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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In the Grass

Image by KiratheArtist on http://fav.me/d6boqd9

Image by KiratheArtist on http://fav.me/d6boqd9

 

I’ve had the same dream every night for the last month. At first, I only saw the snake slithering towards me through the tall grass. I always woke with a start when its vibrant green body rose out of the grass to look me in the eye. In later dreams, she was there, standing in the distance, dressed in a green strapless dress. I knew her, though I could not recall her name or how we met. Her presence made me uncomfortable. I found myself keeping a more careful eye on her than the snake. She had tribal tattoos on her shoulders, her auburn hair was shaved on the sides and french braided into a mohawk. Her skin was deep brown, and her hazel eyes were intense. She didn’t speak, she just watched as the snake slithered from her side, toward me. I still woke up, heart racing and drenched in sweat, every time the snake rose in front of me.

The lack of sleep was beginning to take it’s toll. Coffee became a must in order for me to make it through a work day.  My co-workers often had to repeat themselves because I would zone out during meetings. My boss pulled me aside to find out what was going on with me. I was doing everything possible to pull myself together, but I could not shake the images or emotions the dream left behind. So, when I saw her as I approached my job, I though I was hallucinating. She stood, leaning against the lamppost in front of my office building, wearing the same green dress she wore in my dream. As I drew closer, I could not help but notice the slit that ran up one side of her dress exposing the snake tattoo that started at her ankle and traveled up her leg to an area beyond the start of the slit. The fabric where the slit began barely covered her hip. The other men approaching and leaving the building noticed her also.  She paid them no mind. Her gaze was intense and firmly planted on me.  I tried to play it cool and nodded in her direction I entered the building, hoping she would say “good morning” or smile. She didn’t react or respond, her eyes just followed me as I walked through the lobby doors.

The mail-room clerk, Walter, fell in step beside me as I made my way to the elevators.  He was a kid, about 19 or 20 years old.

“Hey man, is that you,” he asked tilting his head toward the lobby doors, indicating the mystery woman from my dreams.

“No, man. That ain’t me.”

“Duuuuuuude, you need to get with that! She’s looking at you like a you’s a three course meal or somethin’.”

“Why don’t you ask her out, man. She looks to be about your age. I’d feel like some kind of cradle robber if I approached her.”

“You scared, huh?

“Man, I ain’t never scared,” I said as I stepped onto the elevator and allowed the closing doors to end our conversation. But, something about her gave me chills.

It was a hectic day of back to back meetings, and other typical workday emergencies. I was glad to see five o’clock. I was looking forward to taking a much-needed nap before heading out to dinner. I didn’t remember the woman from my dream until I stepped off the elevator and into the lobby. She was standing in the same spot, just outside the entrance to the building. Her eyes were once again, fixed on me. I stopped by the security desk and asked the guard if she had been standing there all day.

“Yeah, she’s hasn’t moved from that spot. Several brothers tried to step to her, but she gave them a look that sent them packing. I didn’t dare go out there to tell her to move. She looks like she works out.”

“You need to be fired, letting that little woman scare you off like that! And you call yourself a security guard.  I should snatch that label off your jacket, right now! What did she do when she wasn’t striking fear into the hearts of men?”

“You got jokes, James. She has a tablet with her. I’m guessing she read a book.”

I can’t lie. I was afraid to pass her, again. There was something intense and powerful about her. She looked at me as though she could read my every thought. I exited the building, ready to walk past her as though I didn’t see her standing there. She watched me like she was the hungry lion and I was the gazelle.

“James,” she called as I walked past her. I stopped in my tracks. She knew my name. My blood ran cold, and I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up. She moved to stand in front of me. “You need to come with me.”

“Do I know you,” I managed to ask.

“My name is Imani. Things in your life are about to change, drastically. You’re going to need me on the course you are about to take. Come with me, I’ll explain on the way.”

Something in her tone told me it would be in my best interest to do as she said.

Take Me

nikewrites:

Here’s a little something sensual for Throwback Thursday. ;-)

take me pic blog

Originally posted on Nikewrites Blog:

I don’t know how you figured out my deepest secret

And discovered that place that makes my knees weak.

You don’t have to touch me to steal my ability to utter a phrase.

I look forward to what you do to me each and every day.

When you say my name, heat rises within me

You handle each syllable of my name like classic poetry.

And when you finally touch me my nerve endings tingle.

And the butterflies in my stomach start to flutter and mingle.

Your lips brush over mine, lightly, teasing and licking.

I can’t help but think about the love we’ll soon be making.

But then you kiss that spot, and nip at it lightly,

I try not to moan too loud but, Oh! You excite me!

