Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | S2 Ep 9 | Sleepless

I’ve been watching the morning news since 4 AM. It comes on earlier and earlier these days. I can’t imagine there would be much breaking news to report between 11:35 PM and 4 AM that it can’t wait until 8. Who besides me is up watching it? But then I remember Orlando, and I turn up the volume.

Donald Trump will be in town. They interview a girl in a sleeping bag just outside the gates of the special events center. 

“I’ve been waiting here since 9 last night!”  she says in a heavy Southern drawl. She wants to make sure she gets in and gets a good seat. All this for a man whose only policies I can remember involve banning a billion people and building a wall to ban a million more.

Hell, I’ll be up, I might as well go. Maybe he’s not as bad as he seems. Maybe he actually has good ideas. Maybe there’s a logical reason why people like him so much, and it’s not the reason I fear. But then I remember where I live. The last time I stepped out because I couldn’t sleep, I found myself on the outskirts of town, driving behind a black pickup with a Confederate flag in the rear window. Going to see Trump is the closest I’ll get to attending a Klan rally. They’ll take one look at my afro and know I don’t belong.

Sean walks in buttoning his uniform and sighs when he sees me on the couch. For once, I wish he’d be happy that I’m up before him. I could’ve cooked him breakfast or fixed him a fresh pot of coffee. But who am I kidding? He’s known since our first date sophomore year in college that I don’t cook. I’m one of the few people who are actually skilled at burning coffee.

“Please tell me you haven’t been here all night,” he says.

“Just all morning.” I smile, but he doesn’t laugh.

“Sweetie.” He sits on the arm of the couch, and my eyes drift down to the gun holstered on his hip. I wonder, will he have to shoot anyone today? Someone who doesn’t listen or cooperate, like me. Will he pull the trigger to silence my defiant mouth?

“We sent Matthew to your sister’s so you could finally get some sleep. Please tell me you don’t still hear the man downstairs.”

I don’t understand why he can’t just go downstairs and check that apartment. He’s a cop for God’s sake. The man downstairs is beating his wife. Her screams should be probable cause enough. I hear her struggle with him every night—the lamp crashing to the floor, the shaking of our bed when he slams her against the wall. I hear him curse her. He is always drunk. He comes home from the bar and demands she get on her knee. Some nights I think she wakes to his unprovoked blows, as there is silence and then suddenly her screams.

Their bedroom is directly below ours.

Continue reading “Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | S2 Ep 9 | Sleepless”

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | S2 Ep 5 | Woman in the Mirror

You’re not crazy if you talk to yourself.

Only if you answer back.

And tonight I answer back.

I’ve barricaded myself in the bathroom as my husband beats on the door, demanding to be let in. I burn the memory of my reflection into my brain, for fear that once the door opens, I will be unrecognizable.

“After this, things will change,” the woman in the mirror promises. “All you have to do is say the word.”


Photo by Ismael Sanchez on Pexels.com

In an instant, my husband bursts through, and I am outside of my body watching myself catch his fist in the air, side-step him, and duck, letting his weight drive him into the side of the bathtub head first, and with a crack and a thud, all is silent.

I am in the back of the police car now. And the female officer says, “No one will blame you for what happened. We just need you to answer some questions, and then you’ll be free to go.”

I stare past her at myself, at the woman from the mirror who now inhabits my body. “Yes, after this, things will be different,” she says to me in the rearview with a cold smile and black eyes.

What once filled me with hope now fills me with dread as I worry what I might have released upon the world.

© 2022 Nortina Simmons

This story was inspired by The Twilight Zone episode “Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room” and has a much more sinister ending.

Hurricane Season

All I see for miles are fishing lines. End of the season, most of the vacationers have gone back to school and work. The only people left on the beach are fishers, those who live here, and those who are drawn.

Me being the latter.

I grab a sandwich in plastic wrap from my tote bag just as a sudden gust of wind blows the sand around me in a swirl. When I bite into the sandwich, just underneath the crunch of the lettuce, the sand grains roll across the grooves of my teeth.

Hurricane season. Just over 100 miles off shore, a storm is churning the waters. The clouds from the outer bands have started to roll in, and the stifling humidity is a warning that the storm is getting closer, growing stronger.

Wherever the path turns in the next 24 hours will determine whether this area will be under a mandatory evacuation. By this time tomorrow, the beach may be complete deserted, save for one body.


