Untitled. For now.

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Cora awakened before the sun, as she had over half of her 80 some odd years, & tried to recall what her life had been. Places & faces bled & ran like ink on white fabric before settling in shapes unfamiliar. The contours of this new landscape created from the eroded masses of her mind seemed important but in that moment she could glean no importance from them.

A tear fell.

In need of activity Cora let it run. She tried to trace & record the path the droplet ran on the nerve endings of her right cheek. She recorded the temperature of this miniscule, woman-made body of salt water in what was left of her mind, praying all the while she’d be able to retrieve it.

She was distracted by the rich colors of sunrise. Cora questioned what she’d been told about the sun being male & the moon his companion. She couldn’t imagine anyone but a woman taking care to enter & exit, without fail, in such magnificence. Cora shrugged off the bit of folklore in the dismissive fashion of someone who knows she’s decoded a mystery.

Cora watched the sun complete her mural before responding to the ever present urge to be outside. Jacket on & shoed feet, out Cora ventured as she had for several days, led as if by puppet strings & tacit purpose. She walked & gathered, driven by an inner whispering in a voice she trusted but still couldn’t identify. With full arms Cora found her way back inside to tend to her pressing business.

She spread out her haul to begin matching this piece with that one based on some primal understanding she’d not known she had. Her mind was locked on a speckled ovular shape, surprised by how the specks changed from grey to vibrant oranges & yellows the closer she got to completing her project.

Cora intuited her work was complete & placed her last carefully woven twig. She stepped back to admire her creation then climbed inside.

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A few doors down from Cora, her daughter awakened with her mind set on getting her family ready for work & school. As she shook the night’s grog, Faye realized she hadn’t heard the low murmur of the TV from her mother’s room or the usual whistle of the tea kettle. She trudged down the hall past the room shared by her children. She knocked twice with no answer, turned to walk away & leave her mother to sleep. Faye knew it wasn’t really like her  mother to sleep & instead turned the knob. She was only able to take 1 step in before being overcome with confusion & wonder at what she saw.

Her mother’s bed frame no longer existed where she’d known it, reduced to a pallet on the side of the room. Where the bed once was stood…sat?…a beautifully constructed nest? Her mother, Cora, lay balled up in the center as though doing yoga, under 1 of the blankets she’d crocheted for her oldest grandchild.

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Completely unaware of her guest’s presence, a woman was busy incubating, floating through sunscapes & vibrated in prayers of hatching anew. Cora hoped to create a new version of herself with hands big enough to hold onto the parts of her that were fast slipping away & reawaken with a sense of peace & purpose to replace the fogginess she’d been left with & a life she could no longer tell was worth remembering.

 

#30WriteNow

Recovered Short

He approached the porch quietly. For a second he paused, shifted his bag & bouquet to his other hand then, reached in the planter for the spare key. The metal felt cool between his warm fingers, body temperature raised in anticipation. Metal on metal, the key was in the lock, but engaged almost silently and turned with quiet deliberation. The door gave and he exhaled.

His presence on her porch wouldn’t alert anyone. He’d been on it several times before. He’d stood there waiting for her to answer the door, always conscious of going to call on her instead of honking from the car. His parents had raised him better than that. He’d stood there with her, eyes boring deep into hers as he listened intently and with great fascination as she spoke on one of the many things that she, and now he, was passionate about. The sound of her voice was rich and full flavored like he’d heard coffee was; but he didn’t drink the stuff. He’d sat on this porch, lazing in the partial shade with her, holding her hand and caressing her pinky finger. He’d sat here and massaged her scalp, taking care not to disturb the roots of her tightly twisted locs, while also taking care to make sure he could hear her barely audible signs of relaxation. His presence here would alarm no one.

