After Therapy (Sabine)

Photo by Brian Jiz on

After therapy, I follow Dr. Sims’ advice and take myself out on a date.

“Ask yourself why you choose to live in fantasy,” her words echo.

When the waiter comes to take my order, he asks if anyone will be joining.

I consider saying yes, but more pathetic than eating at a restaurant alone is being stood up by a date who doesn’t exist. And it doesn’t cure my ADHD—attention-deficit/hyperactive daydreaming.

Okay, that’s not a real diagnosis, but it was enough to get me an appointment with Dr. Sims.

And, as the waiter sits across from me, possibly…a date?

© 2023 Nortina Simmons

Previous: Back in Therapy (Hannah)

It’s StoryADay May! I’m not promising that I will write a story every day this month, but I’m going to try. Today’s prompt is simply to write a 100-word story. I had another story in mind for my Therapy Sessions series, but that one is much longer than 100 words. Maybe I’ll post it tomorrow or at a later date. For now, say hello to our newest character, Sabine!


I’ve come to realize that most men don’t know what they want.

The last time we talked, his answers were short. He seemed cold—standoffish even—like he was annoyed by my attempting to have a conversation with him, even though he was the one who had initiated it.

I decided to let him be. No use in wasting my time with a man I wasn’t even sure I was interested in. I was only entertaining him because I thought he liked me, but apparently, in our short courtship, I did or said something that he found unattractive, and rather than tell me plainly what that was, he decided it would be better to give me the cold shoulder and leave me guessing as to the cause of his sudden shift in attitude toward me.


I didn’t hear from him for a few weeks—long enough for me to forget him but short enough for me to wonder what was up when out of the blue, a text from him flashed on my screen. “Hi.”

I didn’t respond initially, but after a couple days, curiosity got the better of me and I replied back, “Hey!”

No response.

Fuck. Me.

It was obvious he was playing mind games with me now. Or maybe I was being a little too sensitive. I deleted the thread and moved on.

Or so I thought.

Two days later, he texted me again. “Hellllooo.”

Is this a drunk text? I thought, and I told myself in a mantra to ignore him: Just delete the message. What’s the point in trading “hellos” back and forth? You don’t want him—that’s clear—and he only wants to drive you insane with this hot and cold act. Don’t give him the satisfaction. Don’t give him the satisfaction. Do not give him the fucking satisfaction!

But the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. So I texted back, “Hi… How are you?”

Stupid move, because the ensuing conversation was the strangest interaction I’ve ever had with another “alleged” human being (because I’m starting to question whether this man is even real).

“I’m in a bad mood” was his answer.


“Don’t know.”

“You don’t know why you’re in a bad mood?”

“Why would I lie?”

“Because most people know why they’re in a bad mood— Or you’re lying to yourself.”

“I’m not.”

“Okay then.”

“But thx.”

I’m really beginning to wonder why I’m not a lesbian already because the mental gymnastics women have to go through just to understand what the fuck these indecisive men are thinking is exhausting.

© 2023 Nortina Simmons

It’s StoryADay May! I’m not promising that I will write a story every day this month, but I’m going to try. I had every intention to write a story inspired by today’s prompt, but then I had the strangest conversation, and I really need you guys to tell me I’m not the crazy one here because I don’t understand why this guy continues to consciously pick up his phone to text me only to say ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! The only reason why he’s not blocked yet is because he’s giving me material. 😂

While washing dishes

It’s ironic that something as mundane as washing dishes would summarize a tumultuous seven years in such a violent, sudsy clatter.

At mediation, when my soon-to-be ex-husband demands I return the ring, I whisper to my lawyer about the broken garbage disposal.

Joshua’s razor-sharp hearing picks up on my words immediately. Funny how he couldn’t put that superpower to use when I listed for him the things he needed to do to save our marriage.

Number 1 was Don’t fuck your secretary.

“You lost it on purpose,” he scoffs.

“I didn’t feel the ring slip off my finger.”

