This blog contains fictional short stories that advocate self-acceptance and growth.
All stories are original pieces written by the blog author, Christin Webb.

Visit for details about her first published novel, Enough Time.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

"Holiday Love"

"Are you coming with me this morning to pick up momma?" I inquired with my sister Jesline. "I know she'd be glad to see the both of us to bring her home for the holidays."

Walking back and forth from her bedroom to the bathroom she replied, "I don't think I'll be able to today, 'hun. I've got a lot going on. I meet Trey at the library at noon to study for our finals, then band practice at three. I should be home around six to meet up with you and her. Sorry." Her sorry didn't seem so sincere. I actually heard a little relief in her voice that she had "so much to do" for the day. Every time I tried to involve her in spending time with our mother, she seemed to have the perfect excuse.

A little frustrated, I answered, "Ok, Jesline, but I expect you to be back after all of that. Carlos and Amanda will be here around six-thiry. I hope you really put in some effort to spend time with all of us, specifically mom, this year. I know it can be hard some times to see her so different, but we have to continue to love her the same." By this time, she'd stopped in her tracks continuing to put on her big hooped earrings to give me an irritated look.

"I said I'd be back by six and that's that. Anything you think you have to mention is irrelevant. Don't question my intentions, India. Last I checked Ursula Brown was my mother, not you," she replied swinging her hair over her shoulder.

To keep tension down, I did not refute her statement, yet I headed towards the door to go do a little shopping before going to pick up mother. I decided to carry the brown leather purse mother bought for me about four years ago before everything changed. It meant so much to me to keep the good memories of my mother before life became so different for us. As I drove down the street to the store, I reflected on those days.

I remember she gave me that purse for Christmas one year. Right after the Christmas feast she'd prepared for us and some other neighbors, she passed out the gifts she'd been purchasing since January that year. We were singing "Silent Night" when she gave Jesline a stack of Cd's she'd been wanting. She pitched Carlos a new pair of sneakers he had been begging for since that Summer. And she handed me the brown leather purse. It meant so much to me that she had bought me the purse. It was a brand I knew cost her a pretty penny. I was impressed with the way she sacrificed herself to give us all we needed and wanted. The remainder of that Christmas was spent with more singing, drinking of egg nog, and enjoying the love that flowed around the house. It was times like that Christmas that grew my desire to want to be half the woman she was whenever I had a family.

She was a strong woman that raised me and my siblings, Carlos and Jesline. I was the oldest. Our father died when Jesline was only two during a fight that took place at a local bar. The story has it that he was actually trying to break up an argument between two drunk guys, when a gun went off and shot him in the neck. They say he died before the ambulance could get him to the hospital.

My mother did her best after his death to raise us. She worked three jobs, two during the week and one on the weekends. Most expected for there to be some lose ends with her children from not really being around, but we all pitched in and did what she expected of us. I would usually cook for Carlos and Jesline, make sure we did all of our homework, and even cleaned the house to keep some stress off my mother. This routine went on for about thirteen years, until Jesline made it to the tenth grade. It was then that mother's health went south. She began to get real depressed and desired less of being there for us. Before we knew it, she'd had a nervous break down and just became a different person all together. I guess the stress eventually became too much for her. She at least had the opportunity to see her children become decent human beings before she was admitted to a mental illness treatment facility. At the age of fifty seven she was diagnosed as being bipolar.

While I have been determined to keep things as normal for the family as possible, Jesline has been just the opposite. She has taken my mother's condition very hard. I understand that not everyone is able to cope with life altering situations as quickly as others. I just feel like after four years, Jesline would be more adaptive to the change. Either way, I refuse to give up on my mother. I go to see her twice a week and bring her home at every holiday. Carlos married his wife, Amanda a year ago. While I wish he'd be more available, he definitely is much more supportive than Jesline. He and Amanda go to see her at least every other week and help out whenever I ask. Jesline goes to see her about once every other month and that is usually after I've badgered her about her lack of support. I just continue to pray that her heart will change one day soon.

I left the store and started towards my mother's place feeling a little more spirited than when leaving the house from the spat with Jesline. I knew that the day was going to be great because I was ensuring my mother was around her family for Christmas. As I pulled up the drive to her facility, I could see her sitting so patiently on the porch swing. She was dressed with her favorite red blouse and plaid Christmas colored pants. I could even see that she had combed her hair to show its beautiful black length as it hung to her shoulders. I smiled as I got out of the car.

I walked up to the porch to hear her singing what had become her favorite Christmas song, "Silent Night." When she saw me she stopped and smiled back. "Mama's baby has come to see me. I'm glad you're here, sweetie," she said welcoming me.

"I'm glad to see you feeling so well momma. You know today you're coming home with me for a few days?" I responded while giving her the biggest hug I could.

"Well isn't that just nifty. This place here has been a real pain. The folks are just about crazy, you know?" she said holding my hand tightly.

