Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | Ep 7 | Regret

After the third miscarriage, John promises to get a vasectomy so I won’t feel like it’s my fault. The very words shift all the blame to me, and I regret telling him about my past abortions as a teenager. That I’d changed my mind about not wanting kids.

When the nurse calls him back, I slip out of the doctor’s office and wait in the elevator. As the steel doors slide closed, they show me the reflection of a freckled face I haven’t seen in nearly thirty years.

She cowers in the furthest corner, peers up at me, her eyes big and wide. When ours connect, she quickly faces the wall.

I feel the motherly urge to protect her, shield her from all the bad decisions she’ll inevitably make in the years to come.

“What floor?” I ask.

“First,” the mousy voice replies.

My finger hovers over the “1” on the keypad. Next to it, the tag “Family planning.”

When I turn around, she’s not there, but I still see her image in the doors.

“Are you sure?”

She shakes her head.

I punch “G” for the parking garage instead.

When the doors open again, a girl in an oversized sweatshirt runs out.

There are plenty of Twilight Zone episodes about having an encounter with one’s younger self, but I would say this story draws its inspiration from “Spur of the Moment.”

We’re going strong with our marathon! I’ll step away for some coffee and be back in an hour!

With Those Bulging Eyes

It’s Throwback Thursday once again, and in the spirit of Halloween and all things fearful, I’m revisiting this terrifying poem, originally published in fēlan magazine’s fear issue in November 2015.

“With Those Bulging Eyes” is one of my favorite poems I’ve ever written, and probably the most talked about among family and friends who’ve read it, most likely due to its extremely graphic content. (My mom’s co-worker is probably still wondering what happened to that sweet little angel she once knew).

This poem—inspired by the frightful painting, Saturn Devouring His Son, by Spanish artist, Francisco Goya—tackles the uncomfortable and controversial subject of abortion, how it can affect a woman physically, emotionally, psychologically.

Read the full poem below, and if you want to know more about my inspiration behind the poem, and more about me as a writer in general, check out my artist interview on fēlan’s website here.

A Mother Still

When she returned home from the hospital, she locked her doors and lay in the bed alone. She didn’t move; she couldn’t, the pain was too great. She felt as if pieces of her had been ripped out from the inside—they had. She felt she was hemorrhaging enough blood for two persons—She was.

When she bled through her pad, she didn’t attempt to change it. She couldn’t if she wanted. She was too sore to roll over onto her stomach—empty and full at the same time—slide one leg off the edge of the bed, and then the other, crouch onto the floor and then pull herself up, take one step, and then another to the bathroom too far away.

She couldn’t imagine sitting on the toilet, wincing under the ache of the muscles in her thighs and abdomen pulled tight, looking down between her thighs into the bowl of the commode and seeing remnants of a life swirling and blending with urine and water. To see it caught up in the fibers of a maxipad clung to her skin, like a nightmare trapped in the dreamcatcher’s net. To feel drops trickle down her legs when she stood and slowly dragged forever filthy clothing back over her hips.

She curled around the pill bottle clutched in her fist. Prescription pain medicine strong enough for her to become addicted to after the physical pain had left her, but the emotional trauma still remained. She hacked up saliva and mucus from the back of her mouth and used it to push two down her throat. She lay on her back, watching the ceiling spin overhead. When she closed her eyes, she dreamt of drowning, of splashing to the surface gasping for air, and tiny little hands, stubby little fingers, dunking her head back under.

She woke choking, unable to breathe, and when she looked up, she thought she saw eyes, narrowed and burrowing. She sat up. Through the pain, she crawled to the other end of the bed, to her purse hanging over the bedpost, and retrieved a pen from the front pocket. Lying back, she wrote upside down, crooked letters on he stomach, below her navel, against her throbbing womb, in red ink.

Believe me, I loved
you—Before Winter’s smitten
death—And even still.

© 2017 Nortina Simmons

It is Short Story A Day May, and today’s prompt asks us to write a story in the form of a series of letters. This haibun is the result of how I was inspired by the prompt—my “series of letters” coming together to form the melancholic haiku at the end of the story. 

Blurred Reality

I’ve been living on caffeine for the past few weeks, forcing myself to continue on with my various projects at the risk of losing sleep. I’ve managed to keep up with the A to Z Challenge so far, but I’ve neglected a lot of my favorite flash fiction challenges. Thankfully, I have a friend in Amina who can help me write a story! Here’s another one of our collaborations for your entertainment.

This one’s pretty dark, so you’ve been warned . . .


Blurred Reality

A few days have gone by, and all I’ve done is write. I’ve run out of ink so I cut myself and use my blood. My thoughts need to be heard . . . need to be read. It’s been a long time coming . . .

Brick walls.
Shattered glasses.

My phone vibrates against the porcelain tub and rattles to the floor. I don’t move to answer. It’s probably Kerry. I can’t talk to her now. I don’t want to hear her incessant complaining about Mike’s infidelity. If only she knew. I would do anything to be cheated on, to share my bed with another woman, who tangles herself in the sheets as the man I love pleasures every inch of her body with his tongue and lips as he did mine the night before. Instead, I can only taste the iron on his clammy palm from when he covered my nose and mouth, can only feel the shards of glass slice through my skin from when he thrust me through the window of the abandoned hospital building in the woods.

I lift my arm out of water. My skin is wrinkled like prunes. I wish I could trim it away, shed myself of the filth. How long have I been in this bath? An hour? Two? The water’s not even hot, not even lukewarm. I wipe away the soap suds to read what I have written. Most of the ink from the pen is faded, but the scratches are clear as day, a stark red against my pale skin. I take a corkscrew and continue my story, carving four more letters into my wrist:


I trusted him.