“And I suppose it’s my fault you never got it resized.”

“Silly me for expecting the man I’d been in a relationship with for half my life to know my ring size.” Twelve years of dating and seven years married, and he still can’t stand my sarcasm. I lean back in my chair satisfied that I’ve gotten under his skin.

“Did you even try to look for it?” he asks.

“Yes, I stuffed my whole fist into the tiny hole. You know what that feels like, right?” It was the exact position I found him in when I stopped by his office for a surprise lunch date, the secretary spread eagle on his desk.

Of the three of us, only the secretary was surprised.

“Let’s stay on task, please,” the mediator says, rubbing his eyes under his glasses. We’ve been at this for weeks, and we’re no closer to reaching a resolution now than we were when we first began the process.

It’s Joshua’s fault. He keeps adding things that shouldn’t even be on the table. Why should I give him the ring when it was his actions that dissolved our marriage? And if he is to succeed in his pursuit to get the house, I’ll need that ring to be able to afford a place to live!

“I told you I never wanted that garbage disposal installed!” I blurt out. “I watch too many horror movies.” My marriage was a horror. It took me 19 years to realize I was with a man who never respected me, who would add another dish caked with dried up marinara sauce to the sink after watching me clean the kitchen for 20 minutes. He’s destroyed my dignity, my self-worth and still isn’t satisfied. He wishes to take the last of what I own to complete the looting of my heart.

He would’ve loved it if my fear of a phantom garbage disposal suddenly switching on with my hand still inside had come true—shredded flesh and blood splatter spraying the dishes I’d just cleaned drying on the rack.

All for the twinkle of a half-carat diamond caught in a black abyss.

“Tell you what,” I say. “If you get the house, you can have the ring. If you can find it.”

But I will fight tooth and nail to keep this roof over my head, and when the divorce is finalized and he’s the one left with nothing, I’m ripping that goddamn garbage disposal out with my bare fucking hands.

© 2023 Nortina Simmons

It’s StoryADay May! I’m not promising that I will write a story every day this month, but I’m going to try. Today’s prompt is “Write a scene in which a character is looking for something or someone that has been lost.”

New Beginnings | Buried Series | Part 10 (Conclusion)

I didn’t want to go back to his apartment. I didn’t want to go home. But it was dangerous to stay in Virginia. How soon would his ex’s body wash up on the banks of the Dan River? How soon would the local news air video feed from traffic cameras showing us dumping the suitcase over the bridge? I hadn’t considered that possibility. How soon would Danville police track down his car?

He fell asleep at the wheel. Twice. The first time, he claimed he was only looking down at the dashboard, checking his gas levels, checking his speed, checking the time. It was almost dawn, but the sun had yet to rise. I wondered if it would ever again. We belonged in the darkness, the shadows. The light of the sun would reveal the blood on our hands, permanently stained. No soap, no water would wash it away. We’d go through our daily lives carrying our shame like a scarlet letter. Anything we’d come in contact with would spread the mark—a handshake here, a passing of papers there. It would spread like a plague until the whole of the earth was consumed. Maybe that was where original sin came from—Adam and Eve’s disobedience passed down through the generations.

When he fell asleep the second time, his foot went heavy like lead on the gas. The engine moaned as the dial on the speedometer passed ninety. I beat my fist on the steering wheel and honked the horn to jolt him back to consciousness. I wouldn’t risk a third time. As soon as we crossed the state line back into North Carolina, we would find a cheap motel and pay cash so we couldn’t be traced.

Super 8 has a first-floor room available on the back side of the motel facing a construction lot containing a dormant tractor and mounds of clay piled ten to twenty feet high. It was the perfect place to lay low. Instead of pulling up in front of the room door, he parallel parked into three spaces in an empty corner of the parking lot on the edge of the construction zone, right next to one of the taller clay mounds. With the age of his car, passersby would think it’d been parked there unnoticed for weeks, maybe months, possibly abandoned. It wouldn’t appear to belong to any guest staying at the motel, a guest police might be looking for.

