Runaway

African American Woman Silhouette

I checked my reflection before leaving the restroom and heading to the platform to wait for the train. My disguise was flawless. I didn’t look like myself, or her. I felt guilty for leaving. But, what else could I do? They planned on eliminating  me. I wanted to live. I didn’t do anything wrong. I did everything they asked and expected of me. I was, however, property of The Rivers Lab. Other projects tried to escape when they were faced with similar fates. They were captured, and destroyed.

The lab knew the public was not ready for this level of human experimentation – not even on lab created humans like me. I’ve seen some of the other “projects” and knew I had an easy life, mainly because my creator was one of the lead geneticist for the company. I was created to provide healthy DNA to cure the lead geneticist of a deadly disease, and to be the disease-free biological surrogate for her offspring. My job was to give birth to, and nurse the child. Once the baby was weaned, my life would be terminated. I would have served my purpose. I had no parents and no family outside of the family for which I was created serve. Releasing me to live a ‘normal’ life was not an option, as far as the lab was concerned. My existence would raise too many questions, especially if the public discovered my purpose. I could imagine the questions: How do we know they are safe? Are they violent? Can they be controlled? How can we tell the difference between them and us? Will they hurt us/our children? They wouldn’t understand, that I am a human just like them. I want to live like everyone else.

I wanted a family, friends, and children that I could bear and not have to hand over to someone else. I was forced to leave the baby I gave birth to every time the adoptive parent’s family members wanted to visit. I felt like a dirty, little, secret – something to be shoved into a dark corner whenever company came. The family sent me to stay with a trusted friend during those times. At first, I thought that maybe he and I could have a romantic relationship. He seemed fond of me and I really like him. When I told him about my hopes and dreams, he understood. He listened and pointed out  the questions that the public would raise. When I tried to kiss him, to show him I wanted him as a mate, he told me it wasn’t possible because I was made to look exactly like his friend’s wife.

“It would feel like I was betraying my best friend by starting a relationship with you. It would feel like I was sleeping with his wife. He would think I’ve lusting after his wife for all these years, and that I was taking advantage of you since you look and sound and act like her. I can’t cross that line. I can’t risk the friendship.” His rejection stung, but I understood.

He took pity on me and decided to help me get away. He created three different identities for me, so it would be harder for the lab to track my movements. He gave me a new name, ID cards, clothes, cash, and other items I would need while I was on the run. He taught me things that I would need to know to survive like, how to search for a job, shop for myself, and in general, behave like a human that “has been raised and not hatched.” He even tried to teach me how to put on make-up so I could change my appearance. He wasn’t great with make-up, but I figured it out. He even gave me tips on what kinds of men to avoid. Then, he helped me get away.

Three days before I was to be returned the geneticist and her family, he took me a hotel a few towns away, giving me some time and distance from the lab’s search teams. He gave me a train ticket and schedule, and told me the name of the person to ask for at the final destination. They would help me find lodging and keep me under the radar.  It would be the last I’d see of him. We could not keep in contact. The lab would keep tabs on him. I wish there was some way I could repay him. He risked so much for me.

Although everything in this world is new to me, there was something about getting on the train that felt like – more. I don’t know how to articulate it, but I felt like the world had changed in order to accommodate a creation like me. I got away, and now, for the first time, I was going to live. I was going to live.

Remembering…

nikewrites:

Remembering 9/11 today.

My daughter turned 18 last month. She shared with me that she doesn’t remember much about that day. She recalls arriving at school, being evacuated minutes later and seeing the buildings fall on the news reports that day. She didn’t understand, until this week, why I was always (and still am) a little nervous about the planes that fly over the highway and land at our local airport.
Her teacher showed her class the video of the planes hitting the Twin Towers this week. I think she understands my nervousness about low flying aircraft, now. She has the full visual of what happened that day. But, I almost wish she didn’t.

