Category Archives: Short Stories?!

I love writing. Some of these are fiction; some are narratives; while some just may be interwoven fact/fiction of everyday life. Either way, I’m choosing to use this platform for creative expansion…

Day of Death Walk

Walking to school was the funniest thing.

Ashley and I often laughed our way to school. The walk alone was never boring; we generally made fun of the characters on the street. Something funny awaited our way to meet our school bus to Miramar Elementary School. We were the most popular girls in 5th grade.

We looked forward to our walks. There was a certain independence reserved only for these times. Any other time, we were confined to the sidewalk directly in front of my house. And once the streetlights came on, my front door was the proverbial limit.

There was much to be seen on any given morning. We looked forward to the funny men and women who graced the front of Jibarito Supermarket.  Ashley and I would ‘round the corner to our right, and head south.

7:30am.

Down 2nd Avenue, we expected to see various happenings: Dogs chasing men riding bikes; Hector’s daily prostitute dramas!

Maria always went back, even though each morning, she would be thrown out while she yelled and screamed in protest.

Hector’s wife was due home from working all night. And although we understood every Spanish word he yelled, it came in rambling, quick-tongue form.

Hector always promised to see her later, once Maria conceded the fight. She would gently gather her things, thrown out by Hector, from the sidewalk, and carefully fold each item. She’d hand brush her hair. Look around. Pout her lips. And proudly walk away.

Then there were the early-morning meetings with drug dealers, and their diligent day-workers. Their meetings were held from their low-rider Cadillacs, gleaming in the sun. Workers hunched in the passenger windows for their debriefing sessions and assignments.

The Jibarito Supermarket, being on our right-hand side, was where we expected the most action. There, an ever-changing, animated group of homeless people who looked like they represented the dingy version of United Colors of Benetton, congregated at its doors, to supplicate potential patrons to make their daily donations to their cause. In turn, they’d dance and entertain. They’d even open the door to help generous ones enter the store.

We’ve witnessed them push the store door close to non-generous ones.

That was funny to us.

Jose, the manager of this motley crew, was Cuban. Jose didn’t appear homeless, though. He was always clean, smelled of cologne and rum, and wore all white. White panama hat. White, crisp shirt. White trousers. White shoes. Jose was heavy set with a huge, square face and a bushy unkempt beard. His wild, salt-and-pepper hair tamed only by his hat. In fact, the only colors which adorned Jose were his generous set of reds, yellow-and-greens, blue-and whites, and other color beads which hung low to his belly.

As we approached, he balanced on each foot like a jester holding invisible juggling balls. He motioned towards the supermarket doors to usher givers in. He bowed as people entered, as if it was an invitation to a show. His show. He held the door with his right hand, the same hand which held his dented flask. It spilled his deliverance with each boisterous arm exertion. His theatrical left hand remained palm up, showing thick golden rings on his pointer and middle fingers. The jester’s smile, gleamed a couple golden teeth and golden crowns, as it tightly clutched a thick Cuban cigar. 

We were finally directly in his path.

“¿Oye, muchachas?! ¿Donde vayas?” He sang through gritted teeth; he twirled and swooped his waist to the right. He hopped to the left.

We veered to the opening right.

He immediately hopped to the right-leaving his scent where he had just stood. His golden teeth blinded us, but gleaming blood-shot eyes connected with us. His movements made him appear almost as a phantom, leaving a trail of white. I wondered if I had imagined it. He was both scary and amusing.

We stopped quickly-and dodged left-and ran. We ran away from the store, leaving his companions in the same uproar. They were laughing.

We were laughing. Holding hands and screaming, we ran down two blocks. Then, we stopped. We hunched over, gasping for breath, laughing uncontrollably.

We blindly walked and laughed as we continued south, down 2ndAvenue.

We passed 32nd Street.

Two days later, we heard that he had raped Carmen, a Puerto Rican girl in our grade.   

 We didn’t know if it was true or not, and our parents always said not to comment on things we didn’t see with our own eyes. And even then, if it wasn’t our business, to keep our mouths shut. You see. You don’t see. Well, we didn’t see-for real. So, we didn’t know.   

That was the last time we saw him.

7:40am.

Oblivious to any real danger, we walked one more block and enjoyed more minor thrills along the way. We saw Madame Union’s pit bulls mating. They seem to be having a group sex party.