He pushed the door a little bit, listening for the creak. It didn’t come; he proceeded. Inside, he rested lightly against the door, bringing door and jamb back together as one. Tightly sealed. His bag slipped with ease from his hand and the bouquet, already free of plastic, was placed on top. She would see them later. Her car was parked in its usual space out front, but there were no signs of her presence. This time of day usually found her quiet, searching for the next inspiration for her work or quieting the voices of those she worked with. It was spring and he was without a jacket. The top button on his shirt was still done; he’d raced away from the conference table quickly without taking a moment to shake the mental load. More important things were on his mind. By the time he’d gotten to the 3rd button he realized he wasn’t just loosening up, he was removing. Shirt off, belt unbuckled, top button open. He breathed.

Surprise was the name of the game but he’d already started across the living room floor before he’d realized that his shoes were still on. Customarily, everyone took their shoes off at her front door. In his great need to smell the nape of her neck and watch her back arch, he’d forgotten. Too late. He tip-toed, wood sole on wood floors, and hoped he wouldn’t disturb her. As he passed through her shotgun starter home he glanced into her office to see if she was sitting in repose at the computer. No. He tipped further down the hall, noticed the bathroom door was open and she wasn’t luxuriating in the tub. Eventually, he thought, he’d make sure she wound up there. He arrived at her bedroom door and found her stretched diagonally across the bed, bare feet facing the door.

An eternity passed as he stood there and watched the rise and fall of her breathing. Her breath was a sound he loved, confirming her existence in his life. He admired the soft curvature of her form. Starting at her feet, he smiled at how her ankles crossed daintily and then rose at a slow incline up her runner’s calves. He dipped at the backs of her knees, a place he’d loved to kiss, and then raced up her thighs with his eyes. Those thighs had held him tightly, battling her hugs for his favorite embrace, and loved him back to life. Her thighs extended into that high arc, more pronounced than the McDonald’s arches, and far more delectable than anything on that tired, unchanging menu. He climbed that slope and slid down the other side, landing in the small of her back. Here his head had rested many times as they talked, or didn’t, about the eventual joining of their lives. The valley over her spine that ran between her shoulder blades invited him to complete his visual journey and be present and accounted for at the nape of her neck. He’d been dreaming of it all day. With her hair often down, he didn’t get to see it much and the thought of it teased him. It was where her natural essence rested and called out to him.

Creeping ever so slowly into the room, he found himself at the foot of the bed, a hair away from her resting body. He went to bend over, just as slowly as the rest of his movements had been, to untie his shoes. In sleepy seduction, she said, “I’ve been waiting for you. Keep your shoes on.”

Untitled. (beginning something. looking to see where it takes itself. no expectations.)

Phone rang.

Phone answered.

Low voices beating around figurative bushes of the pubic sort. The words–understandable. The intention–decoder ring required. Or maybe it was the other way around. The intentions made more sense than the words, too polite to come out and say what was up…what could go down. The long and short of it–pun intended–a penis and vagina schemed on meeting for the first time. The 2 mouths, that had never kissed, stammered over words that tried to indirectly broach the subject out of respect, with too many years of curiosity bubbling beneath the surface. With equal parts cool and Southern drawl, he low talked the question.

“You comin’?” 

Got us straight to the point.

I responded.

Hit ‘end’.

Grabbed my keys.

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That was the beginning of the “thing”. It was the end of my good sense. His one question didn’t make me pause long enough–proof positive that I wasn’t in my right mind. It happens.

Comfortable shoes and a medium sized bucket of Mountain Dew and I was strapped into my gas guzzler and headed up and over two states. XM radio was set to comedy so I could avoid having to laugh at myself. 

Get Shorty

His eyes were glazed. Not the way eyes are when you know the owner of them has been pullin’ on something, natural or manmade. It was the kind of glazed eye that was a forewarning. It signaled lava on the move beneath the surface. A boy turned volcano.

Without scientific proof, I could feel a thawing occurring deep inside, at his core, some weeks prior. The lava that once moved like sludge uphill now quickened its pace, lighting small fires here and there along the way. Unspoken agreements were drawn between us. Me agreeing to pay close attention, him agreeing to make the warning signs a little louder. Me agreeing to clear the space around him to prevent bigger fires, and him agreeing not to burn down too much as long as I moved fast enough.