A little tickled, I shook my hand as to agree with her. We gathered her bags, signed her out, and headed for the car. The ride to the house was very calming. She went on and on about the people she lived with. She was convinced that some of the tenants were jealous that she was leaving. She even stated she felt that some would try to break in her room while she was gone just because they envied the fact that her family loved her so. The few moments of pauses in conversation were filled her singing, which I would every now and then, interject my singing as well. I was filled with joy knowing that I was still able to connect with her, or whoever she had become. I knew at the end of the day she was still my mother.

It was about two-thirty when we made it back to the house. I took her things in the house, showed her where she'd be sleeping and started cooking some of her favorite Christmas foods. My feast would be nothing like hers, but hopefully it would come close. As I was stirring the sauce for the spaghetti, my phone rang. It was Jesline.

"Hello?" I answered tasting the sauce.

"Hey, Indi. I'll be home in about an hour," she informed me.

"What happened to band practice?" I replied. I was a little bewildered by her saying she'd be home so soon.

"I thought about what you said and I'm going to skip band practice today. Being there for momma is so much more important. I must be honest that making this decision wasn't the easiest for me."

"I understand, Jesline, but I'm sure you'll be glad you decided to come on home when you get here."

Crying she continued, "It's just been so hard for me, India. The last few years without the momma I grew up with. She's just so different. At first I felt like she was intentionally turning her back on us. Leaving us out to dry. First dad and then when she got ill, I just took it hard. I felt so alone. Even though I know I've always had you and Carlos to talk to, it just wasn't the same. I wanted and still do want my mother back."

"Well honey, you just come on home and you will see that she never went anywhere. She may be a little different, but she is still momma. She loves you just the same and so do I. We can talk some more when you get here. I love you, 'hun," I replied. We hung up the phone and I felt a weight lift from my heart. She made it home around four, Carlos came over at six, and we all were able to spend time with our mom. There were smiles, tears, and more smiles and more tears. But it all felt so right. The love was flowing all over the house. It seemed to be the best Christmas holiday yet.

Friday, December 3, 2010

"Removing Labels"

I can't believe I am sitting in class having another episode. I am so tired of this heartburn. Other than that, I am dealing with my situation. I am a senior in high school. I serve on several church, school and community committees. And even though I'll be class valedictorian, I'm expecting my first child. According to my doctors, I'll be in labor by the time Summer rolls around, which leaves me with two more months of this uncomfortable body.

Many have asked, "How did you get pregnant with all that you have going for yourself?"

My answer is always, "No one is perfect." If it isn't that question, then I receive stares from friends, family, and strangers. Many of which seem to have the emotion of disappointment and disgust. Why the frowns and raised brows? Why not smiles of comfort and encouragement that things will just be different than originally planned?

Support systems are so important. So many times people write off individuals that find themselves in my situation. It's the supportive people that help me continue to find my way to greatness. It took my mother a while to adapt to the future change. I remember when I told her I missed my period, she had me take about ten pregnancy tests. And even after the results came back positive, she proceeded in scheduling appointments with three different doctors. However, after the initial shock of the reality, we had a long discussion about the responsibility that was ahead of me. She explained how the responsibility to continue living a productive life was more important than ever before. She's been there for me ever since. Even my dad has accepted who will be changing our lives in a few months and continues to be supportive. Just yesterday, he gave me a book on "How to Be a Productive Parent".

I've been accepted to college with a full scholarship, my parents have agreed to take care of my child while I'm gone. Some would argue that I'm not taking full responsibility of having my child because I'm going off to college, but I know that the decision we are making is the right one. It won't be easy, leaving my child behind, but in the end, when I come back with a degree and hopefully a great job opportunity, I will be better off. If I stay at home and go to a community college, I'll miss out on so much more. The networks and exposure I'll receive will hopefully prepare me to be more equipped to take on other challenges of the world.

Statistically, people expect me to stay at home, live off welfare or work a minimum wage job. Heck, others expect me to just plain give up. I refuse to be labeled. I refuse to be tagged with thoughts and actions of defeat. I will love my child and myself enough to know that I have to continue with what is still accessible for me. It is true that not everyone has the circumstances of two parents at home willing to help with an unborn child. But the fact does remain that even when we detour from the paths we are traveling, it is our decision as to how quickly it will take us to get back on that path.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

"He Walked Away"

As I looked out the window I saw my dad walk away from me for the last time. He told me goodbye like there had never been a hello. I remember when I was eight, then twelve, fifteen, eighteen, and then twenty-one. Those ages have always stuck out to me. Each brought about life altering definitions of the control I allowed another being to have of my very soul. It was at each of those ages that I was faced with the harsh reality that choosing parents was never an option. I can count the number of times I wished that fact weren’t so, but the truth hurts. I have learned that even when it feels as though they may not love you – intentionally hurting you; it is actually self-love or misdirection that they lack in some way. Trying to love them as individuals and as human beings is the best thing, maybe the only thing, a person can do; even if it means watching them walk away.

