Friday’s Free-for-All (Dear Tallulah)

Lay your grammar obsessions aside, let your jaw relax, loosen your ears, take a long deep breath as you let your mind drift to the deep south and listen in to the privy conversation between Maggie and her dear Tallulah.

Chapter ElevenBOOK 1 COVER with title

“Are you gonna sleep all day Mizrez Lafont? Best try to git up a bit.”
It was the sweet southern voice of Tallulah attempting to rouse the exhausted Maggie. She tapped the rail of a lump beneath the bedding and continued.
“Ima open these shades now missy, better make yo eyes ready cuz it’s a mighty fine mornin’.” Tallulah warned. Her bedraggled vernacular seemed to come from every direction at once.

Maggie pulled the Egyptian cotton over her face and murmured,
“Thank you Tallulah but for the umpteenth time would you please call me Maggie, okay?”
“Okay Miss Maggie.” The drapes flew back and light filled the room. Maggie lifted the cover from her face and squinted at the morning sun. Tallulah studied the woman’s face which was no more than a shade darker than the snowy sheets. She planted her hands on her hips and stared into the hollow eyes of her mistress.

“Mr. Ray is comin’ home today. He’s gonna be here in time for supper, you gonna tell him?”
“Yes Tallulah, I am going to tell him.”
“Is you feelin’ sick this mornin’? I can fetch you some dry toast and warm tea. That was always a help to me and to Mr. Ray’s mama too.”
“Yes please.” Maggie strained to sit up and suppressed a gag as she spoke. “That would be nice.”

When Maggie heard the door shut she scrambled to the restroom, turned the cold water on and splashed her face. The wave of nausea subsided and she raised her head to inspect the figure before her. She hardly recognized the drawn, insipid person in the mirror.
Maggie had been ill since the last night of her honeymoon when Ray carried her from the beach. She barely recalled the long flight home and blamed it on the rum but there was something wrong and she knew it.
The illness quashed her plans to redecorate the beautiful old plantation house. It had been in the Lafont family for close to two hundred years. There wasn’t much Maggie wanted to change about the historical mansion, just a few personal touches to make it her own, their own. The home of Mr. and Mrs. Ray Lafont – Ray didn’t care one way or the other.
Mrs. Turner kept her word and came to visit at least once a week, usually staying for several days though Maggie hardly noticed with most of her days spent between the bed and the bathroom of the apartment sized boudoir.
Unable to keep much of anything on her stomach Maggie wasn’t surprised when she noticed her collar bones protruding like bowed timber at the base of her bony neck. Lifting her gown she could visualize the distinct outline of every rib then letting her eyes drop she observed the only thing that wasn’t recessed was her belly. Her abdomen looked like a basketball had been shoved beneath her flesh. “Ohhh god,” she moaned as her emaciated frame convulsed and heaved. Green bile splashed against the marble sink.

“Awe honey child!” Tallulah cried, rushing to Maggie’s side. “Let’s get you back to bed.”
“I’m sorry Tallulah,” Maggie swept a trembling hand across her mouth; “I’ve made another mess.”
“Don’t you worry ‘bout that none. That’s what I’m here for.”
Tallulah helped Maggie back to bed and softly washed her face then held the cup steady while Maggie sipped the chamomile tea.
Tallulah was a thick framed black woman who reminded Maggie very much of Aunt Jamima though she never said it out loud for fear of offending the angelic lady.
“You have gots to tell Mr. Ray Miss Maggie! You shoulda done told him a month ago. You done let this go too long, way too long.” She fretted, dabbing a damp cloth at Maggie’s face.
“There is nothing to tell Ray that he doesn’t already know. You know how he feels Tallulah – how we both feel about this. Now please…”
Without warning tea colored liquid spewed across the fine linens.
“He don’t know the doctor said you need to be shed of this or it’s gonna kill ya. It caint be he knows and let you lay up here wastin’ away.” The old nurse insisted, talking while she put a fresh damp cloth to Maggie’s neck and replaced the soiled sheet, “Mr. Ray is gone all the time, he don’t see what I see and when he calls you makes like ever little thang is fine.”
“Nature will take its course.” Maggie argued.
“That it will.” Tallulah agreed, “And maybe yo life in the doin’. Y’all can make another baby ma’am.” Tallulah paused to weigh her words and put her hands on Maggie’s gaunt ashen face, “They is somethin’ bad wrong with this one precious. I seen thangs like this here before. If ‘n it lives and you die…”
“I want to sleep now.” Maggie spoke abruptly to put an end to the conversation. Tallulah did not press the matter and Maggie sunk back beneath the cotton sheets.
You better take care of yourself and make sure this baby gets born healthy, do you hear me young lady?

