CNF: The Birth, and Death, of Iris Giana

 

The Birth, and Death, of Iris Giana

(Also titled The Questions We Ask)

 

 

5:30am I wake up with a deep searing pain that spread from my pelvis up over my rounded belly and nestled just under my ribs. Rocking to my side (as somehow during the long night – or perhaps after the fourth trip to the bathroom – I’d ended up on my back), I take one, two, three deep breaths in. Trying to send the pain away. Tony, who is sleeping next to me, grunts questioningly and I pat his arm to tell him I’m ok. I roll out of bed, half bent at the waist from the pain, and get ready for work. 

 

6:45 am  I pull open the door to my compact car and swing my left foot out. Gingerly, I move my belly to follow, place my right foot on the ground and struggle to pull myself from the small space. At 19 weeks, my low slung belly is just big enough to make moving difficult and the pain is making it nearly impossible for me to be as nimble as I usually am.


Lately, I’ve been careful to step as lightly as possible because my water broke very early, at 15 weeks. They already warned that I would most likely have the baby early. Too early for her to survive. That I must be careful and drink enough water so that I’m continuously replenishing the sac. I hear them and I get it but I’m optimistic. I won’t terminate her little life, as they pressure me to do. I must endure. I reach in the car to grab my water bottle and purse and happily tiptoe toward my office. Everything was fine. Everything is fine. Baby Iris Giana is fine. 

 

7:30 am I can’t take the pain. Everything is not fine. I’m useless at work. I can’t answer messages, decipher data, or pick up the phone. Over and over, the searing pain stabs me from front to back. I lean forward to breathe through it and immediately lean back to hold my breath.


“Oh my god,” I huff and the heads of my coworkers swivel toward me. “Something isn’t right, something isn’t right, something…” I pause to pant as the pain returns. I close my eyes as if that might help. 

“Honey,” the older woman, that sits across from me, says as she wipes at the spilled coffee on her desk. “I’m really sorry but I think you need to go to the hospital. Right now.” I turn away from her, away from the pity in her eyes. My own are wet with unspent tears. ‘I must be strong. I’m stronger than this’, I chant it in my head.

“I’m ok, I’ve been in a lot of pain lately. It comes and goes. It’ll pass, it’ll pass, it’ll pass.” I’m chanting again and I have no idea why.

“No,” she pauses to get up from her chair. Her thick body swaying to remove itself from the plastic arms. “I’ve had 6 children, Jade. I have even more grandchildren. I’m sorry but it sounds like you’re in labor. You need to go to the hospital, right now.”

I shake my head at her but I know she’s right. Everyone told me I wouldn’t make it. That Iris Giana wouldn’t make it. But I had to try, didn’t they see? I couldn’t just give up on her. I shake my head again, this time the tears fall hot and fast. I suck air in through clenched teeth as another wave of pain passed through me. I shoot out of my chair and brace my hands on the desktop. My manager immediately grabs up my purse. She searches for my phone and hands it to me. We aren’t supposed to have our phones at our desks but everyone does it. I keep my eyes averted, a rule breaker I am not. Usually. 

“Here, call Tony. Tell him to meet you at the hospital. I’ll take you,” she says as she pats my arm then turns to look for her own purse and phone. Also out on the office floor.

“No, I’m ok. I promise.” One breath in, long exhale out. I thumb over the phone and call my guy. Once, Twice, then a text message. Please, meet me at Winnie. Baby coming now. Too much pain. Coworker says possible labor. The rings must have woken him because immediately he messages back: Damn. If you can’t drive, call an ambulance. I’m on my way. How silly. Of course I can drive myself. I am a strong, black woman. I am a strong black woman who can take care of herself. 

 

8:45 am I could not drive myself.

I’m waiting at a red light but I gotta get out. I wipe a hand across my forehead and it comes away wet with sweat. I’m too hot and I can’t sit down for even one more minute. Stepping on the gas, I swing into the parking lot just at the edge of the street and I whip the door open so fast I nearly fall out of the car. Was I wearing a seatbelt? 

I make sure to snatch up my phone and, as I walk my first pass around the car, I call my mother. No answer. I hang up and call again. No answer.

“Mom, please. I need you,” I say out loud. Or I try to. I’m crying too hard to get words out. Another wave of pain hits and I double over the hood and do one, two, three squats. I think to call Tony but stop myself. He’s already on his way. So, I muster up all the strength I have left, round the car another three times, and do my squats. The whirring sound of traffic speeds past me and slows at each the turn of the light. No one stops. Life goes on. Does no one care that I’m losing my baby over here? Does she matter to no one but me?

 

9:30 am – 2:00pm I arrive at the hospital and am admitted into triage. Within the next few days I will be a completely different person. I will no longer be pregnant. Iris Giana will no longer be alive. I will, once again, no longer be a mother. 

Tony holds me as I weep. He holds me as I take the medicine to slow down the contractions. They are much too strong and I’m not dilated yet. We must be careful, the doctor said but I don’t know why. I’m already losing the baby, what else can I lose? Tony helps me to the restroom. There’s blood. He helps me back to the bed. We do this two more times. I’m crying all the while. The doctor comes back. It’s time to move me to my hospital room.

They tell me when I get to my room I’ll need to take a pill for the abortion. I feel attacked. I don’t want an abortion. I want my baby, I cry and say. Please let me keep her. I turn away from their long faces, their looks of pity. They tell me I can’t.

“There’s nothing we can do,” they say. I hate them. Despite all that has happened in my life, everything I’ve been through: the attacks, the abuse, the searing cigarettes against my skin and scalp, I have never hated in my life. It’s filled with too much evil and eats you up. It poisons your soul. But, in that, moment I hate them. I turn my face away because I can’t bear to look at them. I am ashamed, because of this, and I can’t look at Tony. He might see the hatred behind my eyes and think less of me. He loves my light, how it shines from the inside. Hatred dims your light, I know it. 

“It’s just the scientific term for it,” my nurse soothes me. “We know that you aren’t having an abortion,” she says softer and touches my hand. “It’ll help you dilate and the contractions will start back up. It takes almost 4 hours for the first pill to start. Then, if you haven’t dilated further, we’ll give you another.” I don’t want to meet her eyes so I keep mine trained on her manicured fingers. The nails are rounded and clean. EMPLOYEES MUST WASH HANDS BEFORE RETURNING TO WORK and I can tell she’s a rule follower. Like me.

Her fingers are small but they cover most of the words on the paper. I want to snatch the paper from her fingers and tear it to pieces. I don’t want to sign it. Yes, fine. I take it from her, softly. With shaking fingers I sign on the line saying they can give me medicine to abort my baby. I want to ask questions. I always thought, should the occasion come, that I would ask questions and advocate for more myself but I am deflated. 

There is nothing I can do. I have done it all. There’s no way to save Iris. We’ve done all that we could and it didn’t work. 

 

2:25pm I’m transferred to a new hospital room and I’m crying again. “I’m not supposed to be here. This is a delivery room.” I can’t hold my head up. I’m ashamed. I’m letting Iris down and I can’t be here in this room.


“It’s ok,” Tony pats my hand and I’m wheeled in. I can feel the wave of pain passing through again but it’s muted by the loudness of the room. It calls to me. You’ve failed, the big delivery bed says. You couldn’t hack it, the floor to ceiling windows scream. You did this, sounds the closed door to a hotel grade bathroom.  

After settling me into the bed, Tony says that he will be back. He needs to run back to the house to get something that needs a signature. Why is he leaving me? Why would you leave me alone? But I understand, I guess. Maybe he needed a break from all of this. Maybe he would go and cry in the car, because he’s a strong black man and he needs that strength for me.

