Friday, July 29, 2016

F-Boy Literature: The Introduction

Blue says I need to stop dating guys with regular names.

She is convinced that men with names like Jason, Christopher, Michael, Brandon, and the like are all out to get me.

I try to explain that assuming a man is insufficient and spoiled because he bears a name that aligns with respectability politics, is absurd. She reiterates her point when another Brandon has hurt my feelings, a month later.

"I feel like a Kwame would be too immersed in his roots, to be an f-boy. He'd be too busy trying to find the origin of his namesake, to cheat, lie, or use you."

I'm not opposed to her philosophy, but I'm a benefit-of-the-doubt kind of gal. I like to fathom your existence, by spending time not assumption.

Brandon is an iPhone poet. He scribes in his notes app on long train rides home because his car is in the "shop." How long will they hold your car at the mechanic, anyway? I think this should be general knowledge, for all women. (Not because materialism is important, but because we'd like to know if we're fraternizing with a liar.)

This is Brandon's claim to fame when we first match on Tinder. The app has become more of a game, thumbing through when I'm bored and half-assing consistency like everyone else.

He says, "Your bio says you're a writer. I'm a writer, too. Poetry, huh? We should go to an open mic."


Blue stops my story, here, "Why do you keep dating creatives? For once I'd like you to date someone that isn't a closet poet or a 6th-grade manuscript away from asking you to help them progress."

"Ah, c'mon. Writing poems on his phone doesn't make him a creative."

Brandon is cool. He's good looking, real chill, has a son who he spends a significant amount of time with, and works in telemarketing, but he really wants to be a writer.

Blue is pissed, "Telemarketing?!"

"What if he has a good heart, Blue?"

She tells me I've been watching too many Tyler Perry movies.

On our first date, we go to an open mic. I bet you didn't see that one coming. I decide not to perform, because I'm trying not to expose the whole I'm-an-HBO-Def-Poet-Slam-Champion-Fiction-Author-4x thing, until we're a bit more comfortable. Besides, I'm okay with him shining.

Get your shine on, boo.

He walks to the stage, trendy lopsided unkempt beard, smirk above, and iPhone on full swipe.

Read. Them. Poems. Sir.

Get. Your. Scroll. Up. On.

He taps the mic to make sure it's working, coughs, and speaks:

I'm a virgin to the mic, well, at this cafe. 

That means...I'm gonna pop my cherry tonight.

He winks at me, in the crowd, when he says this. He laughs. The crowd is silent. I'm almost under the table.

I've been waiting to make you mine. 
You're so damn finnnnneeeee...
Waterfalls do not equate to the effortless 
flow of your spinnnnnne.
You're backbreaking, 
booty shaking.

Blue is on the floor, in stitches, after stanza one. She doesn't realize that it's only funny after the fact. When you walked in with the dude, and it's evident that you're on a date, folks look at you with sorrow in their eyes.

It's safe to say I didn't want to see Brandon again.
Does that mean I didn't see him again? No.

I met Brandon on the cusp of meh and I-gotcha-a-dollar-gotta-be-quicker-than-that.

That horrendous outing was one month before I met what I swore was the love of my life. He fit all the stories that married and happy couples tell: shows up out of nowhere, few degrees of separation, everything just falls into place.

I'd erased Brandon from my mind once I met Carlos...yeah, we'll call him Carlos. However, he had one of those regular names too. Blue might be on to something.

Carlos was a whirlwind, a plethora of promises, someone who said the right things at the right times. I believe he meant these things when he said them. I'm unsure if he understood what love is.

I am sure after months of perhaps, maybes, tucking his sentiments into conjunctions he still did not realize that love is a decision, a choice, not something that falls out of the sky.

We've got this f-boy thing all wrong.

We believe they come peacocking, draped in regret, that we'll be able to spot their red flags like they hang from their pockets on Crenshaw.

But f-boys are subtle.
They are a cross breeze.
A bunch of mismatch negroes who don't know what the f--k they want.

F-boys wear suits and smiles, fitted and timbs.
They'll tell you they're coming into their own and ain't ready to provide.
They are hotep, pro-black, activists that activate when you're in their presence and will fight for you on the front lines, but still tussle your name through the dust.

"Define f-boy."

Chest high,
close friends,
who'd swear on their bibles,
that they have no tendencies,
state this.

Siri: "Define f-boy."

Slate says it's the worst kind of guy, a buzzword, an insult that doesn't need elaboration.

Webster: Can't compute, but usually this word correlates with Donald Trump.