When I Was Eight…

“Girl, come here!” my dad, Johnny Katerdac, yelled in his baritone voice. He stood at the base of the hallway with one hand against the wall holding up his drunken broad stature and a bottle of Jack in the other. Without hesitation, I quickly stopped what I was doing and ran to his call.

“Yes, sir?” I responded approaching him out of breath and startled by what his next command would be.

As his newly opened glass flask spilled large drops of liquor in my eye, he began yelling again, “Girl!” That’s usually all he called me even though my mother clearly named me Delia Katerdac. And so, I obliged his ‘special’ name for me. “Didn’t I tell you not to leave your toys on the front porch?!” I could barely focus as I felt the residue burn. And before I could answer, I felt the warm alcohol all over my face. Hurt and embarrassed, yet very familiar with expecting the worst, I stood there to take whatever was coming next. The next three hours being beaten, humiliated, and demeaned left me numb, yet somehow hopeful that things wouldn’t always be this way. When he’d finally used all his energy to leave bruises and wounds on my small, frail body, he walked away as if nothing happened.

They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I figured what didn't kill me, just didn't kill me.

When I Was Twelve…

My mother and dad divorced by the time I was nine. The many nights of watching my mother crawl into corners in fear of my dad’s tyrant attitude had finally come to an end. She became my custodial parent, but that mean my dad never came around. The years of his harassment had just begun. Between the ages of nine and twelve, my life became a roller coaster of emotions. Stable when I was with my mom, yet scared for my life whenever my dad would appear.

On my twelfth birthday after school, I waited outside in front of the school for my mother. It was early fall. I was wearing my first leather jacket my mother gave me that morning as a birthday gift. It was a pretty red and it made me feel pretty from the inside out. The day had gone better than I expected. I was happy it was my birthday like any other young girl would be. To my surprise, my dad pulled up in a new luxury vehicle he’d just purchased. Obviously excited and wanting to boast to me about his new toy, he got out and said, “Let your old pops take his baby girl for a ride on her birthday! We can get some ice cream or something. Your choice!” He seemed so excited; which was odd for him. I wanted to be excited with him. Heck, it was my birthday and my dad was proposing to do something for me. I obliged by needed to make arrangements first.

“Sure, but let me call my mom first to let her know you’re picking me up,” I replied. His face immediately switched from happy to disgust. “I just don’t want her coming to look for me and I’m not here,” I attempted to explain. .

By the large sigh he let out, I knew that wasn’t what he wanted to hear. “You don’t trust me or something? Why would you need to call her, huh?” he began. “I don’t get it?! I am your father! Cynthia doesn’t run me. You don’t have to call her to tell her I’m picking you up. You just get your stupid self in this car,” he demanded pointing to the passenger door. I was scared and wanted to move as he instructed in hopes of keeping him calm, but I couldn’t get my feet to follow through. I could see the muscles in his face getting tighter and his tone was no longer as chipper as when he’d first pulled up.

“But I don’t know if I should, dad. I don’t want her to come and then I’m not here. That’s all I’m saying,” I reluctantly responded. I actually didn’t want to go out of fear of what his growing anger may lead him to do. I had always been his punching bag. I didn’t think there was anything that would make my 12th birthday any different from any other birthday.

“I tell you what, you little shit of an ingrate,” he began as he walked over to me picking me up by my neck, ripping my new red leather jacket, and shaking me uncontrollably, “You and Cynt, can just go to hell. How dare you? Fuck you! Fuck her! And fuck your stupid birthday!” yelling while throwing me to the ground. Then like the change of the fall weather he quickly walked away, got in his car and sped off. As if that wasn’t enough, but somehow lucky for me, there were other kids around which may have been the only reason he stopped. I laid on the ground, bruised, but more hurt inside than anything else. Yet in the same emotion, somehow I was relieved that he walked away. But I knew, like history had proven he’d be back.

At least I had another birthday to look forward to.

When I Was Fifteen…

A few years and a few repetitive pleas of forgiveness later for his past behavior, my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer and it was progressing at a rapid rate. You would think being under that type of physical stress would change the average person and make them change their lives, but unfortunately the narcissist, known as my dad, was not average. I remained loyal. I remained as his little girl choosing to help look after him. I felt sorry for him. I felt compassion for him. I always felt my love would make his sick soul well. There was an afternoon when I’d gone by his hospital room to visit him while he was at one of his lowest points. When I arrived he immediately started in on me about showing up while the nurses were bathing him. It enraged him so that I was saw that way.

“How dare you show up without calling me, girl?! You have absolutely no right being here right now. You’re so stupid!”

Before I could even make it out of dodge, he threw a bowel-filled bed pan at me and continued to yell obscene language of disgust at me. His nurses helped clean me up; probably feeling bad for me.

“Are you ok, sweetie?” one asked me while I attempted to remove feces from my left cheek. Another stood behind me watching them and shaking her head in disbelief. I just shook my head up and down while my dad just walked out of the room; hospital gown wide open in the back; yelling and cursing his anger of the situation.