 

2:45pm The pain is back. My room is set up, I’ve taken my horridly named abortion pill, and I’m wrapped in a new hospital gown, one designed for birthing. I take a quick trip down to the terrace area, some semblance of normalcy. A place that is supposed to fill mothers-in-labor with tranquility. It pushed me over the edge. I’m not supposed to be on this terrace until I’m 9 months. I blubber into my tissues and lean my head back and my soul cries out. The terrace is empty, ironically, and I don’t try to hide my grief.

The walk also pushed my body over the edge and the contractions speed up with an intensity I can’t take and nausea rolls through me. I have to stop in the hallway to take deep breaths. I nearly fall when I step toward my room and I’m angry.

I’m angry at god, for putting me here. How dare he? I gave him my wishes, I put my soul – and Iris Giana’s soul – in his hands and he destroyed them. I’m angry that I came out to this stupid terrace, pretending like I was one of these girls with their healthy babies and their family members that love them enough to answer their phones. I’m angry that the contractions are back and I can’t walk to my room without help and I’ve been walking on my own for 23 years and now I’ve reverted back to infancy and, and, and, and. I’m filled with hate and anger and I can’t stand it because this isn’t me. 

 

3:00pm The nurse has led me, like a sheep, back to my room and is getting the line started. I need the pain medication because I’m not a strong black woman. Not anymore. I’ve dissolved and devolved. My old tears have dried on my cheeks and new ones are threatening to fall. I can barely stand, barely sit, barely breathe. 

“It’s been less than an hour but I think the baby might be coming soon,” the nurse says to me like I don’t know what’s fucking going on. I know what’s happening to my body, I’m not a fucking child, I scream in my head but I hold my tongue. I nod and attempt a smile when she looks at me, waiting for a response. Resentment for her swirls in my belly, around the tiny baby waiting to come out.  

I text my sister, telling her the baby is coming. Asking her if she’s spoken to mom. She replies immediately, yes, she’s spoken to mom, and ‘oh my gosh, I’m just so so sorry’. So it’s settled then. My mom has time to talk to my siblings, and whoever else, but she can’t pick up the phone to speak to me. Her only daughter that’s going through a traumatic experience at the moment. She can’t even send a text. Hatred and hurt vie for space in my heart. One will eventually take over. 

 

3:05pm I call out to the nurse. It’s no guessing game now. The baby is definitely coming. I tried to sit on the bed but the pain is so bad I can’t sit my bum against the soft mattress. I turn toward the back of the bed, my knees digging into the pillows, and hold the handrails along the sides. I scream through my closed mouth as another contraction tightens my belly. Stab, stab, stab at the button to call the nurses. Stab, stab, stab to my uterus. 

“We’re coming, we’re coming,” I hear frantic voices call out through the intercom. I try to reply but only a jumble of moans and screams come out. I can’t think. I need help. Please. I try to say, again, but I can’t form the words. The pain medicine never worked. 

Two new nurses come charging into the room and take in the scene. Me, on all fours facing the back of the bed, pillows kicked to the foot, the hospital gown pulled up around my thighs. “Oh honey, if you can’t sit down that baby is definitely coming.” The nurse says, this time I don’t feel anger for her. I feel relieved. Thank you, thank you, thank you, I whisper as I turn around. She helps me ease onto my back and holds my hands in hers as the other nurse opens my legs. I look into her eyes, her only job to keep me steady. The tears come again as another contraction tightens my belly. 

“I can see the sac here,” pushing against my vagina, it hurts but not as bad as the contractions so I breathe through it. “Ok, I’m messaging the doctor. We’re having the baby now, ok?”

My hatred is gone. The first time I’ve truly felt it and I’m happy to see it go. Gratitude fills me and I thank her and I thank the nurse holding my hands. The two nod to me and rush about the room getting things ready. I watch them, in between breaths.

Where’s Tony? Am I going to have to do this alone? Oh, there he is. Coming in just as my legs are being spread wide. He’s seen this before, not during my first loss, but when he was the one opening them. This is different than that, I think with a bit of humor despite the pain. His eyes are wide open and I want to laugh but I can’t. I wonder if he sees the baby though. Can he see her coming out?

 

3:10pm Push! Push! The nurse’s soft voice calls out and I bear down, “like you’re going poo, and a one, two, three…” My legs are pulled back, five nurses – one doctor. The pain meds don’t work, something is wrong with the line and I ask for it. I ask for it again and again. I’m not a strong black woman. ‘I’m not. I’m not. I’m not,’ I chant in my head. 

The doctor looks up at me with beautiful blue eyes, staring straight into my soul and, as if she can read my mind, says “You can do this”. I can’t do this. I’m so sorry. I don’t want to lose my baby. I’m shaking my head at her. The smell of copper fills the room. Have you ever smelled copper before? Does Copper smell like blood or does blood smell like copper? Why am I thinking of this when I’m having a baby? I’m only 19 weeks! Why am I having a baby?

 

3:15pm Iris comes out at the end of a long chin to the sky, eyes open wide, breathe into the pelvis push. 3:15pm will forever be on her birth card. It’ll forever be in my mind. There’s an instant feeling of relief. I look up at Tony and he looks down into my face. I can’t read him, his eyes are red, slight widening at the corners. I wonder if he’s afraid to look anywhere else.

They put Iris on my chest and although it hurts when they push on my belly, I try to lean forward to see her. I want to sit. Can I sit? Can I see her? No, they tell me to stay where I am. Everyone is rushing about, sponge after sponge goes between my legs but at the time I don’t know what’s happening. I catch the Dr. (or was it a nurse) saying “it’s stuck’ but Iris is in my face and I’m overtaken and weeping. Her small translucent fingers wrap around mine. Her chest goes in and out as she struggles to breathe. One, two, three, four.

“I love you, I love you, I love you, Mommy’s so sorry. I love you,” I chant. I want her to know. I want her to understand.

I ask Tony if he wants to hold her and I see the fear in his eyes. I wonder if it’s because she’s just too small, only 8 ounces. Later, I wonder if it’s because he knew I was dying, that something was going wrong. He looked me in the eyes, a smile twitching his lips, his palm against my forehead, fingers stroking my hair back.

If I could ever name that one moment when I truly felt someone loved me it’s this. The way his eyes wet with tears, the way they didn’t move from my face, my hair, Iris Giana’s tiny body, my lips. I want to bask in that love. I close my eyes to it and I breathe into the moment. I think this is the last time he’ll love me. When it settles in that Iris is gone, he’ll remember that it was my body that failed us for a second time (and will again for a third time a year later) and he’ll hate me. He’ll detest me and not be able to look at me. So I bask in the love and I send it right back at him. I send it to Iris. I package it tight and keep it for later, when the love will be gone. 

 

3:….something “What’s happening with my OR?” the doctor yells out and brings me out of the safety of love.

I open my eyes, feeling as though I had been sleeping. I look down, beyond Iris’s tiny moving body and see my legs. Somehow I hadn’t noticed but they’re shaking. I see the bed beneath them, blood is everywhere. Wet and thick like rich molasses. My mouth falls open and I look up at Tony who is still staring down at me with that slight smile. He gives me a soft nod and I don’t know what to say, or do. I can feel the blood coming out now, in gushes as each of the – still continuing – contractions tightens and releases my body. 

That’s something they don’t tell you. Just because the baby is out, it doesn’t mean you stop having contractions right away. Almost as if a switch was flipped, I feel the pain spear through my belly. It’s deep enough to feel in my soul. I say ‘I can’t stop shaking’ and my doctor, bent to work between my thighs, shakes her head and tells me it’s alright. It’s alright, the shaking will stop soon.

