B is for Books

home-library2
Photo by Maegan Tintari

How cool is that library? Look at all of those books arranged in rainbowbetical order. (Rainbowbetical is a word. My daughter it made up. I’m using it with permission.) I would LOVE to have a space like that, one day. (I think I’ll turn my daughter’s room into the library, once she gets her own place! 😀 )

Speaking of books, I wanted to point your attention to a page I’ve added to the Nike Writes blog, recently. If you look over to the left side of the page, you will notice an option on the menu called, “Books.” I know…simple, right?  You already know that Nike Writes blog posts, but you might not have known about books I’ve written or anthologies in which I’ve been included. I don’t want you to be kept in the dark about these things! So go on, don’t be shy!  Click on that menu option! The link to each book leads to Amazon.com. You can get a jump on building your summer reading list, today! 😀

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The Danger of the Single Story

Today’s #TBT post is a TedTalk video I posted about a year ago.  Chimamanda Adichie, author of “Half of A Yellow Sun,” talks about the danger of the single story. We have all believed in the single story at some point in our lives – even now, many of us believe the “single stories” we hear on the news or read in the papers. We believe the limited information, many times, turning the tale into a stereotype. We end up missing out on the “more” that exists in any given narrative.

She states, “The consequence of the single story is this: It robs people of dignity. It makes our recognition of our equal humanity difficult. It emphasizes how we are different rather than how we are similar.”

Take a listen. What do you think about “the single story?” How dangerous do you think it is?

Excerpt: Orange Butterfly

smiling in the mirror

Katherine Simmonds stepped out of the shower, with a bathrobe wrapped around her. She whistled to the sound of the music coming from the next room. Between both rooms, the walls were paper thin.

Joe Cocker’s, “You are so beautiful.”

She sat on the chair by the dresser table and looked at her expression in the mirror. She smiled, and shook her head to the slow rhythm of the beat. Her sister Daphne always said she looked like Mum, so did Mike and Liam her brothers. Though she never admitted it to any of them, the thought of looking like her mother scared her. Looking like her mother meant she looked weak, and vulnerable and big and unattractive.

The thought of being like her mother scared her. She loved her mother, but she didn’t like who she was. Her mother wasn’t a strong woman. If she was strong, a lot of things would have been different. She slowly began her beauty regimen, slowly shaking her head to the rhythm of the music from the next room.

Her husband’s room.

Her husband.

Brian.

Once upon a time, he was the love of her life. At one point, he was the sunshine in her world, the air she breathed and everything to her. At that point in her life, she would have given anything and everything to make him happy. She loved him so much. She had never loved anyone that much. Not before him, or after.

He came into her life unexpectedly. She had been a big girl, a replica of her mother, and who was suffering from low self-esteem. She met Brian in a mall, and he liked her. He liked the big girl with bushy eyebrows and plain face. One year down the line, he transformed her. He put a ring on her finger and put her in the spotlight. She fell in love with him more each day, until he wanted more than she could give.

The first four years of their marriage was bliss. They would sit listening to the Beatles, and Michael Jackson and Bon Jovi. They would have candlelit dinners in the dining room, or out in the city with Christopher Layton, Nathaniel Redman or Edmond Flanagan. They would go pool dipping, or sky diving and come home giddy with laughter and joy.

How did everything change so soon?

Excerpt from

Orange Butterfly

By: Lily-Anne Longjohn

© Copyright 2013

Published by Authorhouse

Website:

www.redrosesandlilies.com

Blogs:

stories-mamatoldme.blogspot.co.uk

modelaposh.wordpress.com

Jericho

© Copyright 2010 CorbisCorporation

Jericho laughed. It wasn’t a happy sound.  His laughter dripped with pain and anger.

“He needs me? That’s not what he said when he threw me out!”

I really didn’t feel like participating in his bout of emotional constipation.  His bitterness was not my problem.

“Listen, Rico, you have to let that go.  He did what he did for your benefit. You probably wouldn’t have all of this if…”

“Cressida, don’t,” his said in a warning tone.

“Don’t you take that tone with me, Rico! Own your mess! You made the choices that got your tail tossed out.”

“Own my mess? Own my mess? He did the same things I did, and worse, and tells those stories with great pride! He just didn’t get caught! He didn’t have to worry about his life being on public display because of who his daddy was. He wears his sins like a badge of honor, but judged me publicly for every one of mine. Everything I have, I worked for! He gave me nothing! I owe him nothing! He gets no credit for what I’ve accomplished.”