I was just astonished to see Madam Union’s all white pack in full swing-humping.

“Ouuu!” Ashley beamed. “Let’s tie them.”

“How do you tie them?”

“Girl, don’t you know anything?!” Ashley asked. “It’s a Haitian thing. Anytime you see dogs fucking,” she grabbed my pinky finger with her pinky finger, “You tie ‘em up by doin’ this. You say my name,” She said as she pushed our joined pinkies towards me, “I say your name,” she said, as she pulled our joined pinkies back towards her. “Ready?”

“Okay,” I said. “Ashley,” I said cautiously, as I yanked her pinky towards me.

“Adrienne,” She pulled back.

“Ashley!” I got excited.

“Adrienne!” She matched my excitement.

We continued this way for a few minutes.

We were so engulfed in our spell, that we didn’t notice the moans of three coupled pits.

We finally looked to our right, where the orgy was, in Madam Union’s dirt yard. We witnessed the coupled dogs attempting to pull away from one another. They fought for freedom and all three pairs were stuck!

We erupted in laughter.

But the dogs were in visible pain. All three dogs pulled and pulled. But they were stuck.

“Ki es sa k’ap fout anmerde chyienm yo la?!” (Who’s bothering my dogs?) Came Madam Union’s boisterously shrieky voice, as she swung her door open hard with annoyance. 

Madam Union was the vodou queen. You didn’t mess with her!

We startled and broke out in lightning speed. We ran away laughing, to the sound of her precious dogs moaning in pain. We prayed she didn’t see our faces.

 7:50am.

Javier and Hector. They dropped out of Robert E. Lee to sell drugs for Papo. Their shift began early morning, I guess. Because they were soon approaching.  

 Instinctively nervous, I walked closer to Ashley as the gap between Javier and Hector and us closed.

“Y’all want some weed?” Hector, the one with slicked back, shiny-with-gel-black hair asked. His wife beater t-shirt was tucked firmly into his tight, light-stone-washed jeans. His belt seemed too big for the ‘fit. But he seemed to appreciate his own style. He switched from leg-to-leg, confidently, and leaned back, peering at us from his angled head.

“What’s weed?” Confused, I looked to Ashley. She knew everything.

“Some bullshit these assholes smoke,” Ashley replied right in front of him with disdain, “It’s like grass and they get all high-acting stupid,” she said as she twisted her neck. She then turned back at him slowly, fearlessly.  She glared at Hector. Then at Javier.

I was still thinking about how much emphasis she put on the word stupid. The word dropped slow and heavy, and the last syllable lingered on her tongue. That sound only comes through clenched teeth, with the tongue pushing up against the ceiling of the mouth. I thought it was kind of harsh. I wondered if she could have simply said, no thank you. But I assumed the stance. Whether she was mean or not, I’m sure she had a good reason for it. They didn’t deserve our kindness, anyways-being high all the time. They were stupid; dropping out of school and stuff. I had to be ready to fight if Hector got offended.  I looked at her distorted face, head cocked-to-the-left, and matched the look. I shared her glare to the boys.

Everyone knew who Ashley’s brother was. He was the king of that block. And you don’t wanna mess with Big E’s sister.

“Dayum, dawg, my bad. We didn’t see you,” Hector laughed, “Javi, let’s go, man.”  They backed up, and walked around us without saying another word.

The feeling of power crawled up my back. I felt protected and proud.  

Astride slammed her fist into her palm.

I thought that was a bit extra at this point.

7:53am.

“Maa-riiii-cooooone!” Wailed a drunkard walking towards us from a distance.

We looked at each other with mouths agape.

I blinked to see if I was hallucinating.

“Maa-riiii-cooooone!” Floated from his wet, dribbling lips again. Our crooner was lazily gliding towards us. His guayabera shirt was dingy and un-buttoned. It was a couple sizes too big, so it only framed his boney, peach-colored chest which looked like a canvas for sparing hairs budding.  His oversized trousers were equally dirty, and his bare feet were so darkened with dirt, it didn’t match his body’s complexion. “Maa-riiii-cooooone!” He yelled again.   

And that’s when I saw it.

A long oblong shaped penis protruded from his unzipped trousers, and dangled left to right with each arduous step the man took.  He was getting closer to us.

Too shocked to laugh. Too shocked to scream. Ashley and I looked at each other with inquisition marking our faces.