The words of her mother ran through Maggie’s mind. It wasn’t as if Maggie had any control over it. If she did, if she could will her misery out of existence, the life sucking parasite would have been expelled weeks ago.

Maggie had just dozed off when the rumbling in her gut stirred her. It was not the usual churning she was familiar with and there was no nausea accompanying it. She lay still waiting for it. She placed her hand on her belly felt it again, a flutter followed by a tiny thump.
It’s kicking! Maggie stretched out on the bed and exposed her naked stomach. When the flutter started again she could see a slight rise in the protrusion on her withered frame.
“Hello in there.” She said quietly. It seemed to respond to her voice so she spoke again. “I’m gonna be your mother little man.” The communication went on for about ten minutes and when Maggie felt the thumps diminish she whispered, “You go back to sleep now, it’s going to be okay, your mama loves you.” A single tear of relief tickled the corner of her nose and she rang for Tallulah to bring her a full Sunday breakfast.

Tallulah entered a half-hour later with a smile and a tray loaded with soft scrambled eggs, bacon, French toast, grits and juice.
“I never seen you look so good Miss Maggie.” She laughed as the starving mother-to-be inhaled the platter of food and kept it down. “May be you gonna be alright after all. You and the young-un, yes indeed, may hap.” Tallulah practically danced out of the room with the empty tray and soiled linens in tow.

The fact that she had consumed every morsel without regurgitating bolstered her confidence as well as her energy. Maggie stood beneath the shower-head, stroking and lathering her stomach as she sang nursery rhymes to her unborn child. After showering she realized her endurance was not yet up to par and returned to bed for the best sleep she had had in months.
Two hours later Maggie awoke feeling exuberant and summoned Tallulah.

“Would you like to take a walk with me Tallulah?” she inquired.
“Not looking like you look.” The lady laughed, “`S’pose I comb them rats outta yo hair first.” Tallulah guided Maggie to the balcony. “You sit right here while I get a brush and lay out somethun nice for you to wear. You done got so po ain’t likely nuthin’l fitcha but we’ll make do.” Tallulah chose a light yellow poly blend dress from the wardrobe, laid it on the settee and shoved a brush inside her apron pocket. Before stepping back out onto the terrace she made the bed and turned down the covers.
“Here we go Miss Maggie.” turning Maggie so her back was to her, “Lawd child yo head is nappy!”
Maggie didn’t bother remarking on the comment. She knew she looked a fright in her current condition.
“How long have you known the Lafont family?” Maggie asked, as Tallulah stood behind her on the sun drenched veranda brushing out a mat of blond tangles.
“All my life.” Tallulah answered, “My Mama was maid to Mr. Ray’s Mama.”
“Really?” Maggie asked in surprise.
“Sho nuff and her Mama was employed here fo her. See my peoples was once owned by the Lafont’s.” Tallulah stated matter of factly with what sounded like pride to Maggie.
“Why on earth would you stay after the abolition – I mean why would your family stay on? Didn’t they know they could leave? Did anyone ever say?” Maggie asked, thoroughly intrigued by the information.
“Yessum, my mother told me what was told her — that they was no cause to leave. Said the Lafont’s made sure they had money, land and educated um too. Said they always gave um Sunday off and Saturday if need be. Wuddint no beatin’ and rapin’ goin’ on here like in tha other parts I heard tell of. I b’lieve her too cause they paid all three of my sons through college – called it my bonus. I couldn’t a got that nowhere else.”
“No ma’am I don’t believe you could have. So you’re fond of the family?” Maggie asked.
“Love um like they’s my own. I got one son is a doctor thanks to Mr. Ray’s daddy.” Tallulah beamed with pride and added, “The other two boys is teachers. Good teachers too.”
“I bet they are. You must be so proud of them Tallulah– all three of them.”
“I am Miss Maggie, I really am.”
“So tell me about Ray when he was a little boy.” Maggie urged.
“What’s be you wanna know?” Tallulah asked admiring and grooming the now smooth golden tresses of hair.
“Everything.”