“Dumb bitch! Who the hell does she think she is coming up here?” he continued all the way down the hall.

“Mr. Katerdac, you don’t have to be so angry. You’ll just raise your blood pressure,” another nurse said following him out of the room.

“The hell I can’t! Who the hell let her up here anyway? Damn all of you!” he said shutting her up.

Clearly my strength was stacking itself high. Not sure I felt the muscle or not.

When I Was Eighteen…

By the time I graduated from high school, I had made the decision that I was not going to allow my dad to be a part of my life anymore. He had put me through enough abuse and shame. Beatings; shameful cursing in front of friends, neighbors and strangers alike. His abuse was not off limits anywhere for me. Somehow I was beginning to see that I was responsible for my own life. It was hard for my mom to protect me all the time and he surely wasn’t concerned about me. I’d made it through years of his abuse and finally my day of moving forward as a young adult had arrived. Johnny didn’t make it to my high school graduation. His reasoning was due to my mother making him mad a few days before. Sad but true. 

To my surprise, three days after my graduation he showed up at my mother’s house to give me a graduation present. That was the last thing I expected to receive from him. Besides the ice cream he wanted to buy me for my twelfth birthday, I never knew what a present was from him. At that point, I should’ve been scared to accept anything from him; even an apology. When I turned five he refused to buy any gifts because he had bet all his money on a basketball game with one of his mechanic shop buddies. So this ‘grand stand’ was for sure shocking.

I opened the door surprised by a bouquet of red roses and a box wrapped perfectly. I took the gifts from him and placed them on the table next to the front door. My mom would have been very upset to know I let him in the house. I knew I could never tell her I’d let him in. She despised him. She just couldn’t shake the wrong he had imposed on her.

She always said to me, “Delia, your dad has nothing but hell in him. I used to think I was seeing something different, but I promise you don’t ever have to worry about me and that man getting back together.” And I believed her. When she finally left him, she was such a different mother. A better mother. I often wondered why she even let me around him, but I eventually understood that she still wanted us to have a good daughter-father relationship. She must’ve thought he could change. Maybe that’s why I let him in because I too just knew he had it in him to better to me than he had been.
I took another chance that day. Probably the wrong chance. “Ok, you can come in, but for no more than thirty minutes. I got something to do and momma comes home from work pretty soon,” I demanded as he walked in. I could smell his loud cologne. His attire was sharper than normal. Even his shoes seemed to have gotten a recent buffing. The one thing that hadn’t changed was his alcohol induced breath. It was the first thing that I noticed as he kissed me on the lips walking past me. I was stunned. I grabbed my lips as if they had just been stung. That was never how he greeted me. Ever.
“Hey, Delia,” he began heading for the living room couch. “Are you going to open your gift?”

“Delia? When you start calling me by my name?” I asked before I even realized I had questioned him.

He smirked. “I know, but I want things to change between us. So, Delia it is.” I almost wanted to smile or say thank you, but I didn’t want to jump the gun. “Go ahead, open your gift. I know you’re going to like it. I thought real hard and long on what to get it. The lady at the counter said it was perfect for a girl your age.”

Reluctantly, I slowly opened the gift; sliding the bow from around it, then gently pulling the tape from the seams. As I took the top off the box, my eyes, opened widely. It was a red leather jacket trimmed in rhinestones. It was so pretty, but it felt so wrong receiving it from him.

With his chest stuck out as far as he could make it, he said, “What do you think? Pretty snazzy, right? Better than that jacket your mom gave to you, huh?”

Trying to smile in acceptance, “It is nice, Johnny. It is.” I placed the box and jacket back down on the table next to the door and snapped back into reality. As I leaned against the living room wall, I continued, “You got a date or something? I mean, you’re looking rather sharp today, Johnny.”

“Don’t be smart now, girl. I just cleaned myself up a little bit today. That’s all.”

“If you say so,” I said shrugging my shoulders not really convinced.

“Come have a seat next to me. Let’s talk,” he said patting the seat next to him. I almost felt like the day he pulled up to my school. I wanted to get in that car, but I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. And in that same moment, I wanted to have a seat; my leg felt like lead, but somehow I mustered up the move to sitting on the opposite end of the couch with him. “I want you to know that your daddy is real proud of you,” grabbing my hand.  I quickly pulled away from him. Dismissive of my resistance, he grabbed my hand again this time stroking it slowly as he continued to speak. “You know, graduating and all. Real proud I say.” Then he paused.

“Yeah, what happened to you coming? What went wrong? I looked for you.”

“Don’t focus on the past. Let’s look at the future, baby girl,” he responded. He looked at me waiting for a response, but I was started back thinking about the haunting kiss at the door. I held my lip trying to make sense of it. There was none to make though.  “I know I haven’t always been the best dad. Heck some would say a little too hard on you sometimes, but it was all because I didn’t know how to express my love for you.” He slid down to my end of the couch until he was less than a few inches from my side.  He began caressing my jaw line and smelling my hair. Then he put his arm around my waist and turned me face to face to shock me with the most disgusting script I’d ever heard.

