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

“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.


Cool autumn rains,
cinnamon-scented candles,
spiced vanilla chai,
and your kiss to make it sweet.

© 2021 Nortina Simmons

Originally published December 9, 2021, in response to Morning Inspiration: Writing Prompt No. 13

Autumn Lapse

Love Tanka #5

Sun sets an hour
early; wind pushes east, sends
fallen burgundy
leaves adrift. Wool scarf tightens
around neck; coffee cools in

Styrofoam cup—pumpkin spice.
Pumpkin patch picked; please, contest
winner, spice up this
love with cinnamon kisses.
My Rip Van Winkle slept the

Autumn away; wood
splinters fracture his cheekbones.
Frost-bitten lips, blue
like night’s sky when moon is full,
and I dream he’ll wake in Spring.

© 2015 Nortina Simmons

Originally published October 21, 2015

Waiting Up for Ghosts

“Why don’t you put your money where your mouth is,” Darin says.

If I had money, I’d be paying a taxi to get me the hell out of here. But my money is in my wallet, which is in my purse, with my phone, in the trunk of Darin’s car, parked half a block from here.

The whole point is to be completely cut off from the rest of the world—no distractions so we don’t miss anything. Just me and Darin and this dead tree stump, where three weeks ago a group of teenagers supposedly spotted Midtown’s prom night ghost.

But I don’t believe in ghosts, or so, that’s what I’ve tried to convince Darin of, but right now, I’m having a hard time convincing myself, because at every creep and crack, I’m shivering to my bones in Darin’s lap. And he seems to like it—let his hand slip under my skirt the last time I jumped.

“We’re supposed to be watching for ghosts.” And I recall this was how our particular ghost got herself killed. Alone in the dark woods with a guy she didn’t know. And here I am, alone, in the dark, on the year’s unluckiest night, sitting by the edge of the forest with a man who pretends he didn’t see me when he touches my breast.

And I have to pretend I don’t want him to touch me again.

“It’s just the animals,” he says.

He reclines on the blanket, tugs the back of my blouse for me to lie down next to him. I tell him I’m not afraid—but I should be.

When he’s on top of me—the hem of my skirt drawn up to my navel—that’s when we hear the distant scream. A gust of wind splits through the tall grass, and Darin’s face flashes brilliantly, like lightning.

© 2017 Nortina Simmons