Short Story Sunday – “Falling Stars”

“In our universe, a star explodes and dies every single second and there’s you, worrying about work tomorrow.”

Tasha sighed and signed out of her Twitter account. It amazed her how exactly those words had summed up her life. Technology was a trip.

Curtis: Hello love.

Tasha: Not a good time.

Tasha slid the smartphone under the covers as her husband entered the room.

“Hey babe,” he said planting a kiss on her lips. She watched him walk away. Completely compact with everything she’d ever wanted in a man. As he slipped out of his shirt she took the opportunity to admire the dark chocolate, toned physique of her child’s father. Standing 6’1 the man had beauty and brains and had swept her off her feet ten years ago and everything else had been storybook. In less than a year they were married, Carson was born six months after that and their combined salary afforded them the luxury of the two-story house sitting comfortably between two large Oak Trees in Elmhurst Illinois.

Tasha hated those trees. They had somehow become the mocking occasion of her perfect life. Successful real-estate agent, wife, mother, and homeowner and yet here she was, stuck between two men; both just as large and overwhelming as those trees. She’d have to remember to have at least one of them cut down. Their existence, how they mocked her very life, was too much to take.

Anthony walked off, discarding of his clothing on the bathroom floor and wrapping a towel around his waist. “What time you getting off tonight?” he yelled.

“Nine, this case is really kicking my butt.” There it was. Another lie. It was her fourth lie this month. She knew because she counted. It was difficult at first, but whenever she thought about rolling around on the floor with her boss it became much much easier.

Curtis was nothing like Anthony and that reality was perhaps one of her greatest fears and pleasure too. More so than the betrayal, the lies, even more so than the sex was that these men couldn’t be any more different. It was that, their differences, that Tasha loved even more than getting caught. She smiled wickedly. Why did the thought excite her so? She’d built trust with Anthony and how she capitalized on that trust. Taking advantage of their years she played the men like strings. Pulling and tugging on their position in her life and manipulating the occasion.

Tasha met Curtis when she was just an intern at Curtis & Law and he was well aware that she was married. Tasha preferred it this way and often beamed with satisfaction. If ever there was an occasion to sleep around she’d found it. If ever there was a secret to deceit, she’d cracked the code. Her life with Anthony was secure and she made it clear she would never divorce him. Curtis was OK with that and vowed that their time together was nothing more than a thing.

Curtis: Tash, you there?

The text alert startled her and Tasha scrambled to mute the phone alert before it became noticeable. One downfall to cheating was extreme paranoia, everything was exaggerated and Tasha was sure the muffled sound of the phone could be heard through the sound of the shower. Peaking down at the screen she rolled her eyes. This was starting to get old real fast. He knew he had no right to call her that. Only Anthony called her “Tash.” Curtis had professed his love last night and somehow thought it gave him free reign to be the first man in her life. She thought she’d made it very clear that would never happen. Maybe I should just call off, thought Tasha. The dread of the workplace had become intense. Any occasion to which she had to see Curtis face in public sent her cascading through mental turmoil and she felt she would explode.

“In our universe, a star explodes and dies every single second..”

Tasha scrolled her Twitter timeline once more. Her  addiction to technology had her constantly checking her phone. Or was it nerves?

“…a star explodes and dies every single second..”

Is this what death feels like? she thought. Am I dying?

Anthony was her everything and her heart broke at the thought of what this would do to him if he ever found out and yet, the thought was quickly erased by another lie.

Please, I’m tripping. Men do this all the time. Tasha told herself to soothe the bruise of adultery seeping from her pores.

Anthony walked out of the bathroom. A towel wrapped around his waist and another one he used to dry his hair. Goodness, that’s a beautiful man. Tasha thought.

Curtis: Meet me at the spot, One hour.

Startled, Tasha scrambled to answer her text.

“Tell Curtis you’ll be late this morning,” smiled Anthony, seductively approaching his wife.

Tasha smiled a wicked smile. Poor Ant, he would never know. It amazed her how color had such an impact on the way people saw the world. Anthony would never suspect a culprit in the proper, brown haired, blue-eyed white boy that is his wife’s boss.

Tasha: I need a few hours. (wink)

Curtis: OK love.

***

“Tell Curtis you’ll be late this morning,” Anthony smiled but his blood raced. She had been with him again. He could tell by the racing of her eyes. How they searched him, bouncing back and forth between him and the cell phone she kept tucked underneath the covers. He smiled, hoping it would calm her nerves some. She was a mess and he wondered how long she would keep this up. How much longer could she take hurting herself to hurt him? How much longer would she take him into her arms, poisoning their love with the kiss of her lips? How much longer would he let her?

