In the Garden of Solace

Flash Fiction

Photo by George Becker via Unsplash

My father has a display of the three wise monkeys in his garden. It is his place of peace. In the garden, there is a fountain — water flows rhythmically from the fountain’s mouth. A gush of purity envelops its passersby. My father is meticulous in his efforts to instill a sense of calm and undying appreciation for nature in us — me and my siblings. We gather at his feet, adorned in the mellifluous breeze from the flowers, captured by his tales of the dark & weary.

He looks much older than his age. His wiry gray hair stands on his head. He shuffle-kick walks — his whole body shakes. A dance of convulsion springs forth. He is a quiet man. A man who doesn’t mind letting the air speak for him.

We listen. We want to become pure, like the surrounding air.

My father was a letters man — he delivered letters to widows. Letters their loves left behind but never shared. He had been their “Go-to Guy” for giving them one last moment of happiness. Thirty years of this and one day, he stopped.

He had been ordered by the City of Hernadin to cease and desist. Love was no longer in. No one could receive it. No one could give it. My father, the hopeless romantic, hard-loving man, could not grasp this concept. He continued his efforts in secret.


On a quiet, black-sky day, a hired hand attacked my father. The Mayor had enough of his deviance. They cut out my father’s tongue, cut off my father’s ears, and gouged out his eyes.

He didn’t fight back. No, he remained genteel, my father. If he had eyes, he’d cry. If he had a tongue, he’d wail. If he had ears, he’d tune in to the assailant’s actions during this stripping of himself. Instead, he’d laid alone in his own blood on the cold concrete and waited for the pain to end.

You may think how do I know all of this if my father cannot verbally tell me. He’s an artist. He sits in the solace of his garden and creates. He sketched every account — every gruesome detail and bid us utter silence. We were to never speak of it again. And I haven’t until now.

You see, my father is dying. His last request is that we bury him under the three wise monkeys, the cold of the sooty dirt piled upon his pine-boxed coffin drenching his spirit. He has written every detailed order of action and has labeled each with one of our names.


I have the spirited task of bathing his body. A ceremonial bath with the heads of tulips, roses, and lilies followed by the lighting of incense and sage is first on the list. We will sing his favorite songs and eat his favorite fruits.

My sister is tasked with praying over his body as he’s lowered into the unforgiving ground. She will chant as we throw gritty handfuls of clay onto his coffin.

My brother is tasked with singing a hymn, one of his choosing, while he plays the harp. It can be the harp only. No other music will accompany this ensemble.

When all of this is complete, we will lead the guests away from the burial site and find our way back to my father’s garden.

We will share his stories. We will cry. We will remember the man he was and be thankful for his blood.

Three weeks from his funeral, I am also tasked with lapidifying the flower garden. Per my father, “When my last breath meets the sky, I will turn flowers to stone.”

It’s the one thing I don’t want to do.

But I will. Because of my father.


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

gifts and blessings #2

Photo by Ken Tomita via Pexels

The job I mentioned here, I got it! I interviewed for the Central Scheduling Specialist Entry Level I position this past Wednesday with the department supervisor and nailed it! On Friday, I had a second interview, this time–with the department director and did quite well in it and was offered the job on the spot.

The scheduling position is still within radiology and I will continue to have an opportunity to provide “remarkable care” to our organization’s patients, but from behind the scenes. I will be taking inbound calls from hundreds of patients throughout several markets and scheduling them for the hundreds of thousands of imaging services we provide.

The position is completely remote/work-from-home and as soon as I hear from HR (which should be sometime early next week), I’ll be able to begin my 30-day notice with my current job. I already have my resignation letters drafted up and will provide one to my direct supervisor and the other to our center manager.

When my 30-day notice is complete, I’ll begin rigorous training at the business office for scheduling. The duration will be several weeks. When that’s complete, I’ll be sent home with my equipment and from there on, expected to shine as I have for the last 2 years and 1/2 with this organization and I will.

I feel like I have to slap myself. I cannot believe that in about one month’s time, I will no longer be expected to physically screen or come in contact with patients on a daily basis. Doing what I do puts an incredible fear inside me and every day is a task heavier than the one before.

No more asking patients to put on a mask or imploring that they keep it on. No more coming in contact with patients who tested positive and decided to use one of their quarantine days to come and get some X-rays completed. No more advising doctors’ offices of proper protocol and our company’s COVID-19 algorithm. No more reminding people that we are on a no-visitor-rule and no they cannot have their mama’s sister’s best friend’s aunt with them in the waiting area. The list goes on.

I prayed for this . . . for the chance to feel some semblance of peace and safety once again and my prayers have been answered. I am overwhelmed with excitement and joy and I can only hope this decision will prove itself best for me in the future.

I feel as though it will be.