 

3:35pm Maybe? I can’t remember how much time has passed since Iris was born. It feels like the minutes are ticking by and I’m counting each breath Iris takes in rounds of four. One, Two, Three, Four. One, Two, Three. One, Two. One…I don’t notice I’m doing it and, to this day, I can’t figure out the reasoning behind it. 

My legs are still shaking and at this point the nurse has pushed Tony out of the way. They’ve lifted the bed and I’m unable to keep the whimpers of pain from escaping. I’m trying to be strong. Everyone told me I must be strong and hold on. I have to be strong.

All my life, strong, strong, strong was pounded into me by everyone who didn’t matter. In this single moment I give into the pressure. I want Iris to know I’m a strong woman. I am a strong black woman. I feel no pain. I endure it all. But she doesn’t seem to notice, her tiny mouth gaps open and closed with each inhalation. Somehow her lips are thick and her nose stretches in the shape of her father’s. Her tiny face boasted fat cheeks like mine. As fat as they could be on such a little person. One, two, three…

My head begins to swim and I pull it through mud to lean forward. The smell clogs my nostrils and I turn my face away to try to get a clean breath. I see black spots behind my eyelids and I try to blink them away. Where’s Tony? Did he leave? Where’s Iris? Oh yeah, on my chest, one, two, three, four. I hear them calling my name as my head falls back and hits the pillow. This hospital really is like a hotel, I think as I unwillingly stare up at the ceiling. A hard push to my belly reminds me of the pain, I gain a surge of adrenaline and my head is back up again. Or did they just sit the bed up? I’m not sure.

I try to find Tony and oh, there he is. Standing behind a faceless nurse. His head is bouncing around the room: to me, to Iris, to the doctors and to the nurses at work between my legs trying their best to mop up the blood. I make eye contact with the doctor and notice she’s talking to me. She waves a hand in front of my face and I see a light. A pen light? 

“Listen, we are going to surgery. Ok? The placenta is stuck. See, what happens when you deliver too early and you’re not fully dilated is that the baby is big enough to come out but the placenta might not fully detach. And whomp, whomp, whomp, whooo,” I shake my head, my ears are filled with cotton. I shake my head harder, almost as hard as the uncontrollable movement of my legs.

“Did you hear me? I must say this, legally. The risk of this surgery is that I could puncture the side of your uterus. This could cause an issue with future pregnancies leading to…I could puncture…” the tears are falling, I don’t want to listen, I can’t fully understand anyway, and I turn my face away. I turn down to Iris on my chest. I can barely look at her either. I’m shaking my head.

“I won’t be able to have any babies? If you puncture my wall I won’t be able to have any babies?” I repeat this several more times although I can see she is trying to comfort me. She tells me it’s rare. That it’s something they have to warn me of before we go to surgery, but that we really must go. We can not wait even a second longer, and I feel the bed already moving toward the door. We can not wait even a second longer and none of it will matter if I bleed out. All I can think about is that I’ll never be a mom. She asks me if I consent to a blood transfusion. It doesn’t matter. I’ll never be a mom. Who cares if I get blood or not. Who cares? Does anyone care?

 

Time is moving. Later, I ask Tony if he knew what time we went down to surgery but he doesn’t know. He didn’t stop to clock the time. All he knew was that I was being rushed to surgery and he had a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach. I wonder if he thought maybe he wouldn’t see me again but I’m too afraid to ask. Even now, as I’m writing this, I’m too afraid to ask. I don’t want to open all of this up for him again. 

God hates me. He really does. The one thing I’ve always wanted. The one thing I know I was biologically made to do and he took it from me, repeatedly. Take and take and take and take and take. “We really must go.” The doctor says something to a nurse about the OR. “Can we…” I nod to her.

They transfer me to a new bed ‘hold on to her tight’ they say and I pull my arms in so Iris is safe. Her tiny chest still struggling to breathe. One, two, three, four. I feel like I can sense her energy waning. Or was it mine? I try to hold her as we get moving but I can’t.

My arms slacken and I look at one of the nurses in fear. Save Iris, I want to demand but I know she can’t. Can you save Iris? I want to ask but I know it’s not fair for me to expect her to answer. Noticing my distress she gathers Iris into her arms, tiny square of a swaddle blanket and all, and then she’s gone. That tiny body held all the warmth I needed and I begin to panic as I am cool. Or at least I feel cold on the inside, or is that from the saline drip? I’m shaking.

I don’t want to go. I don’t want to leave her. Please, let me stay until she’s passed. I try to ask but my mouth is dry. It’s loud in the hall. They wouldn’t be able to hear me anyway over that sound. Wait, is that me? That keening sound filled with pain? I try to close my mouth in embarrassment but I can’t. It’s too great, my pelvis is on fire and then my head is falling again and I can’t pick it up. I try to keep up with the nurse holding Iris but I can’t. 

“Status on my OR?” the doctor practically yells into a small phone held by the nurse. Somehow she’s on the bed with her feet up on the wheels, or something. We’re moving and she’s up off the wheels and leaning in front of me. Both knees pressing into the white of the soft bedding. The white quickly dampening with blood. Hands on my chest.

I try to look for Iris again, try bowing my back to get a glimpse of the nurse walking behind us. But my body doesn’t move. ‘You’ll have her with you when you come out of surgery’ says the nurse at my side. Her small hands grip the bar as she pushes quickly. What she doesn’t say is that Iris won’t be alive the next time I see her. 

Later, I will be broken. My daughter took her last breaths and I wasn’t there. Because of this stupid, worthless body, one, two, three, four. The thoughts overlap as exhaustion fills every fiber of my being. I didn’t realize how tired I’d become. One, two, three. I just want to sleep. I don’t want to sleep. One, two. But I’m so tired. One.

‘But you were losing too much blood’ my guy will later defend me to myself. ‘You had to get surgery,’ but I don’t care. I’m a bad mom. I worked so hard to keep her healthy, and she was. It was me, my body, that failed her. First, when my water broke at 15 weeks, and then again when she spent those last moments of her life without us. Alone. Unaware. Sterile. Unloved. 

There are so many questions we ask. So many things we want to know. I ask myself many of these knowing I’ll most likely never get the answer:

Does she even know how much I loved her?
How much I still love her?
How much I still think about her even years later?
Does she know I still love her despite healing and finding happiness after?

That losing a child and nearly dying didn’t keep me depressed, and angry, and frustrated at life, forever? Does she know I still loved her even though the pain of her passing got just a little better every day? That when I finally gave birth to a healthy baby girl, Naomi Kai, I thought of how much I loved her?

Does Iris find it unfair? That Naomi Kai is here and she isn’t? (Do any of my angels find it unfair?) Am I a bad mom for being happy with Naomi? Does she know that – even though I love Naomi – I still love her? Is she anywhere thinking of me? Is she anywhere thinking? Is Iris Giana anywhere at all?

At the time, I didn’t know the outcome. I didn’t know things would turn around. I was lost in that moment, in that pain, and I thought it would never end. And as I disappeared into the darkness, just moments after they rolled me into the OR, I thought one last question:

Iris, how can I live without you? 

 

 

 

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P: Nerd Nightly

Prompt:

Write a true story about your nighttime morning routine for NOCTURNAL MORNINGS

Eight p.m.

I need to wake up at twelve to attend a write-in.

I’m really excited to be around other writers, it’s not something I do often.

I think I can squeeze in a few episodes of my favorite TV show.