“Maa-riiii-”

Thwack! Came a loud blow to his head by a nearby savior. He had hit the Maricone guy on the head with a green Heineken bottle.

Maricone laid motionless on the floor, with blood pumping out of his head.

Ashley and I grabbed each other at the impact of the blow. Too shaken to speak, we hugged each other tightly.

The savior seemed to have come out of nowhere.

Everything went silent. And we froze. Heart stopped beating. Tears spilled from our eyes. We couldn’t move.

It was not funny.

7:56 AM.

We have to go. The bus is set to arrive at 8:00am.

I don’t remember catching the bus.

I don’t even remember the ride to school.

I heard or learned nothing that day. We floated through the day.

Every time we attempted to begin the conversation, we found no words.

We shook our heads on it. I shook my head to shake the images out of my head. I didn’t want to think about it.

5th grade felt like a container to suppress our womanhood.

Later, we learned that Maricone died.

That same day, Hector and Javier died. Got shot for stealing Papo’s weed.

Fat Cuban jester died. Carmen’s dad had a gun.

Our walks to school were no longer funny.  

My Niggah

Two Boys on Tracks, San Marcos

“Whut up, my niggah!” Came the boisterous greeting from Carl to his best friend from Kindergarten as he approached him. He gave his friend the once over, studying his oversized, worn sneakers, baggy jeans held by a tight belt, that seemed to swallow his thinly framed friend, as the jeans were bigger than the present-day, Hip-hop fashion commanded, and his oversized Cross Colour ® shirt, a Hip Hop clothing design which became popular in 1989, appeared weathered. The once vibrantly multi-colored, stripped shirt was now faded.  “Guess you wearin’ yo’ big bro’s old clothes again!” He laughed, still holding his friend’s hand, from “slappin’ fives”, and sliding into held fists, which remained at chest height. Carl’s eyes made it to his friend’s hair, and then Carl made a quick jerk from the hand embrace. He brought his released fist to cup his lips and he yelled, “Yooooooo! What da fuck dey did to yo’ tape, man?!” He cackled out, stomped his feet as if he meant to march away, but was suspended by a turnstile as he made a full 360° turn while dancing and chanting in synchronized march step. He looked at his friend and repeated, “Whut dey did to yo’ tape, niggah?! Dey fucked you up!” He seemed to press hard upon the word, ‘fuck’, as he held that word longer than the any other word in his query. He reached up to his friend’s forehead, where his hairline was crooked, and half of it was  ¼ of an inch further back from his natural hairline, proving that his barber was either blind or inept. Carl bent over in a belly laugh, not realizing the hurt he had imposed upon his too-shocked-to-speak friend.

“Mannn, shuddup!” Bernard muttered, grossly embarrassed and looking around as if he’d find the perfect hole to crawl into. He touched his hairline with his right hand, and palm brushed his curly hair down, as if that would correct the injustice done to it. He pushed past his friend, more angrily now, than hurt, to continue his walk to the school house. His old backpack slouched on his right shoulder, forcing his body to lean towards the left as he stalked away. His step hipped-hopped on his left leg, as was the “cool walk” of the day, taking full steps with his left, and shorter ones of his right leg. Looking at him, one couldn’t tell if that was due to the weight of his book bag, or his natural walk. Either way, his pride was tethered to that walk, which gave the perception that it did not bother him that he was lacking what he thought was essential to a successful life at school. If his mom didn’t stop trying to cut his hair, and he didn’t get some new clothes soon, his life at Miramar Elementary School would be hell. He’d have no respect, and worse, no friends. He slapped his fist into his open left palm as he thought about what he could do to make money.

“Yo, B! Wait up, niggah. Don’t be mad at me!” Carl yelled as he ran after his best friend. It wasn’t his fault dude was coming to school all jacked up. At least he still hung out with him. And if he didn’t tell him the truth, he wouldn’t be a friend. Bernard should be lucky that he still hangs out with him even though he comes to school looking like his people must be poor as fuck. He put his arm around his friend’s neck aggressively, although to show affection. “Chill out, niggah.” He beckoned, but more to show his familiarity, “We fam, niggah. Don’t get all all soft on me, nah.” He shook his pal’s neck as if that would shake off the hurt he realized Bernard was feeling.

