Clover

Flash Fiction

Photo by nappy via Pexels

Hi. I’m Clover. Clover Daniels. No middle name. Who are you? Lemme guess. Mama says our family gonna be coming over soon and I’ve gotta get my act together and clean house but . . . I can spare some time to speak with you.

That’s right! I’m guessing who you are . . . Are you the guy coming to interview my daddy, Linden Tillman or something like that? I bet you are! He ain’t here right now. My daddy’s got big plans for us. We’re supposed to be moving again. This time to someplace called Hopeulikit, Georgia. You ever heard of such?

Daddy says this place is an “unincorporated community.” Of course, I didn’t know what that was so I asked him to tell me. He said they don’t have to do the census. When my mama heard this, she sucked her teeth and rolled her eyes, and said, “Great, Paulie. Another place where we won’t be counted.”

I ain’t no fool. My mama keeps me on my toes. I know I’m Black. I know I’m a girl. I know we’re poor. And I immediately know Hopeulikit, Georgia probably ain’t a place for this Black, poor girl.

Daddy’s got people who left some land to him in Bulloch County so the move there is supposed to be a significant shift in our current status, but I’m not convinced. Mama says ain’t no amount of land worth moving to if you’re gonna be invisible.

My daddy’s a dreamer. Always has been — thinks he’s gonna build that land into something amazing; something that’ll cause the world to recognize who we are and what we can do. I wanna have faith in him. He looks so happy when he talks about his plans.


I’m his good luck charm. That’s what he says. Daddy named me Clover because I brought him luck. When I was kicking in my mama’s womb, my daddy got a promotion at his job down at Amtrak. I don’t know much about the ins and outs of money and what’s good or bad but he said he went from making $8.50 an hour to $12.00 an hour.

His whole face lit up; from his eyes to the corners of his mouth. He told me about his boss — about the day the offer came his way and how he and Mama were invited to his boss’s home for dinner. He gave me every little detail, including the sound the chandeliers made when the front door opened or closed.

I wish you could’ve seen him tell me this story. It was like . . . It was like some newfound energy snuck into his heart and lifted him outta sadness.

My mama’s a shopkeeper — has her own boutique with fancy-schmancy antique jewelry, clothing, shoes, and the like. It’s called “Clara’s Place: Antiques for the Soul.” I like going to the shop with her on the weekends. I help her open the store and sometimes she lets me greet the customers.

Business was booming five years ago, now . . . Mama can barely make $300.00 a day. And my daddy thinks us moving hundreds of miles away to a place tucked behind tick marks on a map is going to shift our luck.


Mama is tired. At this point, the complaints fall on deaf ears. My daddy’s mind is made up and that’s that. She’ll go along with this new venture because she loves him — because she knew she married a dreamer passionate enough to follow his dreams and well . . . “You’ll never know unless you try” rings just behind her ears. It’s what Daddy says every time something new to do circles around in his head.

Mama’s thinking about using a portion of that land for a garden: tomatoes, collard & mustard greens, cabbage, squash, and potatoes. She sees a future with us being completely farm fresh without having to depend on anyone else for our growth. Daddy loves the sound of this — loves to hear Mama thinking positively.

You listening? I see you jotting down what I’m saying from time to time but are you listening? This move could make or break us as a family. I can tell. I sense it. If it doesn’t work out maybe Daddy and Mama won’t anymore either and I just can’t stomach that.

I look around at all the cardboard boxes we’ve got stacked up and I know a change is coming that’ll call my girlhood into question. I’m just ready to see what this place offers. If Daddy is so hooked on it, something about it has to be right.


“Clover, baby. Who are you talking to?”

That’s Mama. She’s gonna ask you if I’ve bent your ear too much. It’ll be nice if you’ll let her know I didn’t, please.

Clara glides from the kitchen to the foyer of their home where Mr. Tullis and Clover are standing. She slides by some of the packed cardboard boxes in the hallway — casually making her way closer to him. She extends her hand for a brief introduction.

“Oh, you must be Mr. Tullis? I’m Clara. Paul should be home shortly. I see you’ve met Clover. Has she disturbed you any?”

She doesn’t wait for a response.

“Please, come right on in and have a seat. I’ll bring out the refreshments.”

Mr. Tullis nods his head with approval at the mention of refreshments and takes the advice from Clara and makes himself at home.

Mr. Tullis, you’re all right with me. Thanks for not telling on me. I like to talk is all — love people. I like to observe people. You know, you can learn a lot about a person by watching them read a book. Have you ever done that?

You’re here to survey this house, right? See what it’s worth . . . See if we’ve been keeping it up and if it’s good enough to sell? Listen, the best spot in this house is the attic. There is a treasure trove up there you wouldn’t believe but Mama doesn’t like me up there playing around so I don’t go up there as much as I’d like. And she’d have a conniption if I went up there now — there are boxes everywhere! Our lives follow us around in those boxes.

But, back to details of the attic . . . It can be anything. A hide-and-seek space, a guest room, a studio . . . You name it! You got kids? If you do, I bet you five nickels your kids would love it up there too! Oh! I think I hear my daddy’s truck pulling up. You’re gonna like him. You will. You’ll see.


“Clover! Come on in here and give me a hand, baby girl.”

Clover gathers herself hurriedly, shakes Mr. Tullis’ hand, and wanders off into the kitchen to her mother.

