After Therapy (Sabine)

Photo by Brian Jiz on

After therapy, I follow Dr. Sims’ advice and take myself out on a date.

“Ask yourself why you choose to live in fantasy,” her words echo.

When the waiter comes to take my order, he asks if anyone will be joining.

I consider saying yes, but more pathetic than eating at a restaurant alone is being stood up by a date who doesn’t exist. And it doesn’t cure my ADHD—attention-deficit/hyperactive daydreaming.

Okay, that’s not a real diagnosis, but it was enough to get me an appointment with Dr. Sims.

And, as the waiter sits across from me, possibly…a date?

© 2023 Nortina Simmons

Previous: Back in Therapy (Hannah)

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 simply to write a 100-word story. I had another story in mind for my Therapy Sessions series, but that one is much longer than 100 words. Maybe I’ll post it tomorrow or at a later date. For now, say hello to our newest character, Sabine!


With school back in session, the coffee shop was the fullest it had been all summer. Rhonda and Katy sat at a table by the window. One with black coffee; the other, sugar and cream. One with a dry, overbaked scone with blueberries that looked like raisins; the other, a bagel and cream cheese.

Katy looked like a pinned up first-time professor in a short-sleeved red coat dress and wedged heels. Rhonda looked the most out of place in her ripped baggy jeans and “not a hugger” t-shirt, a pair that was in the dirty hamper that morning, but still smelled alright.

“It’s not fair,” Rhonda said shaking her head, and then again, “it’s just not fair.” She put her phone face down on the table.

“You know, marriage isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”

“How would you know? You’re a closeted lesbian.”

“I kissed a girl once, and I was in high school!”

“I’ve never seen you with a guy, Katy. Ever!”

“That’s because I don’t need a man to make me happy.” She folded her arms across her chest and turned her nose up to the ceiling.

“Well, I do.” Rhonda bit into her blueberry scone. Crumbs collected around the corners of her mouth, but she didn’t bother to wipe them away.

“You set feminism back 50 years.”

“Bite me.”

“You know, Rhon, you might find a guy worth marrying if you stopped acting like you were still 20 years old.”

“We can’t all be perfect like you, Katy.”

“I’m not perfect, I just…” Katy paused, looking at the straggly ends of Rhonda’s dirty blonde hair grazing the edge of her styrofoam cup, almost dipping into the coffee. With an audible sigh, Katy added, “When’s the last time you washed your hair?”

“Don’t do that.”

“Do what?”

“Treat me like I’m a lost cause.”

“I’m not, I just—” Katy snatched the phone away before Rhonda could turn it over and continue to brood over the lastest Facebook engagement announcement.

“I wish people would be more real on social media,” she said while tapping her fingers on Rhonda’s screen. “All we see are these happy, perfect relationships, with their perfect hair, and perfect makeup and perfect engagement rings, and perfect in-laws who love them like family. People are innately selfish, and relationships are hard. Where’s the messy fights? The hitting below the belt? Bringing up past infidelity? Passive-aggressive status updates about mamas’ boys, and coddling mothers-in-law?”

“They usually post them in the middle of the night and delete them after an hour.” Rhonda belched into her fist then brought the coffee to her lips, sipping loudly.

“Why do I feel like you’ve done that before?” Looking over Rhonda’s disheveled appearance, Katy questioned, “Why do I feel like you did that last night?”

“Because, Katy,” she hung her head, as if a weight was sitting on the back of her neck, and looked up at Katy, barely raising her eyes past her chin. “I’m self-destructive. Obviously why I’m still single.”

“Aw don’t say just haven’t met the—”

“Save it for your book!” Rhonda stood suddenly, nearly jumping from her chair, hair fraying. “I’m gonna go to the bathroom.”

Probably to throw up, she thought to herself. On her way, she caught the eye of the barista behind the counter. Definitely a freshman. Definitely too damn young for her. But that was definitely his number he’d written on the bottom edge of her coffee cup.

And definitely, if she was that desperate (she was), and drunk enough (she will be), a late-night booty she’ll regret later.

Homebody Blues

Evie hates it when I call her to complain about my loneliness. If you don’t want to be a homebody anymore, stop being a homebody, she always tells me. Easy for the extrovert to say…

I call her anyway.

“Today I stayed in bed until well past noon.”

“Wow, that’s a new record for you.”

If one could hear an eye roll…

“Is it possible to live on the top floor and still have to deal with leadfoot neighbors?”