Urban Dictionary: Someone who ain't about sh*t.

Synonyms: A-hole, bae, jerk, boo.


Buzzfeed: Fifteen Signs You're Dating A...
Huffington Post: A Brief History of the Internet's Favorite New Man Bashing Slur
Bustle: Ten Words That Should Be Added To The Dictionary With "On Fleek."

"Define f-boy."

Waits for the second date to Netflix and Chill.
Because this gives off the perception that he might be a gentleman.
Doesn't anticipate rain, so he asks to borrow a coat on the way out.
Football frame, rocking a Banana Republic women's trench walking to the J train.
Will call you at 2 am without an emergency.
Like, "What's up? What you up to?"
Like you ain't sleep.
Has his father show up at 11:30 pm, in the aisle of the movie theater asking if he forgot his curfew.
At 28 years old.
A man, prone to rocking crimson and creme, twirling a cane, and pulling out his compact mirror to ask if you think he's pretty at a dinner table.
Tells you that he's looking for love and runs for the hills once it's said.
Sits in your living room and tells you that he "can grow to miss you."
Rubs your stomach, says he can envision you being his "baby momma" one day.
Kisses you quiet, when your voice is too much.
Uses the word "females" like you're not a whole being, just an anatomical knickknack.
Puts his hands in your box braids and says, "I bet more guys are interested now that you've put that afro stuff to rest."
Tells you that you're making up statistics.
Like science ain't a thing.
Like math ain't real.
Like we ain't out here middle-aging and single, fly-as-all-hell-though, still.
Like that's a bad thing.
I see you, sistas.
Will show up to your crib, still in talking phase, after y'all both worked 12 hours and asks you if you cooked.
Wants an independent, goal oriented, business woman, that'll keep her ass in the kitchen, supermarket, hospital bed, birthing babies, and making sandwiches at the same damn time.
Spits an embarrassing ass poem on your first date and then sends you one every day, by email...
named Jason, Michael, Christopher or...

Brandon leans in after I tell him I'm only interested in being friends and asks me, "Who hurt you?"

This is also after a post-date phone call, asking when he can come over to a plate of my cooking.

"I see that food on Instagram, yo. I'm tryna taste it."

All puns are intended.

Blue and I flat line, at this part of my story. She is on my hardwood floor, rolling. She asks one more time, "What's his name again?"



Just in case you were wondering....

This is the beginning of my new e-book "F-Boy Literature." Some of the prose you've read here but there are new essays and poems you haven't. I'll be dropping it on August 23rd, and I'll be having an exclusive reading/release at the Union Square Slam Feature on the same day. Trust me. You don't wanna miss this.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Fiction Series: Lucea: Pt. 2

Read part one here.

Present Day:

Grandaunt Delphine’s eyes are like silk. They glimmer, white, green, or blue, depending on what part of they sky she’s focused on. She unfolds history, while we stand next to grandpa’s grave. The cement block, emerging from the ground, looks like it can hold four people instead of one. I begin to say this, as the tall bamboo that looms over us starts to rustle. The clicking of the wood is loud as the wind runs through it, sounding like chatter, like someone trying to speak to us.

Delphine explains that the grave is for five people, not one. My grandfather lay in the one,  I stand on, which explains why the scrawling of letters is only on one-third of the gray, cold surface, but his mother, his father, and two of his children lay beside him.

            Someone used a stick to write, in the cement, “Do not mourn. I’ve lived my life. –Dr. Jeweler.” Delphine laughs, when she says that his most recent girlfriend did this. She snickers it as if we’re both not witnesses to Grandpa William’s lineage strewed carelessly across Jamaica, America, Canada and England. She smiles down at the middle of the grave as if her next tale will not be of two prepubescent boys who’ve died of pneumonia, during one of his drunken stupors—leaving them under the porch to get sick. We listen to the bamboo rattle once more, knowing it is an apology, understanding that it is a plea for us to the preserve the land despite.

            Love lived in the hills of Westmoreland, Jamaica.

It’s buried in chronological order, from the top to the bottom. Even though it would find it's way to Lucea and evolve into the lie, across the ocean, it started here. 

The first set of graves were next to a half-finished house, purchased room by room by a family that meant to make their way back home. The same could be said of William's great grandfather, a Jewish Cuban shoemaker who'd bought the land. Three years after uprooting his Spanish-speaking family to this new island he went out for a ride on his horse and hit a tree. He died upon impact. His wife heard the news later that evening and went to her bed to lie down. She never came back out. They found her, dead from heartache, a few days later. Their children, Enrique, Martin, and Lucea, were left to fend for themselves.

