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.”

NoHoldsBarredPoetryWritingChallenge Day 11: Housewife

I’m waiting for my husband to become a millionaire so I can quit my job. Not that I hate it—most days—but I’d much rather be a housewife, and I know I’ve set feminism back a century with that statement, and though I love to cook, I hate to clean, and you really need to have the “right” husband to desire to be his servant without it belittling your worth, and I believe I’ve snatched him. He respects my autonomy, doesn’t command submission, didn’t even make me change my last name, and he supports my dreams of being a writer, which is the true reason for why I want to stay at home, because what I crave most is time, less time wasted making a conglomerate richer, more time curled in a corner of my loveseat, pencil and notepad in hand, creating the worlds that play like films on my brain during strategy meetings and scribbling the words that flood my thoughts as I edit the writings of authors who’ve fulfilled their destinies while mine remains indefinitely on hold. So if it means taking a little more care in vacuuming and mopping floors, in washing and drying and setting his clothes out for the morning, in preparing the bacon he brings home by five each evening for dinner after a long day’s work, with a kiss on the lips and words of affirmation, I will do it, and after dinner, I will brew him chai and sit him in my lap and massage his scalp, and between his sips and his futile attempts to not fall asleep, I will tell him of my day, between the dusting and the folding and the rearranging of furniture, how the stories poured from my head and flowed through my arm and bled onto the page in the ink from the pen that I held in my hand, and he’ll nod, though I’m sure he’s only nodding off, so I’ll put him to bed and lay my head on his chest and listen to his heartbeat slow as he finally drifts to sleep, and when his breathing becomes rhythmic, I’ll close my eyes and dream of the plays I plan to pen tomorrow.

© 2022 Nortina Simmons

NoHoldsBarredPoetryWritingChallenge Day 6: Happy Anniversary

Love Katauta 

the number six, one
off from completion, but six
years this day, you made me whole

© 2022 Nortina Simmons

*Dedicated to my cousin celebrating her six-year wedding anniversary with her husband today.

**This poem is a katauta (half-poem), a 3-line poem that follows either 5-7-5 or 5-7-7 syllables per line. Considered incomplete, it is usually paired with another katauta to form a sedoka, which acts as a question and answer conversation between two lovers.

NoHoldsBarredPoetryWritingChallenge Day 3: Wedding reception

Love Tanka #13

Barefoot under the
table, I tickle your toes,
while your mother gives
a toast and your dad slaps your
back for picking the right girl.

© 2022 Nortina Simmons


“Careful. Hurricane’s out there churning.” Steve says. “Rip currents are strong.”

Always the meteorologist. Even on vacation. I hate it. I don’t need his job reminding me of how sad I am.

I step closer to the water’s edge, seashells making crescent moon imprints on the soles of my feet, spume from the crest of the waves kissing my toes.

It’s forecast veer north, fizzle out in the ocean, but how I wish it would stay the course. Make landfall. Pull me under and drag me out to sea. How I pray he would dive in after me, swim through the crashing waves, the salt in his eyes, the entangling seaweed and obstructing driftwood, to bring me back to him. Hell or high water. My life guard to press his lips against mine, breath the air back into my lungs, the beat into my heart.

Two days ago, he proposed, and when I told him no, he said work was moving him to Texas. There he’ll be an anchor, he tried to justify, more than just a weekend weatherman. People will see him.

How far is Texas? I Googled—nearly 1,500 miles. And away from me. He makes a living predicting the future in weather patterns, but he can’t see what’s right in front of him—the storm clouds gathering above my head, that I’m caught in a whirlwind, being pulled and tossed in different directions, falling apart.

Though he hasn’t explicitly said it, this trip feels like goodbye. Why continue in a relationship that will never end in marriage?

But the truth is I love him. More than the air in my lungs, more than the salt in the sea. More than I want to see the sun rise over the ocean in the morning, or his back shrinking behind the radar green screen.

Water splashes my hips. I’m deeper than I want to be, and when I turn around, he’s a retreating blur in my periphery. I’ve been drawn so far out already. Maybe it’s easier this way. He can climb back over the sand dunes and leave me here to prune. At least then he won’t see me cry, and I won’t have to explain again why it hurts too much to marry him.


Moving In

“Did you pack enough boxes?” he asks as he folds the cardboard box he just emptied of all my china under his arm and tosses it toward the trashcan, missing it completely.

I don’t tell him about the two bins still in my trunk stuffed with decorations for almost every holiday—Christmas, New Year’s Thanksgiving, Halloween, Easter, Fourth of July, even President’s Day. I’ll wait to unpack those tomorrow, while he’s at work.

I admit I’m a bit of a hoarder, but just as he would’ve inherited a single mother’s snot-nosed kids, all my stuff instantaneously became his the day he married me.

At least we can both agree children will never be in the picture. I have no intentions of sharing him . . . ever. And in this big house, there are so many places we have yet to christen. Including the kitchen counter.

It takes me a few hops to pull myself on top of it, and once I’m up, I spin around to face him, shimmy my shoulders and let the spaghetti straps of my top fall to my elbows like melting ice cream.

“Are we ever going to eat off these?” he asks, oblivious to my advances. He taps his knuckles against the stack of gilded porcelain plates.

“Of course,” I lie, waving off the flying dust. We haven’t used them since Grandma died and left them for me in her will. Only for show, Mama always said. It’s good to have nice things.

“But not tonight.” Tonight, I have other plans. I pull him to my lips by his shirt collar and he stumbles over the box still containing all of my kitchen gadgets next to his feet—the handheld and electronic mixers (because I couldn’t have just one), the blender, food processor, and Spiralizer (how many ways can one chop up veggies?), the juicer that I’ve only used once since buying it five years ago.

Photo by @_WILLPOWER_ from nappy.co

“We’ve wasted enough time already,” he breathes into my mouth, reminding me of the housewarming we’ve pushed back twice now.

“But we have the rest of our lives,” I say. What are ten more boxes left—or twenty. I’ve lost count. My head spins when his bare chest is pressed against mine. His body heat melts my candle wax like fire.

“This is all I need,” I tell him, and he mounts the counter top to join me.

© Nortina Simmons

#1MinFiction: A Bride At Last

That I wasn’t his first choice humbled me.

But when he kissed me, delicate lips caressing mine, after we exchanged vows, and planted the lotus blossom in my hair, and that night, fitted his hips between my legs and filled me till I overflowed, soaking my bangs with the sweat of his brow…

I prayed my sister, three months dead, would not be jealous.


For a new flash fiction challenge: Monday’s One-Minute Fiction—write a story in one minute, no more, no less, based on the prompt provided. This week’s prompt is a photo. Click the link to join in!