NYC skyline Towers of light

Originally posted on Nikewrites Blog:

It was a sunny day. It was warm out. We were still talking about the passing of Aaliyah. My daughter was just starting first grade. I was excited! She came home completely worn out and slept through the night! The days of her sleeping four hours a night and running fully charged during the rest of the day were finally over! Katie, Matt, Al and Anne were engaged in their usual morning banter. My daughter and I laughed at their joke as we walked out the door. I drove her to school and walked her into the lobby with the other students. One of the school administrators saw me (the only parent) walking my daughter in. She smiled and said in a sing-song tone, “Miss Indie-pend-aaaaant!” I smiled and thought to myself, “Yeah…I know I’m one of those mom’s….leave me alone!” I watched as my baby hurried down the hall…

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Why I Stayed

domestic abuse

 

Because they said God doesn’t like divorce.

Because they said I was stuck with the bad choice I made.

Because I believed them.

Because his family said I was good for him

And I would make him a better person

And those words made me feel powerful,

They fed my ego.

Because I didn’t know there was better

Because I didn’t believe I was enough for me.

Because the baby needed a father in the home.

Because I didn’t want to be a failure.

Because I was afraid of being alone.

Because I didn’t know I didn’t need him

Or anyone

To make me happy

And whole.

But I know better, now.

If These Walls Could Talk

Empty Room by Brad K. creative commons

Unspeakable things happened in this place. Things that I don’t want to remember, but I relive every day. People have come to this place to pray for me and apologize. They leave flowers and stuffed bears and balloons and candles. They try to tell me to move on. But, I can’t. I need them to listen. I just need them to listen.

I was brought to this place when I was five years old. I was told that it would be a nice place to live, and that I would have a new family that would love me and take care of me because my real mother could not. I remember crying, because my big sister, Karla, could not come with me. My new dad said she was too old and that they didn’t want a girl. My new mom didn’t say much. She had a kind face, but she looked sad, and maybe a little scared. I remember that she jumped a little, when I walked over and took her hand. It was like she didn’t like being touched, but she didn’t let go because she knew I was nervous.

“Can I call you ‘Mommy,’” I asked her in a very quiet voice. She looked at me, and then at my new dad. He was talking to the social worker and signing papers. She looked back to me, smiled a little and nodded. My new dad turned around, looked at us and frowned.

“Let him go. Don’t baby him,” he grunted at Mommy. “You’ll spoil him. He ain’t gone be no good to nobody if you spoil him.” She dropped my hand and walked out the door. He shoved me and said, “Walk, boy.” I followed Mommy. Tears rolled down my face. I could tell he was a mean man.

On the car ride to our new home, he told me the house rules.

“Bedtime is at 7 o’clock, not a minute later. You will eat what’s put in front of you and like it. You will have chores to do every day, and you better do them right or you won’t get any supper. I don’t want not one bad report from your teachers, or I’m gone tear your backside up. Don’t you back talk to me, or any other adult. I’ll knock your friggin’ teeth out if you do. You speak when you’re spoken to, otherwise be quiet. Understand?” I nodded. All of a sudden, he reached back punched me in my chest. He hit me like I was a grown-up. I couldn’t breathe. He knocked the air out of me.

“It’s ‘Yes, sir,’ or ‘No, sir!’ You understand me, brat? Don’t ever nod or shake your head at me! And quit all that damn crying! You ain’t a girl! Girls cry! Do you want me to put you in a dress and frills?”  I was gasping for air, but I managed to respond with the right phrase in a volume loud enough for him to hear me.

“No, sir.”

“Good,” he growled, as he glared at me in the rearview mirror. He parked the car in front of the house. Mommy hadn’t said a word. She looked out the window during the entire car ride. It was like she was somewhere else. He yanked me out the car and shoved me toward the house. The front yard was covered in dried leaves that had fallen from the oak trees in front of the house. We crunched our way through the leaves to the front porch. We went inside and he showed me to my room.

“Put your stuff away and then come to the kitchen for supper,” he said.

The room was small. It had bare walls and bed. No toys. No dresser, no closet, and it was cold.