I gotta go now, Mr. Tullis. Remember what I said about the attic — it’s the sweet spot.


Originally published in The Weekly Knob via Medium.

The Fantasy of You Still Haunts Me

I slept seven hours and one half
from Friday night into Saturday morning
and would’ve slept even longer
had I not awakened to the
feeling of you lying next to me

I thought I’d outgrown fantasies
of you exchanging your current life
for one I can provide–
that I’d been rid of seeing you
when I don’t need to

“The world doesn’t need another
love poem”
but I’m beginning to not give
a fuck about the world
It’s much too busy breaking
character or running wild because
being unmasked is a form of freedom
and I am far too consumed with
keeping my tongue tied and
staying away from props that
send me into the past

How are the children
is the first question I would ask you
I miss them more than anything
I realized the other day that
three different birthdays over
two separate years have passed
and I haven’t been able to
catch their smiles

I hope you tell them good things
about me, that I had a purpose
in drifting away
That I was trying to save my heart
If you’re wondering . . .
It isn’t working
I saw a woman on North
Peace Haven the other day . . .
jogging
I glanced only but I’d know
your doppelgänger when I see her
and she was it

I damn near crashed my car
I spent thirty minutes trying to
talk you out of my head
Two hours later, you were gone
Until today . . . Until this morning
and I wonder if it’s because
I’m going to do something today
we spent time doing in Baltimore
that digs every memory of you
up and sticks them to my
soul

I am tired of wondering where
I stand in your world
even after I found the strength
to leave, your magnetic pull
senses me
I just want to wake up
in the morning
Shit, shave, and shower,
and show you the door

The problem is, though, I
keep opening it and you . . .
well, you always walk
right in and take over
my heart

Unwell

10 Words

Jernee, sitting near my workstation–my brave girl

sweet, sweet girl
battling digestive issues
ever close to me


Jernee was having a bad day yesterday. The poor girl has a history of hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, so her belly had been acting up from the early morning hours until a little after 1:45 pm. I am so happy she’s feeling much better now.

The Lingering Effects of Parental Divorce

It Changes Everything

Big sky. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

He used to call me baby, that was his way, until . . . Until he had to leave. I was twelve. Twelve years old, wondering what I did wrong. No one could tell me. I wasn’t old enough to be in the middle of the conversations birthed between adults. And as a Southerner, you listen to your elders. You heed their advice.

So, I thought my light had faded — if Daddy wasn’t calling me baby anymore . . . Who else would? Who else should? Was I even still deserving of that term of endearment?

My mom had been piecing together our puzzled lives. We had become the church feature — the company billboard for broken homes. They wanted me to tell the boys. To let my brothers know our family had collapsed. But how could I? I was still trying to figure out who was going to call me baby — still trying to find the reason why he had to leave.

I had an inquisitive mind so naturally, I wanted to know what went wrong and if I was it—the wrong that suddenly swarmed our home . . . was I it?!

I turned to my mom as I so often did during times of distress to perhaps pull the truth out of her . . . “Mom, what did I do?”

In the funk of a lead-ridden home, my words were useless. They did not exist.

I did . . . I did.

I still lived amongst the shadows of decrees and halves—“You’ll get them on this weekend, I’ll get them on that weekend . . .” And so on and furthermore. We were split in two. Halves of a whole. Soon to be halves of a half. Quartered. We had been made into pieces — cracked instantly on direct impact. No one would put us back together again.

I wasn’t old enough to be in the middle of the conversations birthed between adults.


Time shifted — we all grew up and out of our old selves. When I was nineteen years old, another girl was born. This one, you know very well. When she was sixteen, I realized, you had more years with her. You don’t forget her age. She doesn’t have to remind you. You’ve been to every recital, every honors night school function, and every church-affiliated soirée. I’ve often thought, it is better this way. She gives you purpose. She doesn’t question why you left — she doesn’t have to.

She could turn a corner and find you right there — waiting . . . waiting to hug her. Waiting to hold her. You had been the pillar in her dreams — strong enough for her to lean on — safe enough for her to discard her fears. I wish I had that. That . . . security and assurance. I dream of it to this day but it is not within my reach. That ship has long since sailed — I stand at the dock battered by the untimely waves.

I wandered far away, lost myself in the clouds above my head, searching for the years before the when that stultified my efforts in loving you and scattered all of us away from what was concrete. Nothing has been what I hoped it would be. Growing up without you—salty taste lingers in my mouth, a hint of envy . . . A bit of jealousy.

She had the traditional family unit— nuclear . . . Functional.

I’ve often thought, it is better this way. She gives you purpose. She doesn’t question why you left — she doesn’t have to.


The funny thing is, I say I am grown — I am mature. But truth be known, I still can’t talk about this without breaking down into a tear-consumed toddler who isn’t getting what she wants. And this, I am told, is normal or expected. Divorce. Divorce. Divorce squirms all up in my bones. I twirl the words on my tongue and the tears fall. They fall . . . I wonder if it does the same thing to you—it does not. It cannot.

And maybe, that’s why we’re estranged. That’s why we’re still holding on. No . . . That’s why I’m still holding on to pain and the moment you’ll once again call me baby.


©2016 & 2021 Tremaine L. Loadholt

This essay originally began as a narrative poem that had been published in In Two Minds on April 24, 2016. Its revision is now hosted at Age of Empathy via Medium. Thank you for reading.