The first memory that came to Tallulah’s mind of the young Lafont conjured cruel pictures. Images of the puppy Ray had found in an old grain silo. Tallulah could not bring herself to tell the ailing lady of how her husband had broken the legs of the tiny cur at every joint and tied its muzzle so it couldn’t cry out. She diligently searched her memories for something more pleasant. The imposition was cut short when Maggie abruptly slouched forward grabbing her waist.
“What’ a matter Miss Maggie?”
“I’m not sure.” Maggie replied, straining to speak through the enervating cramp, “Can we go in now?”
“Yessum. But you gots to tell ole Tallulah what’s wrong? Is you hurtin?”
Maggie nodded her head and tried to stand but found her legs would not support her.
“Let me help you.” She said, lifting Maggie to her feet.
“Oh lawdy lawd child, better let me carry you.” She swept Maggie up and carried her like a child back into the bedroom, laying her gently on the bed. “Ima get some towels – just you lay real still now.”
Maggie pulled her knees toward her chest, a natural maneuver to relieve the unrelenting spasm.
“Oh no.” She whimpered, “No, no, no little baby.” She cried when she noticed the bright red stain on her gown.

“Up here Mrs. Turner.” Tallulah yelled. Maggie lay motionless staring up at nothing as the nursemaid removed the bloody towels from between her legs. “Looks like that’s all of it ma’am.” Tallulah told her.

“Good lord have mercy! Look at all the blood. Tallulah were you able to stop it?” Mrs. Turner spoke frantically as she stood at the doorway and stared at the sharp contrast of crimson against the white bed sheets.
“Tha bleedin’ is slowed to nearly nuthin but she ain’t with child no mo ma’am.”

“Are you sure. Maybe we’d better call an ambulance and get her to the hospital.”

“For the girl may be, but look here.” Tallulah said, opening a towel for the grandmother to be, “Woulda been a boy by tha looks of it.”

“Dear god, that thing is hideous! Throw it away!” Mrs. Turner screamed as the salty rivers ran from her daughter’s silent face.

Get a copy from your favorite retailer here. Google has the series lined up for you here

 

The Long, long Night

 

The Winter solstice and the longest night has now past. The occasion brings to mind one of my favorite poems:

The Long, long Night

He would sculpt and I would write

to get us through this thing called life and

what seemed to be an aimless plight

The long, long night

pottery-sculpting

I used pen and he used clay

to cope with all the pain filled days

which lived within our slow decay of

The long, long night

writing material

But in between the words and mud

we found the art of making love

and pacified the angst and blood of

The long, long night

lovers

Forsaken pages ripped and torn,

spattered earth across the floor,

graphite tales of love and war and

The long, long night

spilled ink

Come into my bed sweet angry lover,

your tender calloused hands beneath the cover.

Find the place where none has been,

beneath the ink and turning pin,

get us through yet once again

The long, long night

Is it Enough to Just Show Up?

Is it Enough to Just Show Up?

We all need to do a little soul searching from time to time but you should do a little self-searching too.
Don’t just google yourself.

Sure Google is probably the most widely used search engine in the USA but it is not the only one.

Take a swing at Bing and Ask yourself; Yahoo you and waddle over to DuckDuckGo.
Hopefully you are showing up somewhere on the first page of each search provider.