Anthony smiled again and let the dry towel fall to his ankles, his throbbing manhood at full salute. He would be with her again for the last time, or so he told himself. He approached her, watching as she sneaks text on her phone before pushing it back into the sheets. Anthony watched her racing eyes and let his body cover hers, hoping to calm her. At least for tonight. He swallowed hard and kissed his wife on the lips, tasting for the last time the flavor of deceit.

Writers Wednesday – Chapter 4: The Women with Blue Eyes


Chapter 4 : “I’m Not Crazy”


“Aliens?”

“Look, laugh all you want. I am not crazy.”

Erica composed herself.

“I’m sorry girl. You sound like you believe it and if you believe I do too but…”

“Then you don’t believe me.”

Tina got up from the sofa and walked over to the window of Erica’s downtown office. Downtown Chicago was one of the most beautiful places in the country.

Erica put her notepad to the side.

“Okay. Let’s entertain this for a moment. You gotta think about how this is going to sound. Your nephew died in a drug deal…”

“…it wasn’t a drug deal,” interrupted Tina turning around. It pissed her off that people were still saying that.

“Hold on, let me finish. Far as they know it, your nephew dies in a drug deal and everyone else flees the scene. You take leave from work to raise Keisha’s kids, your remaining nieces, and nephew who by the way aren’t really your nieces and nephew…”

“Erica…”

“No, no, let me finish. You take them in after winning a custody battle with their Dad after he couldn’t prove stable residency and their drug addict mom gave you permission to have them. And now everyone involved in the case are connected to you in some way. Top this all off with the death of another black man by Lord knows who and your claim that Aliens killed Ronnie and abducted everyone at the Warehouse.”

Tina nodded. It did sound phony when you said it out loud. She sat on the sofa, resting her head on the pillow behind her.

“I’m not saying I don’t believe you but you a detective girl. You should know this ain’t gonna stick.”

“So, what am I to do then? I can’t keep taking these pills. It’s driving me crazy.”

“Listen, you need these pills so you can do your job without seeing little blue men walking around.”

“That’s not funny E.”

“Seriously, here’s what I think. Here’s my professional opinion…”

Tina smirked. “Now you wanna be professional?”

“Don’t be in my office judging me,” laughed Erica, “I’m the one with the pen.”

Tina laughed.

“In my professional opinion, I think you should see if you can find a connection between those who were abducted and people who may be working with these Aliens or whatever around here killing folk. They gotta be working with somebody or they wouldn’t be able to do anything without being seen.”

Tina sat up.

“They look like men though. That’s how they can move about without notice. It’s not like in the movies. The only way to tell is their eyes and sometimes not even then.”

“Still, they gotta be working with normal, everyday people too.  Find those people.”

Tina looked at Erica and bit her lip. It was a start.

“Meanwhile,” Erica stood and walked over to her desk and tore off a piece of paper. She walked back to the sofa and handed it to Tina.

“Get it together.”

Tina rolled her eyes and took the prescription, “I don’t need it.”

“Yes, you do. Even if it’s just in case.”

***

Tina thought deeply about Erica’s words on the drive home. She did have her wheels turning. Who could be involved in something like this? Az did say it was a government cover-up. Tina laughed. This some conspiracy theory shit. Reaching for the folders, Tina scanned the names again: Antonio, Brandon, Chareese, Sidney, the two officers, Emmanuel.

Someone is missing. Tina tapped her fingers against the steering wheel, thinking back to the days they used to hang out. Her close ties to everyone abducted did make her look suspicious so she had to be careful. They were all so close at one time and she blamed herself for Ronnie’s death before meeting Erica and getting her mind right.

Tina went to High School with a girl named Ja’mella back in the day who had started talking to some cat from the hood named Antonio, who everyone called Tony. Ja’mella came back into Tina’s life when she filed a rape charge against Tony and his best friend Brandon who was in a committed relationship with Tina’s friend Chareese at the time. Chareese was also pregnant with Brandon’s baby. The case centered around ties to Big Sam, the largest drug Kingpin in Chicago. Big Sam sparked something with Tina’s sisterfriend Keisha and got her strung out. Keisha couldn’t pay her debt to Sam and that’s how her son Ronnie got involved. Sam recruited him to work off his mama’s debt. They were all connected in a “six degrees of separation” kind of way.