If you walked a few steps down the hill, behind the shanty home that Aunt Delphine called home, Lucea lay there alongside her husband. They were the only ones that stayed behind, harvesting and caring for the land her father loved. Lucea's husband was the only man in the area who spoke her native tongue. Although she'd picked up some English, she had difficulty communicating with the Westmoreland community. Her husband, who worked in the sugar cane trade, learned Spanish on his travels. The moment he realized he could understand the beautiful girl who grew up a few hills down from his family home, he made his way to her. They were instantly inseparable. She traveled back to her homeland, by his side, the smell of sugar cane and sweat permeating their clothes. 

He would look down at her, while they crossed the ocean, and say, "Nothing in this cargo is as sweet as you."

They'd crossed the ocean six times and had two children to show for it before they settled back in Westmoreland. Delphine and William, three years apart in age, knew the land like the lines in their palms. They picked mangoes, ackee, and breadfruit to their heart's content. They watched their parents fall for each other every day, wanting nothing more than each other's company. 

In the middle of the 1930's, Delphine and William's father fell ill with tuberculosis. The siblings were coming in from picking fruit for the house when they watched neighbors assist in lifting their father into a car headed to the hospital. Lucea ran from the home, screaming in a language the natives could not understand. While raising her husband into the back of the vehicle, they yelled, "Lucea! You cannot come. You will catch de' sickness." 

She fell to her knees, watching the car descend the hill, wondering where they were taking her love. She grabbed William, seven years old but brilliant for his age.

"Where are they taking him?"

William replied, in his mother's language, "El hospital. Papa enfermo?"
She nodded, walked into the house to grab her purse, and took William and Delphine to a neighbor's home. This was the last time they saw their mother and father. They both passed away from the illness, three weeks apart from each other.
William could only remember the last thing his mother said to him. She said it softly, in his ear, before she turned her back to the children she'd never see again, "We are cursed. Love is not for us. We are cursed."
As Grandaunt Delphine pointed to each grave and told the stories, I interrupted, "Do you think we're cursed?"
Delphine put her hands on her hips and sighed, "I'm still single. You tell me gyal. You think we, women, are cursed?"
I thought about it. This couldn't be true. I wouldn't exist if it were. My grandparents were in love, weren't they?
As soon as I asked Delphine this, she hissed her teeth and rolled eyes, "If that's what you call love, me no want it."

Louise was in trouble.
She was twenty and pregnant again. She'd fallen for someone who was unavailable, once again. He lived in the neighborhood, and their families knew one another, but he'd failed to tell her that he was promised to someone.

She sat in the neighborhood bar, trying to decide if she wanted a beer. She didn't want to harm the baby but decided that it wouldn't hurt if she weren't going to have the child. There was a rumor that the local roots woman could get rid of unwanted children. It's not that she didn't want a child. She did. She was ready for a family. However, she wasn't ready to bring another child into this world that didn't feel wanted. Her first born, Aaron, was already questioning who his father was. She couldn't go through that again.

The bar attracted all sorts of folks. It was on the corner of a local road and a major highway. If you were visiting Lucea, you probably stopped for a drink or thought about it. She'd just finished a shift at her new hospital job and couldn't help but wonder if she'd started to show in her uniform.

Just as she was thinking of ordering a beer, a gorgeous man walked in. He was the color of the sand, near her childhood home, and his eyes were the color of the sea. He sat right next to her, ordered two beers, and turned to face her.

"You're all alone or wha?"

She frowned, "I'm just relaxing before I go back to my yahd. I've been working all day."

He smiled, "Working lady. I see."

His beers arrived, and he pushed one towards her, "You drinking?"

She looked at the glass and moved her hand, hesitantly, towards it, "I'm not sure if..."

He took a swig of his drink, "If you should be drinking while you're carrying pickney..."

"How do you know that? Am I showing?"

He laughed, "No girl. You look good. You're glowing. I can tell these things. Special gift."

He pulled the drink back, "You shouldn't be drinking. But you can tell me all about how you got here."

He extended his hand to shake hers, "I'm William, from Westmoreland."

"Louise, from Lucea."

He studied her face and tried to ignore the coincidence, while listening to her story. He also sought to ignore the words running rampant through his mind, "We are cursed. Love is not for us. We are cursed."