The boys traveled two more blocks south in silence. They continued their way down to NW 2nd Avenue; their destination, 30th Street, to wait on the school bus scheduled to pick them up from behind Buena Vista Elementary School. As they passed by LaFama Supermarket on 31st Street, Carl turned to Bernard who by now was in better spirits and said, “Man, I’m hungry.”

The smell of Cuban coffee and fresh pastries filled the air. One could also get a whiff of buttered Cuban toasts and bacon. The bakery café right next door to La Fama served breakfast and dinner at the same time. Cubans ate anything at any time. They even had chicharrones, pork cracklings, right next to the pastelitos de guayaba,  pastelitos de guayaba y queso, and pastelitos de carne-the three main staples of Cuban pastries, in the pastry warmer which also contained empanadas de carne, and croquetas de jamón.

Carl fell from formation and faced the bakery. The sunrise cast a brilliant yellow light upon the otherwise pre-dawn dim of light. Workers and moms packed the outside window, and inside, a row of hungry worker men sat in the narrow café, which only had a foot of standing room between the wall, and from behind the men who sat on stools.  “Niggah, you deaf?! Let’s go, man. I’m hungry!” He started towards the café.

“But I don’t-“ Bernard started.

“Niggah, shut up. I already know yo’ ass ain’t got no money! Let’s go. You know you hongry!” And with that, he grabbed his best friend by the collar and dragged him towards the café until Bernard resolved that, that’s what they were doing at this moment-getting something to eat.

And Bernard conceded that, his friend was a jerk, but at least he looked out for him.

 

 

Image by Richard Menzies, at http://rdmenzies.com/Photography/

The Attacker

Tom Hoops

Faded screams and yells melted into the rhythmic drumming in sync with the bloody fists pounding against Carolina’s head. Her vision blurred, and she faded in and out of darkness and the prism of colors.

Her attacker continued the thrashing despite the screams of onlookers.

The scene was chaotic at least. Cars zoomed by, and honked at the onlooking crowd- which had all but spill into the street from the shadowy alley where most were suspended; they watching what must have been an epic event. The crowd jumped, hollered and pumped raised fists in the air; but it had an interestingly ominous feel. One couldn’t tell if what they were watching was exciting or dangerous. Passerby-ers couldn’t tell if the crowd was happy or afraid-the excitement and mayhem was that of something gratuitous being given, or some type of cock fight. One couldn’t tell by their reaction. From behind, a new comer can only see that many had pulled out their cell phones-that prevented any newcomers from seeing the event.  These lucky ones, who had gotten to the event early, were recording. Some continued to scream at whatever they were watching. Some ran out of the alley. But most stood, cell phones capturing the atrocity being committed, too immobile to decipher what was actually happening, with their mouths agape in a silent scream.

Carolina’s body weakened under her attacker, moribund and motionless. Her face sunken by broken skin and bones. Blood splattered everywhere and revealed white flesh, and muscles from her exposed cheeks and vertically split lips. The cartilage from her broken nose protruded from her disfigured face.

The Attacker grew tired. His hands were bruised and the blood which hid his knuckles was a mixture of his and his victim’s. He leaned back against his heels as his knees were hot and sore from the hot, asphalt pavement. He took a deep breath. He looked around at the cellphones in the air, and seemed deaf to the screams. His eyes were dark, glossy, but empty of emotion-they reflected the horror stained upon his audience’s faces. His break seemed to come from fatigue, rather than remorse. He rocked himself up slowly. His right knee came up as he planted that foot on the ground. He looked up again, with his right elbow propped upon his knee, and held his chin. He lifted that arm and wiped his forehead with a bloody backhand. He winced with pain from the contact of his forehead with his bruised knuckles. He then placed his hand back on his knee to support himself as he pulled his left leg up to finally stand up. He squinted as he leaned his head back to look directly at the sky, partially hidden by the flanking buildings. He didn’t shield his eyes from the protruding, yet glaring sun. He then placed both hands on his hips and inhaled slowly. He exhaled harshly, and coughed his head back down as his chin met his chest. He slowly raised his head and looked around. He wiped his mouth with bloody fist.

The crowd seemed to stop. All noise. Stopped. People became frightened and put their phones down. A few who dared to continue taping slowly backed out of the alley, pushing and stepping on whomever was behind them without so much of an ‘excuse me’.