I have to admit I was quite happy to see that Janna Hill (that’s me) was easily discoverable and was going to talk more about discoverability until the husband’s grumbling caught my attention. You see, he was helping by browsing “images”.
So the focus veered off track.

train-wreck
“What’s up?” I asked.
“Hmm.” He said as he shook his head, “Um-um-um. This is not good.”
I spun around and nearly broke my neck, tripped over a chair getting up and I’m sure I had an arrhythmia too.

“You took those ridiculous pictures!” I griped as I hobbled closer. “And now you’ve made me break my foot!”

Sometimes I think the husband is trying to rain on my parade and wreck my crazy train.
“Oh, it’ll be okay.” He grinned at the feet he has no sympathy for before he assumed a more serious tone, “Have you ever heard of Dogpile?”

“Nope — never heard of`em.” I truly wanted to reply with a festering, “Yes. I stepped in something like that when I married you” but I didn’t because: A. that is not true, and B. I noticed some of the images were… well they weren’t bad but…
Example: this post from 2015, Winter Makes Me CRaZy also makes me look crazy. It (and a few other things we found in searching Janna Hill) left me pondering…

I had to ask myself, “Self, is it enough to just show up on the first page of these search engines? Should you reconsider the books/material you have published as well as the images that pop up on page 1? Maybe clean up your act?”
And then I answered myself as honestly as I could, “Self – suck it up. Heck yeah it’s enough! It’s not an arrest record or nude photos so go with it.”

Whoo-whoo all aboard! Even the husband concurred.

Crazy Train
After all, I am just living out loud and flinging cake against the wall.

  • This should not be construed as advice to be reckless with your career or your future but to hopefully find you are present in your career and future.
  • Photos compliments of Pixabay.com

#TBT (How I met Maggie and Almost Killed Clara)

That was over 4 years ago.

But I think it’s worth telling again 😉

I was wading in the surf on Matagorda beach one warm, sunny day exchanging dialogue with Clara.walking surf

I had known Clara for about ten years and I have to admit, conversing with her was like pulling teeth. I don’t want to say she was dull, but she was too quiet and a tad introverted. Don’t get me wrong, she is a lovely girl. She is smart and pretty and sweet and kind, but she was just too darn nice for the most part. Too calm, too reasonable, too… dull! There, I said it!

Anyway, as I was wading in the surf, dragging my feet (literally to scatter the sting rays) I was thinking how I might kill her. I know that must sound horrible, we had been comrades for so long, but she wearied me. Her unspoiled, hoity-toity, prim and proper, everything by the book personality made me want to send her sailing face down with the outgoing tide. I think she knew it (she has a sixth sense thing, you know) and I figured she wasn’t going to fight me. It wasn’t in her nature. I thought maybe she wanted to die?

I had mulled it over and finally come to terms with the decision when a perky little blonde came running down the beach waving and shouting,

“Hey y’all wait for me.”

Oh my lord, I thought, while trying to ignore the thin, tanned Mississippian’s approach.

splash back.JPGI quickly shoved Clara toward the incoming wave but her feet were planted too firmly — she didn’t budge, and to my surprise she pushed back!

“Do you know her?” I asked.

Clara shook her head slowly and replied, “No but you do. You met her on a trip to Biloxi once.”

I was speechless.

“Hey, I’m Maggie,” the lady smiled as she looked past me and held out her hand, “you must be Clara.”

I suppose it’s true that opposites attract. I watched Maggie come alive and in doing so she saved Clara.

*This is a story about a story. Clara and Maggie are safe and sound (for the most part) inside a fictional series.

Read about their meeting in Book 1

The Gift I Mentioned

If you are a mother, had a mother or love a mother – Happy Mother’s Day Y’all!!

This is my gift to you, my family, friends and followers and please – share it with everyone you know and love.

The newest release of More Short Stories & Such.