Tina searched her thoughts, remembering their card games and get-togethers. They had all been tight at some point or another. Though she knew them all personally, she wasn’t real tight with the men and the women had gone their separate ways until the case united them.

“Black.”

Tina pressed the button on her dashboard to connect her Bluetooth to the speaker and waited as it rang, gripping the steering wheel. There was only one person missing from the crew. A click sounded and Freddie answered the phone.

“Yeap.”

“Hey Freddie? What did you say the name of that Insurance Guy was?”

Tina’s face froze as Freddy gave her the name.

“Tina? T, you there?” Freddy asked.

“Yea, yea I’m here. Thanks bro.”

Tina pressed the button to hang up, still in shock. She had forgotten all about Black.

Black was another one of Antonio’s friends, known for his complexion. He had a big crush on her back in the day, but she was talking to his friend at the time. Eventually, she went to school and he joined the military. She hadn’t seen him since then. His real name was Byron and now he was, dead.


Chapter 5 “The Mission”

Are you new to this series? Click here to start from chapter one.

Writer’s Wednesday – Papa’s House

Wednesday is your new favorite day! Lol. 🙂

I would like to share more of my writing with you. I mean, besides poetry. Soooo, I’ve come up with another Wednesday Segment. Welcome to Day One of Writer’s Wednesday. I was late to my workout this morning drafting this so excuse my delay on getting to the comments. I am currently sweating it out during my lunch as you’re reading. Gotta keep it together ladies!

Here’s our Writer’s Wednesday Badge.

Every other Wednesday, I’ll give you either an excerpt from one of my books or something new, a short story or something. I don’t really know but I’ll think of something creative every other week, time permitting.

This week, I am giving you a sneak peek into a scene from The Road to Freedom in a segment I like to call “Papa’s House.” Enjoy!


“This here make you grow hair on ya chest,” said Papa as we laughed, watching as Terry took in the liquor before coughing, and Papa patting his back for rescue as he laughed.

“Breathe, son, breathe.”

“What the hell is that!” said Terry, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.

“Can’t handle it, huh T?” said Frank, laughing.

Papa’s shoulders bounced up and down when he laughed, slapping his leg as he did so. “That there’s what we call white lightening. Amazing what you can do with a little corn mash. You be alright son, breathe,” he said as Terry went back to his place on the sofa, holding his chest.

We were sitting at the home of Peter “Papa” Whitfield, the white man who offered us food and a bathroom once Ms. Mary’s vittles ran low. Peter ran a farm just outside of town and his faded blue jean overalls and heavy boots gave way to the hard work it took to run this place. Acres of land spread wide on both sides, cows grazed the area beyond the fences, and Rottweiler dogs alerted its master of strangers approaching Poplar Springs Drive in Meridian Mississippi.

The air was unusually cool tonight and the warm coffee blanketed our insides as we rested from the road. Though we would have liked to go on, Ms. Mary insisted we stop and refuel.

“You know, liquor does not actually warm you in the cold. It thins your blood and makes you colder in winter,” said Gary.

“Thank you, Gary, for that irrelevant piece of information,” said Terry.

“Well, I don’t think your friend’s gonna be worried about the cold anytime soon,” said Papa, chuckling.

“What is that heavenly smell?” said Laurie as Sara, Papa’s wife, appeared from the back of the house carrying a casserole dish.

“Why don’t you ladies come find out. Leave the men here to talk about men things,” she said, with laughter in her voice as Laurie and Fae marched on to the back to retrieve more food.

As the women disappeared, headlights invaded their places on the sofa. Papa’s dogs barked and raced toward the unknown vehicle as they growled in the night air.

“You expecting company Mr. P?” said Willie, peeking out the window.

Papa frowned and stood as Sara emerged from the back.

“Papa.”

I don’t think I like the way that she called his name.

“Alright boys, y’all head on over to the back now,” said Papa.

“Why?” said Terry.

“This ain’t the time to be asking questions now boy, go!”

We all scattered to the back of the house, walking past the thick, black curtain that separated the kitchen from the dining room table; where Terry had taken his first, or perhaps second, drink.

“What’s going on?” said Fae.

“I don’t know.”

“Shh,” said Sara as Papa’s voice roared from the front door.

“Tommy Lee, ain’t specs to see you out so late, how’s the wife?”

“Hey there,” said the voice of a deep southern drawl. From the sound of it, Terry wasn’t the only one drinking tonight.

“Oh, she’s be fine. Mighty fine. Say uh, you ain’t got no company on in there do ya, Peter?” said the Tommy Lee voice.

