Tuesday Morning #RandomActsofKindness #ShortStory

I thought I’d do something a little different today and share a short story!  I hope you find it entertaining, as well as inspirational. 

♥♥♥

21 cents. That’s exactly how much money…um change, I have in my bank account. The relief I feel at the fact that I’m not in the negative is short lived as I push the button on the side of my phone that makes the screen go black. Thank God for free wi-fi hot spots, or I wouldn’t even have been able to get online. My phone’s been cut off for over a week. I stuff it in my pocket as the bus pulls to a stop in front of me, sending a whoosh of hot air and exhaust fumes my way. I force a smile at Jerry, the kind, always joking bus driver as I climb the steps and slide my pass through the card reader at the top of the stairs.

“G’morning, Jen. Did you hear the one about the donuts?” he booms, with a grin as I clear the final step.

I pause next to his seat. “No, but I guess I’m about to.”

“A pile of donuts went out to the club last night. A fight broke out and when the dust settled, one of them was detained by the police . The cops asked him what happened to his buddies and the donut says, ‘ I do-nut remember a thing!'”

I shake my head and walk away as Jerry bellows with laughter. He’s so corny, I can’t help but chuckle despite how juvenile his jokes are. He did succeed in making me forget about my problems, if only for a second, and I think that was his goal.

I find a window seat and sink down into it as I stare out at the storefronts whizzing by. Most of them are still closed, as night slowly gives way to dawn. It’s gray and dreary, due to the fog rolling in off of the Pacific, which perfectly matches my mood. I try not to nod off, but after being on my feet for the last eight hours stocking shelves at Wal-Mart, I can’t help myself. I never fall asleep on anybody’s bus but Jerry’s. I know he’ll look out for me, so I let my eyes drift shut, succumbing to the bone weary tiredness that only working two full-time jobs can bring.

♥♥♥

I feel something hit my shoulder and jerk awake, my breath catching as my eyelids stick together each time I blink. The woman who shook me retracts her arm and gestures with her head towards the front of the bus. I catch Jerry’s eye in his rear view mirror, offering a smile. He winks and nods, acknowledging my thanks. I gather my purse, an unnecessary accouterment if there ever was one, and hustle down the steps of the exit doors at the rear of the bus. Wind and salt air hit me in the face. The sun is rising over the ocean and I would love the luxury of having enough time to lean over the guard rails lining the cliff, to just take in all that beauty. But I can’t, I have responsibilities that trump admiring the divinity of an ocean sunrise on a foggy morning.

I speed walk the five blocks home, grateful that one perk of getting off work from my second job at 5 AM is that there are no men loitering around waiting to harass me. I guess they’re all somewhere sleeping it off at this hour. I stop in front of a Spanish style adobe house, two stories, with plants and flowers overflowing from the windows and hedges. Two benches flank the front door, and I sit down on one of them. I do this every day. Take a moment to breathe before I step into another role in the full roster of people I have to be in order to survive.

The minute’s up, so I drag to my feet, head up the long driveway, through the huge patio area, around the pool to the converted garage apartment I’ve rented for the last three years. The owner, Mrs. Posada, is a widow who was forced to turn her guest house into a source of income after she learned that her husband left her swimming in debt. It was the only way she could save her home, and I’ve never been so happy for someone else’s misfortune. She’s the reason I’m able to work the hours I do without going insane. She looks in on my girls, and it gives me, if not peace of mind, asylum from constant worry.

I close the door softly behind me. I don’t know why I bother, I’ll have to wake them up in a minute anyway. But those few seconds when I see the three of them all tangled up together on the pull-out sofa bed are what keep me going. Jasmine, my middle girl, sleeps with reckless abandon, arms akimbo, mouth wide open, drooling and snoring softly. Teresa, my oldest, sleeps on her side, her arm draped protectively over her sisters. And my baby, Sienna, sleeps on her stomach, butt in the air, exactly the way she has since she was born.