More Short Stories & Such (731x1024)

About More:

More Short Stories & Such is the newest compilation of short stories and flash fiction written by Janna Hill.    This anthology contains all of the short favorites including the newest (2017) release August Wolf, the acclaimed Door Number Four, Once Upon a Dead Gull and many ‘more’. The stories range from heart rending to heart racing; from fantasy to bizarre.

You’re Welcome.  😀

From Getting Me Back (A Poem & A Picture by Me & of Me)

I cannot count the number of trips taken in that old station-wagon, but I do recall the passengers (nine, twelve and sometimes fifteen) packed liked sardines in a can; damp and smelly and filled with anticipation.

janna 1976

Looking back: It is like sitting in the third row seat of an old station wagon, staring ahead at the road behind you…

It is not enough to sit in the front seat and see where you were going – you didn’t know anyway. To understand how you got here you have to look at where you have been.

In that third row seat facing backwards you might be tempted to stare at the floorboard or the marks on your shoes or the stripes on the asphalt that never seem to end, but don’t. To understand you must look up, look back and accept the scenery for what it was.

When the pain and fury and fear rise up —  remember it is only a hill in the distance, you have already passed over. That queasy feeling in your stomach is no more than a sour memory.

I speak as if caressing scars and lament but what of the scars I have inflicted? Do I grieve for them? The answer is yes; indubitably yes.

______________________________________________________________________________

Reminder: This is the last day Getting Me Back (The Voices Within) will be FREE  (April 18th through the 21st). It is also the last “A Poem & A Picture by Me & of Me” for this year’s NPM. You can do your happy dance now. 😉

Oh, and Clan Destiny (Unjustified Favor) Book 3 in the series is your complimentary title for April 21st -23rd. Have a super-fantastic read filled weekend and I’ll see you next week.

A Small Token of My Appreciation

 

#1Unconsecrated Visions Savannah Dawn 2017 cover

Savannah Dawn (Unconsecrated Visions)

As a small token of my appreciation for you all the e-book is free this weekend at Amazon AND it looks like the audiobook is marked down to $1.99 right now. I have no say in the audiobook price but I will tell you Kelley Mack does a great job narrating this weird little short story.

P.S. If  you want to leave an honest review it won’t hurt my feelings.

P.S.S. Feel free to share the love.

Turning Boys into Men (Tuesday’s Tell All)

I try to do my part in preparing the next generation; in this case turning boys into men. This year’s Spring Break was an excellent opportunity; it was just me and the grandsons.

I was excited as I made the rounds [about a forty mile round-trip] to pick them up. As I drove east I was imagining what sort of fun and informative games I might play with these boys; after all they aren’t ‘little boys’ any more at 10, 12 and 14 years of age. I decided to ad-lib.

Three and a half hours later we arrived home (aka Nana & Papa’s). Yeah, what should have been a forty-five minute drive [round-trip] took a little longer because I let them direct me. When one of them said turn right/left I did – even if it was [obviously] wrong. It was an adventure and we didn’t end up in Alaska so I count it as a win.

“What are we going to do Nana?” the trio immediately began chirping like a nest of baby birds when we arrived safely.

“Hmm…” They had often talked about camping alone in the woods around our house. Of course they had heard stories of their parent’s escapades while growing up here in the boondocks. I mulled it over, reasoned with myself and concluded: we didn’t end up in Alaska and they are pretty reasonable kids. Surely they are mature enough now to sleep in the woods without supervision.   “Y’all are going to pick a spot anywhere within the ten-acre fence and camp out.” It probably sounded more like a command than an option but they were ecstatic!

The middle one had a brief anxiety attack, “I didn’t come prepared. I don’t have my sleeping bag – I didn’t bring my knife.”

The youngest one said, “So – you don’t need any of that! If you have to poop instead of cutting up your underwear you can use a leaf.” (His uncle taught him that.)

The eldest one was pumped, “I’ve got some Gatorade and sunflower seeds. We just have to manage our resources’. How many life-lines do we get?”

