Bloganuary Day 24

A Loving Meal: A 100-Word Story

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“I cooked you something.”

He stares at me as though I’ve just said I ran over the neighbor’s cat.

“Why do you look so nervous? Have a seat. Relax.”

Doesn’t he know I cook to show my love?

I sit him down in a chair in front of a plate of sweet and spicy chicken.

Although, I also cook to show my anger—a trait I inherited from my mother, whose final meal for my father sent him to the morgue with shards of glass lodged in his throat.

But I’m not that angry, my love. Not today.

“Bon appétit.”

© 2023 Nortina Simmons

Bloganuary Day 20

Beer-Battered: A Nano Story

Photo by Sergio Camalich on Unsplash

“The neighbors are fighting again,” I say as a slam against the wall causes me to drop the saltshaker into the sizzling frying pan.

“They could be killing a roach,” says my husband, who sits at the kitchen table. He clicks something on his laptop and gasps.

“What!” I shriek. “Do you see a roach?”

“They want $1600 for a one-bedroom. These are two-bedroom prices!”

I put a hand to my chest to calm my racing heart and carefully pluck the plastic saltshaker from the popping oil. Half of it is melted. The fish is probably ruined.

Another bang, followed by a muffled “Fuck you!” Whoosh goes the oil.

“Goddammit!”

“Should I order a pizza?” my husband asks.

“How soon can we move into that $1600 apartment?”

© 2023 Nortina Simmons

Bloganuary Day 19

Today’s Bloganuary prompt is all about colors, particularly which one best describes your personality.

Honestly, I have no idea. My favorite color is red, but red represents boldness, passion, being boisterous—the typical qualities of an extrovert.

That doesn’t describe me at all.

I’m shy, quiet, reserved…

Does that make me yellow? Blue? A combination of the two (green)?

Should I pick navy blue because THE DALLAS COWBOYS ARE GOING TO WIN THE SUPERBOWL?!

Honestly, my response to color personality tests is the same as my response to zodiac signs, vibrations, energies, etc. It’s all stupid.

Don’t limit yourself by trying to fit into a box someone else has drawn. We are who we are, whether we’re blue, yellow, purple, or green. We are who God created us to be in all His infinite wisdom and glory. So be proud of that. Be bold in that!

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Bloganuary Day 14

Refugees: A Nano-Story

view of earth from the moon
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Adam squeezes my hand as everything around us quakes. My breathing is heavy, labored. I can taste the all-beef hotdog, the chili cheese on the back of my tongue. They say to wait thirty minutes after a meal before you swim, and riding in a space shuttle feels like swimming.

“How much longer?” I ask, then quickly hold my breath as the contents in my stomach gurgle.

 “We’re almost out,” he answers without checking the view. He’s the astronaut. He’s used to this. He’s ridden the layers of the atmosphere many times to know how they feel.

I’m the only one who’s new.

I glance out the window the width of my face and watch the clouds clear for darkness. When the turbulence calms, I let out an exhale.

“You shouldn’t have ate that stuff,” he says, shaking his head.

As relieved as I am to not be floating in vomit, it was my last meal on earth. Who knows if I’ll ever get a chance to eat something not freeze-dried again.

We can never go back,” he says flatly, apparently reading my mind.

I crane my neck to catch one final glimpse of the tiny blue planet we’re leaving behind, shrinking in the distance.

I wonder if there will be a sudden explosion of light before it finally disappears.

© 2023 Nortina Simmons

Distance

blurred silhouette of a hand reaching out
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“My love,” she says as she tilts the bottle under the rush of hot water from the faucet. She looks over her shoulder. He’s standing by the door cracked open. A sliver of light from the apartment corridor pours in. He reaches back for the knob.

Oh, how she wishes he would push it closed, take those three giant steps with his long lanky legs to come behind her, as he used to long days after work, their bodies fitting together like puzzle pieces. How she wishes he would wrap his arms around her waist and whisper in her ear, “My love,” the way he did thirteen months ago, before…

A sudden cry from the monitor by the sink grabs her attention for only a second, and in that second, the distance between them grows. The door is open wider now. His body fits in the crack, blocking the light, one foot already in the hall.

“Will you get that?” he says facing away from her. His voice already sounds miles away.

But that isn’t a phone she can answer and tell its caller to ring back later or a TV she can put on mute. That is a baby. Their baby. And has he even touched it? Fed it? Changed a single diaper? Does he know that it has his eyes? Does he realize that she still doesn’t feel like a mother, that she looks at it like it’s a thing, a thing that won’t be quiet, that won’t stop?

