Our first night we kissed
he bit my bottom lip
pierced it through
licked blood from his fangs
howled at the moon
© Nortina Simmons
Originally published October 13, 2017
I slam my hand down on the alarm clock’s snooze button. Five in the morning. My room is still dark. The sun hasn’t thought to rise. But today’s moving day, and I haven’t begun to pack.
I kick my legs over the edge of the bed and push myself up. I decide I’ll start with the closet. That’s when I see him. A man, or a shape of a man, squatting in the corner where the sliding mirror meets the wall.
I quickly turn on the lamp, but when I blink, he disappears.
I pack with urgency, await the movers.
© Nortina Simmons
“Come to me,” the voice calls, “my angel.”
I’m not naïve. I know Johnathan is playing on my love for Phantom of the Opera, but I’m intrigued to see how far he will go. I approach the mirror.
In my reflection, a shadowy figure lurks behind me. I spin around, extinguishing the candle’s flame, and see nothing. At my bedroom door, there’s a knock.
“Reservation’s at seven, okay?” It’s Johnathan’s voice.
My heart skips several beats.
“Come to me, my angel.” Lips press against my ear, cool fingers curl around my wrist, and I am pulled into the glass.
Originally published August 25, 2017
A drifting exhale.
An echo of a moan.
back and forth,
like bed springs.
The whine of the mattress
yields to your convulsions.
A book falls from the shelf—
you don’t stop,
bury yourself underneath
my skin, and there’s a knock
on the wall—hollow—
a whistle down the hall.
A small opening between your
lips where I fit my tongue,
and you bite and you keep going
and you suck the blood as
our bodies slap and the sticky
air sinks on top of us—
Was the door always open?
And my foot slips off the edge,
toes unfurl in the carpet,
feel the vibration get stronger—
You clamp my thighs,
hips tense to fill me—
and in the silence after, suddenly,
the room feels crowded.
He visits me in my nightmares. He texts me.
“It’s hot down here.”
One night, I went to water the flowers on his grave, and a hand burst through the dirt and grabbed me. I awoke on the floor in a cold sweat, my scream so piercing it couldn’t have come from my own body. On my wrist was a purple bruise in the shape of a hand, as if someone had violently dragged me out of bed. I thought I was finally rid of the marks he would leave on my body.
I stopped sleeping after that.
I sit at the kitchen table drinking my third straight cup of coffee. It has a nutty aftertaste that I attribute to the vanilla creamer. Next to me, my phone buzzes.
“Aren’t you allergic to peanut oil?”
It’s his number, but I’m awake. I swear I am awake. I guzzle the coffee, feeling its heat travel from my esophagus on down. The phone buzzes again.
“Coffee taste funny?”
My throat tightens. I’m stuck to my chair—under a form of sleep paralysis, though I never actually fell asleep—unable to move for the spice cabinet, where I keep my EpiPen and all other medicines for foodborne illnesses, along with a half-emptied bottle of sleep pills I used only once in a bowl of curry.
I’m wheezing for air. The swelling in my glands has sealed off access to my lungs. I’m fading in and out of consciousness—a lack of oxygen to my brain. My eyes scan the room for any hint of salvation.
So this was the panic you felt right before you died.
A final text flashes on the screen.
“See you soon.”
I know where he is. I know he wants me down there.
I know because I sent him there.
There’s talk of tearing him down, along with all other monuments of antebellum, of Southern pride and Confederate valor.
Nine miles down the road, the General was snatched from the chapel entrance. “So students can feel safe to come worship,” the school president explained. Massacres in Charleston still fresh on everyone’s minds.
After careful consideration the board has voted. During Fall Break, while campus is void of supporters and counter-protesters who could potentially become violent, Silent Sam will become the latest casualty in the ongoing war against a revived Confederacy.
Tonight we drink to the downfall of white supremacy, to the total destruction of Neo-Nazis, to the death of the Klan.
But after everyone has returned to their dorms, I still can’t sleep.
Alcohol sloshes around in my stomach. All I’ve had to eat today was toast for breakfast. I walk down Franklin Street, barely able to step in a straight line. I turn up toward McCorkle Place and come face to face with the statue legended to only speak to virgins.
