Shhh, it’s #WordlessWednesday
Happy Valentine’s Day
Ain’t Love Grand
Ain’t love grand?
Sure it is… but sometimes it’s not.
Sometimes it is tattered and torn and embittered…
Sometimes it’s so snarled and twisted it leaves nothing but ashes in its wake. Take it from Ishmael.
HaPpY ValenTines DaY
Love IS grand – until it ain’t. If you have a real love and a healthy relationship you should celebrate that every day. Don’t be the characters I write.
Roses From Ishmael was originally published as a single& then in Once Upon a Dead Gull and Short Stories & Such.
This short is available Wherever books are sold. Including Barnes & Noble & Google Books/ Play
Happy Monday world!
Today is International Women’s Day.
So here’s to women all over the world, cheers 🥂.
Sadly, a lot of women don’t have the luxury of “celebrating” #IWD2021; many do not have the privilege of internet access to participate much less promote.
Let us remember those women. 🙏🏼
I visited the IWD website and copied the below questions/challenges.
“How will you help forge a gender equal world?
Celebrate women’s achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality.”
So, what will I do for #IWD2021?
Personally, I am just going to keep chasing my dreams, standing up for what I believe and being me.
That in itself is a challenge… and an achievement.
And, I will share this poem which was inspired by a matriarch I once had the pleasure of knowing.
We did not burn our bras but wore them proudly
Holding–supporting–glorifying the mammary glands that would feed the next generation
For the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.
We did not give animated voices to our vaginas for the world to hear
but let them speak in secret whispers that moved mountains.
We did not make a spectacle in the streets to prove our equality
For we knew in our hearts [already] that we were superior.
Page 235 from Getting Me Back
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.
“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.
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
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
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
Forsaken pages ripped and torn,
spattered earth across the floor,
graphite tales of love and war and
The long, long night
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.
“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.
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.
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.
I 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
Photographs Remind Us…
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 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.
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.