Tag: love

Shower Water

Amaya tossed and turned in her king sized bed. Rolling away from the snores of her husband, she placing her hands on her closed eyes. She bit her lip, eyes welling up, cheeks then damp. Sitting on the side of her bed, her breathing in time with Khamron’s snoring. She took off her braid bonnet, shaking sleep, before going to the bathroom. The grandfather clock downstairs chimed, as she tapped the phone screen. “1:07.” She hissed.

Her toes gripped the carpet, and she wiped her face, exhaling. “Just shower and go back to bed.” She whispered. “Hot water and soap, Mama say fix everything.” She walked to the bathroom feet from her cherry oak footboard.

The dim light made her skin golden as she turned on the shower water. The patter of the water on the shower floor made her bite her bottom lip. Hand in the stream told her that the water needed a while more to warm.

Amaya turned to the sink, breathing softly, forcing tears into hiding. “Donovan.” She whispered. She box braids swung as she cupped her face, the blue in her braids matching her mood.


The water was needed, hiding tears. As she dried off, her mind drifted.

Her mind took her to his room, his mouth on her thighs ripping the yellow lace panties she wore against the front door.
His tongue tensing and opening her body as she rode his face.

Amaya remembered his hands on her hips, in her hair. “Tell me you love me, Sugar? Tell me!” His breath hot on her ear as he stretched her body to conform not him again, just like Homecoming Night twenty years before.

Amaya dried her legs as Khamron snored, her eyes to the clean laundry yet to be put away. Grinning at the orange shirt straining against its black plastic cage.
Her eyes watered again, wrapping the towel around her, made her way to the clean laundry.

The towel fell as she began digging for the orange shirt, her curvy frame still luminous, with light over her hips. Seizing her treasure, she put it on.

It was tight now, her bust not the same as it was in high school. She always slept better and Donovan’s practice
shirts anyway.

With her newfound peace, she hoped sleep would find her, letting her mind see him again when she slept.

———

He braced against the shower wall as the remaining water trickled over his shoulders and back. His hand smoothing his chesnut face . Closing his eyes, he willed her away. “Amaya.” Whispering her name conjured her there pinned between him and white tile wall. His hands gripping white tile of the shower wall. Heat coming through his skin again as the movie of their afternoon and last week flooded his mind.

The slapping of her back against the wall. Her grinding into his hands and hips, feeling her open, stretch and accommodate.

Her coffin shaped nails lightly scratching the backs of his ears…she remembered.

How she squeezed him, as he pushed her gently upright, squeezing her nipples and the darkness of her areolas.

Then Amaya screamed his name. And over again. Head back and full voice.
Donovan flipped her on her back, her legs on his shoulders. His face in her neck. As she had all through high school and college.

Her body was home. Her pleading for more of him music.

He bit his lip, the heat coming through his back.

The beeping of his phone ripping him from
recent memory.

White towel secured around his waist his Face ID unlocked it.

Sugar [1:10 AM]
Thank you for the shirt.

Response [1:11 AM]
I ripped the other.

He held the phone, breathing and waiting. He moved from Messages to his Delta app to check his flight information. He tossed the phone on the bed, turning to get his suitcase and wheel it to the front door.

Beeping again.

In short strides, reached the unmade bed.

Sugar [1:17 AM]
You ain’t changed at all! What am I going to do with you

Donovan grinned, heard her voice in his ears, reminding of the taste of Amaya’s neck.

His response [1:18 AM]
A woman with a mouth like yours to keep it quiet you have to keep it busy.

He attached his iPhone to the charger. Grinning, he took off the towel, preferring to sleep naked to remember her body again. He would text her in the morning maybe. He had a flight to catch.

From The Crates: Black Writer Poem (August 2022)

They would’ve killed me for what I do now.

the knowledge of the Bible

read, both in person

and on paper

with ink being

the same color as blood

before the fire of oxygen

hits it–

They would’ve killed me for what I do now.

Tongue cut out

hung from trees

as a warning–

as the barbaric English forced

On my ancestors

but demands your English

Be my first language.

