Short Story: Coming Home

Joyce is watching another TV movie when she hears a knock at her door. Dang, it was getting to the good part. People always want to knock when it’s just getting good. Nevertheless, she gets up from her couch, which gets flatter and flatter from sitting in the same spot over and over, and goes to the door quickly so she can sit back down. She opens the door and finds her godson, Lenny, with his hands in his pocket smiling at her. He may have gotten taller, and his hair shorter, but his cute, awkward actions haven’t changed a bit, she knew.

“Hey, baby,” she greets as she pulls him into a warm embrace. “How’s college treating you?”

Lenny rubs her back a little before letting her go and answering “Pretty well.” Another beat passes as he walks in the door, aware that he never needs an invitation before asking “How are you, Aunt Joyce?”

She pops her wrist at him and grins, going back to her seat to see what Ariana was going to do next on the screen. “I’m doing real good baby.” She doesn’t give Lenny eye contact; she has to see how bad, meaning sly and sexy in this case, Ariana was in pursuing revenge against her husband.

Lenny doesn’t mind. It gives him more time to think of a way to make proper conversation. It gives him preparation to process how he’ll appear sincere as he nods to his honorary aunt’s stories of what she was doing with her free time that didn’t have to do with television, when her son was going to go to school, and how she was happy for him being away from home and not seeing her every weekend before he decided to move away for college.

Once Lifetime goes to a commercial for Excedrin pills, Joyce faces Lenny and asks, trying to joke, “So I guess you don’t want me to braid your hair no more, huh?”

Lenny laughs, which is expected of him. It took him a couple months before he decided to cut it just because he knew she would say that. “I’m just trying something new,” he starts. “Besides, you know how cornrows could never stay on my head for long.”

Joyce giggles, knowing how true that is with White people’s thin hair. Granted, Lenny is Biracial, but his hair was White hair to her.

In the corner of Lenny’s eye, besides the TV displaying a tampon commercial, he sees the blinds shut. Sunlight tries to sneak in patterned slips, but they didn’t create enough contrast to make the living room healthily brighter. He is tempted to open the blinds for once. Just this one time he wanted actual light in here. But he knew his Aunt Joyce. “You don’t have to do that, baby,” she’d say. She’d say that every time, there was no sense in trying anymore.

“I was going to come up there to visit you,” she said warmly, “but you know how it is.”

Yeah, I know how you hardly want to get out of the house, Lenny thinks to himself. You don’t like how I had the guts to leave.

“I understand,” he dutifully responds.

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A Different Perspective

It’s all about how flavored wine coolers are better compared to beer; beer tastes like urine. Rancid, carbonated urine. It’s all about being one of the few sober people in the room, sitting uncomfortably on a crowded, beat up couch, watching everyone else in their inebriated foolery. It’s all about either the one sober friend checking on you, or the one drunk friend, or acquaintance, or someone you just met, checking on you, hoping to see you get on their level of fun. It’s about finding amusement in observing everyone’s temporary insanity, finding out how many would want to stay in that temporary, intoxicated insanity forever.

It’s all about how you’re trying to stay above conformity while craving it at the same time, wanting your awkwardness to be swallowed whole with just a couple of bottles, three or four tops. It’s about being referred to as the “good girl,” about wanting you to get drunk already and let loose, and your definition of “loose” is a more contained and acceptable version for yourself compared to the stupid, very sexually active, über emotional individuals around you, crashing into you as if you were invisible, because you are. It’s about realizing how alcohol can make one blind to reality, that piece of reality that includes you, and forgetting that sometimes, as you wonder why that guy chugging a whole keg upside down believes it’s a talent important enough for Carnegie Hall, or why two heterosexual female strangers believe that making out for the hell of it to please hormonal heterosexual men will fulfill them, or why that jerk keeps flirting with you when you clearly stated that you weren’t interested for the hundredth time!

It’s how you see what that character in It’s a Wonderful Life meant when he said that youth was wasted on the wrong people. It’s about how you just want to go home already! It’s how you wonder “My God, why did I come here in the first place?!” It’s how you realize that it was because you already took the sip of conformity you claimed earlier you would never take.

Moments in 2014

2014:

I met three lovely and groundbreaking artists: Andrea Gibson, Mayda del Valle, and Indira Allegra.

I participated in my first protest against racism and injustice towards people of color.

I received my very own “Gay? Fine By Me” t-shirt around the same time gay marriage was officially legalized in North Carolina.

Friend and fellow poet Mia Willis was my partner in crime and a fantastic group piece and while hosting an open mic for the first time.

I lost a friend to suicide.

I got to see The Fault in our Stars and Guardians of the Galaxy in theaters and loved it!!!

I saw the second season of Orange is the New Black, and enjoyed it like the first season in 2013.

My family and I moved into a new place.

I met Laverne Cox, the first transsexual actress to win an Emmy for her role in Orange is the New Black. Fun fact: she first studied Creative Writing in college before studying Dance and pursuing acting.

I began teaching poetry at Third Street Community Center in February, which led to more workshops with different schools and non profits. I even got to intern at the Creative Aging Network to teach a poetry workshop and participate in community outreach. I was asked to come back in 2015 to teach a two-day workshop, and I did.

I made the Dean’s List in school.

I donated nine inches of my hair for the first time in March, which led me to cut my hair even shorter after a couple of months. I love my hair short.

I went to InterVarsity Christian Fellowship’s retreat in Rockbridge for the first time. I took the Identity Track where we talked about race, family, sexuality, and gender in terms of identity with the Lord. It was fantastic!!!

I got to perform spoken word for events and competition.

I created this blog.

Resolutions (not the cliché kind I don’t think) for 2015:

More writing on this blog, but include short stories, not just prose, poetry, and rants.

Express genuine joy, not force joy or happiness out of me.

Attend a missions trip for the first time.

Participate in more interfaith events.

More praying.

Try painting over the summer.

Complete the Star Wars series and the Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit series before the year is out.

Do more research as I read the Bible.

Happy New Year everyone! I’m eleven days late, however, I still hope and pray that this year is a good one.