“Sweetie, it’s probably just somebody walking up the stairs. Your apartment is right next to the staircase.”

“Yeah, that’s the problem. The sound travels. And it feels like they’re stomping on my brain.”

Like a caravan of people walking up and down the stairs in steel toe boots. My head could explode, splatter these walls, and I swear you’d find the tread marks on the scattered pieces of my brain.

“Isn’t that an Emily Dickinson poem?”

“That’s ‘I felt a funeral in my brain.'”

“Same difference. You should be careful, you know. You’re starting to become like her.”

“Is it so bad to relish in the comfort of your own home?”

“But you don’t relish.”

She’s right. I despise it. But it’s not the fact that I spend most of my days at home or that my interactions with other human beings usually involve a screen or me avoiding eye contact with the neighbor kids and dog moms during my weekly treks across the parking lot to the mailbox.

I work remotely, so I really have no reason to ever leave the house. I like not having to pay for gas every week. Granted I make up for that by ordering in most days, and if I don’t watch my weight, my wardrobe of sweatpants and t-shirts will soon dwindle.

But what I truly dislike about my life is the stigma. Everyone just assumes that I’m not happy, and therefore it makes me unhappy. Even my own sister thinks I’d be better off if I had a man in my life. But Mr. Right’s not just gonna break into your house, she’d say. Maybe he will. What does she know? It’s not like she was any luckier going out and finding one herself, with her three roughhousing boys and absentee husband who only seems to come around to get her pregnant. The only reason I don’t ask her to come over now is that she’s supposed to be on bedrest. God only knows what those destructive little monsters are doing to her house right now.

I will never have children. So unless this man who’s supposed to make me happier comes with condoms or a vasectomy, I’ll pass.

“You should probably take something for that headache.”

“I’m all out. I would cook something, but my fridge is as empty as my stomach, and I don’t really look presentable enough to go anywhere.”

“Of course you don’t.” Evie sighs. I hate it when she sighs. It’s as if she’s exhaling all those years of disappointment in her own life choices onto me. I don’t need them. Hold your breath, Evie. You’re my sister, not my mom. I don’t want your judgment.

“I don’t know what to tell you, hon.”

“Nevermind. Sorry I called.” I hang up before she can turn the conversation into a lecture about how a lot of people have problems. You have the power to fix yours. As if to diminish or discredit the things I think and feel. I know a lot of people have problems. I’m one of those people, and my main problem is with other people.

But I wouldn’t expect the problem to understand.

The neighbor starts up again. The rumbling and the marching reverberating against the walls and penetrating my skull. I can’t take it anymore. Without thinking, and with bedhead, no bra, and a t-shirt barely covering my pantieless ass, I swing the front door open.

“Do you mind!”

Of course it’s a man.

He’s wide-eyed at first. Then his lips curl into a grin that’s either mocking me or amused.

“Sorry about all the noise. I’m your new neighbor.” He points to the open door behind him across the breezeway from my apartment. There’s a stack of boxes just past the threshold, and behind them, a couch and a rolled up rug propped against it are all I can see as far as furniture. He holds what looks like a broken down lap under one armpit and an ironing board under the other.

“Thirty more minutes. I promise.”

“Just keep it down.”

He stares, and in the awkward air between us, I realize how much of a wild woman I must look to him right now. When he sniffs (probably because of allergies—from where I stand, I can see the yellow film on the tops steps of the staircase—it is still spring; the pollen still high), I instinctively pull down my t-shirt (I haven’t showered today either. Sue me), which makes my bra-less breasts more pronounced, and I’m sure he’s mistaking my nipple rings for arousal.

But he is kind of cute.

Kind of.

“I can make it up to you.” He washes me over with his eyes, as if I’m on display and he’s picking fruit. “Let me take you out to dinner. Or I can invite you over if you don’t mind the mess. And maybe you’ll let me put a smile on that—”

I slam the door in his face and twist the deadbolt.

I feel the urge to go masturbate.

Waiting for Him to Call

It’s so easy these days to creep…

Even our government does it.

Don’t think for one second that the CIA isn’t watching you with your hands in your pants through your TV. It could be a matter of national security; they must watch.

And they’re also slightly turned on by the way you feel yourself. Moan a little louder, touch a little deeper, spread your legs a little wider. Really give them a show.

Social media makes creeping even easier. Twitter? Anyone can destroy your reputation and career just by digging up old tweets from ten years ago. Purely despicable or only joking, it doesn’t matter, in this era of the easily offended, you are swiftly lynched by the PC mafia.

