Inches and Miles

“Give an #inch
& they’ll take a mile,
damn heathens.”

Grandma’s voice rang
loudly in our ears.
As she ages, there’s no
hope for discretion.

She has no #filter.

When she feels it,
she’s going to
say it.

And everyone will know.


Originally shared on Twitter as a response to the vss365 and vsspoem prompts.

Tempted to Leave in the Midst of Mixed Emotions

Flash Fiction

Photo by Alex Iby via Unsplash

Locked in the basement of their home, she waits. Years of feeling used and unwanted hang at her side. He has a crazy way of showing he loves her. She feels love, though. Is it indeed that? When he caressed her cheek lightly after she cooked his favorite meal . . . When he held her close to him in post-coital bliss . . . When he showed her off at public affairs . . .

This is their life. A back and forth of safety and danger and defeat and peril. She is at the center of a damaging storyline. Can she turn the page? Will she shift the plot?

He doesn’t like his story yet he carries it with him.

He is a burly man. A tall, lumberjack with a thick red beard to match his thick red hair. His voice is a boombox set to the highest volume. He bleeds disruption. Deep inside, there is this gentle boy who spent hundreds of nights trapped in a closet — put there by his drunk father who didn’t like the way he breathed.

At the age of ten, he was tasked with being the man of the household. A paper route and bottle cap hunting became odd jobs with little pay. A breadwinner. A means to an end.

His mother wrapped herself in blind intelligence and sulked her life away in the folds of a Tempur-Pedic mattress while her children played house. She died on his fifteenth birthday.

He makes sure she’s fed. The fattened calf. The precious lamb.

He doesn’t like his story yet he carries it with him.


She pulls the small window latch towards her, calls the winter breeze inside to feel something other than the pain stuck to her bones. She knows he’ll come downstairs soon to offer a plate a food. Maybe spaghetti tonight. Or stewed beef. 

He makes sure she’s fed. The fattened calf. The precious lamb. He was a chef in his former life. She fell in love with his alfredo sauce. It was bait.

There are no children. Her mother said to be thankful she did not have the extra baggage. She can leave without tethers. She can bolt upright and out of her life with the right tools. Does she have the right tools?

He weighs the rice before plating it. A cup full. Steamed broccoli. Baked chicken bathed in homemade gravy. Scratch honey cornbread.

He walks the plate down to his wife. His prisoner. His catch. He loved her deeply. He hopes she knows this. This is for her own good. No one else will leave him. No one else can try. She is all he had.

“I made your favorite tonight, babe. Be careful. It’s hot.”

The scent of the food overpowers the fresh breeze outside. She closes the window. She looks at her husband. He stands before her with sad eyes. An even sadder smile. He places the food on a tray five feet away from her.

“I made your favorite tonight, babe. Be careful. It’s hot.”

Was she careful? Could she be? It isn’t love when you start thinking about throwing a hot pot of grits on another human being. It isn’t love when you imagine their face melting off right before your eyes.

She tastes a spoonful of rice with gravy. Her body remembers the comfort she was lured to in the beginning.

“Tomorrow, I’ll leave,” she says under her breath. “Tomorrow.”

Does she have the right tools?


Originally published via Medium.

Stop Using Love

What in you says you actually love when it doesn’t seem so? How is it you can say you love someone when you don’t call, text, write, or haven’t heard their voice in years? Why would you say you love people even though nothing about your actions suggest this is true? Love is action, what are you doing to prove you truly love someone?

What?! Do you know what love is? Do you know what it takes to love another? Can you even try?

It’s time to stop using a word you aren’t actually using. Be real about what you do and don’t do.

Be real about who you are to others. Get to know the person in the mirror staring back at you. Love doesn’t need you lying on or about it. Stop using love.

Waiting For An Apology That Will Never Come

Knowing when to finally let go

Photo by Lucas Pezeta via Pexels

I left without saying goodbye. I did it because it was time. I knew it. I know you knew it. Why were we hanging on? There was love . . . there was old love that flickered as a reminder that my heart would keep breaking if the cycle continued and I did not want it to, so I broke the cycle. I should have been brave enough to say goodbye. I should have had the courage to tell you why I was leaving.

We’d managed to be what others thought we were for over a decade knowing damn well who we actually were and I guess that didn’t bother you but it sure as hell ate at the core of who I am. It stopped me from living freely.

The day I left, it felt right — like a rite of passage — something meant to cross me over into or on to a higher plane. I backed away slowly, taking everything familiar to us with me.


I had no plan of action.

