“I’m takin’ the phone off the hook,” Mama said, strangling a bottle of wine. “Leave it be.”
She vanished into her room while the twins and I huddled together under blankets trying to keep warm.
At least tomorrow was a school day.
I’m the youngest of three, the baby of the family. This isn’t something that I’m just coming to terms with now at 40-something; it’s something that’s practically been branded.
When I was little, Marco (3 years older) and Melinda (7 years older) would tease me all the time. That’s all I really remember about my youth with them– the endless teasing and taunting. Marco wasn’t so bad; he just didn’t want me hanging around him and his friends which was hard for this baby to comprehend because all I ever wanted to do was “boy things.” Melinda, on the other hand, oh was she ruthless. Actually it wasn’t so much teasing that she would do either. She just had these ridiculous expectations and when not met, she could be darn right brutal doling out her punishment.
It’s probably typical sibling behavior, but it doesn’t negate the fact that I very much felt like the odd one out when it came to my siblings and family.
When my parents split when I was 9, both Marco and Melinda instantly sided with our mom, leaving me, the baby, to vacillate between Mama and Papa.
Soon, it became quite clear that I was used as a fucking pawn.
Papa would ask me about Marco and Melinda; Mama would ask me if I had the child support check. Neither of them ever asked me about me and that’s not me being a baby, that’s me being a pre-adolescent needing reassurance, love, guidance and getting anything but.
Poor me, I know.
Every single time my dad would ask about Marco or Melinda, I would feel a sting inside. A slice to my heart. I tried convincing myself that I was being dramatic and that of course Papa loved me like he did them. I tried convincing myself that the only reason he always asked about them was because he missed them and they refused to have any contact with him. But. The bottom line is that it made me feel like… well… nothing.
I honestly started wondering if maybe the only reason my dad picked me up for weekends was to get details about Marco, Melinda, and my mom. Yet I never said anything to him about how it made me feel; I never told him to stop.
I would continue gossiping and when it would be time to go home, I’d inquire about the check to give to Mama when he dropped me off. Lord knows I didn’t want her wrath bestowed upon me if I came home without some money.
Fast forward a lifetime and honestly (and sadly), things haven’t really changed.
Today my 80-year-old dad can’t go a day without complaining that he hears from nobody and that he has to go on The Facebook to find out anything. And he always, always asks if I’ve talked with my one nephew (my brother’s oldest 23 year-old son). Rarely does he ask how my own daughter is doing. Maybe it’s because he sees pictures of her on Facebook; maybe it’s because he knows I won’t ever let that ray of sunshine turn grey.
It’s a damn good thing I have faith in myself.
It’s a damn good thing I’m a great mom.
I may not be the best (attentive) wife, but my mom pants are always on.
I refuse to do unto my daughter what was done to me.
She won’t be getting belittled on the daily. She won’t be made to feel like nothing on the daily. It’s not going to happen.
She won’t be branded to feel insignificant.
She couldn’t remember the last time she’d seen the stars.
The news that occasionally aired on the TV told her she’d been there over two months, but no matter how hard she tried thinking about the last time she laid on the cool, prickly grass with her kids nuzzled into her on either side as they all gazed up at the night sky, she just couldn’t remember.
Oh how she missed her babies.
Ethan was 9 and sure to be quite upset that she was gone; Emily, 6, probably cried a lot for their mommy.
Maybe this is why God took them away from me and gave them to Brad? All that time I spent pissed that they were with him during the week and me on weekends… maybe God knew I’d be taken away from them. Maybe He was protecting them.
Jennifer’s arm started to ache. She had it scrunched below her for too long. She needed to stretch.
But she couldn’t.
The cage wasn’t much bigger than that for a medium sized dog. Like a bulldog. Of course a bulldog would at least have a bit more room to move around than Jennifer whose body folded and remained contorted for hours on end until she was released for cleaning or sex.
Jennifer did her best to keep believing she’d catch a break and be freed, but the days were so fucking excruciatingly long. She even begged the male captor—“Babe”— to shoot her with the rifle he hid behind the door to the mobile home.
