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.

Why I Write and Why I Need To

It Is Air

Writing Tools. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

When you step outside and breathe in the
world around you, do you not feel alive?
Living and breathing and embracing a new
day is a tangible gift we often fail to unwrap.
I love this present. I love its presence.

It would be easy for me to simply say, “Writing is the air I breathe” or “I can’t not write,” both would be true, their cliched existence notwithstanding, but there are other reasons why. I am a person who believes in expressing herself in the most honest way possible. Oftentimes, writing is the preferable method for me.

I have been in the deepest, darkest holes and have written my way out of them.

I have found, over the years, that words when harnessed tactfully and with the proper intention, can persuade, uplift, entice, coerce, engage, hurt, destroy, and magnify. We have to choose how we use them — why we’re using them.

Writing moves me toward positive outcomes. It pulls me out of dark spaces and shows me the way to those where the light shines. I have been in the deepest, darkest holes and have written my way out of them. This isn’t to say that everyone can do this, it is my testimony to you about what I have done.

A pad is my canvas. A pen is my brush. Words are the masterpiece I paint. The outcome is art. I can choose to be intense, shy, witty, actionable, lifeless, desirable, and so many other things in my writing. I design the beginning, middle, and ending. This is a freeing reality and I hope I never lose the ability to do this.

I need to write . . . My mind is a busy place. There are characters roaring loud enough to move me toward sharing their stories. There is no way of silencing them — they demand to be heard. My own voice stomps its feet occasionally, reminding me that if I think it, I should probably write it. After devoting time to the characters in my head and my own voice, I am often relieved.

And what a great release it is.

A pad is my canvas. A pen is my brush. Words are the masterpiece I paint. The outcome is art.

I find solace in writing — in making my thoughts known in a more public arena — unleashing them only when I deem the timing to be right. Just as one can escape within stories or a plot found in their favorite book, I can escape via writing.

I wave my writer’s wand and I can be a shift-shaper, a bodybuilder, a princess, The Vice President of the United States, or a violent wave landing ashore. I choose the setting. I set the tone. I maintain the props. This is my favorite world in which to live.

When I am writing, everything seems peaceful. Nothing is amiss. There is a divine pull that creeps in and within its grip is where I can be found. What better place is there for a creative who dabbles in literary pièces de résistance?

I choose the setting. I set the tone. I maintain the props.

At age forty-one, I still have it in me to share what words can do and have done and have done so since I was nine years old. At this point, I believe it is safe to say writing is definitely my air and I am grateful for every breath I take.

When you step outside and breathe in the
world around you, do you not feel alive?
Living and breathing and embracing a new
day is a tangible gift we often fail to unwrap.
I love this present. I love its presence.

This essay is in response to the C.R.Y. prompt, What’s Your Relationship With Writing? hosted by the one and only, Kern Carter via Medium.

Hearing Nothing

Flash Fiction

“Grampy, the plumbers are here to take a look at the busted pipes!”

Elijah yells toward the back of his grandparents’ shotgun house — screams loud enough for the neighbors to hear.

“You wanna give me my pipe? Yes, boy, that’ll be all right. It’s in the den on the coffee table.”

Elijah shakes his head and cautions the plumbers with his right hand and then directs them to the bathroom on the first floor which is where they will begin their work.

“No, Grampy! The pipes! The busted pipes from the storm. The plumbers are here to fix them!”

“Mice!!! When did we get mice?! Lemme get up and find some traps, boy. We can’t have no mice cohabitating with us. No, siree.”

Elijah presses two fingers to the temples of his head and massages slowly. He then walks toward his grandfather’s bedroom and enters the room with a defeated look on his face. He stands near the window, breathes out, and begins again . . .

“Grampy, the plumbers are here to fix the pipes. There are no mice and you stopped smoking that godawful pipe three years ago.”

He looks at his grandfather, places a hand on his shoulder, and smiles gently.

“Well, if you wanted company boy, why didn’t you just say so? Sure, they can spend the night.”

A look of bewilderment shot across Elijah’s face as he tried to understand exactly what his grandfather was going on about now.

“Grampy, for who to spend the night? This is about the pipes, Grampy. The busted pipes!”

His voice was at a measured shrill with just enough volume to alert his grandmother in the kitchen. She came running to her grandson’s aid.

“Gerald! Pay attention to me, please. Elijah said the plumbers are here to start work on the busted pipes from that winter storm! They’re in the bathroom downstairs, that’s where they’ll begin!”

Although she was shouting, Sue’s voice was just as serene and peaceful as if she were speaking calmly to an infant. Elijah thought to himself, surely his grandfather would not hear her.

“Now, Elijah is going to keep watch over them while they work on the pipes and I’ll finish dinner.”

A brief moment of silence waltzed in on them and Elijah and Sue awaited Gerald’s response.

“Sue, of all the things in this world you could call me, I never thought a sinner would be one of them. And if those plumbers don’t hurry up and get here, we’re going to spend another night in this house with no water!”

Sue looked at Elijah, smiled, and gave his hand a pat.

“Today’s almost done, Elijah. Tomorrow is a new day. Maybe it’ll be a good day for him.”

Elijah gave his grandmother’s hand a gentle pat and smiled back at her.


Originally published in The Weekly Knob via Medium.


Frozen Limbs|Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

free verse

I have my past with me
when I capture images
of the world’s intense
measurements of weather
and all its inconsistencies.

we gather in the small belly
of brooks and creeks, carrying
misdeeds and moments of
judgment with us.
to unveil the depths of
our weakest acts, I snap
the places I’ve been
and the things I see.

everything is a solid reminder
of what has been and of
what’s to come.
I know you remember who I was
but do you know who I am?

the broken twigs of
a lonely tree send spry memories
to my brain and I weep
in the winter wind.

you have found your place
in my heart; etched into my mind,
permanently placed on the
folds of time and I cannot
offer you a pass or release
you from your current

you once had all of me
but now you own a few months
out of the year and I am
battling two different versions
of myself
to get those
months back.

winter came for her
just due and all I have
is a trite recollection of
your lips on mine and
fingers hidden in places
called private
and alcohol
singed split ends that
never found their home
on your pretty little head.

I walk with the wild breeze
and talk to the sleeping sun.
you were my once-upon-a-time
and while I do miss you,
I still have these photographs
to keep me company.

they’re a much better
replacement than that
sly and witty smirk
that never seemed to
leave your unforgettable face.

yes . . . I said it — I miss you,
but let that be our
little secret.
everything else was.

This poem is in response to Wild Flower’s first prompt of the year in Where Wild Things Grow on Medium.