Trying to forcefully move away from him, but unsuccessful. “Johnny, back up, now,” I demanded from him.

Ignoring my demand, he continued gripping more tightly, “If I could have just been able to say how in love with you I was…”

“In love? Johnny, be quiet. You don’t know what you’re saying right now.”

“…I may not have been so hard on you. I love you and have always seen something special in you.”
“Now you say you love me, huh?”

“Now you’re a grown woman; a fine one at that. You remind me of when I first saw Cynthia. She was cute. Slender. I remember her smile. Her touch. Oh, that touch, Delia.”

“You can’t be serious!” I proclaimed attempting to get far away from him.

“But I’m very serious. Now I can be more open about my feelings towards you. I know it may not seem normal to you at first, but I need you.” My eyes must have had a very profound statement in them because he immediately seemed to know he had crossed a forbidden line. I couldn’t believe my ears. He pulled me even closer to his body until our chests met.

“Johnny, you stop with that right now. That’s nonsense!” I began to yell to him. I was beginning to be more bold with my dislike of his actions, but he was about to shut me down once again. Without hesitation, he slapped me with his entire mite striking me to the floor after my face hit the side of the coffee table. Then he spit on me as I lay on the ground in pain and disgust for having even opened the door. Pinning me down, he spent the next fifteen or so minutes forcing me to perform fellatio on him. I was ashamed and felt like he had ripped the very soul from my body. He stole all the strength I had.  Or all that I felt I had left inside of me. He took it all away. How he was able to consciously do that still baffles me, but some things are never to be known, I guess.

Before walking out the door to leave, he made a promise to me, “Just wait and see what will happen to you and your mom if you speak a word of this. I have no problem killing either of you, so just try it.”  I held my head down in shame refusing to look him in the eye. I was still a virgin up until that point, but he left me feeling less than innocent, dirty, and unwanted. I believed he would kill us and to this day so I never said a word to her. As to degrade me further, he said one last statement to me before shutting the door behind him, “Be sure to wear that jacket I gave you, baby girl.” I slithered to the nearest corner, balled into myself and cried until it didn’t seem any other tears would flow from me that day.

It was a gift I never wanted.

When I Was Twenty-One…

It had been three years since I last spoke to my father. I think he knew what he had done was unforgiveable and I for sure was not revisiting anything that even vaguely reminded me of him. I was in my junior year of college and finally feeling like I was getting to some level of comfort with myself. I was getting closer to relinquishing the hurt of my past; forgiving. I thought my life was turning around. I was learning to accept that all the things my dad had done was because he was a sick man. He was not capable of seeking the good out of himself, let alone others. I wanted more than the ‘getting closer’ feeling. I wanted to completely let go. I was still holding on to all that I’d calculated as my dad’s abuse of me. Even after three years of his absence, he still had a hold on my life.

It was fall and the weather was quite crisp in the late night air. The air moved through the cracks of my apartment walls. It must have begun to wrap around my heart; creating a coldness. Just when you think you’re letting go of pain, the tremors can be even worse. I felt hard. I felt angry. I awakened from a nightmare reliving the horrible day my dad molested me. I was sweating from brow to brow and had only one thing on my mind: GET RID OF THE MAN THAT CONTINUES TO WALK OUT OF MY LIFE. That same night I drove to my dad’s house in search of answers; in search of an apology; in search of something from the man that I felt stole everything from me.

I hopped up from my bed, put on the sweat suit that lay on my bedroom floor, grabbed my car keys and fled out the apartment on a mission. At first I wasn’t sure where I was going, but as I drove, with my mind racing, I knew my next stop was to Johnny’s house. He was about to feel my wrath one way or another. I needed him to get the point; to repent; to plead for forgiveness; to apologize; to do something – something different than he’d ever done. I wanted him to simply hold himself accountable.

When I pulled up to his house, I honked my car horn in his driveway.  The lights in the house immediately came on and I could see his growing, feeble, and aged silhouette from the window of his bedroom. He was looking out the window spotting my car in the driveway. Five minutes later, he came out in his robe with no pants on; just his sagging underwear. He stood on the porch.  He looked like he was ready to give me a few choice words, but what was new?

“Get in the car,” I yelled standing half way out of the car. I felt brave, yet nervous, but nothing was changing my mind from why I drove to him in the first place. “Get in the car!” I could feel the adrenaline running through my veins as he began walking to the car.

“Quit all that damn honking, girl!” So, no more Delia. I was back to being known as ‘girl’. “It’s midnight for God’s sake!” he yelled back, waving his hands as he walked towards the car door. He reluctantly got in and sat in the passenger seat; all frowns. “What the hell you doing all this shit for? You trying to get someone killed?”