I don’t expect an answer, but I ask anyway, “Who do you point your gun to?”
He stares over my head, eyes set on the North, on a mission to save the Anglo-Saxon race in the South.
“We never asked to be here!” I scream, making myself dizzy, all the blood rushing to my head. I climb a step, lean forward against the concrete base, touch the bronze shoulder of the boy leaving his studies for war. It’s cold under my fingers, and maybe it’s due to the fact that I’m too drunk to focus that I feel it flinch.
“You brought us here. Why do you hate us so much?”
I try to see his face under the moonlight. Did he just wink, or was it a shifting shadow from the surrounding trees? If he wasn’t memorialized by racists for killing and terrorizing my ancestors, I would think him attractive.
But it could also be the liquor impairing my eyes.
“Is it because we’re not your slaves anymore? Because we actually want to be treated like humans?”
I hear the clinking of heels against the brick sidewalk behind me. My dorm adviser must have followed. Or maybe it’s the campus police. I touch a corner of the monument, and my fingers slide down to something wet. UNC has no place for racism, in a fresh coating of white paint. It couldn’t have been done no more than an hour ago.
I look up and notice a curl at the corner of his mouth. He would love to see me accused of the vandalism. He would love to see them shoot me.
I clinch my fist, flare my nostrils, stamp my feet like a three-year-old child. “I’m glad they’re getting rid of you! And I hope the crane drops you and splits you in two!”
I spin around, prepared to meet my fate by the bullet. But I find myself alone in the quad. A sudden breeze chills me too the bone, a mass of air behind me stills my breathing. Overhead, the trees, with their leaves barely hanging on, whisper.
A large shadow stretches out before me on the sidewalk, looming like a tower.
“Will you kill me?” I ask trembling.
On a low sigh, softly exhaled past my ear, he says with the wind, “No,” then dissipates, and with him, my legs go numb, collapse under my weight in a drunken heap until dawn.
“Have you considered your options?”
He speaks as if I’m changing careers, or switching insurance providers, not choosing to end my own life.
But then, I guess it’s a therapist’s job to remain calm. And he has been patient, followed me all the way to Japan, to Aokigahara, where the hopeless living disappear to join the forest’s ghosts . . .
Look! There’s the back of one’s head, though her body is turned to me.
I tighten the noose around my neck. It’s so quiet, I can hear Dr. Bowman swallow.
I hesitate to jump right away, but a sudden gust of wind blows the figure’s hair forward, snatches the chair from under me, and the rope squeezes the scream from my throat when I see she has no face.
I tried, I really tried to squeeze all of this into one minute. Alas, my fingers don’t move that fast. But the story just wasn’t complete without a part two, so today I’m giving you two stories written in two minutes. Feel free to bend the rules this week for the sake of some scary good micro-fiction!
“Don’t open the door!” Jason screams. He dives toward me, shoulder first, and slams it shut just as I’m turning the knob, pulling it back.
“Are you nuts? Mom is out there!”
He twists the dead bolt. “Can’t you see? Mom is gone.”
On the other side, low guttural moans increase. Shuffling of feet, a frantic clawing against the wood . . .
Monday’s One-Minute Fiction challenges you to write a story in one minute, no more, no less, based on the prompt provided. October will be full of terrifying Halloween-themed prompts. Today’s prompt is: don’t open the door.
“Do you hear that?”
“No,” I lie. Has he been awake as long as I? Up an hour listening to the knocking on the roof, trying to write it off as insomniac squirrels, acorns falling from the oak tree in our backyard.
“Do you see that!”
He doesn’t answer, pretends to be asleep, but I can’t shut my eyes to the mist approaching from the foot of our bed.
© Nortina Simmons
Monday’s One-Minute Fiction challenges you to write a story in one minute, no more, no less, based on the prompt provided. October will be full of terrifying Halloween-themed prompts. Today’s prompt is: poltergeist.
Originally published July 3, 2015.
It was 1:37 when she heard music.
Awakened in a glowing room,
moonlight seeping through blinds.
Down the hall, ascending,
descending notes echoed off
walls, a hauntingly beautiful
melody— like swimming
in the night; head under
water pouring into ears,
saturating her in silence.
More frightening than a
mysterious pianist in her home—
she owned no piano.