She wants to ask him…

If he comes back.

© 2018-2023 Nortina Simmons


 Originally published January 13, 2018.

Bloganuary Day 12

Useless Girl: A Nano-Story

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Call me Cinderella—except, my Prince Charming is the CEO of a startup who’s never home, and I’ve traded evil step-relatives for a mother-in-law who doesn’t speak English.

She lifts a crooked finger coated in dust she’s wiped from the edge of a ceiling fan blade.

“Faltu larki.”

Since moving to Pakistan, I’ve slowly picked up on the Urdu words she mumbles around the house. I know “larki” means girl, and from the way she curls her upper lip at the dust on her finger, I suspect “faltu” isn’t “good.” But I’m more confused by how she was able to reach the fan when I’m barely five feet and she doesn’t even come to my shoulders.

“Seerhi kahan hai?” I ask. God, I hope I said, “Where’s the ladder?”

“Amriki bahu. Aray, wow!” She waves her arms and leaves the room.

I don’t think I’m making a good impression.

© 2023 Nortina Simmons

Limbo

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I’ve spent so much of my life daydreaming, I can’t distinguish fact from my infinite imagination…

I know he is a lover I conjured in my loneliness, but I can feel his breath inflate my lungs, his full body weight compress my chest.

I am awake, but I’m suspended above me, watching myself lie lifeless in the sand while the man I’ve loved only in dreams attempts to revive me.

I can’t help but question, is any of this real?

When next I open my eyes, I am in a hospital bed. Tubes of free-flowing oxygen invade my nostrils. He is slumped over in the chair next to me, and I reach out a trembling hand to touch his face. He jolts.

“Oh,” he breathes. “Thank God. I thought you were dead.” He leans forward and kisses me. His lips feel like a feather.

“I think I am,” I croak.

© 2023 Nortina Simmons

Bloganuary Day 9

The Best Gift Ever: A Nano-Story

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“Christmas was two weeks ago,” I say to the glittery red gift bag he holds out to me.

“It’s Orthodox Christmas,” he says teasingly.

I assume he’s lying until he shows me the calendar in his phone.

“Open it.”

“Will I like it?” I ask, skeptical. He’s never been good at gift-giving. I could tell him exactly what I want, where to buy it, and how much it costs, and he would still get me the opposite.

“I think you’ll love it. Really love it.” The left corner of his mouth curls up into a half-grin.

My heart flutters in my chest, and I tear through layers of tissue paper to get to the bottom of the bag, where I find the small velvet box. Could it be? Is he about to ask me what I think he is? The question I’ve been aching to hear with each passing year as our relationship stagnates? Is he finally ready to make that life-long commitment? To death do us part?

He should be! It’s been seven years!

I snatch off the lid, expecting him to drop to one knee as the light reflecting off the two-carat diamond inside temporarily impairs my vision.

Instead, I find a pair of dull stud earrings.

“Do you like it?” he asks slyly.

“The best gift ever,” I say through clenched teeth.

© 2023 Nortina Simmons

Muse

I still hear Pete’s voice in my head when I knock on Carrie’s front door…

“Remember what happened to Ron?”

First of all, Ron can’t drive. Not a car—he’s totaled three. Not a bike—motored or pedaled. Even walking, he can’t drive. If you want my opinion, bruh was asking to get hit.

And yeah, I know they still haven’t caught the guy who did it and ran and that the description of the car fits Carrie’s Subaru almost exactly, even down to the first three letters on the license plate—Ron passed out before he could read the rest.

I look over my shoulder at her ride parked in the driveway. It does appear to have a sizable dent on the front fender, but that could also be how the shadow hits the hood from the porch light.

Truth is I couldn’t give a damn about Ron. If she did run him over, hey, that just means he’s out of the picture. Besides, she’s told me countless nights that I’m her muse. What has Ron done for her except get caught cheating?

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Bloganuary Day 5

Welcome to Bloganuary Day 5! I’ve officially surpassed how far I got last year! Woo!

Today’s prompt is What brings you joy in life?

I could write a long drawn-out post about what brings me joy, or I could simply show you.

These last three years have been rough for me, but there are two things that will always brighten my day and make me smile: the innocence of children and writing stories.

So here’s a story about an innocent child and his not-so-innocent mommy. Enjoy. 😀

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