“No Johnny, I’m trying to get some answers," I replied fidgeting under my seat.

“Answers to what?”

“To whatever I ask. Some closure. I need to know why you continue to hurt me over and over again!” I cried at the top of my lungs. He just sat and looked forward out the window. He never looked me in the eye. “It’s been repeated nights, since I was eight, that I can remember just being scared of not waking up, daddy! And it’s all because of how you treated me. Even after you and mom split the pain seemed to grow stronger! I just want to know why you wanted me dead!”

“You’re exaggerating, girl. No one wanted you dead.”

“I wanted you to just say you loved me; that you cared even.” I continued as he remained stoned face and unchanged by my plea for understanding. “I know you hear me! Say something.” I wanted to punch him or choke him. I wanted to do something to make him just as uncomfortable or more than I’d been all my life. I wanted answers out of him. I was looking for some remorse for what he had done to me and I got nothing. I stopped my plea. I cleared my teary eyes and wiped my face. I gave up. Some things in life you just can’t change. I couldn’t change that Johnny was my father.

When I had gathered myself and he realized I was finished with my questions, he quietly got out of the car, raised his hand, and waved goodbye. He started towards the house still unconcerned about my needs. He was always able to walk away from doing me wrong. It infuriated me. It’s like he was always let off the hook. I was left with the scars; the hurt; the pain; the disconnect with life. To him my life meant nothing. To him I was invalid.  He tried to take away everything I could ever be able to become. I couldn’t let him do it anymore. I reached under the driver’s seat and pulled out the gun that I’d gotten to keep for protection. Twenty-one years of Johnny and I’d finally learned I needed to protect myself. I did something I probably always wanted to do.  I shot him.

And just like that. I changed his ability to keep having the same effect on my life. It was done.

I just couldn’t let him walk away from me ever again.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"The Wrapping"

I hated having to ride the bus to work. Riding the bus turned a twenty minute car ride into a forty minute trip. I always ended up sitting next to the largest, most distinguished smelling person that was obviously riding the bus to site-see because they never get off before my stop. This morning, however, I surprisingly got a chance to sit alone, in the front, directly behind the bus driver.

"Good morning, young lady!" the driver welcomed me on board. He was a nice looking man. Seeming to be in his mid-forties, short (for a man), about 5’6”, but nicely built. His smile was alluring and while I was running late for work, I couldn’t help but notice it when I entered the bus.

"Good morning, sir. Thanks for stopping for me. I couldn’t afford to be late today. It’s Friday, therefore its payday. I don’t need to give anyone a reason to hold my check," I responded while trying to recuperate from flagging him down. Even after all of the manual work I had to do daily, a little jog for one block could wear a girl down.

"Anytime. I remember your face. I've seen you on here before," he responded with a smile. I placed my dollar and coins in the payment receptacle, turned to him and nodded in appreciation.

As I placed my bags in the seat next to me, I conversed with the driver. "So, what time is quitting time for you?"

Looking at me through his rear view mirror, the older gentleman responded, "Well, I'll be done when the streets are dim and almost clear. My job here seems to never be done."

"I understand. Where I work, there seems to never be a duty complete. I start at 9 a.m., but I don't leave until almost 7 p.m. There's got to be something special about us hard workers," I responded smiling.

"What is your line of work, if you don't mind me asking, 'mam?" he continued.

"I work out in the county for the Washburn’s. You know they're the family that owns the dry cleaning and laundry facilities around town. I do most of the house work and run some of their errands. I look after their four daughters after school. And when they vacation, I watch the house," I told him as I looked at my watch to see how much longer before my stop.

"Well, sounds like we're both in the field of helping others. My job is so often not seen in that light, though. It's a service like any other!" he continued. He was a pleasant driver, unlike some of the previous drivers of that route. We continued our light conversation about general topics such as the weather up until we made it to my exit. "Looks like we've made it to your destination, 'mam."

A little reluctant to end the conversation, I gathered my things, smiled, and began towards the doors of the bus to exit. "I really do appreciate the ride this morning, sir. Most of the time, my bus ride is never as pleasant as the one I just had. I hope they don't switch up the routes on you and your coworkers soon. You can tell them that was a customer request!" I thanked him. My comments about the pleasantry of the ride were genuine and hopefully were not taken out of context.

"I will do 'mam. How far do you have to walk?" he inquired.

"Oh, just about five blocks east and then two blocks until I reach the corner at Mable Lane." I responded.

"Well, I tell you what, since I don't have many riders this morning, why don't you let me drop you off right in front of your location?" he insisted.

"I'm not sure that's really necessary. Thank you though. Plus I could use a little exercise," I responded pointing to my stomach as I began to exit the bus. I did pick up on his attempt to extend his services, but I didn't want to jeopardize his job or mine.

"I insist, 'mam. I won't open the door until you return to your seat," he responded with a stern and insistent stare.

