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.”


blurred silhouette of a hand reaching out
Photo by Maisa Borges on

“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.


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?

Continue reading “Muse”

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | S2 Ep 12 | Android Companionship

I read in an article online that by 2050, human-on-robot sex will be more common than human-on-human sex. So when I enroll in the Android Companionship Trial, I convince myself that I’m only doing it for the advancement of science.

Not because I’m desperate and alone.

“So how does it work?” my girlfriend, Ally, asks me as I complete the 50-question questionnaire. “Do you have to fuck it a specific number of times a day to get accurate data? Do they film you?”

“No, it’s a little more discreet than that.”

“So it’s a sex doll that can move?”

“They say it’ll look just as human as you and me.”

Ally shrugs and pops a stick of chewing gum in her mouth. “This sounds too much like a porno plot.” She snickers. “Mmm mmm, fucking a robot.”

“They prefer the term ‘android,'” I correct her.

“Hmm, robots have preferred pronouns now too.” She kicks her legs off the couch and sits up. “Babe, if you’re that desperate for some peen, I’ll hook you up with one of the assholes at my job. It’ll be all sex, no strings. Trust me, you wouldn’t want to date these guys.”

“It’s because the dating pool has pee in it that I’m signing up for this!” Thirty-five years with not so much as a broken engagement has taught me all I need to know about the crop of men available to me.

Why not try an artificial one instead?

Continue reading “Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | S2 Ep 12 | Android Companionship”

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | S2 Ep 11 | A Face Most Unfamiliar

It’s one thing to dream about others dying. I’ve seen it many times.

First there was my grandmother. Then my father.

I finally convinced my mother to quit drinking the night before New Year’s Eve, when I recounted the mental images of her mangled car on the side of the highway.

But to dream of my own death was a nightmare I prayed would never come.

I gulp down water from the glass on my nightstand. His face is still clear in my mind—the man who will kill me. I worry how long I am cursed to see it before my dream comes true. With my dad’s heart attack, I was left with little to no time to react before he collapsed. With Grandma, everyone knew it was her time. Dementia had been eating away at her brain for 15 years. Only I had the assurance that it would end. And with Mama, the flashing road construction sign that read, “HAPPY NEW YEAR! STAY ALIVE! DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE!” gave the date and time away.

However, in this dream, my only clue is my pink nightie, which I wear now. Instinctively, I want to take it off, but I’ve had these premonitions long enough to know that simply changing your clothes does not alter your fate.

If whatever deity that cursed me with this unrequested gift wanted me dead, they will ensure that it happens.

But then I was able to save my mother, so maybe there is hope.

Like any dream, the memory of what is about to happen fades the longer I am awake. I remember the pink nightie. I remember him standing over my bed, his steel blue eyes captivating me. I never once suspected he had ill intentions. He dragged the covers down the length of my body and let them drop to the floor. I pressed my knees together, but deep down, I wanted him. And when he climbed on top of me, I was ready to let him take full advantage, make love to me deep down, until he wrapped his hands around my neck and I woke up gasping for air.

Continue reading “Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | S2 Ep 11 | A Face Most Unfamiliar”

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | S2 Ep 10 | Divine Drought

We pray for rain. For three days, we go without food and water. We spend the nights on the floor of the sanctuary, and the dust of the ground clings to our knees.

We don’t fast by choice. Circumstances led to this. With the city shut down, grocery stores were looted. We have no power for miles and no running water. The church garden struggles to feed the remnants of our congregation. Pastor John dug up the corn crop last Tuesday. It was brown like smoking tobacco. The tomatoes and cucumbers blossomed and then died before becoming edible vegetables. The soil is arid like sand.

“Do you think this is the end of the world?” Jessie whispers.

“Shhhh!” Mother Jones is in the front pew with the pastor and the elders. We can see the wrinkled cellulite skin of her thighs underneath her rolled-up skirt. She prefers to pray in silence so she can concentrate on what she wants to petition to the Lord, and she’s easily distracted and fumbles over her words when other people are talking. She must hate Sister Teresa right now. She circles the sanctuary, shouting her prayer aloud.

“We ask you to send the rain, God!” she screams, her South Georgian accent coming out strong. “Shower down on us as you did the manna for the children of Israel.”

“Does she have to be so loud?” I say.