At times his wiring got crossed and he said or wrote things that leapt over the line we had agreed would remain between us. A word too harsh, a gesture too grown, and then a little too much brute to his force in what started out as play. He managed to find his way back, to contain the flow of lava, when I shot him a particular look–one of love and seriousness and the seriousness of love. ‘Almost’ never became when I’d call his name and remind him to meander coolly to his chair where he could blame me for his lack of threatened follow through.

And then came his glazed eyes.

He sat, a volcano, waiting on a virgin offering. Smoke billowed from his ears but you had to have magic to see it. I’ve never attended Hogwarts but… His breath rumbled mercilessly within, seeking an outlet, sounding like thunder in a distant county. I kept an eye on him. I kept an ear on him. When it felt necessary I kept a hand on him, trying to relieve the tension and reminding him that someone who cared was nearby. He was responsive. And then…

She stood. And she innocently said. And he erupted. And first the smoke got thicker, though still not visible, and the line of virgins began to choke. He made prayers in the names of men in his family who are no more than ashes now. His fear of becoming them, coupled with his hurt from losing them, balled up like a fist.

A fist and a volcano. Lava spilled over and burned several virgins lined up as potential sacrifices. Sight set on one virgin, his lava burned a path to her and his fist became Thor’s mighty hammer and landed on one virgin’s eye. Every unspoken hurt landed on her face, through his fist.

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Stars have never shown in color before. At once they were red and blue and white. And they shone with song, sirens singing their arrival in the morning sky. The glaze remained in his eyes. Blood poured from her eye. And tears fell from mine.

Back Breakin’ Truth

“I’ma break you.”

That’s what he said.  Just as casual as pass the salt.  His voice didn’t raise or lower.  There was nothing more there than the subtle strength of truth found in promises you know a man intends to keep.

Never being 1 to back away from a challenge, my back straightened.  Ready in my mind to be fully present to…get broke.  He knew that about me, that I don’t back down easy.  As much shit as I’ve talked over the years, all of it true, he knew I wouldn’t run, tail tucked.  As a matter of fact, he had to know that I’d raise my tail higher so he didn’t have to work so hard to find it. 

Too much time had gone by to waste any on preliminaries.  Every time we see each other is another edition in our foreplay.  Our friendship has always been very serious to us, but there was always time for play.  He makes me laugh like none other and he never leaves feeling unloved.  The words didn’t fall from his lips as easily as mine, but there’s never been any doubt in my mind or the minds of any who know how we roll.

With all that history, there’s no need to front.  And what a history it’s been.  The 1st time came together when our lives were changing.  Never in the same place, the dream of being together never took shape.  Ours was the genuine love of youth, untainted by a tray of hearts served broken with bitterness in jade bowls as side dishes.  Still, it wasn’t meant to be and we quickly accepted our roles in each other’s lives.  The usual happened and more people were added to our lives and relationships started to get more serious.  My heart was already wide open to him, despite any other players in this life game, but he’d always noted how my legs never spread as wide.  I began to think I owed him this before he moved on.  My heart wasn’t in it though his body came prepared to do everything but come.  Damn near a decade of unspent liquid emotion couldn’t find the exit that night.  Needless to say, it wasn’t a day that inspired bragging rights from either of us.

I don’t know if love or ego brought us back together, but one-day opportunity knocked again.  The power of the mind fuck was as heavy as the bass in the southern club we rocked and bounced in.  Sexy dripped in the air like the sweat down the backs of the hardcore dancers.  He made a power play, unbeknownst to him, in effort to prank me.  He soon found out that it could be more than that if he was willing to bop away from the throngs of club goers back to a more private setting.  The only problem that night was his bed had no posts.  I was ready to turn tricks, turned on by what I knew his girl wouldn’t do, and knowing he’d be turned out by the time I was done.  All I wanted was to leave my stamp on his ass, let the next 1 know I’d been there, even if she never found out who I was, and that she’d better step her game up.  I play hard.  Come strong.  And leave the door unlocked if so moved. 

That night, I thought I’d left a challenge for any subsequent SHE’s to enter the scene.  What I didn’t know was that it was HE who picked up the challenge and he came, years later to check mate my ass.  So he came to break me. 