My heart aches with the love I have for them, but also the shame I feel for what I cannot give them. They deserve so much more than what I have to offer. I shake my head and squeeze my eyes shut to stop the tears from starting. I don’t have the luxury of crying.  I skirt the bed where my sleeping angels rest (they’re only angels when they’re asleep, any mother will tell you that), and step into the kitchen to see what I can make them for breakfast. The pantry holds a few canned goods, some hot dog buns and a box of rice. My shoulders sink. I thought we had a canister of oatmeal to tide us over until I get paid in a couple of days. I check the fridge, knowing that I won’t find much there, either. A chunk of moldy cheese, and a jar of salsa.

I’m a failure as a mother. What kind of person can’t plan ahead enough to make sure they have enough money to feed their kids? It doesn’t matter that I’ve been juggling bills so much that I lost track of an automated draft that came out of my checking account to keep the lights on. Or that the payroll department at the daycare where I work during the day miscalculated my hours, shorting my last paycheck an entire day’s wages; which caused me to incur overdraft fees that ate up my meager funds even though they issued me a check to make up the difference the next day. Or that Sienna caught a bug at pre-school which meant I had to take her to the doctor and pay out-of-pocket for expensive antibiotics.  A responsible person would have a savings account for times like these. How I’m supposed to save when I have to use every penny to survive, I’ll never know.

No time for pity or anger at the fact that I didn’t make these kids by myself, and therefore shouldn’t be taking care of them alone, either. I think fast and decide to toast the hot dog buns and cook some canned peaches on the stove with sugar to make a sort of jelly. Jasmine will complain and I’ll snap at her, even though I won’t mean to. Sienna will refuse to eat at all, and Teresa will not only eat it, but will compliment me on my cooking and clean up, too. No 10-year-old should be that accommodating, but I keep telling myself I’ll worry about that later.

I’ve just turned the flame on under the peaches when I hear Mrs. Posada’s lilting accent over the intercom. The girls stir, rubbing their eyes and yawning as I press my ear to the antiquated intercom. I press the talk button and yell, “What was that, Mrs. Posada?”

Her response comes back crackling through the speaker, “I said, my grandchildren spent the night and I made too much food for breakfast. I saw you just got home. You and the girls come on over.”

The tears I’ve been holding back all morning finally spill over. I’m weak with relief and gratitude. I wipe my eyes and take a deep breath. “We’ll be right up.”

People like Jerry and Mrs. Posada will never know how much their random acts of small kindnesses can make the biggest difference in the lives of those they touch.

♥♥♥

 

My goal with this little story is to cause everyone who reads it to think about the ways that they can make a difference through simple acts of kindness. You never know what the people you see in passing are going through, nor the impact you can make in their lives. 

Also, we may be seeing a little more of Jen and her girls in the future. Stay tuned!

 

 

© Faith Simone 2018

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When Love Goes Wrong…HALT!

What’s up lovely people? I was feeling a little nostalgic the other day and looking through some of my old posts. I stumbled across this one and decided to re-post it. It’s one of the short stories/essays I contributed to my writer’s group anthology. I hope it speaks to you!


He was the kind of lover that made you want to thank him at the close of every rendezvous; to absolutely and definitively express gratitude towards him for his ability to give pleasure; to humbly praise his skill and his tangible way of physically bringing you to a place of bliss and then allowing you to dwell there. Yes, he was that good. All he did was give.

Until he didn’t anymore, and then all he did was take. I should have seen it coming. The whole yin and yang of life is not new to me. If our lovemaking was unbalanced, it only made sense that the pleasure he should have rightfully received, after giving me so much, should be taken from some other aspect of our relationship. An unbalanced debt is an unbalanced debt, no matter what the currency. Bills always come due.

It wasn’t until much later that I came to understand that perhaps it was all a set up. That maybe he used his rare talent as a way of achieving personal gain. In other words, he was a gigolo and I was his mark.  Maybe it wasn’t so much that I was selfish and did not try to give back, it was that he was determined to take his pleasure elsewhere and feel justified in doing so.  Or maybe it was just karma. Either way, I’ll never know.

I do know that I’ve been taught better, both figuratively and literally. On my first day of college a professor of a kindly paternal disposition set out to give sage advice to a classroom full of hopeful and naïve freshmen. He scribbled an acronym across the dry erase board and stated that we should make all of our decisions over the next few years with it in mind.

H.A.L.T.