“Where should I put my clothes? There isn’t a closet,” I asked.

His fist connected with the back of my head. I fell to the floor. Before I could get up, he punched me in my back, knocking the wind out of me, again. Then he took off his belt and whipped me.

“You ungrateful little bastard! Do you think we’re rich? You crack-baby! I told you to be quiet! Stop that crying!” I heard the sound of the leather belt cutting the air, and felt the stink of the strap through my shirt as it landed across my back, arms, head and legs. The end of the belt hit my eye twice. I covered my face to protect my eyes and to prevent him from seeing my tears. I don’t remember when he stopped. The room was spinning and getting dim. I couldn’t catch my breath. My heart was racing and his voice was an echo.

“Get up, boy! I said get up!”

I heard Mommy rush into the room.

“What are you doing to him! Ed! Stop! He’s just a boy!” I heard a thud, and she stopped speaking. Then he started on me again. He kicked me in my side. My body felt so heavy. I couldn’t move. My body just kind of jerked with every new blow, until I didn’t feel anything any more.

It was strange. All of a sudden, I was floating above the room and watching us. He stopped beating me and was on the floor shaking me, trying to wake me up. There were blood stains on the back of my shirt and the side of my face. Mommy was laying on the floor, in the doorway, blood was pooling around her head. She wasn’t moving. Then I was standing in front of him. I looked at his face and I wasn’t afraid of him anymore. As a matter of fact, he looked scared, and maybe a little worried. He walked away from me, he stepped over Mommy and walked up the hall. I heard his keys, then the sound of the front door opening and closing. He left us there.

“He’s not coming back, sweetie.”  I turned around to see Mommy standing beside me. I looked back to her body in the doorway. “We should go, too,” she said, holding her hand out to me.  I shook my head.

“We should stay, Mommy. We should stay until someone comes for us. We need to tell them what happened.”

“You tell them. I’m finally free of him, free from all of it. I can’t stay here anymore. I have to go.” Then, she left me, too.

I stayed. I understood why she left. She knew about the others. I saw the others that he hurt. They are here, too. They live in the walls. They told me what happened to them.

Unspeakable things happened here, and if these walls could talk, they would tell you everything.

Greener Grass

nikewrites:

Today’s Throwback Thursday piece is a discussion that is on going amongst women. What does it mean to have it all? Is it having the career? Or is it doing the traditional thing and starting a family? Is the stay at home mom happier or the career woman?

Take a read! Share you thoughts, and happy reading! :D

Tabitha and Linda

Originally posted on Nikewrites Blog:

Let me start by apologizing for the delay in posting. This week was a real challenge.  We won’t call this a Flash Fiction Friday post. We’ll call it: Super Short Story Saturday!!  You like that, don’t you? I thought you would! :D

Today’s story takes a look at that battle some women have over living a ‘full’ life. What exactly makes a fulfilling life for a woman? Read the story and feel free to share your thoughts.

Tabitha and Linda

I envied Tabitha’s life.  I mean, most of us women grow up getting sucked into the fantasy of marriage and children and the house with the white picket fence with a mini van parked in the driveway.  We swear we look forward to it.  When we grow up and get that life of wifedom and motherhood, our social calendars become filled with play dates, dance recitals, football and soccer practices, PTA meetings, sunday…

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Secrets and Shame

As I helped Aunt Delores with restocking the kitchen pantry, I told her I wanted to document the family history. She was the last of her generation. She was in good health for a woman in her 80s, and would probably be with us a while longer, but I didn’t want to suddenly lose her and have no record of the family history. She didn’t respond, other than glancing at me, and continued to take non-perishables out of the grocery bags and place them on the counter for me to put on the shelves. I wasn’t sure if I should prepare myself for a good telling-off, or if I should break out my recorder to begin to document the next words she spoke.