“If he didn’t throw you out of the house, you never would have grown up! You would have continued to do the same dumb stuff! You have what you have because he loved you enough to say ‘no’ to your foolishness!”

“Don’t give me that after-school-special crap! I was never good enough for him. He hated me because I reminded him of my real dad. He assumed I’d turn out just like him, and treated me like I was a damn criminal from day one!  He was more concerned about his reputation in the pulpit and in office than he was about me.  He had an opportunity to have me in his life.  He made a choice. He chose public opinion over family.  Go tell him to own that!”

There was fire in Jericho’s eyes. I knew my brother well enough to know that he wasn’t moving.  He was not going to leave his office to say his final goodbyes to his step-father, the only father we ever knew. Even though I knew my brother wasn’t attacking me personally, it still felt like he might be angry with me for being the messenger.

“Jericho, he did the best he knew how to do raising us. He wants to see you before he breathes his last and try to set things right between you two. Go hear him out, and if you still feel the same way you do now, after talking to him, then ok. You were right and he was wrong. But go. See him. Do it for me?”

“Let him die without me,” Jericho said, flatly as he glared at me.

“Fine. I tried. I hope you don’t regret this decision. Our real dad is long gone. This man raised us. He’s dying and he’s waiting for you. He’s holding on for you. He’s always held on for you, but you are too blinded by anger and hurt to realize it.”

Dad cried as he took his last breath that night. Jericho never came.

Copyright 2013 Nike Binger Marshall

What Comes Around

Image

I was running late again.  Tardiness is never a good thing, but it’s even worse when the workplace is in an uproar. I work for Jessup & Jessup, a privately owned marketing and consulting firm in Greenville, Delaware. In addition to maintaining our normal office duties, the firm just underwent a major audit and we have just been bought by a larger firm.  Details were being closely guarded by the bosses, putting the entire office on edge.  Layoffs were sure to follow.  The official announcement of the merger was being made to public today. This was not the time to stick out like a sore thumb.

I rushed across the parking lot and into the building.  Members of the Board of Directors from both companies, and members of the media filled the small lobby. I elbowed my way through the crowd and made my way onto the elevator, clutching a stack of files close to my chest.  We were packed in tight, like canned mackerel. I was wedged into a corner by a barrel-chested man in gray suit who kept leaning into me and smacking my knee with his brief case. The smells of coffee breath, remnants of acrid cigarette smoke, flowery perfume and musky cologne mixed in the tight confines of the car and made my stomach roil. This ride to the Executive Offices on the fourth floor would go down in history as the most agonizing moment of my career.

I was grateful when the doors opened and cool air from the hall rushed in and dispersed the stifling fragrance in the elevator. I was shoved out of the elevator doors by my fellow occupants and the barrel-chested guy stepped on my foot as he passed. I shot him a glare that could have bored a hole through steel and limped around the corner.  I looked down to check the time on my cell phone. 8:07. I picked up my pace as I turned the next corner and ran into a brick wall of a man, almost falling backwards.

“Oh my gosh! I’m so sorry,” I said, as I kneeled to gathered the folders I dropped.

“Keisha, is that you,” Brick Wall Man asked as he leaned over to help me.  I looked up and met the hazel eyes of Stanley K. Billingsly. No good could come from this interaction.

“Stanley? What are you doing here?”  He took me by my elbow and helped me rise from the ground.

“It’s been a while. How have you been? It’s really good to see a familiar face.”

“Um. Ok, but, what are you doing here,” I repeated. This could not be happening. I prayed he was a member of the media.

“I’m the new owner of Jessup & Jessup.”

My new boss is my ex fiancé, and he was happy to see me. I wanted to curl up into a ball and disappear. I silently prayed that I was on the lay-off list.

“You’re the new owner?”

“Yes! Isn’t that great? Listen, clear your schedule from 12 to 2. We have a lot to go over with this new transition. We can do it over lunch, and maybe we can do a little catching up, too.”  And with that, he turned and ushered the board members into the conference room.  I walked to my desk, and sank into my chair.  I thought this chapter was over, but Stanley is back.  Crap!

 

Copyright 2013 Nike Binger Marshall

Flash Fiction Friday: Meeting a Stranger

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

Image

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. I felt betrayed. I was furious about being lied to, but I didn’t confront her. I saw my step-father in a new light. He’s not the man I thought he was.

“Amelia?” I looked up.  He was dressed in black sweat pants and a red t-shirt with black trim. His skin was carmel colored, he was tall, clean-shaven, muscular and handsome. I understood my mother’s attraction to him. This was my father.

“Um, yeah. I mean, yes, I’m Amelia.”