"Ok. Ok. Please hurry so I won't be late," I agreed. As I returned to my seat, slightly perturbed, I saw that he wore a gold, wedding band, but thought nothing of it at the time. He took my words to heart because we made it to the Washburn's house within a few minutes flat. I shook his hand as thank you and exited the bus.

Looking back at the driver as I reached the foot of the half of a mile driveway, he yelled, "My name is Charlie, 'mam!" I shook my head to show I heard what he was saying and began my fast pace to the front door. I assumed he wasn’t seeking my name in response. Although I enjoyed the conversation, I was not in the frame of mind to "figure out" or entertain his intentions.

The workday at the Washburn's was pretty normal. In the morning, I washed all the clothes, cleaned the first and second floor bathrooms, and mopped all the hardwood and marble floors. By afternoon, I’d wiped down all the china and wood, cleaned out the stainless steel refrigerators, and ironed all four of the children's clothing for two weeks. As I prepared to leave I felt the end of the day begin to weigh in on my feet. The calluses weren’t letting up and I had to walk seven blocks, back to the bus stop, and from the bus ride four more blocks to my house.

The motivation to sit in my new brown leather recliner I purchased for my birthday helped me muster up the strength to begin my walk. Not sure if I would call it my luck, but about a block and a half into my walk, a bus pulled up alongside me. I wasn’t sure why the bus was there, but I soon found that it was Charlie attempting to pick me up. Relieved and perplexed, I without hesitance entered the bus when he opened the door. I began to pull out the bus fare, but he tapped my hand as I reached inside my cream and brown Gucci tote bag the Washburn’s gave me last Christmas.

“Now, Miss…” he began looking as if he was awaiting me to fill in my name.

To keep the drive going, I answered, “Nylene”.

Presenting an even larger smile, he continued, “I like that. Ok, Miss Nylene, where to?”

“Home,” I answered with the biggest sigh I could release, “The fastest route to Pathrona Dr. and Crumple Street. I can walk from there.”

“Ok. Your wish is my command. Home we go!” he responded. After relaxing my head against the ironic pain medicine advertisement, I opened my eyes to realize no one else was on the bus.

“Where are the other patrons?” I inquired. It was just six thirty. They didn’t stop operations for another hour.

Without turning back or making eye contact, he answered, “I took my last patron about ten minutes ago, Miss Nylene. I know what I’m doing, so don’t worry about that.” I just smirked and began looking out the window. I realized we were about eight to ten minutes away from my stop.

“I really do appreciate you doing this for me, Charlie. I was having a tough day today. My struggle just seems to never end,” I began to vent to him.

“Well, it wasn’t really a big deal. You gave me all the information I needed earlier today. I knew what time you usually worked. I knew where you worked. And if you don’t mind, I’d like to tell you what I saw,” he began. “I saw a beautiful, middle-aged, woman with six heavy bags, worn shoes, with a stressed brow. Yet, the spirit I felt from you let me know that I needed to help out this strong woman however I could. I couldn’t watch you make that walk knowing I had the ability to make it shorter. I couldn’t go home to my family tonight knowing that I could have helped a good spirit make it safely home to enjoy her space with a lighter heart hopefully. My spirit wouldn’t have allowed it, Miss Nylene. That’s what I saw. While all I gave you today was a ride in a bus with air condition and slightly comfortable seating, I hoped that it was all a part of your journey. The gesture was small, yet a part of your walk,” he ended. We had arrived at my stop. There was still a little light from the sunset. Just enough for me to make it to my two bedroom apartment safely.

“Well, I thank you for what you saw, Charlie. I thank you,” I responded as I extended my hand to his.

Before I could release his hand from mine, he pulled me back, “Miss Nylene, as long as I drive this route, you’re guaranteed a ride to and from work on me. And it doesn’t matter if there are other ‘patrons’ on the bus. Ok?” he reassured me. I walked away from that bus feeling renewed.

I’m glad I rode the bus this morning. I feel like a new strength has been given to me. It’s amazing how small blessings are packaged. This morning I reluctantly got up, faced my burdened life head on and ran into the inspiration I needed. What I thought was a handsome, married man possibly attempting to hit on me, actually turned out to be a part of the plan. Maybe the catch to living life is that you will never really know. However, it seems that remaining steadfast and hopeful leads to the coverage required. I’ll no longer look at life as the wrapping it comes in, but by the gift that it actually possesses.

And for the record: I can’t wait for the ride tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"Cup Runneth Over?"

What makes a person tick? What are the triggers that allow a person to see life outside of the tunnel vision they are so often conformed to because of the level of comfort it can often be perceived to possess? How often do we know that the situations we continue to wade within are more detrimental to us than the unknown of distancing ourselves from the complacency? At some point, actions occur in life that allows and sometimes forces insight or empowerment to take control of the driver’s seat and lead ourselves out of that comfort zone. While Joanne’s turning moment has many ideas left to the unknown, it is the fact that the moment came, it was seized, and she found herself more liberated than she could have imagined. Some comfort zones aren't as comforting as we believe.

