Scream-catcher

Flash Fiction

Wallpaper Stream

Wendy agreed to join Ryan and a few of his jockey friends for a night of gallivanting through the “Haunted Forest.” Halloween was right around the corner — the last thing she wanted to hear was her boyfriend’s whiny voice if she chose not to meet them in the forest with three of her buddies from the dance squad.

“Whose brilliant idea was this anyway?” She found herself talking to the reflection in the mirror as she propped and defiled her cheery face with black makeup, red lipstick, and white eye-shadow. She gently placed the novelty fangs in her mouth and practiced a pronounced lisp while donning a witch’s wig atop her brunette waves.

The plan was to meet up at the forest, pay the $10.00 fee, and enjoy the haunting put on by a few of their classmates. Wendy was sure many of the props used were older than her parents, including Dracula who was appropriately placed in his coffin on the creaky porch of the haunted house.

Moss hung from the old oak trees, fog hovered over the grass for half-a-mile into the forest, and a rank odor filled her nostrils as she worked her way to their meet-up spot. Streaks of bloody handprints lined the outside of each shed. “They’re really playing it up this year. I bet Ryan and the boys are enjoying this.”

She reached the spot where they were to meet. Her shoes were damp from the sudden wetness of the ground beneath her. The incessant echo of a drip, drip, drip filled the forest. She felt those drips land on her shoulder. She touched the cape of her costume and rubbed her index finger and thumb together. “Raspberry sauce or ketchup.” She placed her fingers to her nose and sniffed. The smell of copper and dead skin was strong on them.


She looked up . . . Ryan, David, Josh, Sonja, Hallie, and Beth were hanging above her in the trees. Pieces of them were cut off and tied to the person to their left. Wendy felt her throat lock up. The slow roar of a scream escaped. As soon as she heard it, she covered her mouth. But that one scream was all it took. The shadow of her late boyfriend appeared before her. Its hand waving a bloody knife.

Wendy tried to run but her body began to sink into the ground. Ryan’s shadow cut off her left arm and right ear. Wendy howled before a lustful moon. One more flick of the knife to take her lower lip and she screamed with a might that could wake the dead.

Her once pretty frame had been dismembered. Her beautiful hair laid limp on her head. Her incomparable scream echoed throughout the forest. To her left was Beth, still flinching — her eyes stuck in an astonished look. Wendy screamed once more and Ryan’s shadow was there to catch it.


Jarred Screams

Dracula studied the menu for tonight’s dinner. He looked at Ryan’s Shadow and placed his order: “I’ll have your best scream of the night.” Ryan’s Shadow disappeared then reappeared with Wendy’s severed head. Her face was permanently distorted — her eyes popped out of their sockets. They opened the jar and the sound of her scream pierced their eardrums.

Dracula was satisfied. “Yes . . . Yes! I’ll take two.”


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

TV Trope used: Screaming woman

The Life I Gave Him

The Struggle Is Worth It

Life off Screen by JD Mason via Unsplash

What does this picture say? I have an imagination that would bring itself back to life if it died, so instantly, I drum up a story. Who is this man? What is his story? What is his struggle? He stands, contemplating his next move, deep in thought, and utterly focused. What’s his background? I study him. I plant my eyes on an amazing creature and I think . . .

“What type of life can I create for him?”

He just received the crippling news from his wife — the small business loan they applied for through his local credit union two days ago was denied. For the last three years, they have prepped, devised a gameplan, created flyers, and reached out to local residents and business owners for sponsorship and the one thing that would help launch their small business was denied.

He thinks about their credit score, although not excellent, was in overall good standing — can’t be that. He thinks about their presence in their local neighborhood and both of them are upstanding citizens, well-known at their jobs and within their community — can’t be that. He stops to think about where they want to plant their small business and why and stays there with this thought for hours. For him and his wife, to have a recreational center in their urban neighborhood that also operates as an after-school tutorial location would be essential for many of the children who are struggling with their grades in school and who also need somewhere safe to be until their parents return home from work.

He stops to think about where they want to plant their small business and why and stays there with this thought for hours.

This was their dream. How could they deny it?

He huffs out a huge sigh and decides to cut work short and drive home early enough to beat the evening traffic. When he reaches home, his wife sits staring at the letter — a look of exhaustion is slapped on her face. She looks up to him and begins to sob. He gently takes the letter from her, glances over the first few lines, and then the beginning of the “rejection” paragraph . . .