The Attacker’s chest heaved up and down. His faced screwed back, as if he remembered his anger. He flashed back to his victim who laid there. Lifeless. And with the gasps and screams of a climaxed crowd who could take no more of the brutality, he gave Carolina one more swift and hard kick to the ribs. The crack of her bones muffled by his loud growl. And without so much of a glance at his environment, nor victim, he stalked away.

No one followed him.

“Call an ambulance!” broke the silence from the confused crowd.

 

Image borrowed by Emmi Grace’s article (Pinterest)

Akashi walks through Uchawi Forest

Image

Akashi left the palace at dawn, before anyone could stop her…

Even dressed in casual attire of a flowing white, sheer cotton, A-line dress, with white leather sandals, her royalty could not be abated. Her maids had bathed, and oiled her dark skin until it shown in the sun. They had placed her colorful, beaded-jewelry on her head, neck, waist and wrist. They had even applied her sacred and royal anklets on her ankles. Before leaving the palace, she removed her royal headdress, and placed it in a potted plant.

Her breast bounced with each swift step. They pressed against the sheer fabric and were large as pomegranates. Her hips were for ever-rounded, since her womanly cycle began 10 years ago. Her womanhood was protected by a thick surface of soft, curly, black bushel which matched her crown hair. Her strong back and callipygian frame remained taunt with each graceful step through the forest.

Her figure-eight silhouette enchanted the men, posing in their animal elements. The birds stepped out of their hiding to watch her float, almost, through the trees. Akashi greeted all as she made her way through the forest as quickly as possible. She was told to never walk without her guardians; nor without her driver, on horse and chariot which pulls her golden, red and purple, satin-lined, Carriage. She imagined her Carriage now, filled with Fonian pillows for a most-comforting ride. She was not thinking of the Chai tea, with milk and honey she could be sipping right now. Nor did she dwell upon the figs, nuts, dates and cheeses she loved so much. She needed to get to her great-grandmother’s burial site.

She pushed massive fans of heavily leaved, pliable branches away from her head of big hair. Still glistening with oil, her wooly hair  crowned her head as the sun, and protected her neck and shoulders from smaller flying insects. She made her way westward, away from the palace. In her right pocket, she held her crystals; the ones given to her at birth for protection and from spontaneous transformations which the lower class, who could not afford crystals, suffered. Transforming before others was detrimental to ones’ safety, as it revealed ones’ animal connection and power. It also revealed ones’ lineage. In this multi-ethnic, tribal society, it was important that ones saw you in human form to avoid issues with possible enemies and attack from stronger energies.

She intended to go visit her great-grandmother’s site before the Sun reached its peak of day. With only a few magical words and short ceremony of libation pouring, singing and drumming, she could always evoke her ancestor. Her beautiful great-grandmother always appeared in her normal intricately textile, royal dress, with her golden arm bands, and neck rings to show her Uchawan high-powered status. Her black-as-ebony skin paled only to the gold she wore. Her smooth skin shown and glistened with Shea butter and coconut oil. Her teeth were white as the Ivory tusks of the elephants she rode when she lived on Uchawi. Her full lips were soft and plump; and the color of purple berries. As a gentle spirit, she was known to greet all with love. She was naturally sensual and known for her hypnotic qualities. Her lips were said to be holders of honey, and she would extend them into a brilliant smile to lift her full cheekbones, and elongate her almond-shaped eyes to near slits. No one could deny her. She was known as the most beautiful woman ever lived. And Akashi, who was her mirror image, had huge slippers to fill. She was to be queen as her great-grandmother had been. Such a fate was both scary and nerve-wrecking.

Akashi felt anxious with each step towards her destination. She was losing time quickly.

She needed her great-grandmother’s help. As the daughter of Isis-Empress of the Moon, she was betrothed to the young, Loko, who would become High Priest, since he was the first son of the Dahomey Kingdom, of the great Serpent Damballah, King of the Sun. Only her great-grandmother could stop this bonding to Loko. Only she could approve Akashi’s joining with another.

A day in life in Wynwood

It was a hot summer morning in June, and the sun had just made its break into the dark of dawn.  The roosters crowed in syncopation, and the sound of the sprinklers sang in the distance. The roar of the garbage truck collecting trash up and down the street, whistling at each stop alerted the day of the week: it was Monday.