Searching for Balance Away from the New Normal

But not too far away

Photo by Glen Carrie via Unsplash

We have become digital personas trapped behind the screens, typing or tapping frantically away to our loved ones. They are doing much of the same. Many of us are still fearful of sticking our toes into the waters; restrictions are slowly being lifted across the nation (and the globe), but the Coronavirus, COVID-19 still thrives. At every turn, this virus shapes and shifts into something our scientific professionals and honorable doctors cannot get a handle on — it’s much more intelligent in its development than they predicted or assumed.

My mother’s birthday was on Monday, September 14, 2020, and although I slipped some cash in a beautiful card to her, I wanted to do something more. I planned to do something more. I am hoping this event will be an enjoyable one for both of us. I jumped into the AirBnB booking lifestyle and commenced to researching properties and Superhosts — eager to find a safe space for my mom and me to stay for one night. 

I wanted the place to be conveniently located to various eateries, parks & trails, and have a decent to an outstanding view of the mountains. My love for Asheville, North Carolina showed its face and I decided this would be the perfect place to take my mom. She has never been and I had stated years ago, we would go together, but during a global pandemic, was not what I had in mind. The two of us have not been able to be around or with each other, as we are so accustomed and I focused on how we could have fun yet stay safe — this seemed the most plausible. 

I decided on The Pisgah Room at River Row Flats which is an extremely accommodating suite complete with twenty-eight amenities and is also pet-friendly. Jernee is sure to have a ball too. Our adventure will begin on Saturday, September 26, 2020 at my place, then we will drive to Asheville on Sunday, September 27, 2020 and our impending shenanigans will last for one day only.

While, I have had fun video-chatting, sending text messages to my friends, writing letters, and emailing loved ones regularly, my mom does not have the luxury of being submerged in digital life. She is a hands-on type of person and would rather not venture into the world of technology. She doesn’t even own a computer and is still struggling to find her way around the smartphone I gifted her almost two years ago. I wanted to usher in a sense of comfort for her, but one of safety too.

This, I hope will be our adventurous undertaking during what many has called “unprecedented times.” We are sticking our toes in, one by one, but we do not intend on having our entire feet — let alone our bodies completely submerged. 

Safety measures are in place at the suite and my complete itinerary greeted me in my email Friday evening. We will carry our face masks with us, Lysol wipes, our own bottled water, bedding & pillows, and just have as much fun as we can without being around anyone other than a friend or two of mine (social-distancing, of course). 

I’m a bit frightened to get out in the open a bit, but I know how I am. I have limitations and my mom and Jernee are my top priorities. 

But, damn it! We’re going to have some fun. Safely, though. Safely.

To My Unborn Daughter: You Would Have Hated it Here

I’m relieved I missed my chance at having you

Today I thought about your dimpled cheeks, the swollen paunch of a full belly from too much milk, and the midnight coos that morph into wailing demands to be held. I yearn for you sometimes. This . . . this right now moment, is one of those times.

I want to hold you, to feel your tiny fingers sweep over my eyelids, and search for the peace that lives just behind my eyes. I carry you in my dreams — to term — you are brought into this world smiling instead of crying.

“Such a happy baby. It’s a girl!” The doctor shouts. His nursing team whisks you away in the middle of my trying to digest I managed to bring another Black girl into a world that hates her before it even knows her.

I hear hurried voices stretched to their highest octaves as they seek out your weight. You are tossed and turned under luminescence and bound in cloths, swaddled to perfection. They lay you over my lactating breasts.

I am expected to feed you, to pour sustenance into your minutes-old body from a worn-out one and as hard as I try, I cannot.

I wake up from this dream. I lift my shaking body from my bed. I pat my way to the bathroom in the pitch darkness of my room. I find solace in a place that echoes and I cry. I leave my memories of you there.

To my unborn daughter: I am glad you are not here to see the shrinking in parts of this world — to feel constant pain when you don’t want to. I am relieved I did not lay claim to terror for you; an inheritance of depression — a gift you shouldn’t have to unwrap. I know you wouldn’t have liked it here. In fact, you would have hated it.

And I would layer myself in guilt.

Why would I give you red-inked skies, viruses that mutate into unstoppable killers, bigotry at every corner of the world, and poverty nestled under the beds of Have-not families waiting for their moments to have? I knew better. I know better.

But, I still want you.

I am not strong enough to settle into the reality of what this world would have done to you. I am not brave enough to say, “I did it! I gave birth during a pandemic!” or “I’m raising my child in the middle of the apocalypse!” I would steep in blame — fully saturated; bitter to the taste. No one would want me then.

So, did I do this for you or for me? I had a choice. I could have taken the chance of getting pregnant and not succeeding, at least, not naturally or I could have allowed fate to bring you here through tools of misuse sharper than the Devil’s tongue.

They said my body would fight me and I believed them.

It is normal for me to harbor some form of regret — natural to be reflective, but I will admit, I feel this deeply: I did what I thought I needed to and I ignored all urges to try for you. I ignored giving you a chance at life and seeing what my body could really do.