Midnight.

My need for cheesy drama, spirited car chases and stolen kisses is gone.

I yawn but doesn’t that just mean you need more oxygen?

I go to the living room and pull a book from one of the many stacks littering the room.

Six a.m.

At some point I meant to put the book down, it was just too good.

“One more chapter,” I said but who was I kidding?

This is a nightly occurrence for a nocturnal being, such as me.

Understanding True Minimalism

Heya,

I always wondered how Travel Writers live the way they do. It always intrigued me because I dreamed that one day I could do that. Getting up, grabbing a bag you packed specifically for convenience, hopping on a plane to an awesome location, checking into a hotel, seeing the sites, writing about different locations, experiencing different cultures, I could go on.

I never knew that this moment, this coronavirus moment, would be the time I’d get first hand experience at living far from home for an undetermined amount of time, in a place you’ve never been, with the small bag you brought with you (also packed with the baby’s things). I never knew that I’d suddenly understand what it meant to truly discover Minimalism.

In March, my guy made the executive decision that we would go visit friends in Louisiana during the virus outbreak. “It’s better than being stuck in the city where the chance of contracting the virus is so much higher” he said. I thought it was a stupid idea. Dumb idea. I hated the idea. All because I didn’t want to leave the safety and comfort of my own home. I didn’t want to take a 20 hour drive (turned 24 with baby and all that occurred on my way here) by myself after only 2 hours of sleep. I didn’t think that going to a place where there would be four of us, and a baby, versus home – where two of us and a baby was a good idea.

After the borders closed, and we’ve ended up stuck in Louisiana for 4 weeks (and counting- updated to 5.5), I can’t say that I’ve changed my mind any.

But here we are. The most surprising thing is that I never knew that this would be the moment I truly discovered Minimalism. Due to our status here, we’ve been forced to live in ONE room. Tony (my guy), Naomi (the baby), and I have reduced our lives to that of guests who never leave.

During one of my trips to the grocery store, the only place we go outside of the house, I had to buy my guy extra shirts and myself some tank tops as well. To make myself feel like I had some semblance of control over my life, at this moment, I bought five. One in every color. After buying Hilton Carter’s newest houseplant book Wild Interiors I got a box from Amazon and thought Hmm, why don’t I just fold the shirts, the way I learned while watching the Marie Kondo videos, and put them in there? Then I thought the same when we received a shipment of onesies from Naomi’s paternal grandmother (god bless her soul), I thought why don’t I put Naomi’s onesies, sleepers, socks, and bath towels in this box.

It felt like not only was I being smart on space, as the two can sit in the corner closed where she can’t get to them, but I was recycling! I’m new to the whole Recycle-Reuse thing. I know that I can propagate plants in Mason jars, as well as other things, and I’ve been doing that for a while and I want to stretch that energy to other things in my life. Usually I would do research on the ideal and find other ways to reuse my human debris but the internet isn’t the greatest out here in the boondocks (another reason I’m not the happiest at being away from home).

All in all, I’m on the cusp of going home and I’ve learned some things. It’s been 4 weeks and I have been without 95% of the things in my apartment. While they are useful, this ‘experience’ has made me realize that I can live on very little and still be comfortable. I can live without the boxes of papers and envelopes, the ‘for when I lose weight’ clothes hanging on hangers, the cat products for a cat my guy promised we can adopt but we never got, and the miscellaneous items that fill the shelves of my closets. I can live without all those lotions, sprays, elastics, and lotions that clog my bathroom. I can do without the random nonsense that fills my living room, and my dining room, and this is even after my initial de-cluttering session back in November 2019.  This is after the ‘I’m serious about this, babe. I’m determined to live with less clutter but a happier life’ speech I gave my guy before I started this journey. This is after the second de-cluttering session of February.

***

It’s made me realize that I have been on the right track. In the weeks since being home, since writing the first part of this blog post, I have taken a break from making truly ‘life changing’ decisions. This entire experience has been one of the craziest, scariest, most ill-prepared-for times of my life. I didn’t want to do anything on a whim.

But these principles stuck. I still think of the things I can do away with and I want to implement this while my guy is away in the mornings. I want to go back through everything. Every single box. I want to hold every item in my hands and ask myself ‘does this spark joy’? I want to try on every piece of clothing and gauge my reaction.

I want to look at all these boxes of old letters and journals and find a decent way to store them. Something beyond the tattered brown boxes I’ve been keeping them in. I want to take a more design approach to my apartment. I want to be proud of the home I live in while also making is safe for a growing toddler who can grab and pull things down (and climb the stairs, her recent favorite).

I want to live with even less clutter and in enduring the coronavirus, I have renewed my passion to do this. I’ve discovered what true minimalism means to me. I’m ready.  


Good Readdance,
Jade 

CNF: I’m Toxic…No, I Won’t Change.

Prompt:

Write what you really needed to hear a specific person say to you… but they never did. Contribute it as a note to you, from them.

Dear Nearly Estranged Daughter,

I’m sorry that you feel that I’ve offended you somehow. You can tell, through my language, that I will never take responsibility for my own actions.

I’m sorry that I can’t be what you need me to be. I said you expect too much out of me as a mother but, really, I meant I will never take the steps needed to strengthen our relationship.

I’m sorry that I’ve left you waiting, and waiting, and waiting for my call. I know that I don’t care enough about you to value your time or your want for a mother.

I’m sorry that for years I’ve let you believe we could work this out. What I really should’ve done is shown you my truth: you are not what I wanted in an adopted daughter. You are not my blood. This will never get better unless I give up my stubborn ways.

Now that you know all this, please do the right thing. Stop waiting on me to stop being me.

I won’t. So, I set you free.

Sincerely,
Always Me

CNF: Cleanliness…

In fact, I think, from the twisted look on her face that she tries so desperately to hide that she is disgusted by me, in this moment, and by this.

 

Cleanliness is next to godliness. Or so they say. I loved taking showers, and I’m sure, had I been given the opportunity, I would’ve loved taking baths. My brother, however, did not.

It was as if dirt was his best friend, letting it stick to him like glue, hanging out on his clothes, clinging with every step. You might even say I grew more and more diligent about being clean solely because he wasn’t. 

Standing in the shower, letting the water run over my skin, cleaning me of doubt, fear, and shame. Cleaning me of the stink of expectations, of pressure, of stress. Cleaning me of abandonment, neglect, and what that child therapist said: anger. 

At first, there was nothing to stop me from staying in and taking all the time in the world. However, as you’ve seen, that’s now how my life works. Due to situations I’ll tell you about later, I still rush through showers, even now, as an adult.

***

I stood there, knees shaking no matter how tight I tried to hold them together. I didn’t want her to smell me. I did my job. I went under the water. I took my allotted time and made sure the liquid was so hot that it melted any bacteria away. It was like lava, burning my skin until I was sure I’d only be boiled bones.

She stood before me, waiting for me to drop my towel. I fidget, clutching the towel around my bony body. “I promise, I took a shower. I did,” I reassure her but she doesn’t believe me.

My adoptive mom has told her all these stories. Stories about dirty bodies, “fonk” so strong it stinks up the car, underarms caked in sweat. I want to say ‘it’s not me, it’s him,’ but I know I can’t tattle on my brother. Despite his continuous attempts to break my will, to remind me that I wasn’t ‘really’ his biological sister – that I was a dumpster baby no one wanted and no one could love – I stuck by him always. That’s what you do, when blood is thicker than adoption papers.