When I first was able

to communicate pain

Or how I call my mother

how I wait for my father

it is always been words

that have kept me,

Yet at the same time

I have kept them–

I have grasp them

hold them tightly in

my dominant right hand–

subduing the same language

which has always yielded

strange fruit.

They would have killed me for what I do now.

-JBHarris, August 2022

From The Crates-Thanksgiving 2015

This is Thanksgiving.

As a young girl, the thrill of the holiday was never the food…but the sounds. I was excited because I would get to hear and see all these people that I hadn’t seen all year, or not often enough. I would get to hear stories, hear dialects and Englishes, and ruckus laughter. There was always laughter at Thanksgiving.

In my 34th fall, this is the first holiday that have not cooked and incorporated my own family into the greater of my family at large. As I wrote in the effigy at my grandmother Arceal Williams’s funeral, I wrote that her home was a place you “gathered strength and peace and prepare for war, before going back into the wide, wide world.” Her house was a focal point, my steady place, my rock when all else seemed questionable.

I visited this same place not even two weeks ago, and it was akin to a cemetery. There were relics, dust—the ashes of love—everywhere. There was a quiet there I had not known until that moment. It was the stillness one could only see and on the other side of the grass where eyes to be opened in soil. There was no stove, no fridge, no evidence of the life which was there, the lives grown there like same soil of her garden inundated with vines now.

On this day of Thanks,I am thankful for being able to be a part of the greater, to become the greater, to relay the greater. I am thankful for being able to see on THIS side of the grass. I am thankful for the amalgum that is my family…it is beyond blood now–I have been adopted, redopted and engrafted all before this time. I am thankful for this legacy that I now call love and family.May we all continue to laugh.

-Jenn Harris, age 34

My Sister’s Keeper (Pt. 1): What About Your Friends?

Author note: As of this posting, there have been no arrests in this case. #JusticeForShanquellaRobinson -JBH

Shanquella Robinson should not be dead. And the fact that she is in the company of Black people, in a foreign country, with her mother on the news demanding answers?

Disbelief isn’t the word!

Yet, it but I cannot help but remember the words of my mother: “Not every one is your friend.”

The most vicious thing about her murder is still how callous this all was! It rings of what happened to Kenneka Jenkins in Chicago. There is a debate on social media which debates this, but there indeed is a parallel. The main one is: who do you call your friend. And…why?

This young woman wasn’t yet 30.

A college graduate.

Entrepreneur.

And she traveled internationally with people she knew.

And yet, she is gone. A portion of her assault on the internet for all to see. An one of her assailants is a Black woman! The urban philosophers T-Boz, Left Eye, and Chili once said, “What about your friends?” As a mother now, this is my worst nightmare. I am trying to equip my children to be in the world, being able to listen to their intuition when things are wrong, and knowing exactly what a friend is!

This young woman is dead because of jealousy, and trusting the wrong set of people. Yet, there is a deeper element here. More sinister.

With Black women being so unprotected, with us working towards trying to build and keep safety, the safest place should be with another Black woman! In watching the video, in seeing this beautiful Black woman thrown around, pummeled, and with a Black man in the video saying, “Shanquella, you ain’t gon fight back?”

Furthermore, then, to find out that her murder innocence was videotaped on the phone? Only to have that video then begin circulating, which contradicts everything her friends told her mother? Horrendous.

How have we gotten here?

I believe one of the ways by which we have gotten here is we no longer value human life… that goes beyond race. In this reality by which we now currently navigate, and traverse, it seems what we value is. Everything is intangible. this generational gap is evident that what we as Gen X, millennials were taught, did not trickle down to GenZ. Or if it did, they didn’t believe it was worthy of implementing in their own social circles.

It doesn’t matter that this young woman had hopes dreams, a mother that loved her, family, that she belonged to–the fact that her friends in my opinion were jealous of her.