And there’s no place to hide on Facebook. Remember that guy you gave your number to on that dating app? He used it to look you up. They can do that, you know. If you have your number posted on Facebook. And you do. Like a dumbass. So, he found your page and clearly saw something he didn’t like. That’s why he hasn’t called. Maybe you’re not as attractive on Facebook—all those poorly lit pictures of you half drunk, highlighting all the bad angles, you were tagged in in by your friends from college, friends you barely talk to now. Or maybe he found a status update from when you were 14 years old—- though he didn’t bother to check the time stamp— (racially insensitive, bigoted, homophobic, you pick, we’ve all posted at least one) that could ruin your reputation and career, if you had one.

So you sit on your couch, with your hands in your pants (though you’re dryer than your phone at this point), Hulu and chilling by yourself because you’re too cheap to get Netflix too, wondering if it’s possible to get any lonelier than this.

Tomorrow, you will break your own record.

#LyricalFictionFriday: Ruff Nite

Another commerical. I receive spam emails from Match at least every week. How they got my information remains a mystery…

Like how Michael already knew where I lived before our first date, could describe my sandy colored Toyota Camry with his eyes closed, along with what was inside, even down to the pile of dirty clothes in the back seat that I still haven’t taken to the laundromat.

As I watch these “couples” force smiled for the cameras, sit together— knees barely touching—holding hands—fingers closed—and proclaim how these websites brought them together with their best friend, their soulmate, the love of their lives, I wonder how many tries did it take?

How many I-still-live-at-home-with-my-mom’s did they have to go through? How many middle-aged I’m-still-finding-myself’s? How many unemployed “entrepreneurs”? How many do-you-think-you-can-cover-the-check’s? How many my-girlfriend-wants-to-spice-up-our-relationship’s?

Or is that only on the free dating websites?

I press the power button on the remote. There’s nothing on TV at this hour anyway.

Benny, my chocolate lab, who’s been laying at my feet, jumps up when I move. He wags his tail, licks my palm, bows his head for me to pet him. He did the same at the door when I returned home from another demoralizing evening of being groped in a movie theater by a man who couldn’t repeat my name two minutes after introductions but remembered that my profile said I was a Pisces, and according to some magazine he read, Pisces are freaks in bed.

He was sadly disappointed when I showed him how fast my rear tires could spin as I sped out of that parking lot, leaving him in the fumes of my 20-year-old car’s exhaust.

“Oh Benny,” I say with a sigh, scratching behind his ear. “Your cocoa fur against mine is all I need to help revive me after the night I’ve had.” I slap him on his hind leg, and he scurries off ahead of me toward the bedroom.

Sad as it may sound, Benny is the only male I’ll be sleeping with tonight. 

© Nortina Simmons


Waitress in a Small Town Diner

I don’t like his teeth, yellowed like the worn beige fabric on Ryan’s living room couch.

“What’re the specials, darling?”

Don’t call me darling. Ryan once called me Mama while biting my nipples. I didn’t like that—the nipple biting, that he was thinking about his mama while fucking me.

“The Greek chicken’s pretty good?”

“How good could it be. This a soul food restaurant.”

Because the wait staff is black? But I hold my tongue, turn away and pretend to scratch at piece of lent caught in my eyelash so he doesn’t see me roll my eyes. Ryan treated me like forbidden fruit. He could explore all his sexual fantasies with me; everything he saw a big-butt vixen do in a rap music video he commanded from me. I was his BET After Dark.

“Well, we’re American. We serve your typical American cuisine.”

He stares at me, and in case he sensed the sarcasm in my voice, I force a smile.

“Greek ain’t ‘merican.”

I drum the end of my pen on my notepad. “Mac and cheese then?”

“Naw, I want the chicken. But gimme the mac ‘n cheese as the side.”

I write it down and head for the kitchen to give the cook the ticket. I feel his eyes on my ass—he wants to touch it, feel how soft it is between his rugged fingers. Ryan could never keep his hands to himself either, especially in public, always slapping me on the behind whenever I walked by. I’d asked him to stop, but he’d only say, “I can’t grab what’s mine?”

No, because it is the twenty-first century, and I am no longer property. But even while free, we can still become slaves in the mind.

“Uh, darling, you forgot my drink.”

I put on my “Yes, suh” grin, the one I practiced with Ryan, perfected every visit with his family, while his mother picked in my hair, wondering how it “curled like that,” and his father prodded me with invasive questions—“Why not a black guy?” “Do you plan to get married?” “Have kids?” “How did you sink your teeth into my son?”