But when I watch the screaming mothers of murdered boys, men, women — all of them wrapped in our skin or hear the violent cries of sisters and brothers demanding justice or smell the lies that drip from the slits of our leaders’ mouths or learn of those believing a price is sufficient for a life, I am thankful I was too scared to take a chance on you.

You deserve better, much better. And this place . . . this world I call home would wolf you down in its fanged mouth and tear your flesh from your bones in five bites. Morsel-of-a-human-little thing: you’d be the perfect dinner. No one’s serving you up on a platter. No one.

My beautiful, unborn daughter. I love you and I am sorry I was too afraid to try.

But you would have hated it here. This, I know.


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

The Burning Never Stops

We can’t put out the fire

Art by Victor Garcia as “happytunacreative” via Instagram. Used with is permission.

The drunk lady up the block slips me $20.00 to get her some Newports and a case of Budweiser. The stink on her lips follows me. I fan the stench with my right hand but it still lingers. I enter the corner store, tell Javier what I need, and ask for two Chick-O-Sticks, a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos, and an Arizona Tea — Peach.

He moves like molasses leaving a mason jar. I summon a quicker pace from him that lets him know the drunk lady is waiting. Her money is good here. She’s a faithful customer. Everything she buys is killing her, but Javier doesn’t care. He’s got six mouths to feed.

These products have warning labels. He’s not responsible for what people do and don’t read.

“That’ll be $17.89.” He shouts at me. Spittle forms on his lips. Little white globes of foam huddle in the corners of his mouth.

I give him the $20.00, collect the change, and get back to the drunk lady on my stoop waiting for her daily vices. She is paper-thin.

Her hair is wiry wisps of auburn that doesn’t move.

She coughs and her chest rattles. She begins ranting about our rights. Her speech is slurred but I understand every word.

“He ain’t no leader. You see what he’s doing?! He’s taking everything he can from us. I haven’t seen someone try so hard to suppress the vote in all my years. This year is the first of many I refused to let slide by without my say. I registered to vote on Thursday. I gotta voice, you know. I wanna be heard.”

It’s Saturday and I hear her. Mama — on her deathbed, told me to listen to the rants of the drunkards. They’re deep within their moments of truth. So, I tolerate her. I listen. She tells me about her son who has been locked up since 2007 — a drug charge. Weed possession and over $5,000 in the side panels of his car doors.

I haven’t seen someone try so hard to suppress the vote in all my years.

“He was seventeen when they got him. Come through my backdoor, busted it down. All I could hear were shouts of ‘Freeze’ and ‘Get Down!’ Men in blue shuffled their way throughout my home. I used to tell him to stay off them corners. Corners in the hood are trouble. But he saw fast money and brotherhood. I couldn’t give him anything else. All I had was love for him. Love and heartache and tears and fear. The streets had everything else. Twenty-five years ago, I studied law. Passed the bar. Met this fly guy who promised me an escape from the slums. Tell me, why am I back here?”


Night falls. She raises her rattling body off the stoop, clutches her bag of goodies close to her, and waves goodbye. I ask her for her name. Months had passed and I never once asked, but tonight, it seems important that I do. She’s still talking about voting, inept leadership, and racist bastards, and how she meant to change the world as she wobbles down the steps.

“Lorraine!”

She shouts it back to me. I catch it. I tuck it in my jeans’ pocket to reveal later. I watch her zig-zag slowly up the block. Her hair clings to her head. She pats her pockets, searches for her keys — finds them, she quickens her pace.

There is a burning in my chest as I watch Lorraine. I breathe slowly. Inhale. Exhale. I calm myself with a meditation method I learned from my boyfriend. He’s zen-like, a D-list Gandhi. I breathe and fire stings my lips.

I am swallowing the heat of this nation and Lorraine, formerly known as the drunk lady, is the only person I can think of at this moment.

Speak of the devil and he will appear. He will have anything you want and will fight you at every turn to get you to take it. “Be smart. Don’t take anyone’s shit. Everyone is a bullshitter if they try hard enough.” Mama had so many words of wisdom.

I remember them now . . . Right at this moment of my burning chest and fiery mouth. I can’t stop the burning. I can’t stop the pain. I gulp down my Arizona Tea, peach flavor sticks to my insides.

I belch out the cries of a dying nation.

Speak of the devil and he will appear.

I feel better, but it doesn’t last. The burning, it’ll come again. It always does. Black people stand in pits of fire — not merely of our own doing. Some of us are thrown there. Others are planted there at birth and expected to find our way to safety unscathed while more obstacles pop up at every turn. Lorraine was planted there. She’s still scraping. Still attempting to reach the top. Still struggling to find her way out. I owe it to her to listen. I owe it to her to fan the flames away from her direction. But even after all of this . . .

The burning will never stop and no one can put out the fire.


Originally published via Medium.

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