Papa chuckled, “You mean besides my wife?”

Tommy Lee’s drunken voice laughed. “How is Sara doing by the way? She so pretty. Hey! Sara! It’s Tommy Lee!”

“You alright, man? Perhaps we should take this on out in the yard.”

“Perhaps,” said Tommy, laughing. “That’s a funny word, “Perhaps!” he said again, laughing.

“Look a here,” said Tommy. “Word is you’s got some niggers in there.”

“Whoa,” said Terry.

“Shhh!” said Sara as we continued to listen.

“I think you better get on home now Tommy, it’s getting late now.”

“Kicking me out, huh? I ain’t gonna tell you how to run thangs, but you best be careful. Nigra mens and Nigra womens is on the loose now. They’s tryna inflame our nigras and our whites t-t-t…” Tommy’s voice trailed off as if trying to find the words as we listened.

I regretted the once warm caffeine that now had my blood racing, my hands shaking, and my heart pounding out of my chest.

“Alright Tommy boy, I think you best get on the road now, the Missis be waiting,” said Papa as their voices faded away. I noticed Papa’s voice remained calm, and I imagined they had now stepped outside since we could no longer hear the now distant voices.

“OK, everybody just remain calm and stay where you are until I come back,” said Sara, before disappearing behind the curtain.

“What do you think is going on?” said Laurie.

“I don’t know,” said Frank.

“How does anyone know that we’re here?” said Gary.

That was a good question. We’d made sure to keep our travels discrete since the New Orleans incident. But it would also make sense that Frank’s dad would be looking for him. But I kept my thoughts concerning his dad to myself. We all knew he was racist and it embarrassed Frank. Though I’m sure Mr. Hansen had something to do with it, I did not want to disgrace the face of my friend. I went with my second thought instead.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we were being watched.”

“Or followed,” said Fae.

“I bet it was that punk ass Papa. What kind of name is that anyway? What man calls himself Papa?”

Terry’s eyes had a gloss to it as he spoke. I think by now he was really feeling the liquor.

“I’m tired of this,” said Willie.

“Oh, so you punking out too Willie?”

“Terry come on,” said Fae.

“Naw, I’m asking him a legitimate question. You punking out, Negro?”

“What you just call me?”

“Really?” said Laurie looking at both Terry and Willie.

“I know y’all ain’t gonna do this now,” said Frank.

“Please don’t do this now,” said Gary.

“Shhh!” I was sick of everyone’s talking. Though they spoke in whispers, it seemed our voices carried and would float on out the back room and into Tommy Lee’s ears. Who knows what he wanted or what he heard. We were in Mississippi after all. The stories of their crimes against the Negro were well known in the South. And after the murders of Emmett Till and others, Mississippi’s racism had gained increased attention. People all over the world could read in newspapers and watch on television the bizarre system that protected those who committed crime after crime. I didn’t understand why such hatreds existed for negroes, and my longing for the answer burned its own private hole into my chest. Unless I did my part to find out, I would never be quite whole again. If only I could have explained it this way to mother where she could understand. Being part of the fight for freedom on behalf of negroes wasn’t just some phase I was going through. More so than a desire, it was a need. Otherwise, as a young white man in white America, I could not help but feel guilty on behalf of my people. And as we stood here, fearful of the unknown, I knew that what I felt could not compare to Fae, Willie, and Terry. Considering I was shaking uncontrollably in my own skin, what kind of fear did they experience? And more, what was it like to have to experience it your entire life? The pangs of guilt sought to overwhelm me as we stood there behind the curtain and waited.


TheRoadToFreedom_Ysrayl

“I enjoyed the writing style of the author, who was able to capture different characters through their dialogue and how she wrote their accents. Though Ysrayl is not a white teenage boy, she is able to write his narration convincingly, while also being able to give other perspectives through the rest of the characters.”

– Swimming Through Literature, Amazon Review

*****

Remember, The Road to Freedom as well as Beyond the Colored Line and Between Slavery and Freedom is on sale this month! The Black History Month Stella Sale ends next week. CLICK HERE to order all three books at one low price. All books are paperbacks, signed by me with my author seal. Shipping is also free but this limited time offer won’t last.

What Will You Leave Behind?