But I was the one bitten. And wasn’t marriage like ownership already? And kids, kids—I was pregnant once.

“What can I get you?”

“Sweet tea, sweetheart. Make sure you put the tea in the sugar, hon. Thank you, gorgeous.”

Enough with the pet names. I hate names. Even my name tag is blacked out. What would they call me then, when all they have is their own prejudices, how they perceive me, stereotypes and all?

“Shaniqua, Jamisha, Bonequisha.” Ryan recited the ghetto fabulous names for our unborn baby with a smirk on his face, as if preparing for a standup comedy gig.

“Be serious.”

“I am, we have to give it a black name.”

“I don’t even have a ‘black’ name.”

“That’s why I thought you were white.”

I hide in the kitchen for thirty minutes while the food cooks. There’s no one else in my section, and the two other waitresses on the floor can check on my customer if he needs a refill.

I need to stay off my feet for a while, take pressure off my swollen ankles. The baby could come any minute. Not Shaniqua or Jamisha or Bonequisha, but Michael, after his father, who is black, and not Ryan. Ryan left when it finally registered that his black baby wasn’t the punchline to an ill-conceived joke, that I wasn’t just his wet dream anymore, but flesh and bone.

I was supposed to be five months then. He never asked why I was not yet showing. He packed his things, a couple t-shirts and boxer shorts—no more than an armload to carry to the car, for he never officially moved in, too real, I suppose—and left in the middle of the night, knocking my pain prescription off the kitchen table during his escape.

“Table 52’s ready,” the cook says.

I rock to my feet and take the hot plate.

“When’re you due?”

“S’posed to’ve been last week.”

“This one’s stubborn.”

“Ain’t he.”

The man is watching me as I exit the kitchen. His tea is nearly gone. I slide the plate down the table and ask for his glass.

“I was starting to think you went into labor back there.”

“No, not yet,” I say, grateful he saved the “darling” this time. I pour the tea behind the lunch counter. It’s more ice and water. I think to give him a couple sugar packets, but Michael’s mom died of diabetes—the doctor says I have gestational too. No more fries or pasta or sugary sweet drinks, at least until I deliver. I do him a courtesy and plant the watered down tea next to his plate.

“Thank ya, ma’am.”

“You’re welcome.” The smile on my face genuine now. I used to hate being called ma’am, but with the new title, it’s the first time I feel like a woman. Not Ryan’s black girlfriend, or Michael’s baby mama, or another statistic the government can use to condemn Planned Parenthood, but a woman, future mother, vessel to bring a new life into this world.

I rub my stomach for good luck.


It is Short Story A Day May! Today’s prompt, “Getting Emotional,” comes from Angela Ackerman. The irony about this prompt is that although I have a plethora of emotionally traumatized characters, I had difficulty coming up with a story. After much brainstorming, I’m satisfied with the story that finally came out of my foggy brain.

Dry Spell

Have fun tonight… & don’t die! 😉

I roll my eyes. Gretchen’s dry sense of humor almost got her arrested this morning. It wasn’t funny when she wrote it on my whiteboard at work, and it’s even more inappropriate now that I meeting the guy she’s supposedly set me up with.

Blind date or serial killer. These days you never know.

“Great guy. His name’s Walter. He’s a lawyer. A total animal in the courtroom—and in the bedroom, from what I hear. Careful, he might bite too hard.”

“I’m perfectly fine being single,” I lied.

“You forget I had the misfortune of seeing all the toys in your closet. You need the real thing… now.”

It’s not that bad. I barely even play with those toys. I splurged one night while watching a bedroom shopping channel. Honestly, I thought they were selling comforters and queen sets. I’d been meaning to buy a new once since the divorce. It’s hard to fall asleep to the scent of my ex-husband and that sweaty bimbo he was screwing in my bed.

I would’ve changed the channel, but the vibrating, rotating dildo that filled the screen awakened in my mind fantasies of hitting pleasure points my ex wouldn’t even have dreamed of reaching, and insomnia, sexual frustration, and nineteen dollars and twenty-nine cents later, I opened the package to a toy that didn’t work.

I think the battery compartment might have gotten damaged in transport. They shipped it in a flimsy plastic bag, didn’t even bother to pad it with bubble wrap. It was as if they had thrown it in the package in a hurry and sent it on to the needy ex-housewife looking to be fulfilled.

Did I sound that anxious over the phone? I might have been breathing heavy. Sex dreams take a lot out of you—they’re almost as exhausting as the actual sex.