There was always some task attached to Aunt Delores’ stories. Cooking, hair braiding, sewing, knitting, all had a story to go with the activity. She was the family oral historian. No one else talked about the family’s history. She told me once, that I reminded her of herself as a child. “I was always up under some adult asking questions or eavesdropping on grown-folk conversation. They would scold me and tell me I was being too womanish for asking about adult business. I was just curious. But, they eventually told me everything.”

We finished putting away the groceries and then went to the living room.  She sat in her favorite chair and reached down to open the basket that held her knitting supplies.  She dropped a skein of deep turquoise yarn onto her lap with a set of extra long knitting needles that looked almost as thick as my pinky.  She pulled at the hem of her dress until it bunched up at her knees, exposing the tops of her knee-high stockings, and creating a pouch that would not allow the yarn to roll off her lap as she pulled at it while she knitted.

“You know, the problem is that we are covered in shame. We tell lies to make ourselves look good to the world. We are so afraid to be discovered as less than perfect.”  I listened to my aunt as she wound the yarn around the knitting needle and began to stitch and purl. Her movements were smooth and nimble. The click, click sound of the knitting needles created a soothing rhythm as I sat on the large ottoman at her feet and listened.

“Every family has secrets,” she continued, “from the poorest person on earth, to the Queen of England. Our family is no different. We do what everyone else does, we hide certain facts so we can keep up a good public image, and good standing in the community. That used to be a really big thing when your grandparents were raising us. For example, the worst thing that could happen to any family was for one of the girls to turn up with child, and no husband. The entire family would suffer for that.  It happened to Jacksons.  Remember Ms. Adele?  Her little sister, Petunia got pregnant when she was 15. The story they gave everyone was that she was needed by family out west to care for a sick relative. She had a little girl. They took the child from her and sent her back home once her milk dried up so nobody would know she had a baby.”  She had completed two rows of her creation and looked over her glasses at me.

“You may want to start writing this part down, honey.” I went over to the sofa, where I had rested my pocketbook and pulled out my mp3 player. I made sure I cleared some memory so I could record my aunt for a few hours. I also grabbed a pen and small notebook from my purse to take additional notes. I sat back down and turned on the recorder.

“There were seven of us. Dexter, Isaac, me, Florence, Angeline, Prentice and Leon. Everyone thinks I’m the oldest child. I’m just the oldest girl. I never knew the two oldest boys. They passed on long before I was born. No one talks about them. As a matter of fact, if you were to ask anybody else in the family, they would tell you Dexter and Isaac did not exist. My mother fell in love with a young man when she was just a teenager. I don’t know his name. She only spoke of this one or two times that I can recall. They would often sneak off to see each other. They were very much in love and wanted to get married, but granddaddy didn’t want his daughters courting until they were much older, and they young man’s family was very particular about their associations. One day, granddaddy caught them together in the shed, just going at it. The young man ran off, but mama got the beating of a lifetime. She was already pregnant. It was a wonder she didn’t lose Dexter. The young man was the son of the town’s only black doctor. They were practically royalty. Once word got out that he had been caught with mama, his family packed his bags and shipped him to Canada to stay with family there. Then they began to blame mama for seducing her son and half the other boys in town. Granddaddy was a pastor at the time, and Grandma was a school teacher.  People stopped going to granddaddy’s church and pulled their children out of the school. All the people they thought were friends, shunned them. Mama was sent away to live with family in New York and have the baby. After she had Dexter, she decided to go find her sweetheart up in Canada. She made her way there when Dexter was about three months old. She showed up to the address she was given, knocked on the door and a young woman answered. It was the young man’s wife. The young man acted like he didn’t know her, never seen her before. They gave her a few dollars like she was some kind of beggar and sent her on her way. She was devastated.  She returned to New York, broken-hearted and depressed. Every time she looked at her son, she got sick. So, late one night, she bundled her son up and went out to the bridge. She gathered some heavy rocks and put them in a basket. She fed Dexter, so he would be quiet. She bundled him and the rocks in the basket in such a way that he would not get loose, and she tossed him over the edge of the bridge.”