 I try to appear innocent although the mischievous look (that, now, I often see in my own baby daughter) is a permanent fixture on my face. I hope to buy a few more moments. I squeeze my eyes shut and pray someone will need her somewhere else in the house and she’ll have to go deal with it right away. It had never happened before but a young girl could dream.

“Let me smell,” with one long fingered hand she pulls up my right arm and inhales deeply. I imagine Yzma, with her bug eyes and stick-like lashes, scouring down at me. Repeating the same on the other side, she seems satisfied. This, I’m used to. This, I don’t mind. But then out comes two fingers that she uses to swipe between my little girl legs. 

Not in a sexual way, there’s nothing gratifying about this. With my lack of pubic hair, my ugly face – too out of proportion to be found beautiful, with my scarred knee and ankle from a rebellious bike ride, with my scarred head from cigarette burns; no, there’s nothing appealing about me. In fact, I think, from the twisted look on her face, that she tries so desperately to hide that she is disgusted by me, in this moment, and by this. Maybe even a little disgusted by herself. She brings her hand up to her nose and sniffs. “Good,” she says, dismissing me with a single wave.

All of this was pointless. Every single time she smelled me, swiping with stiff fingers, I’ve come up clean. No back alley, dirty water, soiled diaper smell coming from me. But I’m shaken, every time. I wonder ‘is this foreshadowing?’ Although, with my young-girl mind, I don’t know what foreshadowing is yet, or how important it is to the rest of my story; I mean, my life.

*** 

I teeter back to my room on nervous legs. My brother had been standing outside the room and we avoid each other’s eyes because I know what comes next. It’s his turn and I know he’ll fail. He’s the one who started this.

First, what with terrifying me so badly that I couldn’t wash my hair in the shower, and second my adverse reaction to unlocked doors. Back home, there were two doors going into the upstairs bathroom. Both doors locked but one always opened regardless. My brother thought it was the funniest thing ever, sneaking into the restroom, throwing back the curtain and screaming at the top of his lungs, poking and prodding at my body. He couldn’t hold back his laughter, giggling at my gangly legs. Legs that would never be long enough to make me a model.

I’d scream until I cried, then cry until I was numb. He didn’t understand but here I am, yet again, making excuses for him. I’m sure he wasn’t aware of all that had happened to me. All that had been done. I would never tell him. He already blamed me for all that had gone wrong, for us being in foster care in the first place – although I’d only been two or three when we were taken – and I’d never give him another reason to think me less than. So, what started as a playful game, became a terrifying world.

There I was teetering into my tiny room while he was behind closed doors, being checked for smells. I didn’t think there was more being done, if there was, he never acted as such and wouldn’t tell me even if I asked. But I feared for him and his fragile mind. (I was sure he was stronger than I thought but I couldn’t run the risk of telling him everything).

When I reached my weekend bed, I slid under the covers and I thought of flowers, big black flowers that could be painted on a yellow wall in rebellion. I thought of tiny boxes filled with secrets and heartfelt memories. I thought of times when my body was my own. When was that? I try hard to remember.

And not just in this, I lie in bed and wish my body was my own-  away from the Hims with friends that want to take me for ice cream (if that ever actually happened, or if it was a culmination of abuse that my young mind strung together like a movie), from foster sisters with things they want to stick in soft places, from eyes that wonder because I’m too young to really understand but old enough to know they’re looking, and from fingers looking for nonexistent smells.

So I’m sullied and clean. Washed and seared. My skin is pristine but crawls. I knew she meant well, at least that’s what I told myself, but I couldn’t help but wonder if she would do what she did if she knows what’d been done: to me.     

 

CNF: Dancing For the Lord

Tears streamed down my cheeks as I danced naked around the dining room table. I wanted to stop. I wanted to grab my clothes and run up the stairs. I wanted to be a ghost, floating up the wood case without making a sound, to be invisible. Invincible. 

 

My apparently lewd dancing during Youth Church that morning had gotten back to my foster mother. I knew I would be in trouble the moment I saw her. That hard look in her eyes, lips set in a thin line. She had shaken her head so hard I thought her wig would fall off. Hair piece, that’s what she told me to call it. A wig was a full thing with slick hair that had a net and an elastic band. A hair piece, hers at least, had two combs: one in the front and one in the back. Still, it shook so violently I could see the nest of natural curls at the nape of her neck.

In the parking lot catercorner to church grounds, I had come to a full stop and looked around. I didn’t want to be embarrassed here, in front of my church friends. I didn’t want them to see her snatch me up, nails digging in to the point where my skin breaks and slides up in small paper thin flaps exposing a fresh layer beneath. I didn’t want them to see how I’d fold in on myself, becoming as small as a mouse, still like an opossum.

I also didn’t want them to see me after. How I would keep my head staring straight, zoning out so I wouldn’t meet anyone’s gaze. I didn’t want to hear their snickers, as I’m sure they would laugh and pretend I was the only one bumping and grinding to the secular music. I didn’t want that one boy, that I let touch my vagina in the sanctuary, to see. He had crawled under the pews, reached under my skirt and touched my hairless flesh with curiosity and I didn’t stop him. I liked him, or I thought I did, but I didn’t want him to know the real me. The me that no one could love.

But all of that happened anyway. She marched me back to the car so fast I couldn’t keep up in my thin flats. They had no traction and whenever she dragged me about I slipped like a gazelle on a frozen lake. I tried to keep my gaze averted but I didn’t have to worry. The churchgoers were already moving away, not wanting, or caring, to see how The Foster Kids are treated. At least that’s what I presume. 

 

 

***

 

Once in the car no one spoke to me. Not mom – whose face was still angry. Not dad – who was clueless to what happened, per usual. And definitely not my other siblings – who hadn’t stopped me from making the mistake in the first place and had down right egged me on. They joked with each other and talked about which donut they wanted from Krispy Creme – our after Sunday service tradition.

I knew I wouldn’t be getting a donut or at least she’d get my favorite kind, glazed with sprinkles, and then let someone else eat it. We also stopped by Church’s Chicken, another Sunday tradition, and I impatiently sat cramped in my corner of the SUV, my stomach growled but I wondered if I would get to eat the juicy fried chicken with everyone else. If not, I’d be relegated to the kitchen table with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a longer sentence of the silent treatment.

When we arrived home she still said nothing. Everyone went their separate ways: the foster kids to do their many chores, my dad to his favorite leather chair that he slept in with feet raised, mom to her couch in the sunroom that she stretched out on from sun up to sun down, and then me – to the kitchen to clean up before dinner. 

 After dinner had been eaten, the dishes cleared, the table reset, the chairs moved back in place (as there were too many of us and extra chairs were always needed), and the food was put away, I was in agony. She was still yet to tell me what my punishment would be but I knew something was coming.

Would it be 12 licks with daddy’s thick leather belt? Mom saying “this hurts me more than it hurt you” followed by “as soon as you stay still I can finish”?

Would it be hours sitting in front of the fireplace? A punishment tailor made for me because I had books in my room and “Go to your room” wasn’t a punishment but a vacation and one I relished.

Would it be one thousand sentences where I’d write out my crime and promise to do better? Hands cramping with every “I’ll never gyrate to secular music in church again. I apologize. I apologize. I apologize.”

Would I be banned from the library for 2 months? The worst one of all, because the house of books was my only safe space, the only place I truly felt happy. 

 More punishments went through my mind as I made myself scarce. I even thought “maybe I should run upstairs and read as many pages as I can in case I have to empty my bookshelves into bags and leave my books before her door to be taken for an undisclosed amount of time.”

 On my way to do just that I heard her call me. She didn’t seem angry and hope bloomed in my chest. When I arrived at the dining room the other foster kids were there, but only the girls. It didn’t seem important at the time.

