore the caves of this world — take your laptop.


“Fifteen minutes at a time.”

You still carry this phrase with you from one of your older cousins. It helps. It works. It gets you where you need to be each day, and I want you to use this phrase to help turn things around in your life for the betterment of it. With her — let her in. Give her a chance. But, accept what will be with things: a friend or a partner or nothing. . . Go into it knowing you are learning a mystifying yet beautiful creature and you have every right to.

However, don’t search for anything you don’t really want to find. Fifteen minutes at a time each day — you never know, maybe this is what you need to push you out of the pit you dug for yourself of late. “Slowly. Surely.” If love — any form of love is there, don’t walk away from it.

Write through it all — that’s what you do, isn’t it? Write it all out in a way that connects with the masses — that fuels their very souls. Pitch a publication here. Submit an article there. Don’t let the past rejections continue to board up your creative walls. You must keep them free from shade. Do what you know you can. Write your broken, loving, misguided, disruptive, combative, and intense heart out, child. Write it out!

Go get what is yours and what has been designed for you. Stop reviewing it in your head and allowing it to slip away from the tips of your fingers. Bring it to life. You can do this. You can. You were born into this world for “such a time as this.”

What happened to that person who was coming out of her shell, refusing to be cornered?

Now, pull yourself back, shake off the dust of the past, breathe in deeply, and shoot for the moon. It’s time.


Originally published in CRY Magazine via Medium.