I had graduated from Pre-school on Friday, and mom said that I was a big girl now. After Saturday and Sunday, I would go to a new school for the summer.  I didn’t realize that I was the only one going to school. My siblings were still yet in bed. By Sunday night, excitement and fear kept me up most of the night; so I was well awake by the time the garbage truck rolled around to my block. 

My brothers were in their rooms-still in bed sleeping.  The room I shared with my sister was closest to my parents’ room, separating my brothers’ room from my parents’. The tenor-pitched rumble of my sister’s snoring rang through our wood paneled room and reverberated off the walls to coda with a sharp triplet staccato.

The expected humidity of the tropical heat smothered me, and I felt tired. The sweat drenched my nightdress, leaving my back wet and my neck tickled and sticky. The dust laden oscillating fan did little to invite the breeze we enjoyed the night before. Resolving to my fate, I finally sat upright. I surveyed the square-shaped, dimly lit room. The doo-doo brown walls were ugly to me. Why would anyone want wood panels inside of the house? Wood should be on the outside of the house. The wooden floors didn’t help brighten the place either. My mom’s decorating did little to help.  The crisp, white cotton curtain panels, lined with lace and doilies hung lazily against each side of the open window.  The once, wind-enhanced, scary-in-the-night, flying curtains found no wind to give it life in the heat of the morning gleam. Beams from the sun made dust and particles visible to my naked eye.  The white highboy chest of drawers stood beneath the window. Porcelain figurines of white girls and boys playing graced the top of the white, lace doilies that covered the rectangular top of the drawer.  My sister’s and my comb, and our white, gold-trimmed, hand-painted-pearl brush of little red roses held curlies of our hair; and our hair ribbons and barrettes were all neatly scattered on our chest.   

Directly across the window and chest was the East wall, where the scary closet with no doors was positioned. I can’t remember ever seeing one there, but based on its exposed tracks along its perimeter, it needed one of those accordion doors, or the two-door kind which overlapped, and slid to close on either side. Either way, I just wished there was one there and I wouldn’t have to look the other way at night when the shadows from the moonlight casted upon the clothes looked like a mob of people from the 17th century, holding oil lanterns coming to take me away from my family.  The room had an old Early Americana feel to it: From the foot stools, the white porcelain basin of water my mom kept next to my bed so that I wouldn’t have to go all the way, down the hall to use the toilet in the middle of night, to the Monet paintings, the curtains, the smell-it felt old.   And I was convinced that ghosts lived with us.

 I decided that it was morning and I didn’t need to be afraid anymore.  I took a deep breath and stretched my arms up to God as if to say, Thank You for not letting them take me. I looked up and caught sight of a palmetto bug making its way up the wall. I blinked twice, to be sure because it was the exact same color as the walls. These monster roaches have tiny wings on their back and they fly. I plunged back under the covers and ignored the discomfort of my wet pillow as I tightly held on to the blankets. I couldn’t breathe.

You have to get up.

But the roach!…there’s a roach in my room!

 I realized that my sister had left the window open. She might as well have put up a sign saying: Come on in, Roaches! Mi casa es su casa! She knows I hate bugs!   Her tumultuous roaring continued and the smell of my breath was suffocating me under the covers.

 I pulled the sheets off my head and sat up again. Mr. Bug was gone. Or so I thought. I swung my feet to the floor and allowed my toes to feel for my feather soft house slippers.  If I could just get these on, I can make a dash for the bathroom. My little toes crept into the indulgent slippers, and I felt something move. Then I felt tentacles tickling my toes! I gasped in disbelief and horror-unable to move or utter a breath or sound,  before gasping a short breath again to force a heart-curdling screech which awoke the entire house.

My sister’s symphony of tenor to bass snoring stopped abruptly with a climactic snort; and she jolted out of bed.

My mom came rushing into our room with her hands holding her sponge rollers, screaming: “Sak pase?! Sak pase?!” What happened?! Her Mumu was buttoned wrong, unaligned and haphazardly, revealing her caramel breast which hung like Haitian mangos when its pulp is sucked out through a small piercing at the top, leaving its shape oblong but flat.

My brothers came rushing in, already laughing…

I heard the shower stream stop and heard my father yelling, “Sak gen la?!” What happened here? (What’s going on in there?)

My younger brother, the youngest of us five, all of three years, and 11 months, and 28 days old at the time ran to the bathroom door to fill my dad in on the hysterics of his morning-“Addi crying because she has a roach in her sandal!”