Loan Rejection Letter Sample via Google (altered)

He sits down, defeated. The word “other” never looked so incriminating, so . . . distorted. He read over the rejection letter three times before putting it back into its envelope and placing it in their important documents file cabinet. He made one phone call. His uncle mentioned three weeks ago that if, “there is anything I can do to help steer y’all in the right direction Roman, just let me know” — his memory picked up on that conversation and his pride was swiftly pushed to the side. If anyone understood the all-too-exhausting plight of entrepreneurship, it was his uncle.

One phone call, twenty-five minutes, and some joy-filled tears later, the dream that seemed as though it was crushed was instantly thrown back into manifestation. They would have their recreational center/after-school tutorial program after all. When he heard his uncle say, “Roman, that ain’t nothing, youngblood. I was rejected three times before I was approved and now, I am blessed beyond measure. You name your number and I’ll write that check.”

If anyone understood the all-too-exhausting plight of entrepreneurship, it was his uncle.

Six months later, he and his wife host twenty-two children, employ a staff of twelve and have garnered a profit instead of a loss. The rec center has provided their community with togetherness, a sense of belonging, and a positive atmosphere for the children. The work they do is fulfilling as well as substantial for not just them, but for everyone connected to them. When he looks at his wife now, her face glows — happiness lives in her eyes.

This was their dream.

It lived because it had to.


Originally published via Medium. The link shared is a friend link as this is a piece behind Medium’s paywall. Thank you for reading.


The Life I Gave Her

The Good Cry

The Great Release

Supriya Bhonsle via Mixkit.co

You have had an awful day at work. Your car wouldn’t start when you left. You finally get it going only to have the old lady on the highway merge as soon as you try to take your exit and cause you to miss it. You burn dinner. The dog’s belly rejects the food you have been feeding it for three straight years and vomit soaks your carpet. You are out of carpet and upholstery cleaner.

You forget to pay your cell phone bill.

The dishes need washing. The laundry is still waiting for you to remember it is there. Your youngest brother lost his job and you lent him your last $40.00 knowing he won’t ever be able to pay you back. Your crush knows they are your crush and is now avoiding you.

You stub your toe, break a nail, and lose your favorite earrings. There is an increase in your rent, effective immediately. You are shorted a day of pay — by mistake. The payroll department tells you, you will be “compensated on your next check.”

Your mother needs a ride to a city three hours away, however, has no gas money to give you. You do it anyway. While there, she gets hungry . . . She wants lunch . . . You buy it. You have $10.00 left to your name when you get back home.

Payday is eight days away.

There is a power outage in your area. No power for four hours, then six, then eight, then twelve. You spent $80.00 on groceries, most of the items are refrigerated or perishable. Payday is still eight days away.

Your co-worker quits, walks out the same day. That project he babysat is now yours. You take it on plus your work too. No pay increase, no new co-worker for five months. There is overtime, but there is NO overtime pay. You are asked to remember your role in the company and how influential you are.

You spruce up your résumé.

Your car battery dies. You replace it. The brakes go. You replace them too. The spark plugs no longer spark and you throw your hands up in the air — exhausted from this month from hell.

You kick off your shoes, sprawl yourself across the living room floor, and you cry. Your chest heaves. Your eyes are bloodshot red. You lose your voice. You cry until the pain seeps out of your heart, slithers down your hands, and floods your home. You cry until the tears are afraid to leave your eyes. You cry until the next-door neighbor knocks on yours and says, “Everything all right in there?”

You cry while responding. You tell her behind your stable walls, “I’m just having a bad go of it, is all.” She tells you she made lasagna and steamed broccoli. She is making you a plate. You cannot refuse. You cry because she is heaven-sent. You cry because she cares. You cry because there are still beautiful souls on this earth.

You have yourself a good cry for everything there is and everything there is not and you remember . . .

“Trouble don’t last always.”

You have yourself a good cry and get ready to endure life all over again.


Originally posted via Medium as a metered paywall piece. Shared is the “friend link” so that you’ll be able to read for free. 

The Life I Gave Her

The Struggle Is Worth It

Sash Margrie Hunt via Unsplash

What does this picture say? I have an imagination that would bring itself back to life if it died, so instantly, I drum up a story. Who is this woman? What is her story? What is her struggle? She stands, book in hand, waiting for the train. What’s her background? I study her. I plant my eyes on an amazing creature and I think . . .