My daughter was listening on the phone, “Oh my gosh I thought they were just camping? Tell him three.” She cackled. (I don’t know where she gets her wicked humor.)

Yep, the #1 grandson went straight up survivor mode. I don’t know if he thought this was one of Nana’s games or he watches a lot of “reality” television; either way I went with it, gave them three life-lines and giggled to myself, Bwahaha this is going to be way more fun than I imagined.

“This is what you have.” I explained as I laid out three dusty web-laden sleeping bags, two coolers, a sack of food, a lighter and a gallon of water. “Make it last and good luck.”

They picked out their camping spot and began gathering wood. I went back to the house, closed the doors and pretended to ignore them as the hours ticked slowly by.

I truly thought they would be banging on the door and begging to come in by nightfall but nope; they made a cozy camp by the pond and had a nice fire going. They were so happy it made me sad smile.

After midnight I gave up spying on them, said a prayer and went to bed. The following morning I was sure they would be sound asleep in the living room but the house was empty. So I grabbed my camera and sneaked through the woods.

Then what to my wondering eyes did appear but three little men all drained of their cheer. Tee-hee-hee, oops I mean poor babies.

Boys 1

By dawn the fire had [literally and figuratively] gone out.

I continued to let them believe it was a survival game so they bargained for another gallon of water and a garden spade. By noon they were discussing if they should use their last life-line  for a pillow, a thicker blanket for the trailer they were sleeping on or a Pepsi.

Boys 2

They chose the Pepsi.

The #2 grandson had packed bubbles. He and the #3 grandson entertained themselves while the #1 grandson prayed rested.

Boys 3

I hung out with them for a while, chased bubbles and asked, “How is the survival game going?”

Boys 4

#1 grandson tried to smile but he didn’t have the energy.  “We still have plenty of food.” he replied. He was not going to quit or admit it was not so fun anymore.

“Well what if I said I am calling the game off – what if I said you boys have to stay in the house tonight. What would you say to that?”

Boys 5

“I’d say thank you!” he jumped to his feet with tears relief on his face. #3 grandson gave a smirk humble yet proud smile and #2 grandson disappeared inside before I could take his picture.

Thank goodness they don’t read blogs. 😉

 

A Pilgrims Prayer (Revisited)

Another November is nearly at end and another Thanksgiving is upon us.

And, another revisiting of A Pilgrims Prayer. (Slightly revised from previous version)

A Pilgrim’s Prayer

Once upon a time a long, a long time ago (before Black Friday) Thanksgiving was a celebration of harvest and a time to give thanks.

Those early pilgrims did not have the conveniences we enjoy today, yet somehow they survived.

I didn’t really know any of those pilgrims but I did see a John Wayne movie once. John knew a pilgrim when he saw one. He seemed to know a lot of pilgrims but that was a long time ago too.

I propose we are all pilgrims, each one of us on a journey of sorts; our own personal pilgrimage, if you will.

turkey-on-the-trail-1024x626

We are all looking for something. Be it a quest for self-confirmation, truth, a cure, enrichment, enlightenment, comfort, a friend, a lover, a job, a meal, or a place to lay our weary head at the end of another day.

I believe life is a journey, or at least it should be. It would be terrible to think we were just flailing through this experience, killing time on this giant floating gumball, while waiting for the next Black Friday specials.

I believe we all have one destination, though we travel many different roads and I trust that we have choices.

Hopefully we will choose well. On the occasion we take a wrong turn [and we will] I pray we have enough sense and humility to stop and seek direction, to reassess our route and to be considerate in our voyage.

wild-turkey-whiskey-1024x710

So here’s wishing all of you pilgrims a Happy Thanksgiving and may we all, whatever road we’re on, take time to look ahead, pause, and meditate on the many things we have to be grateful for, put aside our grievances and give thanks.

My personal prayer:

I pray our good seeds of hope, humility, toil and courage produce abundantly; that love and kindness grow wild like the weeds of early spring – fruitful and undeterred. And your harvest be rich with wisdom and discernment.