“Ah!” my dad grunted before he turned the faucet back on, and continued his shower.

My mom asked, “Do you have to be so ridiculous? Inférieure! Meaning: acting of lower class.

My sister muttered, “She’s such a drama queen,” and turned around to return to her slumber.

My brothers laughed and walked back to their room.

Seeing that my wailing had not subsided, my ma said, “Get up. Levez! Levez! Mettez’w  debout! Li l’heur pou’n allez.” It’s time to go.  My mom would go in and out from Haitian Creole to French and sometimes, she’d throw in some English words.

My mom rushed to help me get dressed after a much hurried, cold shower.

Why do I have to go?” I whined. It didn’t seem fair. I’m the fourth child of five children-and of all of us, I had to go? Not fair. I knew my siblings would have a gay old time without me there. Mom and dad wouldn’t be home so they’d get to play with the neighbors.  They’d have a party and have fun playing pillow fights, kickball, Hide-and go-seek, Mother-may-I, Green-light-Red-Light, playing School, Shopping and Mommy and Daddy. But I would be stuck at school. It just didn’t seem fair. I’d just graduated Pre-School.

Without answering the question, she stated in our native Creole, “Et puis, fait vit!” For me to hurry up.

              Soon, we were out the door, and making our one-mile walk down Northwest 2nd Avenue, from 34th to 26th Street- down the boardwalk of Wynwood’s busiest district. No, it wasn’t Midtown, then. They’ve changed the name to Midtown now that it’s gained recognition for its art galleries, alternative music clubs and can boast a fine dining experience from top chefs from around the world; it is adjacent to Miami’s Design district. Now that most of the younger generation has moved away in search of a better life, the older people have either died, or sold their homes; now that a huge mall has been erected in the middle of the town where an old truck lot and cement company used to be; now that High Rises costing more than anyone from the old neighborhood, except for Hector and his crew who controlled the drug cartels, could afford grace the outskirts of our little town with panoramic balconies overlooking good ole Biscayne Bay and beyond;  and the old concrete homes are bought out by the booming artist community who has done a great job in giving the neighborhood a much needed facelift of beautifully painted, graffiti murals, renovated old-style, Miami homes with gorgeous curb appeals of well-manicured lawns; now that the bums and crack addicts are gone, it’s Midtown. But on this day, when the population of multi-ethnic families was poor to middle class, and everyone belonged, and all the children played in the street, and everyone knew everyone, and the stores were reasonably priced, it was Wynwood.

The smell of fresh Cuban breads and pastries tickled my nose and made my stomach growl. I could tell my mom was ignoring it, as we both inhaled the smell of rich, aromatic coffee beans being roasted at the coffee factory on 5th Avenue.   

A dog barked at a cat that jumped away with a loud meow, just in time for redemption; the buzzing sound of the street lights faded away as the lights automatically turned off. A rooster shrieked the final alarm to wake up; and then the rumbling train made its travel down North Miami Avenue. Ah, the quietest moment of the day.

                She tugged at my hand as we made it down the street-I guess it was important to get me there as fast as she could.

I allowed my eyes to follow Celia, the neighborhood drunk; I waved to her despite my mom’s eye-rolling and neck twisting to the opposite direction.

Hola, mamita linda! Como estas?”  Celia danced around me.  Her heels seem to hurt, with deep cuts that didn’t bleed, five shades darker than her caramel skin tone. Celia smelled like she had just bathed in rum. Her eyes were bloodshot red and bulging; her speech slurred with smiling, crimson lips.

                My mom stepped to the left to avoid a collision, never letting go of me as she yanked my hands. My mom didn’t grant the woman her customary smile or acknowledgement; instead, she kept her head straight, and face stoic with a slight frown on her face as if she smelled something foul.

I thought of Celia the whole way to my new school, Centro Catholico de San Juan de Puerto Rico- where I would learn Spanish in no time because no one spoke English; and I would be the only Black, Haitian girl. 

My children make me sick!