And I gladly picked up my face afterwards, feverishly rewarded for years of patience and the inability to close my heart to this cat.  I hadn’t really tried.  There was no need, I always remain open to those who can find the key.

 

Lit Chats & Toothaches

I sat minding my own business on a pollen-glazed bench, half reading a book and half daydreaming.  Out of the corner of my eye was approach of a pair of expensive cargo pants.  I could tell they were expensive because nothing about them looked like they were ever intended for work.  This immediately made me look toward the feet of the man coming toward me.  They seemed deliberately pointed in the direction of my yellow dusted bench, making it difficult for me to pretend to take him in as he passed.  There would evidently be no passing.  My eyes did a roll to the right under hooded lids, making an arc on their way back down toward the pages of my book.  European casuals, I assessed, with none of the standard symbols or designs I’m used to on actual feet.  I get my virtual shop on and have run across similar shoes on occasion but had never met any in person.

His personal style was impressive and prepared me to take in what I assumed would be Euro sexual ambiguity.  Instead I was greeted, starting at his hands, by a long shot of chocolate syrup.  His skin was full of depth and richness that made my tooth hurt, back and to the right, where cheap chocolate causes me to ache.  He was anything but cheap.  I closed my book to take a more deliberate look at him.  “Beautiful afternoon, beside this ridiculous pollen.”   His head tilted, took me in, and smiled.  “It is, isn’t it?”

This loud strumming sound took over and distracted me.  I searched around me for the fluttering wings of a humming bird.  I’m a nature buff and bird watching has always gotten me open.  Nerd…I know.  So I’m searching for this bird and see not a wing in sight.  Nothing.  His face hadn’t changed, no reaction to the sound whatsoever.  Suddenly I realized it was my heartbeat, racing as though for the cure.  I smiled, stifling the desire to chuckle.  His eyes were on me again, like he had a secret.  “What are you reading?”  I tried to do a quick assessment of whether he might actually read books or if he was just making small talk as a predecessor to what I hoped were larger plans.  See, his eyes were deep pools that presented the most exquisite danger to my non-swimming ass.  Maybe it was his lashes that looked like fans inviting me to cool the heat that he was causing.  I had to do an internal pinch to snap out of it.  “Sula.” 

At this moment I was a proud black girl.  I was grown and reading a book by a literary great.  There were no photo shopped glossy covers of pseudo gangsters with sagging jeans and some tragic but well coiffed woman wearing his wife beater and pledging to ride or die by her grip on him.  You know, that trash you see many of us reading on the train to work in the morning.  “Toni Morrison, right?”  I like to fell right off the bench with this dessert-like man sitting next to me in all his dapper dan glory who clearly has read more than a text book and a King magazine.  This kind of thing only happened in the movies that my folks tend to be scared to write because no one wants to see us actually love each other.  That’s not the point. 

So…we’re sitting there discussing literature.  No, really, we did.  He put me on to some of his favorite non-fiction and I hipped him to some writers who don’t paint pictures of all black men as Mister from The Color Purple.  We even discussed the value of telling a story with Mister in it.  We talked Martin vs Malcolm, the fine points of vegetarianism, the best sushi spots in town, where to find good local honey, and wondered together what ever happened to good cobblers.  And no, we don’t mean the peach or berry kind.  As it all went down I had an out-of-body experience and wondered what universe I had stumbled onto and how I could accidentally on purpose find myself stranded there.  The ring of a cell phone interrupted the train of thought of my floating self. 

“I’m just sitting in the park, things got a little stuffy at my desk…  I just need to send a few emails and then I’ll be ready to go…  The reservation’s for 6:30…  I have a say?  Where the red, it’s my favorite…  I love you too.  See you soon.”

When he finished he apologized for the interruption.  I smiled wittingly and raised my book slightly, as if to say, “I’ll be getting back to this now.”  He tilted his head again, took me in and said, “Sure…”  In one fan of his beautiful lashes I found myself looking at those beautiful shoes walk in the direction they came.  The long shot of chocolate left me with my toothache and a bitter pill. Image