When the dust settles, and the maggots hug your flesh. A flesh that is no longer yours. No longer powered with your personality, characteristics, flaws, successes, laughter. A flesh that can no longer see through your eyes, hear with your ears, or feel with your heart. A lifeless corpse of talent now rusting away, intermingling itself with the dirt and gravel. What will you leave behind? When your talents are but mud in the earth, will your name linger on the edge of the people’s tongues? Even so, in what capacity? For names have a tendency to stick around for better or for worse. What will you be known for? Will your children grow to benefit from your works? Will you stretch your arms forth in the breath of yesterday and kiss them with creativity? I wonder if my children will live to cherish my books one day. If they will become heirlooms on the shelves of memory. Will my offspring reminisce on an existence that did not include them and yet somehow influenced their decisions still. I am myself obsessed with the mentality of my ancestors. Both the righteous and wicked works of their past and how they have shaped the world before me. From the healing instrument of the music, the perfection of the Afro, or the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church that killed four little girls in Birmingham, where I can still taste the stench of mourn. The nostalgic images of yesterday and the way they Underground Railroad themselves into the future. I am forced to ponder the thought, what kind of tracks will I leave behind for others to follow? Will the sweat of labor coddle my children’s tears, or will it just become moisture for the worms of the earth when the dust has settled, and the maggots hug my flesh. I wonder.

I Knew it Was a Mistake the Moment It Was Over

Portia Banks smoothed out the wrinkles forming in her dress, and picked at imaginary lint. She took it all in, snapping imaginary pictures of memory with her eyes as she scanned the room. Bachelors in Computational Journalism from Stanford University, Exceptional Research and Development, the list goes on and on. She wondered if it was all worth it, her name on the door, this office, or the prestigious position she found herself in. She’d come a long way from the dirt roads of Mississippi to a position as one of New York’s top Journalists. And while the check would be huge, she knew it was a mistake the moment it was over.

“Come on now, I know that look. You do know this is the biggest client we’ll ever have; ever.”

Simon fixed his glasses and stared intently at Portia, trying to understand her logic. The woman had talent no doubt, but as Assistant News Editor he had worked side by side with this talent for over two years and a mule could not be more stubborn. Of course he couldn’t say that, Portia was always on a prowl for any glint of racism from her white counterparts, even finding it where it didn’t exist. She believed all Europeans were born racists and that no matter how hard they tried they couldn’t help themselves in their feelings toward blacks. Still, she had managed to become one of his best friends which awarded him the truth concerning her level of racism. Although she wanted him to believe she held this grudge against whites, their friendship told him otherwise. In any event, to take on this case would put The Journal Chronicles on the map and Portia knew it.

“We’re talking about the biggest dollar signs you’ve ever seen in your life. Huge,” he spoke with his hands.

“Trying to persuade me with money is never a good idea Simon you know that. Besides, you do know money is not everything?”

“No, as a matter of fact I don’t.”

Portia laughed, “You’re such a liar.”

“And your such an idiot,” said Simon standing.

“Whatever”, said Portia gathering paperwork from her desk. It was Friday, the most exciting yet busiest day of the week, everyone trying to take weekend vacations and submit final story ideas to the big dogs at the same time.

“I just don’t care much about the man,” she said continuing, “What is there to know about a man we already know everything about?”

Simon looked at his watch; he had exactly two minutes to convince her to take this case. Otherwise it would go to the competition and Anne, the wicked witch of the west who pretended to be their boss, would never let him hear the end of it.

“That’s just it. How do you know we really know him? Because the TV says so? I’m not going for it.”

Portia smiled at Simon as he went on. She was wondering where he’d put his soap box and knew it was only a matter of time before he stood on it. She stopped daydreaming and turned the mental volume back up on Simon’s voice.

“We’ve got an opportunity to present a fresh story, a new look. To gather information about the success of the world’s biggest fragrance chain since Victoria’s Secret, Scentology. By delving deeper into Xavier’s most intimate thoughts, we have the opportunity to present a fresh story. We don’t care about his written rebuttal, let CNN fight over that. Anderson can hold that down…”

“Don’t try to be black Sy…” laughed Portia.

“Portia! WHAT WE WANT is the exclusive hard core truth. WHO is Xavier Thomas?

That was a year ago and Portia cursed herself for having to live the answer to that question. With every nerve in her brain there was an explosion threatening to obliterate pieces of reason. Painfully, Portia sought desperately to understand how she’d allowed herself romantic involvement with this man. Her face contorted, as she floated in and out of consciousness. The womanly intuition she’d always counted on to save her, could not assist her now as she tried not to choke on her own blood. Laying on the bathroom floor, a tattered mess in this abandoned building, where Xavier had just tried to kill her for discovering that he was a clone.