It seemed to be coming from the bamboo rattling just outside the bar, first a whisper and then a yell. William tried to tune it out, drink by drink, song by song, woman in his palm.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Guest Author: Voodoo Man: Part 2

For a few months, will be taking four guest authors #fromblogtobook. Each week you'll be able to read a new installment from unique aspiring authors. This tale is from Deja L. Jones. Enjoy!    

Read part one, here. 
Chapter Two

            After her big meeting, June power walked back to her office, sent her girls a mass emergency alert to meet her at the Southern Table and packed up for the night. As she sped down the interstate, she thought about how she would break the news to her friends. She wondered if she should still go on the trip or if she should save herself from being the lonely and bitter fifth wheel. She braced herself for the lectures that would ensue and turned on her soul music selection to relax her until she could get something strong enough at the bar to really mellow her mood.
            After forty-five minutes in traffic, she finally pulled into the restaurant’s parking lot. She took a deep breath as she turned her car off. It had been months since she had been at the Southern Table and she missed the ambiance. She missed the low key live jazz music, the amazing drinks and the soul food. She and her girls would sit at the bar for hours talking and mindlessly ordering rounds as they flirted with the cute bartender.
            “June, welcome back!” She always loved the warm welcomes she received from Che, the short general restaurant manager.
 “How you doing my friend?” He said in a thick accent as he hugged her. He made it a point to talk about his home country of Burkina Faso in Africa.
“Ugh, it’s been a day Che.” He took her coat.
            She did a quick survey of the dimly lit restaurant before she found her friend Rice seated at a corner table. June had known Rice since she landed her first job in advertisement sales straight out of college. She was one of the applicants accepted into the company’s young leaders program. Rice’s real name was Janice, but most called her that as a mock of her Asian heritage and for also being the first international employee at the ad firm. She was June’s first work friend and they bonded over their love of food. Her time at the firm didn’t last long before she decided to quit the corporate world for a career in non-profit. The Southern Table had become their spot, so had the signature grapefruit martinis.
            “June!! What’s happening?” Rice always had an intuitive way of knowing when something wasn’t right in June’s life. June could tell by the concerned look on her friend’s face.
            “What do you mean?” June knew that Rice knew that something was wrong.
            “That no good did something didn’t he?!”
            June waved the hostess away and placed her jacket on the back of her seat and sat before she decided to address her friend. She at least wanted to order a drink and throw back a few shots before she began telling the final chapter of her sad tale in the chronicles of June and Trevor. Besides, their happily married friend Deanna hadn’t arrived yet.
            June had somehow curated the perfect life for herself, friends included. They were women from different backgrounds and who worked in different fields. Rice worked as a nutrition counselor who recently opened up a non-profit health and wellness clinic, so it wasn’t often that she got to spend time with her. Deanna had just married her college sweetheart and girl’s nights became less than often. They were all at different place in their lives and June didn’t know how she would tell her friends that Trevor had dumped her and just the day before their trip. She was touching thirty and single for the first time in decades. How was she supposed to start over at her age? If only her love life was perfect. Her and her girls had a bet that she would be the first to marry and now here she was, back at the drawing board.
            “Ladies, ladies what can I get you?” A handsome young waiter approached their table. He had a really lovely scent of sandalwood and musk, the kind that you could smell before he actually got to you. It was inviting and the girls inhaled as he stood beside them. He introduced himself as William.
            “I’ll have a grapefruit martini and tequila on the rocks.” June immediately responded.
            “Wow someone’s having a bad day.” Rice chuckled. “I’ll just have a water and lemon for now.”
            “No problem. I will be back with your drinks in a few. Would you ladies like a menu?” The waiter asked.
            “Yes and an extra one for our friend.” Rice said.
            “You got it.” Rice watched as their waiter walked away.
            The ladies both sat and caught up on life and work all the while avoiding the big issue at hand that June was trying to stall on. She wanted all of them there for moral support because she knew as soon as she blurted it out she was going to lose it emotionally. She had gotten so good at covering up the problems that her and Trevor were having that they almost didn’t exist in her mind.