“She wants to make sure God hears her.”

“The whole continent can hear her.” We both snicker into the cushion of the pew, and again Mother Jones hushes us.

My stomach rumbles, and I lick my lips thinking about what I can eat—like sweet apples to quench my thirst and my hunger, the crisp pop of them when I sink my teeth into the skin and the juice inside drains down my chin. The sour Granny Smith, the succulent Fuji, the classic Red Delicious.

“I’m so hungry I could eat a cow,” Jessie says.

“Just put me in a pool full of apple juice and ham sandwiches.”

“Eww, then the bread would get soggy!”

We laugh out loud. Mama reaches over and slaps my hand, and we fold our arms and bow our heads and mumble incoherently like the men in the pews behind us and Pastor John standing at the podium. Speaking in tongues, they call it. I wonder if it’s because their tongues roll like a Native war cry.

Continue reading “Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | S2 Ep 10 | Divine Drought”

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 8 | An Undeserving World

They are still undeserving.

Sixty years later, I return bearing gifts. Again, I land in Mexico, but this time I cross the border into the fabled “land of the free.”

“This gift is a cure to the disease that has ravaged your planet,” I tell all who will listen.

Immediately I am detained and put on a bus destined for the capital.

But it is not to present me officially to their head of state.

“Let that liberal president figure out what to do with you then,” the men in uniform sneer.

“Will you not accept my gift?”

“Ha! Go back to your shithole country!”

Photo by Laker on

I quickly learn that I have become a pawn in their political games.

But what of the people onboard with me? The innocent? The sick? The lonely in search of their families?

“Ha, go back to your country,” the soldier’s voice echoes in my head.

After three days on a bus to nowhere with no working air conditioning, packed like spoons with aliens by a different definition with no access to a clean bathroom, who haven’t washed for days, who sit now in their own excrement in a foreign land, not knowing the language to understand that this country of promise, of opportunity, has not accepted them, or my gift, I contact my people back home.

“They are still undeserving, but these I will bring back with me.”

With their blood, I connect them with their loved ones and beam all aboard my ship. And to them alone I offer my gift.

“Come home to a place where there is no sickness or disease or division or hatred based on race. All are one, and all are welcome.”

We leave as the world below dies slowly. They will not realize the salvation they’ve lost until it is too late.

© 2022 Nortina Simmons

This hour’s episode is brought to you by The Twilight Zone episode “The Gift.”

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | S2 Ep 7 | The Woman Who Will Finally Reap

After Mr. Schwimmer retired, the firm delegated me the task of representing his last client, a Mr. Simon Polk, who died five years ago.

“It’s really an easy case,” one of the partners, Mr. Colby, said. “You simply have to check on the robot. Make sure she’s taking care of it.”

She’s taking care of it alright. I learned that on my first visit. I sat with the robot in the study, and she served us both hot chocolate.

“Thank you,” I said when she offered me the cup and saucer.

“It’s cold, you miserable cow!” the robot spat, throwing the glass back at her. I was taken aback by how much it sounded like a man of a formidable age.

“It’s Uncle Simon,” she told me after I followed her back to the kitchen and helped her to rub out the stains in her dress.

“He loaded his consciousness into it just before he died,” she said as she stared ahead at nothing. “It was his dying wish to torment me for the rest of my days.”

I gave my report to the partners. “The robot’s taken care of, but who’s taking care of her?” I asked.

“That’s not our concern,” said Mr. Colby. “What has she to complain about? As long as she stays in that house, everything is hers.”

Everything but her life, I feared. I decided then and there that I would free her.

“That’s kind of you,” she said on my second visit as the robot worked in the basement, “but there’s nothing left for me to reap. I’m old. I’m dried up.”

“You’re not,” I said, and then I kissed her. She was stiff at first, but then I saw a flash in her eyes, and it was the confirmation I needed that I could bring her back to the land of the living.

We just needed to get rid of the robot.

“I tried pushing him down the stairs. Now he just walks with a cane.”

“Then we will try something more permanent,” I said. Leaving the property wasn’t an option. She would lose her inheritance. Even if I covered for her, the robot could call someone else from the firm. So then how would one kill a robot?

Continue reading “Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | S2 Ep 7 | The Woman Who Will Finally Reap”