I’ve been a woman for a consider amount of time now. And I know enough that, when a group of women don’t like you? They will do the most nefarious things to you to either isolate you, ridicule, you, or hurt you.

Yet, in this parasocial relationship, social media crafted reality, we must remember that not everyone that likes your images, like you. Not everyone that follows you, is defined as ‘friend’ will be one. Not everyone wants you to win, loves. And there are people whom truly desire to be in your space in order to harm or destroy you!

yeah, some of the questions I still have are:

What can be done to be pulled back?

And who was holding the camera?

Who had opened the door?

Trust as a Black woman is a powerful thing, and most fragile. Once it is violated–especially by another Black woman, that is hard to repair. If not impossible.

These Days Of Night #22: St. Xavier’s Hospital

Tanya wiped sweat off her pale forehead, Bobbi Brown foundation on her right hand. She sipped the coffee in her blue hospital issued cup, slowed hard at the temperature of the coffee. Her smart watch which had Minnie Mouse living in her piped up, “it’s 2:51 am! Good Morning!” 

She closed her eyes, remembering she had to signed up for overtime shifts the next three days.  

Relaxing in the black rolling chair, she rubbed her face, her blonde hair falling over the back of the chair. 

She had the patient in 904 again. 

Blood pressure impossible to control.

Chemical restraints. 

Didn’t speak English, or when he did he screamed that he was on fire.

It burns! Help me! It burns so much! 

He needed 2 sitters to watch him.  

Constant fluids. Heart rate stayed in the low 100’s. During morning report, she overheard “What the hell is wrong with him?!”

Alarms broke her deep breathing exercises, and she ran down the hall. The beeping louder, bed rattling, and she went into the room to see the two sitters in the room soothing him as he is screaming crying. 

Tanya pages the on-call resident from the red phone on the wall. “Dr. Malcolm Warren. He’s seizing. Code Lilac.” 

The snarling is louder, a hum in her ears. “When did he start?” The tech with blonde box braids and diamond stud in her nose and purple scrubs, answers, sleep in her voice. “Like 5 mins ago, 2:46 am.”

The other tech, close shorn hair and blue contacts, grabs vital signs, and Blood sugar. “Help me!” Tanya exhales, and boots up the mobile work station. Her bare nails tap the patient records, charting what is happening. 

Seizure start: 0241

VS:  T 99.8F, P 138, R22, BP 160/110, 91% 2L O2.

“Not again…” 

Tanya exhaled and looked at the record.

This has been happening for the last 4 nights. Every 4 hours. 

—-

Malcolm stood over him, looking over the spent man he fought for 5 days. He was sleeping with the help of Halidol. 

Looking around the room, he reached for the vaccutainer syringe set in his left pocket.  Assembling the butterfly set he found a vein and filled three tubes. 

He filled the tubes and headed to the Resident Lounge, he ran through symptoms:  hallucinations, high blood pressure and pulse, malignant hyperthermia and abnormal blood work, he bit his lip, replaying the report meeting notes in the voice of his attending. 

“A Madder.”

These Days Of Night #19: St. Xavier’s Hospital

The snoring from St. Xavier’s Medical Examiners Office was loud. All the accidents, suicides, live births in the backs minivans or ambulances—Trauma Level 1 hospitals see everything. 

It was the exsanguination patients that were troubling! 

Throat gashes.

Jugular trauma.

Carotid collapse. 

Aorta trauma. 

Housekeeping staff were outsourced after a residential team walked out. Dr. Ivan’s daughter, Maggie, died after he was called in to consult her case. He sat in the room with body, her blood on his green scrubs. Mr. Hobbs, head of security had to be called—Dr.Ivan wouldn’t leave! 

Residents were called in from the neighboring parish for more manpower. When AM Housekeeping arrive Dr. Ivan an Maggie are missing.

These Days Of Night #18: Lia

Lia sat in the corner of her room watching Malcolm sleep. She couldn’t bear to be left alone. 

Not now.

Not after the woman in the mirror followed her to work. 