Continue reading “New Beginnings | Buried Series | Part 10 (Conclusion)”

Buried | Buried Series | Part 9

I hadn’t thought about what we would do once we crossed the border into Virginia. Truthfully, I didn’t think we would ever reach this point. There was a part of me that hoped he would eventually come to his senses, or that at least I would. But when we still stuffed the body into the suitcase, when we still put it inside the trunk of his car, when we still took her sleeping child along for the ride to unknowingly witness his own mother’s disposal, the parts of our minds that housed reason stared on horrified, unable to tear eyes away.

Virginia was just ahead, and I had to think fast of what we would do next. Would we try to find a park near the highway where we could bury the suitcase, or would we just pull off onto the shoulder and find a spot in the woods? Even if we did find a place to bury her, what would we use? I didn’t think to ask if he had a shovel before we left. But why would he even need one? He lived in a second-floor apartment, he had no yard, and he barely left home unless he was going to work. Where else could we easily find one? Going to the store to buy a shovel this late at night would only raise suspicions, not to mention it was unlikely we would find a hardware store open 24 hours.

Why was the decision left to me? He didn’t weigh his options with me before he moved her into his apartment. He didn’t consult me before he decided to end her life. But he put all the responsibilities of eradicating the problem squarely on my shoulders. I couldn’t stand on my own two feet under the heavy burden. Eventually, my knees would buckle, and I would fall face-first into the ground, inhaling dirt, and in the end, when he no longer required my quick mind to hide his shame, he would bury me right beside her.

Continue reading “Buried | Buried Series | Part 9”

Screaming | Buried Series | Part 8

thoughtful woman sitting in car at night

We took Highway 29 North toward Danville. We road in silence. We were the only car for miles, but he remained in the right lane and kept to the speed limit or lower. Repeatedly, he would drift toward the guardrail until the loud vibration from the rumble strips below the tires caused him to jerk the car back onto the road.

“Are you sleepy?” I asked, but he didn’t answer and continued to stare straight ahead, though how he could even see the road through his foggy windshield, I wasn’t sure. He’d tried to clean it twice, but that only made it worse. The windshield wipers smeared a murky layer of dirt and wiper fluid across the center just as we were approaching a curve, forcing him to slam on the brakes and wait for it to clear so that he could see well enough to continue driving. Still, it was like peering through muck.

Maybe the glass was just old—aged with the car, a ’96 Camry—and he never thought to replace it. Years of sweaty palms and fingers touching the glass, of food and drinks spilled due to a careless knock of the elbow, of bird droppings in the spring, of bug guts splattered at fifty miles an hour in the summer, and of dirty rainwater spread from corner to corner by dull wiper blades had added up to a cataract-type vision down the empty highway. We were barely able to see the road ahead or the dashed and solid lines marking the outside of the lane, even with the streetlights and high beams guiding our path.

Continue reading “Screaming | Buried Series | Part 8”

Motherhood | Buried Series | Part 7

I twisted the knob but hesitated to open the door. His cries were strong, desperate. They weren’t the high-pitched squeals like a baby’s cry for milk or to have his diaper changed, but deep in his gut, a low, steady moan, like a dying man, as if he already knew, already sensed that his mother was gone and that sudden awareness was slowly killing him.

The front door slammed shut, startling me, and I quickly snatched my hand off the knob.

“Oh, Stephan’s crying,” he said and brushed past me into his room.

Stephan. His name was Stephan.

I lingered at the threshold and watched as he took the boy from the small Hot Wheels bed and rocked him.

He was much bigger than I had imagined. His feet dangled just past his father’s belt buckle. I couldn’t remember if he’d ever told me the boy’s age. There were only the pictures in his phone from when he and his ex were still together and living in Philadelphia. Stephan was only five or six months old then. Old enough to sit up, utter single syllables, and possibly even stand—if he held onto someone’s leg or a flattened cushion on the couch or the dulled corner of an end table—but not quite able to walk. He was still too top-heavy. His body needed time to grow into his head—time lost when his mother took him in the middle of the night and disappeared.