            “So are you gonna tell me what’s up or no?” Rice was eager to know what Trevor had done since she had already assumed it was him anyway.
            “Let’s wait for Deanna.”
            “Fine, but you know she’s never on time.”
            The drinks had arrived and June wasted no time in guzzling down her tequila. She thought if the liquor hit her system quickly she’d have the courage she needed. Liquid courage. She could then sip her martini in peace. It had been a half hour before Deanna arrived and the live jazz band was just warming up for their first set. It was now dinner time and happy hour was coming to an end.
            “Heeey!” Deanna knew how to be fashionably late. She waltzed in wearing a bright yellow dress and a leather jacket. The yellow created a bold contrast against her deep chocolate skin.
            “Finally!” Rice said. “Sit your prissy body down we’re tired of waiting for you.”
            “Yeah I’m pretty hungry now.” June said looking at her watch.
            “Sorry, my surgery went past scheduled time, so I was in the ER longer than expected.” Deanna took her jacket off showing off her huge canary yellow ring. She had just gotten married a month ago and still hadn’t come off her cloud of marital bliss. She had been the eternal scholar of the bunch which had finally led to her being a pediatric surgeon.
            “So June has some big news? What’s the 911 alert about?” Deanna took her seat and picked up the drink menu. She called over the waiter and order a Pinot Noir as June gathered her thoughts. Her mind was racing.
            “Well…there’s no easy way to say this I guess.” June ran her finger alone the rim of her class avoiding eye contact. “I won’t be going to New Orleans anymore.”
            “What?!” Rice gasped.
            “Girl do you need money? We got you!” Deanna chimed pulling out her check book.
            “No…no” June could feel her eyes brimming with tears. “Trevor broke up with me. After all these years!”
            “That bastard!” Rice shook her head.
            “I didn’t like him anyway.” Deanna was in her usual kick a girl while she’s down form. “I don’t even know why you stuck with him for as long as you did.”
            “Yeah she’s right. You are so much better than him.” Rice agreed, but it didn’t make June feel any better. She was twenty-eight and alone.
            “I don’t know what I did wrong though.” June sobbed.
            “Girl it wasn’t you!” Deanna said before taking a sip. “He just wasn’t the right guy for you.”
            “Yeah, you grew up and he didn’t.” Rice rubbed June’s back to console her.
            “But that doesn’t mean you skip out on the trip because of him.” Deanna said.
            “Guys, I really don’t want to be a fifth wheel on this trip. I mean you all have someone and then it’s just me.”
            “I’ll tell you what; we will find you someone on this trip to New Orleans.” Rice flashed a mischievous smile. “What happens in NOLA stays in NOLA.”
            “And it Mardi gras!! You can’t miss it and trust me you certainly won’t be lonely. I’m sure we’ll find a sexy bachelor in the debauchery of NOLA.” Deanna said.
            “Thanks guys.” June still didn’t feel better, but she appreciated her friends for trying.
            “Girl, forget Trevor. He was holding you back anyway. Can we eat?” Deanna said picking up her menu.
“If only there was some way I could create the perfect guy right?” June said.
            “Interesting. What would your ingredients be?” Rice asked sipping her water.
            “Well since I already have one I would go with him.” Deanna said.
            The girls talked about their perfect man and laughed at how ridiculous they sounded. June was actually wondering if it were possible to create the perfect man, what ingredients she would use.
            “Let’s see, intelligence, a man with the money honey, and some machine guns for arms. I like my hugs strong!” Deanna laughed.
            “Eh. I don’t like his arms too big. Sculpted, but not huge.” Rice chimed in.
            “I don’t know…maybe someone with a good job, nice looking and wants to get married.” June said as she gulped the last of her martini. She was pretty simple when it came to love. She just wanted to love someone and have them love her back.
            Rice waved the waiter over and they ordered just as the live band geared up for their first set. They loved their time at the Southern Table, but it wasn’t really a place for chit chat. The music was so loud they could barely hear one another. June decided she would still go to New Orleans since it was already booked, she would just need to change her itinerary to accommodate a single woman in a group full of couples. She hadn’t approached a guy since 2007 when she had met Trevor. What was she supposed to do now? She thought New Orleans was certainly much too soon to get back on the horse. She hadn’t even dealt with the emotional damage Trevor had caused. Was there any damage? She thought.

