It Will End Like This

I could end it all. I could. No more pain, no more anger, no more lies.I would pretend Mom was there, out in the garden. I could do it out there. End it all and everything would go back to normal. The garden would bloom again, the flowers growing strong and bright, and the feeling of love would return to our home.Forget what sadness is. Forget the pain. Pretend none of this ever happened, so everything can go back to normal.My sister would be happy again. And maybe, so would I. –It Will End Like This by Kyra Leigh It … Continue reading It Will End Like This

Allegedly

“So, Mary,” Ms. Carmen asked in a dead voice during my first week in the group home, fiddling with her rosary like a candy necklace. “What do you want to be when you grow up?”At first, this gave me hope. No one had asked me what I really wanted to do in years, but i knew the answer: I wanted to be a teacher. When I was little, I used to line my toys up in front of an imaginary chalkboard and give reading lessons. I’d even sit Alyssa on my lap and teach her the ABCs. Momma would say … Continue reading Allegedly

The Kindest Lie

He moved around their bedroom, careful to avoid any physical contact with her. Ruth turned out the lights and lay beneath the sheets with her eyes closed and her hands clasped over her chest, pretending she hadn’t moments earlier been pressed against the door, trying to anticipate his mood. Her head buried in the thousand thread count pillowcase made of Egyptian cotton designed to softly caress her cheek, but on this night it chafed and she couldn’t get comfortable with Xavier so close yet so far away. He sat on the edge of the bed for a few minutes before … Continue reading The Kindest Lie

The Cousins

“The envelope was addressed to me, but the letter was for you.”A decade-old image pops into my head: me with my long-lost grandmother, filling a shopping card to the rim with stuffed animals while dressed like we’re going to the opera, tiaras and all. I push the thought aside and grope for more words. “Is… she… does she… why?”My mother reaches into her purse and pulls out an envelope, then pushes it across the table towards me. “Maybe you should just read it.”I lift the flap and pull out a folded sheet of thick, cream-colored paper that smells faintly of … Continue reading The Cousins

Little Fires Everywhere

“Let’s be Charlie’s Angels!” Lexie cried in a burst of inspiration. So she and Serena and Pearl donned bell bottoms and polyester shirts and teased their hair as high as they could. Hair-dos fully inflated, they posed, back-to-back, fingers pointed like guns, and surveyed themselves in the mirror in a haze of hairspray. “Perfect,” Lexie said. “Blonde, brunette, and black.” She aimed her finger at Pearl’s nose. “Are you ready for this party, Pearl?”The answer, of course, was no. It was the most surreal night Pearl had ever experienced. All evening, cars driven by skateboarders and animals and Freddy Kruegers … Continue reading Little Fires Everywhere

Luster

The last time I painted, I was twenty-one. The president was black. I had more serotonin and I was less afraid of men. Now the cyan and yellow come out hard. I need hot water to make them mix. I work with the paint, let the acrylic dry, and when it’s right I rework again. I remain as faithful as I can to scale. I mix thirteen shades of green, five shades of purple I don’t need. My palette knife breaks in two. When it is almost 5:00 am, I have a passable replication of Eric’s face. The slope of … Continue reading Luster

Crooked Hallelujah

The night of their big knock-down drag-out, their last fight, I lay in bed with my pillow over my head for what seemed like half the night when it started getting real rough. That’s when I busted through my bedroom door and saw Kenny holding my mom up against the wall by her jaw. He had her pushed up there so her neck looked long and skinny, like the rooster I saw my cousin slaughter with the knife he’d just sharpened. Mom was calm as the rooster that day. She looked as mean as him too, her eyes staring at … Continue reading Crooked Hallelujah

The Wicker King

It always threw August off guard how contradictory Jack could be. The next time he saw him, it was as if the exchange had never happened. Jack was on his default setting: silly, relaxed, and annoyingly insistant. It was all of the things August rolled his eyes at but actually really liked.Then there was the other version of Jack. The version August suspected was reserved especially for him. The selfish, demanding, frightening Jack – with his wide eyes narrowed into snakelike slits. A Jack who used his strength to push and throw him wherever he saw fit. Whose intensity made … Continue reading The Wicker King

The Mountain and the Sea

But she knew that above all, what had changed was that she wanted to make new art again. And in some strange way she was sure that if she could find that daring spirit that she had in her late teens and twenties during the heady years when she was discovering her talent, she would return to a part of her that she feared had been lost. She was obsessed with moving from the graphic design and commissioned portrait work that was her bread and butter for years, and she talked so much about doing so after her husband Clifford … Continue reading The Mountain and the Sea

Concrete Rose

He’s so caught up in the toys dangling from the car seat he don’t know his mama left him like he nothing. Ma shoved the front door open. “I had a funny feeling when I saw all them clothes in that diaper bag. They shipped him off without a word.”I set the car seat on the coffee table. What the hell just happened? For real, man. I suddently got a whole human beingin my care when I never even took care of a dog. “What we do now, Ma?”“We obviously have to keep him until we find out what Aisha … Continue reading Concrete Rose