“I”m Reynard, your father. Hi,” he said a little awkwardly.

“Hi,” I said with equal awkwardness. Then, we just looked at each other for a long moment.  I thought I knew what I needed to say, but now that he was here, I didn’t know where to begin.  He sat down across from me.

“This is strange,” he said, “I guess I should apologize for not trying to reach out to  you, but under the circumstances, I thought it would be best not to stir the pot. It really isn’t a good reason not to have a relationship with your own child, but I had to respect your parents. The relationship with your mother caused enough problems.”

I nodded. I couldn’t blame him, not entirely anyway.  I guess there are no written guidelines on how to raise a child conceived as the result of a marital affair.

“Mom and dad are still together. What about you and your wife? Are you still together?” His expression reflected a multitude of emotion, hurt, guilt, shame, anger, regret, embarrassment. He looked down at his coffee cup.

“No, we didn’t last. I’m sure you’ve done the math and figured out that both she and your mother were pregnant at the same time. Your sister was born the day after you, same hospital.”

I nodded. I met my sister, Delora Zina Mason, at school district function. We look alike, like twins actually. She knew the story, at least, as much as her family shared with her. She was the one who told me about our parent’s affair and put me in touch with her father, our father. “She told me,” was all I said to him.

“I know it’s late, you are both about to graduate and go off to college, but maybe you two can start building a relationship.”  I nodded again, but knew it wasn’t likely.  Delora had made it clear that she and her mother saw me as part of the problem, and a reminder of Reynard’s betrayal.

“I’m hoping,” he continued, “that we can start building a relationship.” I bit my lip and looked away.  I thought the truth would be enough. I wasn’t sure if a relationship with this stranger was what I wanted at all.

Copyright 2013 Nike Binger Marshall

Things that come to mind

I’m taking a class called Fantasy in Fiction.  We just finished reading Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.  Some of my classmates just could not get into the story. I enjoyed it!  Alice in Wonderland is one of my favorite children’s stories and enjoyed reading the story with a fresh set of eyes. While I have enjoyed the many movie variations of the story, I think I enjoyed the book more.

The story brought to mind a poem my mother used to recite when I was a child, called Topsy Turvy Land.  It made me smile when I was a child because it was so silly and it reminds of Shel Silverstein’s poems.

Topsy Turvy Land

The people walk upon their heads,
The sea is made of sand,
The children go to school by night,
In Topsy Turvy Land.

The front-door step is at the back,
You’re walking when you stand,
You wear your hat upon your feet,
In Topsy Turvy Land.

And buses on the sea you’ll meet,
While pleasure boats are planned
To travel up and down the streets
Of Topsy Turvy Land.

You pay for what you never get,
I think it must be grand,
For when you go you’re coming back,
In Topsy Turvy Land.

By
H. E. Wilkinson

Through the Looking Glass by Evelyn Astegno

Half Way In

As I mentioned in January, this is the year of “letting go,” and things have been released.  I was laid off in January, and it was a good thing! It was what I needed to move forward and take on some important projects.  I’m working in a great place, close to home, and it offers me the flexibility I need to take care of my family and focus on the building some lasting resources for the future. So, half way into this New Year things are coming together.

I’ve prayed for several years about a career in non-profit, and it’s happening.  I’m excited about working with a group that provides needed services to the surrounding community.  There is nothing better than an answered prayer!

The recent lay-off has also given me the time and mental space to hunker down and write! And much writing has been happening!  I’ll be sharing some of my published and un-published pieces at Kirkwood Library at the end of the month.  I’m looking forward to sharing my work at this event!

I have to say, half way into this New Year, my glass is more than 1/2 and on its way to overflowing! I hope the same is true for you!

 

 

Bottle-Necked

I have made mention of writer’s block and methods of combatting said ailment in earlier posts, but I have not told you about being Bottle-Necked. Yes, there exists such a condition in the writing world. Being Bottle-Necked is when you have several writing ideas at once and you run to your desk or computer all keyed up for an explosive writing session and you can’t figure out what to write first. It is the equivalent of sensory overload and equally frustrating as writers block. Thankfully, you can use the same remedies for curing writer’s block to cure Botte-Necking.

I discovered a new way to get my pen moving! I pick up a book, any book, and find the center page. Then I locate the 6th sentence on that page, and build a story or poem around it. Easy peasy! For tonight’s writing session, I chose Mitch Albom’s book “Have a Little Faith,” page 124. The 6th sentence said: His family members helped him up. I feel a nice little story coming together! I’ll be sure to post it as soon as possible! In the meantime, give it a try and let me know what you create!