And was with a woman in blue that had a scythe with her in the patients in the room that coded. The woman in blue, regal looking, and the color of dark tawny would appear as soon as time of death was called. And then the woman would remain, always in red, face of a perpetual poker player. 

It was Zyla who dealt with seeing things, dealing with what wasn’t there! That’s what made her go into graphic design after microbiology was beaten out of her by the other invisible things she had to handle. 

She rocked in the chair mind snatching her back to age 6 when Circe first moved into their room.

She cried at 12 when she remembered the nightmares of wars she never heard of. 

She months that Zyla was in the hospital when she covered in burns that torched their house to the foundations! The tears thinking her sister was going to die. 

The heat from her room blew out Lia’s windows.

Blinking hard, she saw her room change to that burn unit at the hospital she just left from. The beeping from IV’s. The A&D ointments. Bandages. Zyla screaming. The praying. The chanting from a nurse her mother knew. 

The night that Zyla woke up and ran out of the hospital in a full sprint declaring she was Circe she speaking another language she couldn’t manage to translate. 

Her cheeks dampening with the memory of her being committed to a psych facility for 5 years then. They were only 23. 30 now. The last time she talked to her mother Zyla was medicated, sleeping well, and happily married. 

Sex kept her voices quiet. 

The lady in mirror was still watching from the hall.

These Days Of Night #16: Challah

Challah cut her wrist at the site of Circe’s burning. She needed her, needed her guidance and wit. 

The athame shook in her hand as she drug it across her left arm, chanting thr old language taught to her by the Amshuns. She walked in a circle, feet bare in the grass that crunched under her weight. 

Where there were Six, there must be Six.

With the ritual complete the blood glowed red before red mist crackled. “I am Challah, sister of Cadallah, sired of Trysticlous. The war is upon us and I need to find the Incarnated.” The mist formed an oval and showed her a woman with dark skin and twisted hair, kissing a man in a red car. Challah blinked hard, seeing her sister again through the Incarnated. 

“What is her name?”

A quiet whisper answered, “Zyla Franklin.”

Challah smiled remembering what Cadallah had told her. 

Where there were Six, there must be Six.

These Days Of Night #15: Zyla

“This is going to be impossible!” Zyla damp from sweat, woke swearing as her husband, Cameron, snored unaware next to her.

The dreams were back.  This time running through a castle, a different part and everything was blurry. 

These dreams made her head feel like a jigsaw! 

Zyla held her head in her hands, the weigh of the braids in her pink satin bonnet shifting onto her bare shoulder. The dream from last week kept rewinding through her aching head. 

She remembered running into the sun and then she remember being really hot before exploding into ashes.  And then going into nothing. Then she woke up. Always waking up into the nothing—never before.

“This cannot be true! This cannot be right.” She hissed into her palms. Nothing made sense anymore! She remembered her husband actually changing form  to the dark haired man who laid next to her in her martial bed.

As he was on top of her, inside of her, in the most intimate space the night before. Cameron was becoming unrecognizable before her eyes! 

Zyla had thrown him off of her in favor of the guest room. She got up, adjusting her gown, and headed to the bathroom in their Master bedroom—the true selling point of the house. 

She didn’t know it was happening anymore! Zyla shut the bathroom door, staring at her own mahogany skin and Senagalese twists hidden in the bonnet, now free of their fabric prison. Her brown eyes skin shimmered under the light over that dual sink.

Hanging on to dual sink, she closed her eyes, twists falling along her shoulders. She stood to her full height and opened her eyes and screamed, while the reflection vanished. 

Zyla’s opened the medicine cabinet looking for her pills again:  antipsychotic she swore that she didn’t need anymore. The medicine Cameron filled 3 months ago when she had trouble sleeping again. 

There was something more to these visions/-were like dreams like they were being pulled out of her own mind. And her mind was tricking her once more yet again! Normal people don’t have past lives or reincarnated cycles. 

Zyla thought about the conversation with her long dead mother, telling her mother that someone named Circe was living in her head and Circe had another name that was too long for her to say. 