“Joanne, I believe I asked you not to leave my keys in the garage door, ‘hun? It can’t be that difficult to remember something so important like this. It’s just not safe,” Herbert spoke to his wife of twelve years. She was a meek woman with the courage of a giant. This was particularly true when it came to her tolerance of Herbert.

“I forgot, baby. I’ll do better about remembering,” she responded in her soft spoken tone with her head lowered as if ashamed of not abiding by his rule. Herbert did have a point about the safety of his household as it involved leaving the key in the garage door. However, it was the way in which he tried to make Joanne feel about her actions. She was often belittled, emotional tormented and reminded that he was the one with the control.

“Yeah, I bet you will,” he continued. “Have you seen the kids today? I wanted to let Kendel know about the grades I got in the mail last week. I wasn’t pleased, Joanne. We’ve got to talk some sense into that girl. She’s going to throw her entire college career away constantly making average grades. It’s just unacceptable!” he went on. “Didn’t I tell you to get her hooked up with a tutor for her Chemistry and Biology classes? Didn’t I, Joanne?”

Without turning her slumped back from the stove she was preparing dinner, she cleared her throat and spoke, “I did as you asked, Herbert, but she refused to attend the sessions I scheduled. Remember I asked you to talk to her about it. I’m assuming maybe you just haven’t had the time to do so. I just left it alone.”

“What are you trying to say, Joanne? I dropped the ball?!?!” he began in anger. Herbert was a broad shouldered, 6’3”, 270 lbs man. Even when sitting in a chair, his tall and dominate stature was intimidating to even the most aggressive man; let alone his small framed wife. He began walking towards her from the kitchen table as she continued to mix her spices for the chicken she was baking. As she felt him get near, Herbert tightly grabbed her by her long, silky hair with his fist and pulled her closer. Before he could turn her around, she gained enough strength to take the red pepper, garlic, and oregano spices she was mixing, thrust it into his eyes, and made a run for the front door.

Overpowered by the unsuspecting weapon, Herbert fell to the ground, crawling to find the sink or closest water available. It was in that moment that Joanne also discovered her ability to actually show her strength. Heck, she was realizing for the first time in her marriage she had strength. As she began to feel empowerment running through her veins, she ran towards the kitchen, grabbed the largest frying pan she could find in her rage and began to repeatedly strike Herbert. She began to yell and scream her feelings to him as she had never attempted.

“How dare you think you could continue to treat me like you do, Herb! I’m sick of it. No more! No more!” she continued as tears of released pain fell from her cheeks. “You will not hurt me! You will not hurt the children! The time has come, Herb! I will always remember the times you would drag me to the balcony and threaten to take my life. All twenty-eight of them! Why, Herb? You did it because YOU ARE insecure with yourself. I will always see the residue scars on my back, neck, arms, legs, and face that you placed upon the woman you said you loved. And how will I ever forget the night Natalie, Justin, and Kendel watched you rape me repeatedly as I begged and pleaded for you to have mercy on my life? I won’t Herbert! No more pleading! No more begging! I won’t put up with it anymore. While I will try to forgive, I won't forget. You’ve damaged me, the kids, and for sure yourself!” She had finally found her cup running over. As she walked out the door, she felt she was finally walking away from her despair; from her struggle, yet walking towards her new, freed life!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Is This a Repeat?

What do I plan to do with this blog?

How many blogs have you read this year? How about last month? If you're reading mine, you probably caught a few and once in a while come across some that really catch your eye. You find yourself passing links on to friends and family via email so their senses too can be entertained. Regardless of the topic or approach, blogs provide outlets for both the author and readers.

Like Abe Lincoln, "I will not tell a lie," this blog is no different. I will use this blog as an outlet to share my passion of writing. While most of my writing is of fictional basis, every now and then, a reader may find general topics of discussion or opinionated issues that I feel must be written on. (At least on my blog).

Why should you read this blog?
As an attempt to truly begin taking serious stabs at publicly sharing this passion, this blog will strive to inspire the reader to look with him/herself and discover that growth is possible and living life in pursuit of just that. That's the theme of this blog and the writings that it will contain: Self-improvement. It has been proven time and time again that change begins with self. Everything else is then affected by that change.

Now twenty-nine, I began writing at the age of seven. At first, my writings were in the form of poems and short plays. By the age of nine, I began producing my written plays to small audiences with actors played by neighborhood friends and family. Eventually, I began exploring my love for writing fictional short stories and more recently novels. I have learned a lot and realize that my learning will never end. I hope this blog paints vivid pictures for the reader to feel thrown within the storyline, but also provides inspiration to becoming greater individuals.

Who should read this blog?
Anyone interested and open to learning the stories and backgrounds of the characters shared throughout the blog, while becoming more in tune with self.

Is This a Repeat?
By no means is this blog a repeat. It is unique in its interest in self improvement through fictional stories.