Though I wouldn’t know. John and I were never that physical in our relationship. It’s probably why he eventually turned to porn and Tinder. If an app like that had existed when we were dating, he probably would’ve swiped left on me without thinking twice.

Sexual experience: virginity lost to middle school best friend’s older brother; frisky, suspect basketball coach in eleventh grade; undersized seat of stationary bike at local gym. 🍆

I’m pathetic. I deserve to be single. I don’t know why he even married me. Twelve years of both our lives wasted.

I quickly stash the phone in the front pocket of my purse as a man walks toward my table. Tall. Dark skin. Steel gray eyes. Buzzcut. He’s the one. I feel it in my somersaulting gut, in how my inner thighs begin to sweat, in how the hem of my cocktail dress clings to my skin. Gretchen’s made it her mission to get me laid. I should at least play the part. So I catch his eye, and his cool gaze sends shivers down my spine. I arch my back as he smirks, revealing a dimple in the side of his jaw, and I think about how my tongue would fit inside.

Or how his will…

Stop, I remind myself. Don’t appear too desperate. Don’t make it so obvious that the last remnant of sex you’ve gotten was from a broken dildo.

I return his smile, but he keeps walking, right past me, three tables behind me, to a woman much younger, much skinnier, much prettier than I.

Dammit. It’s the third time tonight my face has dropped to the floor.

I pull out my phone and text Gretchen.

He’s late… 😡

Her response is almost instantaneous.

Could be worse… 💀

I put the phone away again. Is there even a Walter? I get the feeling she’s teasing me like that damn dildo. I never returned it. It did the job for the limp rod of rubber that it was. Not the astronomical orgasm I was hoping for, but I probably wouldn’t have known what to do with it if it had worked. I was so clumsy with John the first time. It took him longer to get into a rhythm because I kept squirming around underneath. He asked me to get on top and I gave him a blank stare. I’m not good at taking control. Hence my impulse purchase of a sex toy that did most of the work. Finally he stopped to ask if I was lying about not being a virgin. I was too embarrassed to answer—I started to cry instead—so he flipped me over, finished himself off and went to sleep.

That’s John. Always the finisher.

Another man enters the restaurant. He’s shorter, a little husky. Cute but homely. Not something I would give up my defunct closest of sex toys for. Even in my inexperience, I still have preferences.

My phone buzzes again. I’m relieved when he brushes past without making eye contact. I glance down at the screen.

Sorry!… a break in the case… he asks for a raincheck. 


I look at the open menu in front of me. I never ordered. I’d told the waitress my date would be here soon, pretended not to hear the snicker under her breath when she said, “Flag me down when you’re ready,” with a courtesy smile.

Is it that implausible for me to have a date? Sure, maybe I could’ve done something better with my hair. Pincurls wasn’t the smartest style for this humidity. And I probably could’ve worn a bra with this dress. My breast just hang like an over-exaggerated adult cartoon. Not from kids—because John never wanted any—not from age—because if you read any pop magazine, thirty-four is the new twenty—but my boobs have always sagged, even when they first came in. I could work on my posture, and instinctively I unfurl my shoulders, which had managed to hunch themselves with the disappointment of Buzzcut passing me by.

But what’s the use? Walter’s already canceled. He probably found my Facebook page and read potential “Cat Lady” from all the funny cat videos I post. I imagine he thought up a good and legal excuse for why he had to wrangle himself out of our appointment, even if Gretchen had managed to convince him that he was guaranteed some nookie at the end of the night.

I’m more disgruntled by the fact that now I have to explain to the waitress that my imaginary date’s not coming. I scan the room for her, but I can’t remember what she looks like. All the waitresses are wearing black shirts and slacks, their hair pulled back in low buns. I’m taking a chance on the hope that she’s in the kitchen and sprint for the exit, ducking away from the hostess who pleads, “Come back and see us!”

Yea, not a chance in hell.


It is Short Story A Day May, and while today’s prompt from Phil Giunta, “A Friendly Warning” was pretty good, the story itself had other ideas.

No Holds Barred Poetry Writing Challenge: Day 24

After Valentine’s Day Haiku 

I might have gained ten
pounds from all the chocolate
I ate yesterday

© 2015 Nortina Simmons


No Holds Barred Poetry Writing Challenge: Day 23

chocolate hearts

Single Ladies Haiku

Valentine’s Day means
red velvet cake, chocolate
kisses to myself

© 2015 Nortina Simmons