She continued to knit one, purl one. My eyes were wide and my mouth was open and I thought of the sweet woman who used to give me sweets and anything else I wanted despite my parent’s protest. She killed her child!

“Did she ever go to jail for that?”

“No. Once family in New York found out what she did, they hurried and sent her back to her parents, who were living out west at the time. Granddaddy started a new church and grandma was teaching again. It was there that she met her first husband. He was quite a bit older than her, in his early thirties, when they married. She just made nineteen. But, granddaddy approved of him. He was educated, a lawyer, I think. But he was mean man. He used to beat mama, and he had some other ‘lady friends’ around town. So when she got pregnant with Isaac, she thought he might change, soften toward her. He didn’t. He beat her even more after she had Isaac. See, Isaac was born fair-skinned with hazel eyes. Mama was brown-skinned, with dark eyes. Her husband was dark-skinned with dark eyes.  He took one look at the baby and accused her of cheating. She hadn’t cheated. The baby looked like my grandmother. She was so stressed out, she couldn’t produce milk for him. He got very sick and eventually died from malnutrition. She thought Isaac’s death was God’s judgment for her getting pregnant out-of-wedlock and for killing Dexter. He husband divorced her and put her out. Once again, she was the cause of shame in the family. Granddaddy told her she needed to leave town. He would not let her live under his roof, again. He told her she was an embarrassment and that he would not see her pull the family down anymore. She left with nothing more than a few dollars, a few pictures and a few pieces of clothing. She came up here to Washington state. She never went back to her parents. One of her sisters reached out to her when we were kids. She stayed with us for a week.  She said something to mama about her ‘sinful past’ and the need for her to repent to be welcomed back into the family. Mama called her everything but a child of God and turned her out of the house! She never spoke to her sister again.”

She put down her knitting and looked at me. I stopped the recorder. She scratched her leg and pursed her lips for a moment and then said, “I want you to write down the histories. I want you to share it with your kids and grandkids, in the right way and time. Not everybody is going to be able to handle these stories. Nobody wants to think of their favorite relative as less than pure and holy, but we’re humans. We’re flawed. We make mistakes. Lord knows I’ve made my share. Shame is a powerful thing, sweetheart. Very powerful. I’ve told you a little something about your great-grandparents and your grandmother. Now, I’m about to tell you about people you know. You can’t share this information with anyone. They will hate you for what you know. So, if you can promise me that, I’ll tell you the rest of our story.

She was right. I heard some of the things my family members had been involved in, including Aunt Delores. We were not angels, but we kept a good reputation. Most knew us to be a God-fearing family. We worked hard to keep our secrets. I knew which family members hated my aunt because of what she knew. But, she knew enough to keep them quiet and in check. I was a younger member of the family, they would slaughter me if I revealed their past. Shame was a powerful thing, indeed.

“I understand, Auntie. This will stay between us.”  She nodded and picked up her knitting needles again. I turned the recorder back on and she continued,

“Mama and daddy met at brothel…”

Wrath of the Toothfairy

nikewrites:

Nothing like a vexed Tooth Fairy….errrm…Nymph! (I don’t want this chick coming after me!!) Happy Thursday! Happy Reading!

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Originally posted on Nikewrites Blog:

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I’m NOT a fairy!

My name is Adelphe.  I am a sister of Artemis.  You wouldn’t know me by name, but you know my title and job description. I am the Tooth-Fairy. I bet you just got all excited and giddy. You have pleasant memories of sticking your baby teeth under your pillow and waking up to find a roll of cash under your pillow. Have you ever wondered what I do with those broken, plaque covered little teeth those rotten, snot-nosed, money-grubbing, little crumb snatchers leave behind? I deliver them to the bridge trolls, Grook, Maolk and Dave. They grind them into flour and make Troll Bridge Cookies, which the mythical creatures in my realm enjoy immensely. I get half a cent per tooth. That’s a complete rip off, especially considering the rate of inflation, the strain of lifting and hauling bone fragments and lack of vacation…

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