“Strip,” she said with a little smirk on her face. The others started chanting “strip, strip, strip, strip”. I fought it and the smirk slipped from her face.

“Take. All. Your. Clothes. Off.” She barely got the words out through lights pulled tight across her teeth. “You want to be exposed and be fast?” Being ‘fast’ was something all girls (regardless of race) were who had ‘sexual tendencies’ at a young age, switching, making sex eyes, showing too much skin, going through puberty early to where their bodies developed faster than their age and more. 

 “Go ahead and be like David. You remember him? He danced so hard his clothes fell off. Dance for the Lord,” she said. I stared at her and, in that moment, I wanted to hit her. I wanted to hit her so hard she’d never smirk again. I wanted to drive my fist into her face and pound until all my frustration peeled off like wet clothes. But I knew I couldn’t. 

 So, I stripped. I stood there with my hands blocking the soft folds between my legs. Despite my early puberty I hadn’t grown hair there yet, even though I knew I one day would, and felt they could see into me. See inside me. 

 “Move your hands and dance. Just like you were doing at church this morning. I want to see.” I dropped my hands to my sides and moved my hips like I had seen girls do in music videos. My knees knocked together as I bent and straightened and swayed from side to side. I tried to blink quick enough to keep the tears in but I could feel a wetness in my eyes welling up. Could hear the cries welling up inside me though my mouth felt glued shut. 

 “No, around the table. And move your arms more. Just like you were this morning. Don’t play games with me” she said. 

 I stepped around the table bouncing and popping my butt back and forth, shaking my chest that was just budding with breasts. Through the third, and fourth, and fifth lap around the table I danced harder. I closed my eyes and put my hands above my head, giving myself over as I’d seen the girls in the movies do.

“She has good rhythm” I heard someone say merrily, as if it were all a joke, and I kept dancing.

***

My cheeks are wet now. I stopped trying to fight the tears a few laps back and continue to let them flow freely. I’m sorry god. I’m not a good girl. If i was, I wouldn’t have danced like that in your house today. I don’t deserve your love. I never did. I promise not to do it again. I think as I continue to dance. I can’t lift my hands because my arms are so tired. My feet drug across the smooth wood floors, catching on the area rug everytime I passed by the frayed corners, and I could barely lift them.

There was no more laughter, no whispering heard from the table. The foster girls watched in morbid silence. My punishment didn’t seem funny to them anymore. I could see their faces, trying to avert their eyes. Shame was shown to me and I wondered if it was mine or theirs.

“Enough,” someone said. It wasn’t mom, though, and so I kept dancing.

When I was finally released from my punishment I grabbed up my clothes and darted up the stairs, struggling to take them two at a time. My room door was open and once in I closed it as silently as I could in fear of further punishment. I didn’t stop to pull my clothes on but climbed the ladder to my top bunk.

Beneath the thin cover I was safe, hidden, but all modesty left me that day. My body wasn’t just mine anymore. It didn’t only belong to me. Everyone had feasted on it with their eyes and their hysterical laughter. They’d stripped it of it’s purity via their sanctity. They looked into my void and I couldn’t stop them. I can never stop them because I bared my soul and, like my body, I’ll never be able to hide it again.   

Goodbye April! 6 Books Read!

46/120 Books Read!

 

Heya!

I spent the beginning of April in Louisiana. I was unable to listen to audio-books, due to the internet situation, and I rarely read physical books. I still think I did a fantastic job with the stories I read as I enjoyed most of them.

On the long trek back, 20 hours with a night spent in Gulf Shores for a break, I was able to listen to several books. It made the those long hours doable, helped me stay sane.

I loved Behind Closed Doors by P.A. Paris. I really enjoyed the main character, as well as the narrator’s voice. One of the beautiful things about audio books is the true skill of the narrators. I love how they can take on different accents, speed up or slow down their cadence for mystery or intrigue, how they make you feel the action of the story. I almost cried, a few times while listening to books, when a narrator choked up while giving a heartfelt piece of dialogue. It really shows you how important reading, books in general, are important to our lives.

Another book that I really liked was Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty. I actually started this book months and months ago. I began listening at the same time as a few others, it was overshadowed by others and so I stopped. So I picked it up on the second leg of my trip. I really enjoyed the way things turned out with it. I liked the many different characters and all of their intricacies. It really made me remember Clue and how much I loved that movie. So much so that I re-watched it!

 

 

Don’t forget! If you have any suggestions let me know! I’d love to look into anything that you might be enjoying at the moment.

My favorite genres: thriller, mystery, romance, adventure/puzzles, fantasy/science fiction, nonfiction

Good Readdance,
Jade

5 of My Favorite Paranormal Romance Novel Series

Heya,

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my favorites. If you follow my blog you’ll find that I read an array of genres. From Mystery to Thriller, from Romance to Yes…Erotica (and there is, indeed, a difference), from Science Fiction to Fantasy to Paranormal to NonFiction to Literary Fiction to sub genres and on and on. And so I thought about writing a collection of blogs chronicling my favorites from each genre.

Now, these aren’t my favorites FROM ALL TIME – as I’ve read too many books and enjoyed far too many of said books and I couldn’t rank these as the best honestly. These will be the ones most present in my mind. And currently sit on my shelves.

I hope you enjoy these lists! Don’t forget. Let me know if you’ve read any of these or have any others that you want to suggest!

Note: I’ve decided to keep this list at 5 for now as there are tons of books in each series. I also realize that I could talk all day and all night about which paranormal/fantasy romance books get me excited the most. I’ll just say…stay tuned for more lists of favorites from this genre!

There’s a link to each series!

1. Lynsay Sands : Argeneau Series 

Short Premise: This series is based on a gigantic family of Vampires. Yes, they can be born and don’t always have to be bitten to be a vampire. The series encompasses not only the immediate Argeneau family but extended family – and even goes into friends or coworkers. There is one common factor: Marguerite Argeneau. She seems to be a secret matchmaker and may be the cause of most, if not all, of the life mates discovered in the books. You’ll have to read to find out if she’s always correct. She does eventually have a book of her own, though it’s very  far into the series.

I began reading this series when I was in high school. With the first novel in the series, A Quick Bite, I was able to make my first friend. While sitting in class, I noticed she was reading the same book as me and, as young nerdy shy teens might do, I wrote her a letter. I remember mentioning how I thought we had the same tastes in books, due to the rest of the novels I’d seen her read those first months, and how I would like for us to be friends. Over the years, I’ve read the rest of the books in the series. Once I was able to make (and save) money on my own, I began to buy them and have continued to do so as an adult.

If you are looking for a series that is all about vampires, violence (in the form of killing bad guys and rogue vampires), life mates, sex-sex-sex and more sex, and a continuous collection of characters that can elongate the series on and on and on — this is the one for you. Admittedly, there are a few books that are lacking in plot, character, and identity, in comparison to the other novels in this series, but I love them anyway.

I must add, the author did begin a spin off series called “Rogue Hunters” but she seems to be taking a break from this vampire universe to write more historical romance (some of which I am also very fond of, but that’s for another list).

I will also say, I strongly, STRONGLY, suggest reading these books in order. Of course, they attempt to standalone but you will ruin a lot of the books for yourself if you do not. They are VERY intertwined, with characters meeting others, marrying others, potentially dying with others, going rogue, not going rogue, and even going on vacation with each other. So…Start with A Quick Bite.