            After surveying the menu, the women ordered their usual and talked about their plans and arrangements for their trip the next day. Deanna would be with her husband Mike, Rice had her beau Kyle and then there was June. They decided they would make lots of club time and girl time so that she wouldn’t feel alone. She was glad to have the friends she had. They were blunt, harsh and rough around the edges with her, but she never had to question where they stood with her. The girls toasted to a fun weekend in New Orleans as their food arrived and they ordered another round of drinks.


Deja is a lifestyle writer and digital content creator for some of your favorite sites such as Madame Noire and Upscale Magazine. When she's not writing loves getting lost in the world of fiction specifically crime, mysteries and thrillers. She believes that sometimes the best and cheapest vacations are in between the pages of a new book.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Guest Author: Voodoo Man: Part 1

For a few months, will be taking four guest authors #fromblogtobook. Each week you'll be able to read a new installment from unique aspiring authors. This tale is from Deja L. Jones. Enjoy!     
9 oz sweet red wine
Patience, understanding, honesty
9 cloves
Love, respect, intelligence
Rose petals
Funny, thoughtful, ambitious
Few drops of my blood
Magic of the Mardi gras
        “Repeat after me.”
“Let the one who drinks this wine, shower me with love divine, love potion number nine let his love be forever mine, as long as he loves me before midnight chimes and the new moon shines, his love will forever keep the magic alive.”
Terrified, with hands covered in blood June had wandered into the dark and hazy swamps of the Bon Temp bayous. She was a long ways from the magic of New Orleans; she was an even further from her studio apartment in East Harlem. She hid behind a moss covered tree in fear for her life. Her hands pressed into the moistness of the old tree. Black magic always came with a price and she had but a drop left of the potion given to her months ago by Madame St. John, the witch doctor who told her she could create the perfect man or so she thought.
Short of breath, she remained quiet as she whispered the love spell over and over again. The sound of feet splashing in the swampy water drew closer and closer and then there was complete silence. She could hear the crickets; she could hear the frogs and feel the mosquitoes chewing away at her sprained ankle. She ducked lower praying the smoky sheet of fog would make her invisible from what was lurking.
Suddenly, a strong hand clamped down hard on her shoulder as she let out a blood curdling scream…there was nothing perfect about him.
Nine Months Earlier
        Hurled over her desktop, with tear blurred eyes, June tried to make sense of the email she had just received. This was the day she had feared. After six long years of putting up with Trevor’s complacency and waiting for him to step up and be a man, he had finally cut the thin piece of string that was holding them together. Funny thing is, June saw it coming; she just didn’t think it would happen the day before their vacation with friends. She couldn’t bear to face her them and their permanent expressions of judgement and disappointment. It seemed like all of her friends were getting married, engaged or happily committed and June wanted that. She just chose the wrong guy for it. Maybe he was just the right guy at a different time in her life. She and Trevor have been college sweethearts. They met on move-in day in Tinsley Hall at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. It was her freshman year and after hours of lugging suitcases, boxes and dorm decor up several flights of steps with her family, she had finally met her RA, Trevor.
        He was a junior and finance major with ride-the-bull-wall-street dreams. As June got to know him, she loved how smart he was. She loved how excited he got when he told about numbers and money, she didn’t understand it, but she knew passion when she saw it. He had dreams of becoming a stock advisor and whenever it was his turn to plan their dorm events, it was always a powerhouse film like Wall Street with Michael Douglas or some Martin Scorsese “hot shot” film. No one ever showed up, but June and it always turned into a night of deep intellectual conversation over a classic film. It became obvious that she had a thing for him to the dismay of her roommate and first college friend Deanna. Deanna didn’t like anybody at their college. She was always paranoid about the quality of men at Rutgers and felt that most were too full of themselves while others seemed to keep a revolving door of women in and out of their rooms. Trevor wasn’t like the boys she was used to from her dilapidated city. He wasn’t like the boys who loitered in the front of the neighborhood bodegas, rapping the latest trap song ridiculously loud and hustling drugs; he wasn’t like the boys who cat called from the tinted windows of their Oldsmobile as they rolled down the streets in cruise control with tires too large for their cars. Trevor was a man who had a plan. He was educated, came from a great family and was extremely sexy. After a semester of late night study sessions, dinner dates in the cafe and dorm sleepovers, he’d finally asked June to be his girlfriend. He wasn’t her first boyfriend, but he was her first real relationship. They had a genuine connection.
        She loved him, even though he didn’t follow his dreams of being a Wall Street maverick. However, the more they grew as a couple, the more Trevor became complacent in their relationship. He was fine with his low income job working customer service at the city bank. He was fine with his frat boy roommates since he spent most nights with her. He had lost his spark, his drive, the very thing that attracted June to him, but still, she couldn’t imagine life without him and no matter how bad things got she knew she had to make it work.  
        She sat up as she wiped her eyes with the back of her hand smearing her eye shadow. She read his email once more and couldn’t stop herself from dialing his number. He didn’t have the decency to tell her to her face after six years, she thought the least he could do was answer the phone.
        “Hello?” Trevor sounded as if he were just waking up. June wasn’t surprised.
        “Is it really over?” June’s voice was shaky as she tried to keep herself from bursting into tears.
        “June, you know I love you. I just can’t deal with the nagging anymore.” Trevor let out a sigh. She remembered the argument they had that morning about him missing the deadline for the management application at the city bank.
        “Trevor…baby, I just wanted the best for you!” June couldn’t see the fault in her wanting a better life for someone she cared about.
        “Why can’t you just accept that I’m happy where I am?” Trevor blurted. “I’m sorry I didn’t become some rich, old soul, money man, but I’m fine.”
        “But…” June tried to interrupt.
        “It’s just not me June. I think we’ve given it our best shot.”
        “But Trevor what about our trip?! What am I supposed to tell everyone?” June couldn’t hold back her tears any longer. Her mother told her to never let a man break you, but all June could think about was everything she had invested in Trevor and all she had sacrificed to make their lives comfortable. It was her that bent and broke her back to provide for the two of them and all she asked for was simple appreciation.
        “Is that all you care about? A trip?”
        “Maybe we can….work this out?” June was near begging at this point.
        “June take someone else. I’m sorry.” Those were the last words he said before he hung up. June listened to the dial tone for a bit trying to process what just happened.
        Take someone else? June thought. She didn’t have anyone else. She had made Trevor her whole life. Dating another guy had never even crossed her mind. She did the only thing she thought would help in this situation, she wailed. She wailed painfully and cried loudly and didn’t care if anyone on her work floor heard her. She knew deep down inside that Trevor wasn’t the one for her. She had worked so hard and they had built so much together that even though she knew it wasn’t going anywhere and they had grown apart, she wasn’t ready to let go yet. She hadn’t emotionally prepared for this. She hadn’t gotten her heart ready. So she cried. She hoped that if she cried hard enough he would feel the pain he’d caused her. She thought that if she cried long enough she would shed enough tears to fully cleanse herself of him, but it was too soon.
        “Ms. Adams?” said a timid voice over even softer knocks on her frosted glass window. It was her assistant.
        “Yes?” She struggled to make herself sound alright. She wiped her face and fixed her clothes and wondered how long she had been standing there watching the train wreck of a mess she had become in less than a few minutes.
        “Your 4 o’clock meeting is here.”
        “Shoot! Give me five minutes to gather my things and have them meet me in the boardroom.” June was a top advertising executive for a small boutique firm. It wasn’t a fortune 500 company or anything, but it did afford her an office and a couple of vacations a year. She had been planning a couple’s vacation with her friends since last year and hoped that afterwards it would’ve prompted Trevor to think about marrying her. She didn’t realize that her hinting and nagging was putting pressure on him.
        “Are you alright?” Her assistant whispered.
        “Yes. Meet me in the boardroom with bottled waters.” She stood up, checked her face in her closet mirror, fixed her make-up, gathered her notes and portfolio and made her way to the conference room like nothing had even happened. She had a deal to close with a luxury cosmetic brand and it seemed that work was the only thing she could get right in her life and besides, somewhere in the Lower East Side there was a grapefruit martini waiting for her.