I trusted him as a person.

I trusted his soul.

I remember the days when he was the one who made me smile. Dinner dates, movie night and cocktails. Maybe it was my fault . . . Did I not scream loud enough? Was my “No” in whispers? When I said, “Stop,” didn’t I mean it????

Maybe it was my fault for agreeing to go out camping with him that night. It started so beautifully. We stared at the stars and watched as the clouds danced in circles around the moon. The weather was perfect, and his smell . . . Oh his smell — the woody, musky scent.

My face breaks into a smile at the happy memory, and in an instant I remember . . . I remember him choking me, and my smile, it turns into screams as I cut the side of my face. I don’t want to be beautiful. I want this pain to take me . . . to a place where I’ll never be able to return, a place where I have no trust, a place where I will never be in pain.

I sink lower into the tub, my knees at the level of my eyes. It was so tempting . . . Just to dip my nose under . . . inhale . . . let the water flood my lungs . . .

But I want to see his face when I toss the small plastic rod at his feet. I want to watch his cold blue eyes turn a steel gray when he sees those two pink lines drawn right down the center.

It’ll be just our luck if we are having a girl.

The door bell rings. I sit in this bath tub contemplating if I really want to entertain guests tonight.

What time is it anyway??

If I ignore the sounds long enough, maybe they’ll go away . . .






Who the fuck is it anyway!!!!!???!

I find the strength to get out of the tub, grab my robe and walk sluggishly down the stairs . . . Hoping by the time I get to the door, whoever is there will be gone.



“I’m coming, dammit.”

I open the door . . . and blue eyes are staring back at me . . . I can recognize those eyes anywhere. I feel all the emotion rushing through me . . .

I can’t breathe. I can’t fucking breathe.


“I was worried about you.” He speaks softly, then steps over the threshold and wraps me in his arms. “You haven’t been answering my calls.”

I extend my forearm and push him back. “You’ve got some nerve,” I sneer.

“Babe–” he starts, but stops and hangs his head. He should feel ashamed. Coming here. To do what? To gloat? To pretend my torment for the past several weeks was all in my head? Will he go so far as to say I wanted it, I asked for it, I was begging for it?

Instead he says, “You know I love you, right?”

I slam the door in his face. That kind of love is deadly, so says my bloody wrist, my scarred face.

“Babe please . . . Open the door.”

My calm breath turns into rage.

“You raped me! You raped me and you know it, and now I’m pregnant and I don’t want this child . . . I don’t want it . . . Take it away . . .”

I hear him stop breathing for a second.

“We are keeping MY child. Don’t you even think for a second you’re killing MY child.”

“Your child?” I say helplessly. I turn my back to the door and lean against it. What was I to him? An incubator? Just a surrogate? Collateral damage? He always talked about how much he wanted kids, almost to the point of obsession. I was the one who blocked it. I wouldn’t have a child out of wedlock. So he proposed. Again and again. Sometimes twice in one week. He was always in a rush. But why?

I thought my pregnancy would make him feel guilty for what he did. This couldn’t have been the way he wanted to conceive his dream family—a wife, a couple of kids, a three-story house in the suburbs—but I guess there’s always a dark secret behind every white picket fence. Would this be ours? It wouldn’t be as easy to deny him in marriage. How often would he take advantage?

My body bounces off the door as he kicks and punches it. “Just open up!” He shouts.

“Open up,” I scoff to myself, like he opened my womb. My stomach rises in my chest. I double over dizzy and start to dry heave.

He must hear me, because his pounding grows more invigorating. It’s only a matter of time before he breaks in.

It all happens in an instant . . .

The last thing I remember are sounds… Various sounds.

The sound of my hinges giving way to his strength . . . My feet shuffling on the marble as I make a dash for the kitchen . . . Him grunting as he grabs my arms . . . Me screaming at him to let go . . .

“I’ll kill you before you kill my child. If I can’t have you then no one else will, you filthy bitch.”

This can’t be how it all ends. Me — dead and pregnant for a psychopath. I still remember how every punch to my stomach felt . . . And in my head I am actually dead . . .

I finally begin to see the light . . . Is this what death feels like???? Just as I’m about to give up, I feel the corkscrew in the pocket of my robe.

Stabbing someone, on paper, seems easy. Hollywood would have you believe you can sink a knife into human flesh, down to the handle, and the blade would smoothly glide through, like slicing softened butter. In reality, you could use all of your strength, and the blade still wouldn’t go deeper than a quarter inch.

My energy depleted from the baby, my engraved wrist, the smell of Merlot I opened but never drank, I can barely lift my arm. I make it only to his waist, and blocking his blows with one hand, I jab his thigh with the corkscrew in the other. Once, then twice. It barely scratches the surface, but it is enough to stun him, and the minute he lets me go, I sprint for the bathroom, close and lock the door behind me, and dive for my cellphone on the floor.

It’s still vibrating. Kerry’s been calling this whole time.

“Kerry, call the police. He’s going to kill me. Help me, Kerry.”

The next sounds I hear are two gun shots and Kerry knocking on the bathroom door.

“Kiera, open up!!! He’s gone.”


“Miss Kiera you, were very lucky. You could have lost the baby . . .”

I’ve been in a trance for days. My memory is foggy. I remember bright lights and beeps and people talking . . . Faces, a lot of faces. Familiar ones. Unfamiliar ones. White robes. Blue suits . . . Needles, clanking metal.

“Miss Keira, can you hear me?”

I look up at the doctor and smile.

“Yes, I can Dr. Liam. I would like an abortion please . . .”

—Amina & Nortina