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.

Un-fixable


Flash Fiction

Photo by Tyler Lastovich via Pexels

Readers: The following fictional piece is one of abandonment, frequent miscarriages, and self-harm.


My body decided to terminate my pregnancy. The phone calls won’t stop. Everyone says the same thing. Everyone thinks I can just pick up and start anew. It doesn’t work that way.

I’m broken. There’s no fixing me. This is the third time. It will be my last.


My name is Clara De Jesus-Mendez Moses. I am an only child to older parents. Friends say, maybe it’s my DNA. That I am full of codes and clues and puzzles that only lead to trauma. My mom was forty-two when she had me. Dad was fifty.

I grew up in a stuffy, one-percent, melanin-robbed neighborhood. Piano lessons. Debutant balls. Beauty pageants. Cozy Camp Lassiter. Passing . . .

My family denied our heritage. Mom, half Black & Israeli. Dad, half Mexican & Black. I fit somewhere in the middle as a conglomerate of all things and no things.

They married me off at a young age — 19. Todd Ramses Moses. Yes, it’s a weird name. But he was beautifully breathtaking. He was a God. My God. I worshiped him. I was his temple.

We tried for children immediately after saying, “I will.” No “I dos” for us. Our first time, I’d just turned 20. Nine weeks in. I lost the baby. Our second time, 22. Thirteen weeks in. Again. The last time, a third — I couldn’t make it to six weeks. That’s when I told Todd I was broken and if he wanted children, he should find someone else.

He found someone else.

The cutting started. I’d scrape my wrists with razor blades lightly. Just enough to see blood. Once a week or whenever I felt inadequate. I felt inadequate all the time.

I’d managed to leave that stuffy neighborhood, immersed myself in a diverse community, and taught at one of our schools. I decluttered my home. Anything that reminded me of Todd, I tossed. That didn’t stop the cutting.

I was supposed to be happy.

I have a huge attic. It’s quiet and dark and has great acoustics. I sit with my legs crossed early on Saturday mornings and strum old love songs on my guitar. It helps. I get through the day after seven or eight songs.

Every few weeks, a family member stops by. A friend. Someone from our church. They mean well. They want to be sure I’m eating. I nibble on plates of food but never finish a meal.

“Don’t name them.” That’s the advice my therapist gave me after my second miscarriage. “Don’t name them.” I named them. I mourned. I grieved. I’m still mourning. I’m still grieving.


Todd has three girls now. A set of twins, five — and a two-year-old. I saw him at the market with his mighty fine family one Sunday. He waved, cautiously. I nodded casually. I pushed my cart as fast as it would go.

I wanted to get back home as quickly as possible. The urge to cut again had taken over. I was remembering who I was — who I’d become. The woman who couldn’t have children.

My body decided to terminate my pregnancy. The phone calls won’t stop. Everyone says the same thing. Everyone thinks I can just pick up and start anew. It doesn’t work that way.

I’m broken. There’s no fixing me. This is the third time. It will be my last.

I throw myself at my door, crash into a chair in the kitchen, and dig deep into my skin.

The pain rushes over me instantly then stops. I feel nothing.


This piece began as a response to two different Twitter prompts; vss365 (anew) & vssmurder (terminate).


Originally published in The Junction via Medium.

Lucky Lou, Stu, and the Woman

A Rapid Rhyme

Man in Black Jacket Standing Near Black Wooden Door
Photo by cottonbro via Pexels

A Rapid Rhyme Audio Poem

Lucky Lou said to Stu
that he’d catch the girl
who rocked their world
& make plans to do more
than hold hands

what Stu didn’t know
wouldn’t hurt his flow &
Lucky Lou was cool too
besides being a fool in
love with a woman who’d glide

right on to the next,
Lou only wanted sex


Originally posted via Twitter as an experiment.

space

Pink, Yellow, and Purple Abstract Painting
Art by Dids via Pexels

pretty, gifted girls
sweet and sexy things,
little Johnny from Price & 5th
ogles at their curves in
fitted jeans and we stand
as one, waiting for him to
pass us by.

“he’s nasty, with his old self.”
claudia is the first to mouth
her disgust with little Johnny.
I wave in his direction, shout
at him to get in front of us
and stay off our block.

he knows the crew from around-the-way
will slice him up good for
even blinking at us or
crowding our space.
word on the street is, he’s had his
tongue butchered for whistling
at donnicka five years ago.

“he better get on around that
corner if he knows what’s good for him.”
we form a line, kick our
kicks up on the stoop, and
throw our wishes up
to the sun.

we wait for God to
make our dreams come true.

Used

Framed photograph on a table showing a couple embracing
Art by Veronica Baranova via Mixkit.co

The picture of them laid against the wall–away from every other memorable thing in their home.

She gathered his belongings, tossed them in extra-large garbage bags, and slung the pile one by one to the edge of the curb.

Fifteen years of them shuffled around in each bag, her heart broke at the thought of it. But, he had his chance. He simply couldn’t commit. And she . . . well, she was tired of being “ringless.”

An ultimatum was given, “Marry me or leave.”

He walked out the door.