The days that followed soon after, haunted me. There were photos of you up, gifts that you’d given scattered around my home, and scents you would wear. I had to erase them all. I had to get rid of them. It was a time of cleansing — burning sage and lighting candles became a frequent pastime yet you still remained.

I’d been doing fine, seven months had passed. Until one day . . . I was looking for an older photo of Jernee to share with someone and there you were, with the kids . . . All of you smiling. All of you happy. You staring back at the camera with a plump, dimpled cheek, and I lost a little bit of strength that built itself inside me. The tower fell. The wall came crumbling down.

Every brick that was laid crushed right before my eyes. I was breaking . . . again. And you wouldn’t know it.

I wake up sporadically during the night.

The other night, I had been awakened from a deep sleep by the urge to pee and the theme music from Pinky and the Brain playing in my head. How odd, I thought. Not the urge to pee, but the theme music. Why Pinky and the Brain? Why a cartoon from a time I vaguely remember? You’d know. I know you’d know. But I couldn’t ask you. It was late and it’d been nine months. And anyway, how would I start off that conversation?

“Hey, you’re asleep, I know . . . but when you wake up, you’ll see this — I had to leave. I was an ass for the way I left but it doesn’t seem like you mind. Why in the hell is Pinky and the Brain’s theme music popping up in my head in the middle of the night?”

You would scoff at the audacity of my untimely text message the moment you saw it. You’d curse under your breath, angrily. You wouldn’t want to wake anyone else up. You’d probably say something like, “How the fuck should I know, Tre? Are you okay? I know . . . I understand. But you still could have said something. I hate you for that.”

You were witty and forthcoming with just the right amount of bite in every word. The South does that to biracial women who are activists fighting to be seen. Fighting to be heard. Fighting to let others know they’re just as black as the rest of their people. And I loved that about you.

I haven’t found anyone else.

Not that it matters. Not that you care. Not that I expect you to. I left but you had done so years before and the door was slightly ajar. I had grown tired of looking at it that way — a sliver of opportunity for you to come waltzing back in. I closed it.

Funny thing is, I thought you’d appear with a key and open it. But that’s just a dream. And we were just a thing that probably should have never been that thing but it still hurts.

I don’t speak your name in therapy. I give just a little and keep the rest to myself. My therapist cuts through every inked blot and tells me like it is, “When you’re ready to share, I’m ready to listen. When you’re ready to heal, I’m ready to help.” And I know I’m ready to heal. I’ve been ready to heal. So what the hell am I afraid of?


I have an inkling I’m not alone in this. Many of us have that one person who stripped us of ourselves and left us with a gaping hole in our hearts. We have to move on, right? We must move on. The hard part is no one tells you that months or years later, reminders sneak up on you and restore some of those faded memories.

The fight then becomes keeping your sanity versus allowing those reminders to take over and win. How often are we telling ourselves, “I am more important than what we were? I have a right to heal and be happy.”

The truth is, there will always be a person with whom you connect intensely and if and when your relationship with that person ends, you are still you. You have to find a way to remain you and not lose yourself because of them.

You can move on or waste your time sitting around waiting for an apology that will never come. You don’t need it. Trust me, you only think you do.

And yes, I tell myself this too. And now, I finally believe it.


Originally published in P. S. I Love You via Medium.

Covered

Photo by Andrey Bond via Unsplash

Winter’s kiss is fatal — 
she brings with her a
wrath of unbearable cold
or maybe it’s bearable
and I’ve just grown thin-skinned
in my older age?

I sit in my favorite chair
and watch snow fall
to the ground, fluffy
chunks of purification
sing in harmony.
Music fills my ears.

I scratch my dog
and relish her satisfied
sighs as she
snuggles in closer to me — 
her whiskers brush my hands.

We sit still, peaceful in
the warmth of our home
thankful to have this roof
over our heads;
a covering of life’s
many blessings bestowed
bountifully.

People text. They call.
They want to know if
I’m enduring winter
as best as I can and I
tell them, “I’m fine” or
“We’re good” and I just want
to be done with answering
questions that are neverending
or fill me with grief.

I try to pull myself
out of the frequent funk
that wriggles in unannounced
and sets up shop
deep within my flesh.

I prefer the luring aspect
of smelling and feeling
clean.

I remind myself of
the gratitude that lives
on my tongue, how anxious
I often am to acknowledge it,
I will not forget where
I could be versus where
I am.

Covered in the gift
of love and its divine presence,
the sadness I swim in
isn’t promised to drown me
only wash and purify me
as white as the snow
sticking to the ground.

This is what I tell myself.
This is what I have to believe.


Originally published in Other Doors via Medium.