I own 17 of the books in this series. Here are a few titles:

 

2. Gena Showalter : The Lords of the Underworld

Short Premise: Imagine warriors open Pandora’s box and from it come dangerous demons that inhabit their bodies. Each demon is a different deadly sin (or pulls from the bad in all of us): Promiscuity, Greed, Dishonesty, Death, Pain, Doubt, Secrets, and the list goes on. Each warrior must find his mate or risk losing himself to his demon forever.

I came up with that on my own and it sounds incredibly cheesy but it’s more intriguing than I play at here. I’ve been thinking of re-reading this series because the author has come out with new installments that I haven’t read and I’d like to start over. I really love how each demon the author writes is very well thought out. For example, the keeper of lies must only tell the truth. It is physically painful for him to lie. He can also sense the truth in others. And on and on with the rest. I also enjoy the fact that the heroines in these novels aren’t all damsels waiting to be saved. They aren’t all weak and innocent and sad and looking for their hero.

I picked up the first of these books on a whim and suddenly fell in love. This was years ago (many, many years ago)  and the further I venture into the genre the deeper my memory of all the different plots hide. It’s funny because I forget tons of things (like my own birthday and if I did laundry) but rarely do I forget what a book was about – if I really liked it. I would suggest this series because it actually has an interesting concept and the writing felt fresh.

I own at least 6 of the books in this series! Here are some covers:

lords of underworld

3. Cheryl Brooks : The Cat Star Chronicles

Short Premise: The men from the Zetithian species are handsome with especially keen cat-like features (and reflexes), protective instincts, and incredibly intense sex drives (and orgasmic abilities) that are spread across the universe. Their home planet was destroyed by vengeful men who were intimidated by their sexual prowess and they, sadly, have either become enslaved or were left to believe their species was eradicated. On their quest to find other Zetithians, and new homes, they find women whose smell makes them (and their sexual nature) come alive again.

I actually began re-reading the novels in this series earlier in the year. They are hot. AND I MEAN HOOOOT. The sex is steamy and erotic and turns you on. This is a warning because the sex is very graphic, I don’t want to hide that from you at all. If you are looking for something to make your ears red – and to hide from the girls at Bookclub – this is it.

The good thing about these books, though, is that they actually have plot, setting, and some sort of meaning to them. Although it may seem like it, they are not all about sex. I also love the fact that these books don’t take place on Earth. I’m so sick of the idea that every other species is ‘lesser’ than humans and they ‘need’ Earth. There are so many different planets – and life forms – that the author introduces you to that are way more interesting. The heroines in these novels are not always full human. –I think that a rare Zetithian female is the heroine for one of the newer novels but I haven’t read it yet.

If you are also looking for a series that takes you into the sky, has elements of science fiction, these are for you.

I own 5 books in this series. Here are some covers:

catstarbundle

4. Vicki Lewis Thompson :Wild About You

Short Premise: There seems to be a consistent theme across these books. The person you fall in love with may be the person you least expect. Most of the stories follow characters of different species, races, backgrounds, or simply different campgrounds (as in the last one) that fall in love. It’s light, honest, sweet but sensual, and has a fresh air quality to it.

Alright, so…YES, this series is more TAME than any of the others on this list. It’s not because I want to give you a reprieve. I don’t. It’s because I was shopping for a new story, something to end my Reader’s Block (ugh) and I was reading the synopsis for the first book (A Werewolf in Manhattan) and I just had to get it. Luckily, I was at a sale and they had the first four books.

I really enjoyed the premise for these books, the catchy-ness of their titles, and how they are mostly lighthearted. There is still sex, kissing, a burning need for someone who understands YOU and loves YOU despite the species you are but there is less of that and more of ‘falling in love’. Also, it still follows the guidelines of a paranormal romance novel but it isn’t as murderous as the rest of the books on this list are.

NOTE: If you are looking up the novels on the author’s website I’m going to apologize right now. In my research for this blog post, I’ve realized the covers have changed. They are no longer the adorable, colorful, cute covers you see below – the ones I have in my own library. They have moved into Paranormal Romancelandia – a place I’ve started to hate – where all the covers look the same and all the men on said covers look the same and everything is dark, sexy, and broody without any distinction between them. The VERY reason why I picked up the first book in this series is because it DIDN’T fit into that category. And yes, I judged a book by it’s cover. That is the first line of defense, after all. So, I’m sorry. Hopefully you will be as lucky as me with the colorful covers – should you decide to buy the physical books. I still recommend you read them. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised, as I was.

—In doing more research, I’ve discovered that the newer books on Amazon are ONLY available with the new covers. Although, I will read them, I doubt I’ll be buying the inconsistent covers for my collection.

wildaboutyou

5. Jacquelyn Frank : The Night Walkers, The Shadowdwellers and The World of the Night Walkers

Short Premise: Outside of the ‘normal’ world there is the shadow world where demons, and other creatures, live. In the shadows is the demons are also known as protectors. They cannot partake in the sins of humans (sex, gambling, desire, etc). There are dire consequences to being with a human and most of these dwellers have sworn against it. lest they give into the Madness humanity brings. Though they all break this oath eventually.

I started this series when I was a young preteen. I was 14 when this book came out and I got it from the library, snuck it in the bushes by my house (so that my religious mother couldn’t see), and brought it in later when everyone was preoccupied. It was one of many romance books that I’d read by moonlight, devouring it in hopes I’d one day be a paranormal romance writer myself.

I just learned that there is a spin-off series from the Nightwalkers called The World of the Nightwalkers, in writing this blog, and it has 5 more books (t). I’m pretty sure I’ve read a book or two from these but I can’t remember right now so I can’t speak to the quality of them but I’m tempted, like with the others, to re-read this series so I can read those!

About The Subseries:
Each of the Night Walker books are titled with a name: Noah, Jacob, Gideon, etc.

Each of the Shadow Dweller books are titled with a word: Rapture, Ecstacy, Pleasure, etc.

Each of The World of the Nightwalkers books have titles with F words: Forbidden, Forever, Forged

NOTE: You WILL need to read NW first, then SD, THEN TWNW as characters, names, deaths are mentioned as the books go on. 

I own 7 books in these series’: Here are covers from each sub-series:

 

 

Good Readdance,
Jade

P.S. I have so many more that I love and want to share with you. I have a few that I read on a whim, forgot to write down (I JUST started using Goodreads to track my Read list) and when I rediscover them I will make a new list! I’m excited about that as well. I hope you enjoyed!

CNF: “Don’t Talk to Her, She’s Black”

When I was fifteen I knew that I wanted to get a job. I wanted to make my own money, buy things that my parents weren’t willing to pay for and just live life on my own terms. You might laugh just a little about this but it’s true. In doing this, I went to Hyvee to get a job and there, because of my overall optimism and appearance of happiness (and the fact that the job had “A Smile in Every Aisle” as their slogan), I got hired on the spot.

I loved the job, despite its location. I grew up in Missouri, on a block that was ghetto-adjacent, as we called it. In Kansas City, Missouri you might find it’s a smorgasbord of races, cultures, and relationships. However, just a hop – skip- and a jump across the state border (about ten minutes from my house) is Kansas. 

In my own opinion, just across the way you might find yourself being called nigger (hard r) or being spat on. I knew this, when I got hired at Hyvee, however, I thought the grocery store was close enough to home to still be considered a safe space. It wasn’t. I can’t chronicle how many times I’d been racially attacked with verbal insults.


When I turned sixteen I was officially, and legally, allowed to become a cashier, instead of a stocker or sacker, and I was excited. I was filled with happiness at the fact that I could stay at the front, wouldn’t have to run back and forth, and when it was time for me to be off I could sign out without having to finish a checklist first.

