Centered

My Great-Grandmother Lucille Tiggs pictured at the far left. I have no clue of when this was, but I love this picture. Not sure who the other people are, but I aim to find out.

I remember my Great-Grandmother being more than sure of herself, she was confident and she had a presence about her that demanded your attention. I was close to her, undeniably and inexplicably close. Her passing more than sixteen years ago now gutted me. I felt as though my world would crumble. Her mind decided to give up on her. She had a form of dementia that beat her to a pulp and shrunk her overwhelming presence to one that we needn’t cower from. 

I do not want to ever know what it feels like to lose your mind, your sanity, your ability to make vital decisions for both yourself and others. When my Great-Grandmother’s condition worsened, her children agreed to have her placed under the watchful eyes of an appointed caregiver. There, in someone else’s home, she was monitored and cared for accordingly by professionals. It was there on my visits to her, that I noticed how aggressive this illness was. She didn’t know me anymore. Oh, she knew that I was family, but she kept referring to me as my older cousin. It pained me to watch her wither, to witness her become someone I did not know. 

Even though she was no longer as smart as a whip and her memory began shifting and leaving her day by day, there was still a sense of groundedness in her. I looked at her and she appeared centered. Was it the fact that she was in her eighties and had been the epitome of strength and tenacity for our family for decades? Was it because I still saw the confident and self-assured reckoning of a woman that she was? I am certain that it was a combination of these things, but now, when I feel as though I may fall or am falling, I think of her. I remember who she was and…

I tell myself that I am of her blood and I am centered, grounded, confident, and sure. 

I am hers even if she’s gone. 

The Blood of Old Souls

Part II: Markos

Markos
Courtesy of Mystical Raven

Markos is a 5th Generation Charmer. His father, Gregos, taught him how to win the hearts of women before he could walk. His purpose in life is etched in stone — a fate that he will soon find out is the calling he never would have accepted if the choice was hisDeep in the bowels of their illustrious castle, Markos rejects his fate. Gregos makes him regret the decision.

The cellar is cold and dank. The candles are lit in their holders, shining a treacherous light in the belly of the Torgulos Castle. Gregos stands with a shimmering sword, his hands trembling from the night air. He is armed for battle but there is no war. Markos approaches his father — stumbles into his path, cautious, but ready to denounce the throne. His heart is somewhere else. He begins his plea.

“Father, I am not built for the ways of your world. I want to live a life of my own. For my twentieth birthday, I seek your blessing in granting me this wish.”

Gregos sways on his bony legs, sucks in the crisp air of the cellar, and mumbles loud enough for Markos’ ears only.

“Markos, you are a Charmer. For decades the men in our family have taken the hearts of women for our feast. It is your calling. You will answer it.”

One did not argue with Gregos Torgulos, but Markos was brave.

He knew that his love for a special woman’s heart depended on his loyalty. He would not kill his love and feast on her heart, even if she was willing. He decides that his father’s beliefs can never be his own.

“Father, there is a woman. I have charmed her. She is ready to give me everything. All I need to do is ask. I want her heart, but not to kill her. I want… I want to marry her. I want us to leave this village and build our own happiness away from the gloom of Torgul. I will only ask once more. Your blessing, will you grant it?”

A powerful clap of thunder spreads across the night sky. The sound clangs deep in the walls of the castle. A lightning bolt scatters away from the heavens and lands on the castle’s roof. A wind rushes in briefly and puts out each candle in the cellar. Gregos forms his words, he grips the sword tighter, and repeats his command.

“You will only ask once more?! My child, who do you think you are? You are my son, but I will just as soon feed you to the lions as I would a peasant touching my armor. You will obey our heritage. You will take your woman’s heart and devour it. There is nothing else to discuss.

In the dark crevices of the cellar, Markos sweeps in under his father, commandeers his sword, and unlatches the breastplate. In a fit of terror, he signals Ana. She appears out of the shadows, unhinges her jaw, smacks her lips, and digs Gregos’ heart out effortlessly with her venomous teeth.

“That’s it, Ana. Consume it. All of it. He will not stop us. He cannot stop us.”

Markos gazes upon his dying father, his eyes rolling into the back of his head and legs shaking vigorously.

He’s dead — not dead.

Markos leans in, puffs up his chest, and whispers to his father, “I hate that you made me do this. All I wanted was your blessing.”

Gregos bites his lower lip, clenches his teeth, and says, “You are my undoing. The ancestors will avenge my death. The blood of old souls lives in me.”


Originally published on January 24, 2018, via Medium.

The Blood Of Old Souls

Part I: Delphine

delphine
Courtesy of Life Coach Code

She stood back in disgust — stepping further away from the bed. Her hands are shaking, sweat is dripping down her temples. The room is silent except for the faint breaths of her Great-Grandmother, Delphine. Channing threw the pillow to the left of her in a fit of angst and fear.

What did she do?

Delphine had asked her to kill her, to take away the pain, but Channing was too afraid and made the decision to transfer Delphine’s wishes to someone else. But, there was no time and Delphine wanted Channing to end it. She assured Channing that if she did not carry out the task that she would come back to haunt her until she drew her last breath. At the age of eighty-one, Delphine had lived a long, healthy, active, and curious life until she was diagnosed with Stage 4 Multiple Myeloma, a form of cancer that stripped away her youthful spirit. Delphine was given a measly two months to live, however, that was seven months ago.

The pain is becoming unbearable. Every day there is a new ache, something for Delphine to suffer through. Her ribs are sore. Her throat pulsates and aggravates her and it hurts to swallow. Her eyes leak tears that will not stop falling. Channing gives her around-the-clock care. She promised her own dying mother that she would do whatever her Great-Grandmother wanted and she intended to keep that promise until Delphine saddled her with the heavy responsibility of killing her three weeks before today.

Now, here they are, in a room crammed full of ancestors living in the walls — taking up space. Channing, standing at Delphine’s bedside, breathing heavily, trying not to cry. Did she do it right? She sorted the pills just like Delphine advised. She crushed them and mixed them in water. She counted to twenty, then covered her face with the pillow, pressing into her, cutting off her air supply and damaging blood flow to her brain. For three minutes, she held down until she saw Delphine’s limbs droop beside her. But she could still feel her breathing — hear her. She placed her right index finger under Delphine’s nose for two seconds, air met the tip of it. In the gloomy room, Delphine gasps.

Channing grabs the duct tape from the nightstand and applies an ample strip over Delphine’s mouth, then her nose. She takes the pillow to her colorless face and presses as hard as she can again.

One, Mississippi. Two, Mississippi. Three —

Delphine laid there. Her eyes, solid like marbles, white as chalk. Channing breaks down to her knees and begins sobbing. She can hear her mother’s voice chanting, “The blood of old souls. The blood of old souls. The blood of old souls.” The walls cry blood — each corner confesses its sins, yelling out to Channing for a second death. Delphine’s body cracks into multiple pieces, sinks into the bed, and disappears. The last words the souls of the ancestors moan are,

You’re next…”


Originally published on January 14, 2018, via Medium.

Brothers

Brothers, from left to right: Joshua, Michael, Jontae, & Maurice. Not pictured, TJ. A picture like this almost never happens. I love it!

Eight years found me

Alone
Talking to imaginary
Friends who
Played my version of
House
Then

Before my eyes
My world shifted
And a once
Only and lonely child

Became more