We’ve only just begun, but you have me on teetering the edge.

I’m practically begging you to take me to…

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Dead Meat

nikewrites:

It feels wrong to have a favorite piece of work. It’s like saying you have a favorite child!! But this is a story I keep coming back to because it was so much fun to put together! Enjoy!

Butcher's counter

Originally posted on Nikewrites Blog:

I wrote this story some time ago as part of a writer’s workshop. I decided to open the story with dialog and as I continued to write, the dialog just kept flowing.  So, I let it flow! It was just as much fun to write as it is to read! Enjoy!

Butcher's counter

“Mel, you have nothing to worry about.  Just relax.  If you look nervous, they’ll know!”

“I can’t help it. I’ve never done anything like this before.  Are you sure no one will notice?”

“Positive.  I’ve been doing this once a month for the last year and I haven’t been caught yet.  Just act like you are checking prices.  Do a lot of inspecting so you look like a serious shopper.”

“Oh! Excuse me.”

“What?”

“I get a little windy when I’m nervous.  Sorry!”

“Mel!”

“I can’t help it Lynn!  We could go to jail!  Do you know what happens…

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At Nightfall

It has been another busy week in my world! I missed posting my Flash Fiction Friday piece on time, so I’m posting it as a “Sorry it’s so late Short Story Sunday” piece. Sometimes, you have to make these things work for you!

The inspiration for this piece was the picture below.  I really struggled with creating a story around the scene, but it all came together at the 11th hour! Enjoy!

At Nightfall

We belong to this place. It is our ancestral home. We returned to it to build our homes and raise our families, but they chase us away. All we want to do is live. Is that too much to ask? We want to feel safe and secure in our homes, just like they do.

Are we so different? We have old traditions. We live together – great-grandparents, grandparents, parents, children, siblings – in the same house. We share everything. If one finds food, we all share the bounty. That is the way it should be for everyone. They have their traditions, and expect us to honor them, why can’t they do the same for us? We like to eat many of the same things. Why don’t they share among themselves and with us? We don’t ask for much. We don’t mind eating what is left over. We like what they like: bread, eggs, bacon – we LOVE bacon, fruits, and vegetables. We will even clean up the kitchen after we eat.

Instead of giving coexistence a chance, the humans slaughter us without thought or reason. I’ve had many wives, many children, and lost them all to habitual extermination rituals of the People, as have many of my brothers.  So, my brothers and I have decided to evacuate, temporarily. We have moved into the nearby woods. There, we hide and plot our revenge. We do not take the slaughter of our families lightly. There is no justice for us. Their laws ignore our kind, and they don’t acknowledge us as a valuable and significant life form. We will take matters into our own hands. We decided that our absence will lead them into a false sense of security and give us time to reproduce, increase our numbers and then dominate the murderous humans. They will acknowledge our presence and power!

We have observed that they receive a visit from their fellow humans once a month. They bring plenty of food and drink. We see the headlights from their vehicles when they arrive from our hiding place in the woods. We will quietly make our way into the house. We’ve mapped out all the unprotected, unguarded openings to the home. We will strike at nightfall, after they have all fallen asleep. We will occupy the kitchen and bathrooms and only reveal ourselves in quantity to devastate the women and children, as they seem to fear us most. We’ve recruited other groups who have also been victimized by the humans to aid us in our quest for favorable coexistence. We understand the risks. We don’t want to do this by force, but they leave us no other options. There will be casualties, run in with aggressive pets the humans have trained to attack and kill us, but we will prevail! We, the Vermin and Pest Brigade will win!!

Pest

Flash Fiction Friday: Meeting a Stranger

nikewrites:

Welcome to Throwback Thursday! I hope you’ve had a wonderful week, and have fun plans lined up for the weekend! I’ll be digging into some writing this weekend. I have a bunch of stories demanding to be finished and published! In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this week’s #TBT post!

 

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Originally posted on Nikewrites Blog:

I have dubbed this day: Flash Fiction Friday.  I will be sharing original Flash Fiction pieces (short stories between 300 – 500 words in length) written by myself and some of my fellow writers on Fridays.  Today’s piece is called, “Meeting a Stranger.” I hope you enjoy it!

Meeting a Stranger

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All I wanted was the truth and a piece of it was finally coming to meet me. I sat at a wooden table pretending to read an article on my tablet. The words and images were fuzzy.  I couldn’t focus. My palms were sweaty and my stomach was turning.  The smell of coffee and danishes should have relaxed me a little, but the fluttering in my stomach increased every time someone walked through the door.  Mom told me he died in a workplace accident shortly after I was born. I found out a few weeks ago why she lied…

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