I wasn’t allowed to see Stephan when they moved in—the consequence of dating a man with a child and a selfish baby momma who could vanish without a trace. However, his baby pictures stayed with me. Even when I knew how fast children grew in a year, I still dreamt of him as a red-faced newborn wrapped in a blue blanket, wearing a blue cap on his head, and lying on my chest. I pictured the tiny little body that could fit snuggly in my arm—his head resting on my shoulder, his bottom in the crease of my elbow, his pudgy feet in the palm of my hand, where I could curl my fingers in and tickle the bottoms of his toes until he laughed so hard he passed gas.

Continue reading “Motherhood | Buried Series | Part 7”

Accessory | Buried Series | Part 6

The odor was even more intoxicating when we returned to his apartment. I wondered if it was affecting my judgment. Maybe the stench had manifested as a barrier that intercepted alert signals from my brain telling my legs to run. It kept my arms stiff by my side when I should have snatched up the phone and dialed 9-1-1 with hands not yet soiled by the dirt we would bury her body under.

“How’re we doing this?” he asked as I took each suitcase out of the other and lined them up in front of the bed.

“We’re gonna pack her body up in the big one,” I said.

“Can she even fit?”

“We’ll make her fit.”

“Wouldn’t it just be easier to chop off her arms and legs?” he said, measuring the width of the suitcase with his forearms.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” I said, placing my hands on my hips. “Do you have a machete packed in your trunk? Because I don’t.”

He turned his back and sighed audibly.

“It’s extremely hard to dismember a human body,” I continued. “You’re cutting through bone, and you can’t do that with a regular old kitchen knife.”

He didn’t answer, only shook his head. Maybe he was finally starting to realize how deep into the sludge we were headed.

“Fine,” he said scratching the back of his neck. “I wouldn’t have made it this far without you, so I’ll follow your lead.”

Continue reading “Accessory | Buried Series | Part 6”

Drive | Buried Series | Part 5

woman in car with road reflection on window at night

Of course, he didn’t own a suitcase. That would’ve been too simple. 

He didn’t have many clothes—you tend to pack light when you drift from place to place. He’d only been in town six months when we met at the DMV. I was renewing my license, and he was getting his CDL.

“I’d make a great truck driver,” he said later that afternoon over coffee. “I can’t stay put in one area for long.” He then recited the cities where he’d lived before temporarily settling in Greensboro, North Carolina: Boston, Newark, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Richmond.

Repeatedly, he expressed his desire to live in Atlanta, or further south in Florida, possibly Miami, with its white beaches and exotic women. However, he loved how quiet Greensboro was and reveled in our small-town atmosphere. By then, I was already smitten, so I convinced him to give my quaint little city a year, enough time for him to fall in love with it and with me too.

Continue reading “Drive | Buried Series | Part 5”

To Live | Buried Series | Part 4

I could feel him standing behind me, watching as I retched into his downstairs neighbor’s urban garden. I anticipated his palm in the center of my back, a slight nudge that would send me over the railing. There was no reason to keep me alive. He had shown me the devil—etched away the thin crust and revealed the darkness he’d kept buried inside—and I had rejected it.

“Will you call the police?” he asked with the same gentle voice he used to tell me he needed me.

I turned around and looked into his eyes, glowing gray in the moonlight. Tears shimmered as they pooled in the sockets. One tear dripped from the corner and began to glide down his cheek. I reached up to wipe it away, and he snatched my wrist.

“Will you call the police?” he said again, more forceful this time, the bass in his voice rising. He squeezed my wrist, his fingertips digging deep into my skin, drawing up blue veins, cutting off circulation, causing my hand to go limp, and bringing me down to my knees.

Continue reading “To Live | Buried Series | Part 4”