Deja is a lifestyle writer and digital content creator for some of your favorite sites such as Madame Noire and Upscale Magazine. When she's not writing loves getting lost in the world of fiction specifically crime, mysteries and thrillers. She believes that sometimes the best and cheapest vacations are in between the pages of a new book.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Guest Fiction Series: Vinnie, Part 9

For a few months, will be taking four guest authors #fromblogtobook. Each week you'll be able to read a new installment from unique aspiring authors. This tale is from R. Preston Clark. Enjoy! Read all parts, here.      

It must pain him to sit back here without the distraction of driving. Without the immediate excuse of needing to watch the road that prevents him from making eye contact with his single fatherhood. Our limo driver took that away from him. Rid him of his ever-so-useful excuse. Now he must make eye contact with the one thing he has never attempted to understand.
I stare at his face. The muscular ridges of his jawline. His cautiously furrowed brow. His flared nostrils. His stern chin. All attributes he held back from me. He could not imagine giving me something that was so integral to what made him, him. What gave him the ability to walk into any room and garner the respect of all those that entered, all those that stayed. His expressions were that of a man who beat pain into submission, hurdled obstacles with grace and dignity, who did not put his failures in the laps of others, rather he just refused to fail at all. Made it easier that way.

He is fighting an unnatural feeling now. That feeling of failure. He failed as a husband. A protector. A lover. He is failing as a father, though the latter is not a psychological locale he will rest in just yet. It is still up to me to invite him to his inevitability. Do not worry. I am working on it.

“Are we almost there?”