“Searcy was murdered by somebody else and then be murdered by somebody else she became something that had very long teeth and pale brown skin.”

Opening the pills was futile, and they clattered to the floor. It was happening again. And her husband said he wouldn’t even marry her if she could not get these things under control. 

Zyla threw the pill bottle at the glass shower door. She faced the door and cried, resisting the feeling to beat on the door. Sliding to the floor and balling up under the door, pills pressing into her knees. She was going to have to call Lia because if this was happening to her again it was only a matter of time before the woman in the mirror was after her sister again.

These Days Of Night #14: Sarraye

Sarraye sat on the roof of St. Francis  Catholic Church. From her vantage point, she could see the young man across the street I  her as a part of apartment building prepared to jump. 

She watched biting her bottom lip. It wasn’t a unfamiliar sight, but there was a weirdness in her that was settling. Being a Reaper, this is what she did. Finding the to be dead and ushering the where they wanted to be or where they had to go. But the war was days from starting and they were some who in our a jump the gun as it were. 

And this young man had already been stopped by two vampires, and a wolf just this week. She knew her brother Reaper would be here soon. Because they too had to have a game plan for what was about to happen. 

The city was going to be an abject chaos. It already was! The Old Ones were already here, she had even seen photos of missing people to come across her social media timeline, and there was even the rumbling that they were now a pack of Madders. 

She smoothed her long curly dark hair and bit her full lip again. She could tell by how he was pacing the roof did he was at war with his own mortality. And as she looked down to pull her phone from her bag she heard it:  the scream from a bite. She didn’t even look up. And there was a tapping on her shoulder. 

“I knew you would be here, Donovan. Whenever there is strife and sorrow, you are always to be found.” she giggled bitterly still not looking up the iPhone screen from the young man across the street unphasing. She heard the strike of a match, looking up to see him and all his tall slender glory: Sepia skin. Dark eyes, and smirking. They watched smoking looking across at the roof of a young man fighting something that was easily twice as big as he was.

The screaming continued,and they did nothing. “Looks like they got another one.”

Sarraye looked up at him, still clad in black, not accommodating to the modern world where death wears other colors. Sarraye preferred pale blue to stark black. “I delivered four people today.” She whispered. “And I think the vampires are getting restless.”

Donovan, looking down at her from his cigarette, blew smoke at her. “Restless how?“ Sarraye looked across the street seeing the being with glowing eyes looking back at her before taking the young man over its shoulder, bounding to the next building.

Sarraye pointed across the street. “I’ve never seen a wolf that big unless it’s a Madder. That young man that he just took away,” she shook her left arm, the gold bangles she wore jangling. “ He was followed Thalia the other day! If Thalia is here— 

Donovan put his hand up, closing his eyes weary. “That means Calsepsi is going to be here too!”

Donovan is he blue smoke rings biting his lip, lowering his arm. He took his attention back to staring off into the starry dark night. “Calsepsi…” he still wasn’t looking at her. Sarraye sighed before standing, reaching in his pocket for his lighter. “I don’t know why are used to carrying matches when these exist.“ She shook the lighter in front of his face. The wind beginning to blow between the both of them.

She put her hand on her hip., bracelets jangling. “You still love her after all this time?” She chuckled. “Donovan, you sure do have a type! Beautiful, dark, and problematic!”

Donovan turned away from her, adjusting the collar on his shirt dusting off the imaginary. “ i’m just waiting for her to be done with all this is all. She said she’d be mine forever.” He didn’t turn to face her. “I’m a make her stand on that.”

Sarraye ,swinging her backpack over her shoulder,  dusted off her light blue jumpsuit and fluffing her hair. “Somethings never change, do they?“ she slapped his back and made her away from the roof leaving him there to contemplate. “If she coming, she already here. You are a new how she is!” 

She opened the door leading to the dim stairwell, her goal heels echoing. “That one there?” She laughed loudly. “She would made an amazing Reaper.” Her voice shrank as she descended. “But she won’t keep you waiting—or she’ll find you first.”