 This meant stop and consider your personal state before making any type of choice. The professor succinctly said, “Never make a decision when you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired. Always remember to halt.” He went on to actually teach the subject we were all there to study, but my mind stayed stuck on his introductory speech.

It was a moment that changed my life, but not in the way that I think the well-meaning instructor intended. I spent the rest of the class contemplating the simple acronym and the meaning behind it. Eventually, I concluded that if I waited until I was in such an ideal frame of being to make choices, I would live out the entirety of my life without making a single decision. Because my reality was that I had never lived a single moment of my life without feeling hungry, angry, lonely or tired.

This revelation could have easily caused me to make a life change by working to create an existence where I was not feeling at least one of those sensations at all times. Instead I used it as an excuse to recklessly make decisions with dire consequences.

HUNGRY
HUNGRY

You see I was always hungry for an ever-elusive craving. An indefinable something that, if received, would satisfy me in a way that nothing else ever had. It was this insatiable hunger that caused me to latch on to him and take, take, take without any consideration of the phrase, “payback is a mother-“.

ANGRY
ANGRY

As a result, I was so familiar with anger as a constant companion that I was incapable of distinguishing between my everyday jacket of anger and a justifiable mink coat of rage. He did things that deserved violent fury and I let it slide, convincing myself it was the former and that I was overreacting.

LONELY
LONELY

Don’t get me started on the loneliness. It is the worst kind of isolation to feel lonely when you are in a relationship with someone. Again, I blamed myself. I berated myself for being such an ice queen that I could not let someone else in. It did not occur to me that a sincere relationship should gently chip away at the frostiness of loneliness with constant warmth in the form of passion, kindness and caring.

TIRED
TIRED

I thought I was world weary before, but I hadn’t seen anything until my debt came due. He sucked me dry. I was the kind of tired that made me lay awake at night staring at the ceiling. I was the kind of tired that caused friends to do a double take and express concern over my well-being. I was the kind of tired that caused my supervisor to suggest a leave of absence. I was the kind of tired that caused me to take that leave of absence thereby enabling me to expand my nocturnal ceiling watching to daylight hours as well.

Then I got tired of him. Ending it was by no means easy. He had so methodically captured me that it took a major crisis of conscience to free my mind from the luxurious prison he had created. And yes you’re right, supposedly there is no such thing as a luxurious prison. The two don’t mix. That’s about the same as a cold love affair. Both metaphors are a complete contradiction in terms and hell to live through.

So now here I am, thinking over that wise instructor’s advice. Meditating on his attempt to give me and my classmates a local’s perspective in our newly foreign world. Finally I have made a decision worth the effort. I decided when I was hungry, angry, lonely and tired to not stay that way. I’ve come to a halt…and I’m changing the game.


 

I hope you enjoyed a little snippet into the wonderful collection of poetry, short stories and essays that is Voices from the Block: A Legacy of African-American Literature. Click here to check it out! 

Have you ever been involved in a love affair gone bad? What did you do about your dissatisfaction? Dish in the comments below!

 

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Author Spotlight: Jola Naibi

 

Terra banner

I’m so happy to welcome author Jola Naibi to our fabulous community! Y’all we’ve officically gone international up in this piece. Jola grew up in Lagos, Nigeria and she’s here to tell us all about her her collection of short stories entitled Terra Cotta Beauty. Read on to learn more about this book full of intrigue and national division. 

What are your genres?

Mostly fiction but a little bit of non-fiction here and there.

What have you written?

I have been writing on my blog – http://www.jolanaibi.com since 2006 and recently published a book of short stories called Terra Cotta Beauty.

When did you begin your writing career?

1997

Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How do you make time to write?

I consider myself a full-time writer, even though I write fiction as a hobby

What’s your writing process?

I write whenever I am free. I usually have a journal so I jot down ideas in that. I also love having music on when I am writing. I have very eclectic taste in music but there are certain artistes that inspire me when I am writing: Sting, Asa, Seal, Adele, Ryan Cabrera, Najee and Corneille. I am fortunate in that, writing comes naturally to me so I do not feel I have to be in a zone or go through any special processes to start writing.

Do you keep a journal? If so, for how long? Do you find it helpful for your professional writing?