Nothing. I knew this would happen but I still felt the need to question him in some way, even if it was of the small talk ilk. At least he could never say I did not try. I try. I have tried.

“Do you know why they call it a repast? Seems like a word with a lot of meaning behind it. Traditional. Historical, even.”

He looks left. He looks right. He looks down. He looks around. He never looks at his son.

“I’m hungry."

That inhale-exhale was earth-shattering...

“Shut up. Just – shut your mouth. I do not want to hear you. I do not want to see you. I do not want to breathe you. I want to rid you of the half of you that is me so I can stop blaming myself for who you have become. For you are my fault – at least in part.”

He looks at me now, with a sacred disdain only used for a certain kind of hatred. Derived from a place of love. One cannot hate something as strongly as something they once loved. That thin line is through and through. I do not return his eye contact. I wanted it only a moment’s prior but it is now unnecessary. He said what he said. I heard every word, every enunciation, every syllable.

The limo slows to a stop.

“Your answer.”

He opens the door. Sunlight floods the interior, burns where he once sat. I sit there for a second, wait for the heat to evaporate my father’s scorn. The seconds become minutes as the palpability of such an emotion proves itself steady. It will not dissipate by simply being patient. It will not fold simply by my own sheer will. It will need to be destroyed, brought to its knees before ever considering an attempt at its rebirth.

But first, I must exit.

Sunlight bounces off my pearly white garb, blinds onlookers as their black skin and attire absorbs every ounce of heat it can. They starve for what already nourishes me.

I enter the facility that holds all the remaining funeral goers as they await to partake in the repast. In normal surroundings, I would question the necessity to eat food following the burial of a loved one, but funerals are selfish occasions anyway. They are for the living. The loved one is dead and gone. Sometimes for over a week of time. The grieving has begun well before we take the time to bury someone. Yet, we still gather together to celebrate a life. It is done only to be seen. We want others to know just how much we cared. How much devastation we are enduring. It is odd, in the least. It is scary, at the most. It is tradition, in the end.

Eyes find me. I have not forgotten what just transpired at the burial. I am aware of what I have done. Glares pierce my every step. I will not be alone again as long as we continue the celebration of my mother’s life. I will be a target. This I accept.

I take my place in line. A few elders motion me to the front of the line. Tradition states that the family of the deceased eat first. I listen to tradition. My plate reflects all that is black about this occasion. Chicken. Mashed potatoes and gravy. Ham. Green beans. Collard greens. Buttered roll. A plate of celebration. It was supposed to replace the sadness of the day with the small talk of the hour. Here, at the repast, I was supposed to engage my fellow mourners in conversation that either further mourned my mother, or completely forgot she died in the first place. Either way, I was supposed to slowly start putting a smile on my face. My mourning ends with this meal. That is the only reason I could come up with for me to be eating right now.

Oh, and tradition.

I take a seat one spot down from my father. This was an odd selection on my part but necessary. I stare at my plate. Everything looks delicious. If only I were hungry. Only thing I starve for is understanding. Why was I still here and mother was gone? Why was I left here to deal with my father on my own? Why was this food in my face like it was going to satisfy any level of my grief?

Anger builds in me at a steady pace. Confusion chokes my sanity. I cannot eat this. I move my food back and forth. It mixes together into a farm boy’s slop. Its aesthetic ruined.

“Anger builds in me at a steady pace. Confusion chokes my sanity. I cannot eat this. I move my food back and forth. It mixes together into a farm boy’s slop. Its aesthetic ruined."

Eyes never left me. More eyes join in. My father moves his food around as if he did not hear me. He heard me. He listened. Intently. And what he heard was worrisome. But I doubt he is worried about the proper thing.

I must not partake in this conclusion of my grief. I must not. My grief is not over. Your grief might be over. Their grief might be over. But my grief is not over. You cannot tell me to eat this.

“I must not partake in this conclusion of my grief. I must not. My grief is not over. Your grief might be over. Their grief might be over. But my grief is not over. You cannot tell me to eat this!”

I realize I am standing. I have been standing for some time now. My mind and mouth no longer singular entities.

My plate. In my hand. Launched at the wall. Its remnants splatter amongst the shock of my action. I was not shocked at my actions. Nor was I surprised at the rising stench of my father’s fury piercing my nostrils, his loathing soaked in his inability to pass me off to another person.

My mother is dead…

I am his problem now. This much is true.


R. Preston Clark is an educator, screenwriter, poet and open mic host with too much to say in too many ways. Find him on Instagram & Twitter