So I’m not the best mother in the world. I have an administrative professional position at a non-profit, private university. I’m an artist, musician, singer, writer, and Ph.D. student. I volunteer in the community; love my community. I love people, and care about the world. My heart is with my people in Haiti. I feel their struggle and wish to help anyway I can. I try to teach my children social responsibility, love for self and people, kindness, respect. I teach them how to love; how to appreciate art, history and music. I let them be. I like to flow. So we flow-we have fun! I like a peaceful house. But lately, my home has not been peaceful. It’s been a tyrannical energy of me being sick and tired of their bullsh*t. You’d think that at 13, my daughter would just clean her room without my swearing, ultimatum promising, lamenting, crying and finally making physical threats. You’d think my once sweet 8-year old would not cry just to avoid her evening bath. You’d expect my once very creative 11-year-old would just do her goddamn homework and submit it to her teacher so I wouldn’t have to get phone calls about how poorly she’s doing due to NEVER submitting homework. They make me sick. And it seems, no matter how much support, stability and firmness they receive, they’ve decided that they’re going to do it their way. So, I’m so sick of them right now. They’ve taken my love and attention for weakness and really utilize it to manipulate the hell out of any situation. They would make fine lawyers! I see them starting their own firm.

And that’s the fine line in parenting: Cultivating their talents by guiding them, even in reprimand, and to not suppress or put down their spirit. And this is a conscious decision I make; I’m very careful how I curse my daughters out. This is for several reasons. I’m not just raising girls. I’m raising African Haitian American girls. I’m demonstrating how to move about this world which treats us as the Other. I’m teaching them self-governance, choice, responsibility, and most of all, love for self-pride in self. I’m teaching them how to not depend on anyone, how to work for what they want. I want them to care about me, my efforts. I want them to show gratitude for the quality of life I ensure they enjoy. But all they’re exhibiting is entitlement and apathy.

So this morning, after I had awakened them up, and lovingly reminded them where I had neatly hung their clothes, I proceeded to get myself ready. I had taken my shower, gotten dressed, coifed my afro, applied make-up, gotten my bags together before realizing that my youngest was just getting out of the shower; my second was still in bed-with the dog! My eldest put aside the beautifully embellished sweater I laid out for her for a disgusting and stained (I should add-which hasn’t been washed in weeks) NIKE hoody/sweatshirt! Aren’t girls supposed to be dainty and clean? All the princess talks of old was apparently for the birds! They’re disgusting. Yeah I said it! Just plain…Big Sigh. So, with only five minutes left for me to walk into my office, and realizing that an additional second spent on the horrors of this morning would render me dead due to an unavoidable coronary or stroke, I said, “You girls have a nice day. I’m leaving.” And with that, I walked out of the house.

I started my car, lit a cigarette, and listened to the garbage talk on the urban radio station. I saw red. But imagined yellow. And I said a prayer of thanks, that my girls are okay. They’ll be okay. I’ll be okay. Deep breath. Fuck it.

From 78 degrees to -11 degrees-The Art of Flexibility

I flew from Miami, FL to Cleveland, OH on January 2nd for my 3rd Ph.D. residency which is being held at the Mets Center in Erlanger, KY. My friend and fellow cohorter, Kathy lives in Cleveland, and I flew into her town to help her drive down the icy, snowy weather. Mind you, I’ve never driven in the snow; in fact, I had only seen and experienced this weather once in Novemeber 2012 when I attended the Haitian Studies Association conference in New York the previous year. You can imagine that I was both scared, stressed out and upon arriving and putting on the remaining clothes in my little carry-on luggage, COLD!

It was 11 degrees when I arrived to Cleveland. Nevermind the beautiful barren trees covered in white snow! Nevermind her lovely home, peacefully situated in front of an enchanting forest of snow-capped trees; nevermind her tastefully decorated home, beautiful family and the delicious spaghetti dinner she treated me to. It was COLD!

With the absence of sun and the continuous storm, I felt myself begin to fall into a generative depression. It doesn’t mean that I’m not a happy person; it means that I found myself really missing my 78 degree weather and my warm children, and my hot kitchen, and my humid backyard, and my sweltering streets of Miami.

Deciding that I would be grateful for the experience, I took another look. I took a deep breath and reminded myself why I was there. I was there for a dear friend who deserved my time. And she would do the same for me…and she is lovely and so hospitable. I was happy to be there with her and with the warmth of her kindness and love, I was warm. I felt good. I was calm. And truth be told, there’s something very calming about the auspicious dark woods, covered in snow, with its ground white and unadultered; and in its innocence, I found peace and a willingness to be flexible.

Yes, I can live anywhere because I am flexible.