I honestly don’t know how I got here—willing and ready to be swept away by the storm—only that I needed to get away from Brian and the kids.

Brian and the kids.

I know what you’re thinking. And honestly, I don’t think I’m a bad mom or wife. But I’ve made mistakes. The latest was leaving Cam alone at Wal-Mart for two hours.

It wasn’t intentional, I just . . . forgot. One minute, I was sending her back to the store to return the shopping cart, and the next, I was driving back home, as if she were never with me in the first place.

And even as I was unloading the trunk, I still didn’t realize that I was alone, that the child I had taken with me was now missing. I only noticed that the house was empty, quiet. I savored that, immediately made myself comfortable on the couch in front of a good Netflix rom-com to snooze to, and began to dream about the violent calm of the waves crashing onto shore repeatedly, one after the other, until a rapped knocking startled me out of my sleep.

When I opened the door, I found the cop and my daughter, her face red and swollen from crying, and Brian, pulling up with the boys behind the police cruiser, getting out of the car, furious.

“How could you leave her! How could you be so stupid! Goddammit! Do you know what could have happened to her! Do you have any idea how dangerous that was!”

And the officer saying, “Ma’am, are you suffering from any type of stress or depression?”

“You can’t use postpartum anymore, Susan. Jared is four!” He spat it out with pure disgust, as if he couldn’t stomach the taste of my name on his tongue.

I could tell the cop was becoming uncomfortable, he rested his hand on the baton in his belt and looked anywhere but at me and my husband, finally settling on the top of Cam’s head. “This could have been a lot worse. I could be here for different reasons.”

“Thank you, officer, for bringing her home. I promise you this will never happen again. Susan’s not leaving this house ever, with any of our children.” He cut me a glare that could have pierced the thickest of rhinoceros skin.

“Let’s hope not.” The chagrin in his face. Did he even know what he was saying? I saw his wedding ring. Did he treat his wife like this? How could he turn a blind eye? But that’s exactly what he did. He said, “Y’all have a nice rest of the day,” and left without looking back. Part of me wanted to call his department later that night to complain about him willfully ignoring an ensuing domestic dispute. The moment he left, I was on the floor, barely able to see out of my left eye, the blurry images of my husband and children hovering over me. The word “stupid” heard over and over.

If my kids ever had sympathy for me through the years of Brian’s hatred and abuse, that ended the day I left Cam.

And now I’ve left them all.

I dig my feet deeper into the sand, plant myself to bear the brunt of the storm soon to come. Can I do this? Give up so easily? Is this my only option?

A man with a cooler approaches. “Best time of the year to catch the good ones, amiright? ” he says excitedly and tosses me a Ziploc bag containing a trout as big as my forearm that slaps against my thighs.

“Uh, sure, thanks.” I can’t remember the last time I’ve had fish. Brian hates seafood, won’t even let me cook it for the children. So many times I’ve caved for him, his preferences, his wants and demands.

The man waves and continues on, donating the morning’s catch to anyone by themselves on the beach.

I stuff the Ziploc bag into my tote. Scaling and gutting it will be messy, but I’ll rent an Extended Stay for the night, cook it with maybe some grits and gravy, or cheese, or stop by the local fish market and add some shrimp or scallops to go with it. Make it my last supper meal before taking the three-hour drive back to face the reality of the hell I live in. I will have three hours to decide how I will tell Brian I’m leaving him, finally, for good.

© Nortina Simmons

English #frapalymo: Fading Memory

I remember when
you first closed your fingers
around my throat. And
my heart bled in my mouth, crushed
against my larynx.

I remember because
it was on the Sabbath—though
you work—and I fell
dead—though you lie with me now,
breathing roses in my nose.

© 2016 Nortina Simmons


Written for Frau Paulchen’s Lyrik Monat, which translates from German to Mrs. Paulchen’s Poetry Month. Today’s prompt is: “a ten-line text.”

No Holds Barred Poetry Writing Challenge: Day 14

a man touching a woman's eye with a bruise

My Opinionated Love

What is a good guy? Bitter.
A manipulator. A scam.
Ladies, you’re tired of being
punching bags, sex kittens?
Don’t be fooled
when a good guy exchanges
slaps for kisses,
fucking for making love.

Continue reading “No Holds Barred Poetry Writing Challenge: Day 14”