Babe just coughed out a laugh. “How you gone make me a baby if I shoo-cha?”
That was the last time Jennifer allowed tears to stream down her face. Inside she screamed and cried all the time, but when Babe and the female abductor called “Kitten” were nearby, Jennifer did her best not to show any kind of emotion.
The nutty aroma of coffee filled the air. Jennifer tried focusing on that rather than the nearby putrid scent of her own excrement as she opened her eyes to a brightness washing over her.
She was hungry.
It had been at least two days since she was given some food. Her stomach started twisting at the scent of the coffee, and when the sizzle of something frying started to scream out, Jennifer finally couldn’t hold it in any longer and begged, “Please can I have somethin’ ta eat. And some water. Please.”
Kitten’s eyes moved from the TV to the cage. “Maybe if there’s some left over.”
Babe wandered into the room with two paper plates piled high with eggs, potatoes, bacon.
“You should probably save some for her,” Babe said, handing a plate to Kitten. “She gone need her strength.”
Jennifer closed her eyes and started falling.
Miles below her were her children. They were small like ants but she knew they were there watching her fall; she could see their bright eyes, their blond hair. Their arms reached up for her and she reached down for them as she fell. Not a scream came from her, not a worry. She fell and fell and fell. Soon she’d feel their arms around her.
(inspired by this week’s speakeasy prompts as well as this disgusting news story i read yesterday)
On Thursdays, when Matthew’s wife was working late at the hospital, he never missed “snuggling” in bed with their 5-year-old daughter.
And Sundays he never missed 10 o’clock mass.
Matthew prided himself a devoted man, singing his praises and thanks to Him.
i admit to not really comprehending how i came to this piece from the Can I eat this? prompt. i admit to being a bit disturbed by the piece. that’s flash fiction for you.
brilliant post on racism. fucking racism.
Originally posted on TD421:
After paying for my groceries at the store yesterday, I headed for the exit. Naturally. As I made my way to the exit, there was an elderly black man walking in front of me. Off to the left, there was a middle-aged white man standing at the end of a check-out lane while the cashier rang up his groceries. I noticed the white man noticing the black man, except he wasn’t really noticing the black man as much as he was gaping at him, contempt filling his ugly face (which was only ugly to me because of the sheer disgust he had for another man simply because he was black).
Aside: I’m assuming these two didn’t know each other. When I go to the store I rarely run into someone I know, whether I like that person or not. So I feel safe with this assumption. I’m also assuming something else…
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It’s been a long time coming, but I made the decision a couple months back that it was time to really and truly treat myself better…to take care of me.
I finally made a doctor’s appointment for a physical and blood work several weeks ago and was told by said doctor what I already knew: I’m incredibly fat and need to change things. So I vowed to do just that. I started logging all foods that entered my system via My Fitness Pal (highly recommend, by the way). I was doing really well and was seeing a difference on the scale, too.
Then I got a call from the doctor’s office that I needed to go back into the office to discuss the blood test results. I suspected the outcome and was soon spot on in my thoughts:
I have diabetes.
When I was pregnant five years ago, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes (GD). I was pissed off when I first discovered this, but once I learned more about GD and that it truly was the fault of my body’s system and not because I was old or fat, I accepted it and did all I needed to do to ensure my baby doll wasn’t born with diabetes. She wasn’t.
I was told then that because I got GD during pregnancy, chances were much greater that I’d get diabetes later in life.
I didn’t think they meant five fucking years later.
Again, upon learning of the diagnosis, I was pissed. But this time, instead of learning it’s the fault of my body’s system, I learned it was the fault of … ME.
The years I’ve spent consuming whatever the fuck I wanted caught up to me.
The thing that really upsets me about all this besides the fact that I did this to myself is that I’m not 80. I’m 41 (42 on Saturday). Forty fucking one. And I have diabetes. I have diabetes because of the shit food I’ve consumed most of my life. Because of the inactive lifestyle I’ve led most of my life. Because of ME.
It’s only been a couple of weeks since the diagnosis, but I’ve made significant changes that I feel I have to live with forever and always, amen.