Yes, I have always kept journal.  It is something that I have done for years.  I use the journal for a number of things as part of the writing process – to develop a story a plot line or to jot down idea to piece a story together. I find that the journal is most useful for me when I am contemplating a story or a character. I find starting out the writing process in a journal makes it more real for me. It is just something about seeing my own writing that makes me realize that this is actually my creation and it inspires me to build on it some more.

What’s your inspiration?

Life stories inspire me. I have always been curious about people and their backgrounds and the stories that shape them. I am largely inspired by stories from growing up in Lagos and the resilience of spirit of the people who surrounded me – their ability to make things happen in the face of the greatest adversity imaginable continues to inspire me and make me want to write about it

What kind of legacy do you expect your writing to leave?

Muriel Rukeyser said “The universe is made up of stories and not atoms”. I would like to leave behind a legacy of having been one of the many storytellers who gave voice to the people who ordinarily would not be able to tell their own stories

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Never lose your sense of wonder.

What’s on your bookshelf or in your e-reader library?

Here are some of the books that I have on my Kindle:

  • The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt
  • Dust – Yvonne AdhiamboOwuor
  • Ghana Must Go – Taiye Selassie
  • On Black Sister’s Street – Chika Unigwe
  • The ShoeMaker’s Wife – Adriana Trigiani
  • The Hired Man – AminattaForna
  • The Hairdresser of Harare – TendaiHucbu
  • The Fever Tree – Jennifer McVeigh
  • The Valley of Amazement – Amy Tan
  • Daughters Who Walk This Path – YejideKilanko
  • The Spider King’s Daughter – ChibundoOnuzo
  • The Blood-Stained Pavement – Agatha Christie
  • Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë
  • A Quiver Full of Arrows –Jeffrey Archer

What are you currently working on?

I am working on my next book, my first full length novel which will be a coming of age story that I plan to publish in 2016. Then, there is the promotion of my current book – Terra Cotta Beauty which as a first time published author, I am discovering takes as much creative energy as actually writing the book. But I am having oodles of fun so I can’t complain.

Terra coverLatest release and book blurb?

Terra Cotta Beauty is a collection of short stories which examines life in Lagos, Nigeria during the era of military rule. It reveals the struggles, loves, and hopes of a disparate group of people whose lives always manage to intersect – sometimes in the most devastating ways. With each brief conversation and split second decision containing consequences that reach further than anyone could ever imagine, each of the book’s seven tales is a delicate thread that helps form the social fabric of a nation divided. From a woman whose journalist husband is jailed for criticizing the government to a young man’s reluctant descent into crime, Terra Cotta Beauty acts as a carefully crafted ode to the essence of Lagos itself: its people.

Tell us about your main character? What actress or actor would you cast to play him or her in a movie about your book?

The main character of the title story is Mabel Erhabor. She is a matriarch with a large heart and an ability to bind people together. She has had to endure a number of challenges including enduring betrayal of her husband but in all she does not lose her calmness of spirit and her dignity. If the story was made into a movie, I would like Onyeka Onwenu who is a Nigerian singer/actress and recently appeared in the cinematic adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun to play Mabel Erhabor.

How can we purchase your work?

If you are in the United States and would like a signed copy of the book it available from my website: http://www.jolanaibi.com/p/books.html.

The book is also available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Terra-Cotta-Beauty-Jola-Naibi/dp/1491271671/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1411959479&sr=8-1&keywords=jola+naibi

How can we stay in touch with you?

My blog/website is http://www.jolanaibi.com

You can join the Terra Cotta Beauty community on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/TerraCottaBeauty

On Twitter: @jolanaibi

On Instagram: @jolanaibi

On Pinterest: pinterest.com/jolanaibi

Email: creative@jolanaibi.com or jolanaibi@gmail.com

Author Bio

jola_naibiJola Naibi was raised in Lagos, Nigeria and studied in the United Kingdom. She enjoys writing and blogging as a way to satisfy an extremely eager imagination.

 

 

Faith Simone says:  I love any author who’s as eclectic a reader as me, and I can’t help but to be inspired when I listen to Adele’s passionate lyrics as well. The answer for the writing legacy question was beautiful. Jola girl, you’re alright with me!

Check out the rest of Jola’s tour stops (hosted by Write Now Literary Tour) by clicking here!