That first day started more exciting than any other but by the end I was defeated, reduced to tears, and confused. 

 

***

It was my birthday, I had waited so long for this and I’d demanded they put me on the schedule. I waited behind my register, having completed all training weeks before, tapping my fingers against the screen. A woman came up, four to five things in her cart, with a little boy about three years old sitting in the basket. The young boy looked so happy. He bounced with joy as they stopped before my register and I punched in my code, returning the mirth. 

“It’s my birthday,” the boy told me proudly, puffing up his tiny chest. I grinned and leaned over the counter. Meeting his eye and giving a quick wink.

“It’s my birthday, too,” I all but whisper to him like it’s our little secret. He stood in the cart, putting his hands against the register and leaned toward me conspiratorially. 

“Are you old?” I laugh hard and carefree, in the way only a teen can, and shake my head. I ring up the items and smile down at him, then tell him my age. His mother is standing there smiling softly, happy that he’d found a friend I’m sure.

As I punch at the buttons to finish the transaction a man came up behind her. I looked up with a ready smile until I saw the seething anger on his face. As if she could sense his presence, the woman took a step to the side, away from me. She seemed to shrink in on herself, her shoulders coming up, almost touching her ears. I looked between the two but neither spoke to me. I leaned forward stretching to grab at the item he purposefully put as far from me as possible. As I was at the Express register, I didn’t have a moving belt to help move product toward me. 

“Don’t talk to her,” he spat out between tight lips, “she’s black.” I straightened so quickly my elbow hit the side of the register. My mouth snapped shut and I tried hard to keep the tears that immediately filled my eyes from falling. I looked at the man questioningly, at his hard eyes and his almost white lips. He stared back at me, daring, just daring me to say something. 

I didn’t. I couldn’t. I was frozen in place. I watched as he used the tip of his finger to push the item, a pack of gum, closer to me. Then he looked down at the boy in the cart, who mirrored his mother. His tiny body shriveled to a far corner, around the bags I’d swung over the counter, legs pulled up, small eyes averted, his own lip quivering.

I looked at the woman but she didn’t look at me. She stared down at her feet, having stepped out of the way, again, so he could pay, her hands clasped together over her belly in submission. I wanted to speak, wanted to deny my blackness. I wanted to tell him I was ok, that I was a “good person”, but I couldn’t speak. 

I looked at the boy again who peeked up at me from beneath long lowered lashes, his arms still crossed at the elbows, his hands grasping at his shoulders for comfort. He looked confused, sad, but I knew he truly didn’t understand. Then my chest tightened. I hurt for this little boy who would grow up with a racist father, a mother with no backbone, and fostered hate in his heart.

 

I felt sorry for him but, to be honest, I felt more sorry for myself.

My Angel of Death


A soft ssssnick woke me from my slumber and my eyes opened. There was silence and then the scraping of metal against metal. Gears moved, shifting, and turning like pieces of a puzzle coming to rest in place.

Slowly, I moved from the comfort of my covering and watched the door with apprehension. With a whoosh of air, it opened and swung back against the cream wall. With a kick of her foot, my angel pushed the wood back and appeared in the doorway.

She was back-lit by the lamp post outside, my angel was. Her head glowed like an effervescent halo, or maybe it was the way the light shot through the fluffy curls that hung around her head in strings. As she moved they were twisting in on themselves like medusa’s pets, coils pulled up in a high bun, some dripping down onto her shoulders. 

My angel was wider than I remembered. I’d only watched her since I moved to this new apartment and I’ve never seen her quite so…lumpy? No matter, I’ll take her however she comes. I watch, awestruck, as she struggles across the threshold. I want to help her, to reach out and take her in all of my arms and tell her how much I missed her. I want to remind her of all the times I kept her company, watching as she moved about. Day to night, back and forth, going along her daily routine.

I wanted to kiss her on her forehead, and wipe away any trace of the fear she might have upon seeing me in her apartment uninvited. For I am uninvited. But, I think, after all I’ve done for her, for them (my mind sours at the thought of the other two, as it’s only my angel I care about but I digress) I have just as much right to darken this door as they do. 

No, not lumpy. She’s just as plump as before. However, once she cleared the door she shed her skin like a snake. One after the other, skin became bags that became visible in the dim light and dropped to her feet. Reaching up, stretching her soft body until it could go no further, she tugged on the tiny metal string hanging from the fan. It clicks and light floods the room. I don’t need to block my eyes, as I’m watching through filtered lenses, but I close them anyway. 

When I open them again she’s gone. He’s there. He sheds his skin bags as well, though they are more hefty and heavier than hers, and then puts the tiny one down. The tiny replica of them sleeps in her plastic cage that keeps her safe and I feel jealousy stir in me. My angel dotes on her, always carrying and rocking and singing her sweet songs. I’d think there’s no way my angel could love me the way she loves her replica.

As I watch them come back and forth dropping their many skins before me, I keep an eye on the tiny one. It is my duty to keep her safe, though my angel would never know my esteemed position. The replica mews and reminds me of my angel again. Her tiny eyes flutter beneath their lids and my green eye fades away. She, like my angel, is beautiful. I see remnants in her. The purse of her lips, the slant to her sleeping eyes, the puffiness of her cheeks. I will not harm this one, I think. Had I been closer I could touch that tiny replica, hug her close with downy arms. But I am not, and she is sleeping and so I wait, patiently, until my angel returns. 

And there she is again, sweat moistening her brow as she lifts more skin through the door. Again, I want to help in any way I can, but I know I must stay out of sight. I’ve no fear of him, papa bear – the clear glass named him, for I heard he’d never harm me. What, with his soft heart and inability to kill. It’’s my angel I truly fear because this connection between us is not yet strong enough. 

She’s talked to me on several occasions unbeknownst to my presence, muttering softly beneath her breath, staring off into space, daydreaming about a blessed life. I would give it to her, if I could, but I cannot. I am the thing of nightmares, the cause of fear and pain and destruction. I wear this like a badge of honor, only except when it comes to my angel. 

I listen and wait, watching through several lenses as the door is shut, with a finality, and all three seem to sigh with relief. The comfort of home, security of being in control, untouchable by the dangers of the world on the other side of the doors. 

She laughs, a melodic sound. As she walks about the apartment tears sprinkle like liquid diamonds falling from her eyes. She motions here and there and there and says something unintelligible to him, and he nods, smiling in return. Then she’s waving her hands through the air again, pointedly, like dance moves to inaudible music.

As she gets closer to my hiding spot I shrink in on myself, afraid her radiance might blind me, or that I might be seen. She’s waving her hands again and I realize it’s not a dance. She’s determined, her mouth set, her eyes darting back and forth,  and back and forth, looking and searching, perhaps for me. 

“You know what they say,” she says, her voice clear as she gets closer. “Wherever there are cobwebs, there is a…SPIDER!” she yells out the last word as my hiding place is discovered. I am betrayed by my angel. I burst free from my confines. Desperation fills me as she slaps, slaps, slaps, left and right and then left again with her dainty hands. Angel’s hands. 

I race away, my surplus of legs no match for her size and agility. She smacks down right on my head and I’m immobile. I feel a shuttering in me, a fluttering like the replica’s eyes. One of my legs has detached and lies twitching an inch away. The other seven remain but are of no use to me. As the hand comes down again I hear him say “did you get it?” and I can do nothing but surrender. 

I have lived a good life. Found solace in the blessed angel no one believed existed. I have watched her day in and day out. I’ve stood sentry from my corner. I have been privy to her thoughts and I am grateful. Ever am I grateful to give my life so that she may live fearless and in peace.