I don’t want to die.
I don’t want to have a foot or leg cut off for not giving a shit about my blood sugar levels.
The good thing about being proactive about all of this is that I can change this diagnosis. I can. And I will! There’s just no other way around it. I have to eat natural foods- low in calorie, low in carbs. I cannot have anymore sweets. I just can’t do it.
The time has finally come to be good to me and that’s exactly what’s happening from herein out. Period, end of story.
“Wow, you really know how to handle a stick, huh?” Gary chortled.
He sat next to me in the passenger seat of my 2000 Plymouth Neon, which happened to have a manual transmission.
Gary was older than me—like 40 or something. He was the older brother of a guy I worked with. Actually, Gary worked there as well, but he was higher up than the rest of us minions so I never had much interaction with him. But I could always feel when he was nearby.
I wasn’t keen on the idea of driving Gary home from the department gathering at a bar that Friday night after work, but he was without a driver’s license—or car, for that matter. Plus I was the only one not drinking and I’d hate to have to live with knowing I could’ve prevented a drunk from getting behind the wheel.
I knew right away Gary was pretty smitten with the idea of me driving him home, and then when he saw I could drive stick…I had a feeling he’d be dreaming about me that night.
I always wished I could be the girl that could live life like an adventure. Sure I was married and loved my husband, but he was away so often. It was bad enough I wasn’t drinking that night, what was preventing me from adventuring with Gary? Me. I was stopping myself from having fun. I was being a good girl. A shy girl. A married girl whose husband called every night when he was on the road.
“Thanks,” Gary said as I pulled up to his house.
I could sense his hesitation with getting out of the car. I knew he wanted to ask me something.
Or tell me something.
Or do something.
Feeling his glare, I just sat there looking at the Neon’s headlights bounce off the dilapidated siding of his house. He was trying to make eye contact like always. Like when we were at work. Like when I walked to the bathroom just past his office and he watched. I know he watched me all the time. I could feel him watching. I could feel when he was nearby. Always.
I finally turned to look at Gary and give him the eye contact I know he wanted. I smiled and put my right hand on the stick shift and squeezed—all while keeping eye contact.
Game on, Gary, I thought to myself.
Gary returned the smile, licking his lips. “Wanna come in for a beer?”
I looked past his thick-lens glasses, over the redness, and into his brown eyes.
“I could go for a smoke,” I replied, turning the ignition key and pulling it out.
Gary fumbled around in his jacket pockets while moving to the front of the car. “I didn’t think you smoked,” he tossed over his shoulder to me.
“I usually don’t.” I walked past Gary, toward the front door of his house.
Wind chimes rattled behind me. It was Gary with his keys. I think the big guy was getting nervous. This was going to be more of an adventure than I had anticipated and I started wondering why the hell I took so long to unleash the bad girl in me.
Gary rushed past me to the front door and jammed the key in the lock while I jammed my hands in my jeans pocket so it could hold onto my rings.
My cousin and his wife Casey lived next door so I went for a visit one day but my cousin wasn’t home. Casey was though, so we hung for a bit before she asked if I wanted to visit with another neighbor.
Despite all of us living in the same neighborhood, only houses away from one another, it had been years since I’d last seen her neighbor Nick who was outside the back of his house when we got there. We crept through the garage to see him.
Nick looked just as I remembered: tall and lanky; dark hair; dark, expressionless eyes.
“You guys wanna play some softball?” Nick asked upon seeing us.
Talk about it being a long time since seeing or doing something… I was a kid the last time I played softball, but I loved the game so I was in.
First up to bat was Nick. He slammed the ball way out in the field so that his buddy, who looked super familiar, had to fetch it.
Next was Casey. She made contact with the ball but nothing like Nick had.
Then there was me. It had been 20 years or so since I’d even picked up a bat, but how hard could it be?
I had so little strength to grip the bat; my hands fumbled to get in position despite my brain knowing exactly what I needed to do.
Finally I mustered up enough power to lift the bat and Nick’s buddy pitched the ball. I swung and totally missed the ball, but the bat went flying from my hands just past Nick’s buddy’s head.
They all just looked at me.
“Lessgo shower,” Nick proclaimed.
Like robots, we all four headed toward the shower, which was a single standing box shower in the back of a huge pickup truck.
We all wore bathing suits and showered quickly. First was Nick, then his buddy, then Casey.
When it was my turn, I had a hard time not watching Nick’s buddy sitting in the front of the pickup truck, behind the steering wheel. While the water poured over my body, he just sat there looking ahead and smiled. I couldn’t stop watching him sit there and I couldn’t shake the feeling that I knew him from somewhere.
“You done?” Nick asked, popping his head in through the shower door.
With a towel wrapped around me and my hair dripping water down my back, we all started walking back into the house. All except for Nick’s buddy.
“Hey man, you comin or what?” Nick shouted toward the truck.
There was no answer, no movement.
“Hey!” Nick shouted again.
And again there was no response.
Nick, Casey, and I all looked at one another and then back toward the truck. In slow motion, we moved toward the truck. Nick opened the passenger side door.
“Yo!” Nick reached to shake his buddy by the shoulder. “Dude, you comin?”
Nick’s buddy, staring out the front window of the truck, hands on the steering wheel as if he were driving, smiled. Then he slowly turned his head to us. His bright blue eyes practically glowed, while the warmest smiled I’d ever seen in all my life said hello.
Nick’s buddy was Robin Williams. THE Robin Williams.
“Yeah man,” Robin said. “Lessgo.”
(This is a dream I had early this morning before my alarm sounded. Names, other than Robin Williams’, have been changed.)
It’s been a rough couple of days. For many of us.
The news on Robin Williams’ death shook a lot of us to the core. Depression is an evil motherfucker. Sometimes we think we may be doing well and then bam! something transforms us back into the depths of the dark hole.
Find the light, my friends. It’s shining so goddamn brightly, I promise.
You may not see it this very second, but keep looking and when you do see it, focus on it till it envelops you instead of that fucking black hole that you’re submerged in.
Goddamn is life hard. But it truly is a gift. Truly.
When we pulled up to the building, I was a bit scared. I’m not a fan of big black iron gates in front of a home. It’s not very welcoming. More than that, the little lawn tucked behind and in front of the gate wasn’t very green and desperately needed to be trimmed.
This place had zero curb appeal. What were we doing here?
Still, we got out of the car to take a closer look.
Taye carried Lovie, then 7 months old, in her infant car seat carrier. We had about six concrete steps to walk up before coming to the front door of the building. Then once inside, we had another 17 steps till we reached the top floor apartment we were looking at possibly renting.
It was a three bedroom, two bath with in-unit laundry and the price was on the high end for us but we had to consider it for the extra bed and bathroom.
Immediately upon entering, my eyes focused on the “sun room” in the very front of the home, just off the living room. The windows inviting all the natural lighting excited me and I soon forgot about the dreary outside of the building. When I turned my head to look toward the rest of the apartment, I was greeted with a super long hallway that went from the front all the way to the back of the apartment, with three bedrooms and two bathrooms being outsourced from the hallway.
I immediately envisioned Lovie learning to walk and one day running down that hallway. Viewing the rest of the place just added to my excitement.
I was in love.
We moved in at the start of the following month where we’ve lived now for nearly four years. I still madly love that sun room, which was immediately turned into my daughter’s playroom. It’s my absolute favorite part about this place.
Isn’t it dreamy? (This is looking straight in from the living room. There’s a set of windows on either side of the entry way as well!)
The outside is still pretty horrendous looking. Scary, really. But the inside is just so perfect for us. We don’t want to leave (the inside), but the parking sucks and Lovie’s getting bigger and bigger. It would be nice for her to have a real yard to run around in.
Our lease is actually due to expire end of next month, so time will quickly tell if it’s time for us to move or not. If it is (or when it is) it’s going to be damn hard to replace that awesome sun room (play room).
written in response to the writing prompt provided by #Post40Bloggers