“What type of life can I create for her?”

She’s a graduate student, studying Socioeconomics with an emphasis on Urban Culture and the effects of gentrification on middle-aged people of color. She is working on her thesis and has fifteen pages of solid, stone-cold research that she can verbally back up in her sleep.

She’s fearless, the eldest of four children, and a full-time teller at the bank Uptown. She juggles school, work, and time-spent keeping her cousins out of the morgue. She does not complain. She struggles silently.

The promotion to financial advisor has been on and off the table for the last three years. She aims for it, going the extra mile: staying longer at work and arriving earlier than everyone else.

She does not complain. She struggles silently.

Her boss sees her but doesn’t see her. She stands out, but not in the way the company needs her to. She speaks four languages and can cuss him out in three of them. He wouldn’t know a thing. The offer on the table today: $16.25 per hour, 40 hours per week. A seventy-five cent increase.

He tells her, “It’s the best we can do.” She calls bullshit but with class. She knows Taylor, her window-mate, received a $1.05 increase and she trained her. The chick’s been clucking about it loud enough for the entire breakroom to hear. They don’t seem to care about her constant avoidance of company policies. Taylor’s untouchable. And since Taylor’s untouchable, she has to be ten times better at her job to receive less.

The chick’s been clucking about it loud enough for the entire breakroom to hear.

There is no one. She hasn’t been on a date in nearly four years. There’s never any time. Mark, her ex-boyfriend, calls regularly, says he’s “just checking in.” She entertains his advances for moments at a time weekly but he knows their ship sailed a long time ago.

There is no room for love. There is only time for work, school, writing her thesis, fighting for her rightful positions in life and society, and sleep. Everything else is on the back burner. Everything else will have to wait.

The guy standing next to her offers her the only seat left on the train after they enter. In exchange, he adds, for her number. She sighs, discontented with the constant barter and trade most men often dole out on a daily basis. She’s had a rough day. He doesn’t know it. He doesn’t care. His aim is to conquer, build up his ego, and slowly deflate hers. She declines.

She stands and reads the last chapter in her book on how to increase a company’s authorized share capital. She highlights key aspects and mentally preps a presentation. Tomorrow at work, she will turn in her resignation.

The guy standing next to her, offers her the only seat left on the train after they enter. In exchange, he adds, for her number.

Armed with a wealth of knowledge, ten years in the banking industry, and being multilingual, she remembers the job offer her classmate shared with her one week ago: Entry Level International Accountant for the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation (IFRS Foundation).

She will leave her life to gain a life. She has her wings.

Starting now — It’s time to fly


Originally published as a metered paywall piece via Medium. I have included the “friend link” as it’s a paid piece via Medium, thus anyone who clicks on that link above can read for free.

Featured Writer for September

Nardine

A blossoming truth-teller of Egyptian descent was recently added to A Cornered Gurl. She took a bit of a break away from Medium and she was sorely missed. I remember hosting Nardine in This Glorious Mess, also via Medium, and since her return, the strength of her words are at an all-time high. Nardine writes from the heart and there is no shame in it. What she brings to A Cornered Gurl is soul-speak, the depth of the heart, and I am so happy that she is there. And now, the work that gained her September’s feature:


the girl in the frame

a poem

Photo by Daniel McCullough on Unsplash

Late nights, red wine (I drank it hoping to be someone else)

Tall boy, sweet words (I felt his tongue against my lips and hoped he didn’t taste the insecurity)

Small house, big crowd (I wished someone would see me the way I saw myself)

(I didn’t want to go home because it was late and I’d face my mother, sitting under the kitchen light, looking afraid to find something on me she didn’t want to see)

(Sometimes I dream that the space between my body and the world has no shape and I bleed into everything, like a girl with no outlines)

On the kitchen wall of my parents’ house

is a drawing I did when I was ten years old.

The girl is sliced in half;

on one side, she smiles,

on the other, she frowns.

(How can I merge the two women inside of me? One who is daring and one who is submissive? One who is fearless and one who is afraid?)

 

I ask my mother,

why do you keep that drawing

of the broken girl up on the wall?

And she looks at me, alarmed, and says,

why in the world you would think the girl is broken?


Copyright©2019—N


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium