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NEW SERIES INTRODUCTION

So, lately I’ve been toying with the idea of what I should do until I finally regain my personal time (it’s so close!) and focus on what is supposed to be my official debut novel. The idea was that I’d be completely done by now and I’d be releasing it on my brother’s birthday, as a special dedication to him, as he was my reason for everything I was trying to do.

Unfortunately, I’ve been working (and mostly overtime) during the entirety of the Pika-Pikachu (pandemic) and I just haven’t had the time to give it the love and care that it deserves. BELIEVE ME, Fly Girl is coming … just not in 2021.

In the meantime, I brought up the idea of a three mini-novel series to a dear friend of mine and the idea to revisit a story I never completed hit me. The entire novel I speak of centered around three sisters and I was trying to tell their personal stories within one book. Truthfully, it was great, but it wasn’t working out the way I wanted so I set it aside.

I’ve considered breaking down that novel, giving each sister their own short series. And, to build my audience and consistency back up (it’s happening soon, I’m so excited!), I was thinking I could share their stories here.

Now, I have shared a snippet or two from that novel before, and I will link it/them below.

Snippet 1

Snippet 2

Both snippets feature two of the three sisters, and give just a little detail into what each of them were dealing with. I’ve fallen completely in love with the idea of them again and want to pick it back up to get myself going again.

Naturally, as with most of my stories and novels, I don’t have a name for the complete series or the individual mini-novels, but of course I will update when I come up with something. Or, perhaps, you can share any ideas you have for titles in the comment section (I’d greatly appreciate it).

For a little help, the sisters are currently named April, May, and June. I don’t see myself changing that little detail, but I may later on down the line. Ideas for titles are still very much welcomed.

Again, I cannot stress how excited I am to be regaining time to myself AND time to focus on my passion and what I love the most; writing.

It has been a very bumpy road, and these past two years I haven’t been completely sure if this was still my purpose. It is, and I can’t wait to bring those of you who have been enjoying and supporting the site some brand new content.

Of course, I’m shooting to begin semi-regular posting mid-late December, but if not then I’ll sprinkle a few things here and there and in 2022, we’re coming in swinging for the fifth anniversary of MPWN!

As always, to those who read and like my posts, thank you so much. I would like to leave a gentle reminder that I am a writer that seeks feedback via comments, so I’d truly love to hear from you all a lot more. I welcome it all, love as well as constructive criticism.

If you would like to keep up with me, in the meantime, outside of the site, you can follow me on Instagram and Twitter. Click the highlighted links, follow and let’s chat sometime.

As always, happy reading and if you’re a writer too, I’m sending lots of creativity dust your way.

xoxo, Cortney!

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Closing Out The Year With A Bang, or Attempting To.

So, we all know by now that I have a bit of trouble with consistency. Be it because of life and it’s obstacles, or just the fact that I sometimes lose sight of myself and my gifts; I am forever talking about how I want to refocus and pull it together.

Though I haven’t fully gotten the results that I initially hoped for when I began MyPenWritesNice, I’ve grown to love this site and I am extremely proud of this investment (the website as a whole) that I’ve made in myself and my talent.

With that being said, a consistent struggle that plays into my consistency is that I never know what I want to do or what direction I should go in. Naturally, I feel that I should reach out for a bit of advice because I value greatly any and all advice and commentary that I receive.

I’ve been getting reads and likes when I’ve uploaded lately, but I’m missing out on comments and feedback. So, I would like to use this post to reach out for that, and gauge an idea of what you guys would like to read from me.

Any particular genre you think I should try or you think my style of writing might fit into?

Also, I want to post heavily in December. A great opportunity has come that may allow me a bit more time to finally focus and get back into my writing bag heavily. Would you guys be interested in a countdown to Christmas type of series? Where I post a certain number days in a row with Christmas and Holiday themed shorts?

Lastly, I’m looking to expand my site a bit by sharing the work of other authors who, like me, have a small following and may want to reach a new audience. I always say that my following isn’t massive, but I’ve noticed that my readers are a very consistent group and always come through when I make my way back with new work (I appreciate you!).

Would you like your work showcased in my Writer’s Spotlight section? If so, leave me a link to your work or shoot me a message.

Please, please, as I get back into sharing my poems and stories, leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments. I value both the good and bad, and feel it is essential for my growth!

Connect with me via twitter : CoceauxPuff & MyPenWritesNice

Instagram : MyPenWritesNice

Facebook : Cortney J

And, if you’ve ever enjoyed any of my works, and you feel it to do so, please donate towards all future projects coming from MyPenWritesNice

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Have a wonderful day, and happy reading and writing!

xoxo, Cortney.

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Let’s Get Connected.

So, while working on new things and trying to figure out new ways to promote myself and my work in 2021, I decided to dabble into areas I might not have considered before. And, while I’m sharing mine, I’d love to follow and connect with you as well so please share where I can find you all.

1. Tiktok : @ coceauxpuff

Where you’ll be able to hear snippets of all poetry, and assuming I get good at the app… Short scenes from my stories and novels played out.

2. YouTube : I can be found at both Just Cortney which is meant to be a vlog channel, and SpokenByCort which is a channel that deals with all things WRITING, my published works, and MyPenWritesNice.

3. Twitter : @ MyPenWritesNice (author page), & Coceauxpuff (personal page)

4. Facebook : Cortney J.

5. Instagram : MyPenWritesNice

Again, I would love to connect with you all, so be sure to hit those links, follow… subscribe… add, etc. And let me know where I can do the same for you.

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Let’s Celebrate!

Anniversaries come but once a year, and for MyPenWritesNice, a very special one has arrived.

In the words of the legendary Tony Toni Tone, “do you know what today iiiiisssss?”

 

That’s right! Today marks the official third anniversary of MyPenWritesNice.com! The site began when Cortney decided it was time to set some of her fears aside and share her beautiful gift with the world. To date there have been over a thousand visitors and thousands of views across multiple countries and I am more than confident that there is more to come!

It is her hope that those who have followed and fresh readers will stick along for the continuing journey. It’s going to be a great one.

 

To celebrate MyPenWritesNice’s third anniversary, Cortney has asked that everyone take a trip throughout the site and take a new look at some or all of your old favorites. PLEASE share your favorite short stories and poems with your friends and family, via social media, and be sure to tag her on twitter @MyPenWritesNice and @WrittenByCort, you can also find and follower her on instagram @MyPenWritesNice.

Be sure to leave comments, share how her work has made you feel, and let us know what you’re looking forward to in 2020!

 

Happy Anniversary and Happy Reading!

 

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“Dreams Of You” by Cortney Joseph

We were beneath the tree beside our house.

Me in my little pink corvette, you in your yellow prowler.

 

We were talking big smack, passing licks and clowning around.

Racing each other up and down the street until the sun went down.

 

Then you stood, and you smiled.

Your hands rose, you began to wave goodbye.

 

Tears fell and I prepared my plea for you to stay,

You smiled and said “Sister, you did great. Sister, you’ll be fine.”

 

In an instant you faded,

And I awoke,

Happy for the dream of a last moment,

Yet saddened there’ll be no more real.

 

 

 

Dedicated to : Sandy De’Marcus Joseph

December 1, 1993 – December 18, 2019

I’ll love you always, Baby Boy.

 

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Work In Progress, #1 (An Update)

So,

I’ve finally reminded myself that I’ve been doing a little too much playing around. And by ‘playing around’, I mean not putting my talent to use. Doubting myself entirely too much. And just being plain old LAZY.

I’ve been telling myself that I have to stop using these sad and depressed moods of mine (though valid, to me) as an excuse to make excuses and give up on the thing I love most.

Writing.

 

Let’s be honest; no matter how hard I fight or how many times I say I’m quitting (which is about a hundred times a day); the talent, the ideas, and the big goals and dreams I have for myself aren’t going anywhere.

It’s taking a lot longer than I anticipated (nearly twenty years now since I first picked up a pen by choice — nearly ten since I’ve been publishing my work and promoting on my own), but it’s NOT going anywhere.

 

By this point in 2019, I’d promised myself that I would have published my first OFFICIAL novel. My first one that I won’t have to remove from online because of some sort of theft or other scandal again (I pray no one does me dirty again).

It hasn’t happened. And while there have been many obstacles, many incidents that took away my focus from my tasks, a great deal of NO RESULT OR PRODUCT is my own fault.

I’ve decided tonight, September 19, 2019 that I am pushing all doubt, fears, and more aside. I am ready to work on, complete, and publish my novel. I feel I need to be seen beyond my poetry and short stories, and I can’t do that if I keep on holding myself back.

Now, originally, my official debut novel was to be Fly Girl, I even released a snippet of the intended intro. However, I’ve developed very harsh feelings towards that novel (as well as other works of mine that could very well be published), and I have the feeling that I just need to attempt something FRESH.

Who knows, that may change in the middle of me writing whatever I’m going to start tonight, who knows I may even publish the new novel AND Fly Girl. I just know that I need to get down to business and produce the quality work that so many believe I can deliver. I also MUST believe that I can deliver that quality work as well. And for once, I believe. I’m ready.

 

 

 

With all that being said; I’m not sure how long it will take me to write and publish. But this will be the official announcement of SOMETHING coming, and I think along the way I will post updates of sorts. This may include written posts here on MyPenWritesNice, as well as video updates on my youtube channel Just Cortney. May even toss in a few new poems over on my poetry channel as well, SpokenByCort. So, be sure to hit the subscribe button on those channels and be on the look out!

 

Now, I would also like to make mention that all of this is being done independently. While I gladly use my own funds for any and everything that I do when I self-publish any of my works, lately that has become a bit difficult as I have other responsibilities to take care of first.

For the first time in all of the years I have been working alone; I have begun accepting donations and contributions that will go towards any publishing, shipping, payment of artists other than myself (as I love to support the hard work of others, as many have supported me over the years).

As I have not found a service (that I like) that I can tie in with the MyPenWritesNice site; I have two ways of accepting donations if anyone reading and supporting feels the desire to contribute. Any and all amounts are GREATLY appreciated.

The first, is my CashApp; $cdeshaye

And the second is my PayPal; MyPenWritesNice

 

 

Lastly; I want to end this post with a HUGE thank you to everyone that has been in my corner in some way or another. Especially when I am feeling down or being extremely hard on myself. I can’t begin to explain how your words of support and encouragement have pulled me out of many many moments when I felt like throwing in the towel. I think all that I am about to mention know me well enough to constantly, even when it annoys them, remind me why I shouldn’t and can’t give up on myself or my dreams.

So, thank you to my father and stepmother, brother and sister, my aunts and uncles, and many cousins who cut no corners and offer up every solution in the world (going WAY out of their way) so long as it means I’m comfortable and continuing with my goals. For reminding me with those rough yet gentle talks that only greatness lies within me, that greatness is all that we, as a family, exude. Your love and support carries me high, and I am so very proud to be a Johnson because of you all.

To my aunt Stella for staying ON me about the words that I speak and the great weight that they hold. For being my shoulder to cry on, my listening ear, and intertwining your own growth, wisdom, and lessons you are continuously learning into the things you tell me to lift me back up when I’ve hit my lowest. Only you have seen me that way, and only you have the exact words to bring me back right where I need to be mentally and spiritually. I love you beyond all of the words that could ever slip past my fingertips.

To my grandmother, Catherine, for always being prepared to buy the many MANY works I always talk about working on but never publish or have ready for sale. If ever I create some sort of guardian angel in a future novel or short, please believe she’ll be the sweetest and most loving because she’ll be modeled after you.

My uncle Solomon for being one of my biggest cheerleaders. Your loving words of encouragement and support mean EVERYTHING to me! I cherish them greatly, and hope that I always make you proud with my future endeavors.

To my dear, closest friends; I think I’ve told you all in some way or another how much you, your friendship, and your support means to me. But it never hurts to make it known again and again. Kirsten and Coty (my very best friends), Jae, De’Leon, Moyet, Tangella, Yo’Lana, Sage (even when we’re not talking), Nita (my favorite author that I know personally), Bronnie, Lareesa, COOP!, Sheryl, and Jalen. Glyn, Leshae, Ayana, Izzy (thank y’all especially for being the level headed ‘Temptations’ to my irrational –doubting myself so terribly — ‘David Ruffin’. I know I aggravate y’all, but I thank you all for understanding why I was the way I’m leaving behind).

And, once more to those who have stumbled across my site and have stuck around to read any and/or everything I’ve ever posted over the last two and a half years; THANK YOU. Because you are ALL what motivates me to come back and keep this thing going as well.

 

See you all in a while with an update on how this new W.I.P. is going. I know it’s going to be great, and I can not wait to share it!

 

xoxo, Cortney.

 

 

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What’s Next? Publishing Again!

So, my #ShortStoryAugust challenge came to a bit of an abrupt end a few days ago, but I wasn’t certain if I was completely done.

No, I’m not going to try and make up and post for the missing days or try to finish out the month. With work and other things occurring, I simply don’t have the time.

However, what I am considering is doing a short story collection featuring a select number of the stories I’ve shared during the challenge, as well as a few that have been sitting on the site for some time now and a new one or two.

 

Where do you all come in?

My hope is that you would all be so kind as to take a vote as to which of my favorites you enjoyed as well. I can admit, I’m never satisfied with everything I write, but I think I got a good one or two tossed in.

I would gladly appreciate those of you who have enjoyed anything I’ve shared over the last two years, to take a vote on the ones I’ve selected for possible inclusion in what I consider to be my next big project. For a refresher on certain shorts, you can find the links below the poll. I have left the option for multiple votes open, simply because I want to get as many votes as I can before I begin working on the collection, so feel free to vote as many times as you’d like for your choice. Happy reading, and thanks for all the support thus far!

 

 

A Friend In Need (by Cortney Joseph)

Love Is Blind (by Cortney Joseph)

Keep You Home (by Cortney Joseph)

Silly Wasn’t I by Cortney Joseph #ShortStoryAugust

Maybe I Deserve by Cortney Joseph #ShortStoryAugust

As If We Never Met by Cortney Joseph #ShortStoryAugust

 

 

 

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#ShortStoryAugust 2019 Is Here!

Today is officially August first, and a challenge I presented at the beginning of July has now begun!

For anyone interested in participating with me, please check out the original #SSA post, and find out how to make sure your wonderful works are seen and how they can be shared by me.

My audience isn’t that large yet, but I do have some really wonderful frequent readers and I am sure they’ll appreciate great art from others.

 

Hope to see many more than myself participating. And if you are, happy writing!

 

xoxo, Cortney

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Short Story August? Anyone Interested?

Hi!

 

So, to get back into the habit of writing, and writing OFTEN, I was considering taking the time this summer to write and post a NEW short story every day for the month of August.

Yep, that’s 31 short stories in a single month! I personally consider this to be a challenge because it has become so easy for me to become sidetracked, to lose focus, or to simply not have the energy to grab a pen or sit in front of my keyboard and do what truly brings me joy. Life happens, of course, but lately it’s had a way of taking me way down and it interferes in the worst way with my dream and talent.

I would like to challenge myself, and I would love it very much if a few others opted to join in the challenge with me.

 

If interested, please leave a comment letting me know you’re joining in on #ShortStoryAugust. Let me know where you’ll be sharing your posts so that I can share them to the audience that I have, and so that we can get a system of encouragement going for our fellow writers. Where can we follow one another?

You can find me on Twitter, at either WrittenByCort or MyPenWritesNice, and on Instagram at WrittenByCort.

Hope to get a few of you in on the challenge. Happy writing!

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Fly Girl by Cortney Joseph [Novel Snippet]

The following is a snippet/intro for my upcoming novel, Fly Girl. Please feel free to share your thoughts/opinions, as I am in the editing stages and looking for any and all feedback as I work to piece together the final version.

 

_______________

 

Prelude: Interview With Broken Idols

 

2010:

 

“Major success. At the height of it all, you were one of the bestselling acts. Among the elite of the late nineties and beginning of the early two-thousands, with multi-platinum selling albums, sold out national and international tours. You’ve won several of the recording industry’s top awards as a group and within your solo endeavors. Certainly, there were more albums, tours, and endorsements in the works. All planned to further the success of Fly Girl. And then, you were done after seven short years. What happened?”

 

As she sat among the very women she’d grown up watching, adoring and admiring, wishing she too could have lived such a glamourous life, Andrea Harper asked the same question of all four members of Fly Girl. The interview was exclusive, highly coveted by some of the day’s top entertainment journalists. Per their request, she spoke to each woman separately, trying to gather why they couldn’t bare to be in the same room, even for a few short hours.

It had been a little over two years since any of them had been out in the spotlight, and even longer since any of them took to doing interviews that would include talks of a part of the past that they felt had dragged them all down in one way or another. And much longer since one half of the group had spoken to the other half.

Though they were all within the same age range, it was quite clear what the years of the stress and pressure to be to be perfect, trying to appease everyone around them had done to them. Their façades cracked, years added to their once youthful faces.

Troy; the youngest member of the group, often deemed the lead singer, sat comfortably in her chair. If you were to look at her; her sweet disposition, the smile she always wore whether happy or sad would give the appearance that all was quite well in her life. After all, once Fly Girl split, it was said that she’d be the one to leave the entire ordeal unscathed, destined for solo stardom whether she wanted it that way or not. If you were to look past that smile, and down towards where her right arm rested, you’d see a cane resting next to her chair, waiting to be used if she chose to stand. Only twenty-five, the rest of her life had already been mapped out as a lifetime of medications to manage pain and spasms that came and went as they pleased.

Torii; Troy’s older sister, bore a different struggle. Though she’d initially been happy to end matters with Fly Girl, it came with expectations she soon realized she couldn’t and didn’t want to live up to. She too had been set up to have solo success following the group’s disbandment, and for a time she’d found it. And then, it became about matching Fly Girl’s success, living up to all that fans and critics believed her sister was and could have been. Comparisons and demands became too much. A young wife and mother, she decided quickly that a quiet life back home in Mount Pleasant, Tennessee was what she wanted and needed most.

Leann; the oldest, who at one point had been the most sensible and a bit of a mother figure for the other girls, had taken the worst fall from grace. Trying to raise herself and a younger sibling after leaving New Orleans, Louisiana; she felt there were nothing but good times ahead when she’d been selected as the lone rapper of Fly Girl. A once in a lifetime opportunity that came with perks and benefits far beyond her wildest dreams; she was certain there was no way she’d go back to her old life. She wouldn’t trade her new success and joy for anything. However, it had never been easy out running personal demons and as she’d often feared, they’d caught up to her when she least expected.

Ava; the second oldest, had found freedom outside of her home in Phoenix, Arizona. She’d quickly swapped control over her life from one bad influence to another, only hoping for the best in each new situation she placed herself in. Singing had become an escape, though she was often told that she was not good enough, that she would never make it far in life with her foolish dreams. She’d proved so many people wrong, including her parents; and the last thing she’d wanted was the disbandment of the group that had brought her so much happiness and success. The last thing she’d ever do was admit that she had a huge hand in the group’s downfall as well as her own.

 

As Andrea asked them all the same question again, they all gave their honest answers and opinions. There was no image to keep up any longer. No one standing behind them, coaching them on what to say through a tiny mic and special ear pieces as a part of media training.

Leann looked down at her hands. “What happened? Egos, favoritism, underhanded dealings with a lot of snakes. A lot of sleeping around, as far as I know, with producers and label executives.”

“On whose part?”

Leann smiled. “Not mine, though almost all of those perverts tried.”

“Is that all you feel caused the downfall of Fly Girl?”

“That’s the majority of it.” She shrugged, growing hot within the small room they occupied. Removing her jacket, Leann spoke lowly. “I’ve always felt that the people who discovered,” she stopped. “scratch that. The people who put us together and packaged us as a complete group of four knew exactly what their intentions were. See, Fly Girl wasn’t supposed to be successful. One hit, sure. Two, a fluke or pure luck. We weren’t supposed to have more than one album. It was supposed to be Fly Girl, Fly Girl ends, then Introducing Troy Mercier. If Torii happened to get a deal out of it, then that would have been great for her. As for Ava and me; we were just backup, and barely that. I might have gotten features here and there on whoever was the big rap star at the time, but my time was always limited.” Leann sat up straight in her chair after draping her jacket over her legs. “I just wish they had told us that shit from the get-go. The fallout wouldn’t have been so bad. Wouldn’t have hurt as much.”

During her interview Torii sat quietly, holding on to her newborn as she took a few minutes to think about her answer. No, she wasn’t going to be politically correct, but she didn’t want to come off rude or hateful in her tone either. Fly Girl had become such a touchy subject in such a short amount of time. Anytime she or her sister spoke out it became some type of issue and she didn’t want or need any more drama between herself and Leann or Ava.

“Egos. One big, one non-existent, two so small that it could be considered naivety.”

“You believe egos are necessary, or unnecessary?”

“If you believe you are the greatest, doing all the work when there’s three other people in the group, on top of a hundred more working behind the scenes to make you look good, and a million more supporting you and keeping you on top, but you’re failing to give credit or thanks; it’s unnecessary. If you think you’ve made it so far without God, whatever God you serve, then yes, your ego is unnecessary. It’s okay to feel yourself, it’s okay to know you’re great.” Torii paused for a moment, trying to collect her thoughts. “When I say so small that it was basically naivety, it was two individuals giving thanks and credit to everyone, except for themselves sometimes; failing to recognize how big the part they played was. When I say one was non-existent, it was an individual giving credit to no one, including their self, except for the person who was dragging them down. When I say one was big; couldn’t tell that individual anything. It was all them, all the time. They could do no wrong in their own eyes when they were messing up everything.”

“Anything else you believe played a role in the ending of Fly Girl?”

Torii nodded her head. “Management. Whispering in ears, saying one thing to one girl, saying something else to another girl. Happened every day, from the very beginning to the very end. Fly Girl was a ticking bomb waiting to go off, simply because too few people had our best interests at heart. I don’t believe we were supposed to make it, but when we did, and the money came rolling in…” Torii smiled a little, clearing her throat as she readjusted her baby in her arms.

“And was there really favoritism?”

“Not that I knew of at the time. I guess a lot of people like to feel that way because I married within the industry, and within the immediate circle that surrounded us. My husband’s an artist and producer as well. What they fail to realize is that he was also a part of a group, the male group that debuted with Fly Girl. He never produced for Fly Girl, never even worked with Fly Girl unless we toured together or popped up in each other’s music videos. He and I did one duet, while we were in our respective groups, produced by someone far larger than he was at the time. So the sleeping around for leads or better produced tracks for the solo songs we did for each album,” Andrea nodded. “if it happened, it wasn’t me.”

 

Able to make her interview once she was assured that none of the other group members were in the building, Ava also took her time to give an answer. So used to being ignored or never given the chance to answer for herself, she was unsure if she wanted to keep it to a minimum or speak out fully. Doing so once before had landed her in hot water, and she was uncertain if she wanted to go down that road again.

Then again, knowing her former groupmates as well as she felt she did; she knew that at least one of them, if not all, would attempt to make her look bad in one way or another.

“What do I believe happened that led to our disbanding?”

“Yes.”

Ava ran her fingers through her hair. “It was never meant to last. They just dragged it out while creating more tension, lies, and pain. As I’d been told, I was the weakest singer. Soon enough, everybody ganged up on me, telling me that as often as they could. For my end of the damage, I gave up, stopped caring about the group as time went on.”

“But as far as the internal issues between the four of you; the constant fighting that fans heard about after it was all over. Who or what is to blame for that?”

“Everyone. Egos, pride and a whole lot of bullshit. We acted as if we loved one other, played like we were a real family, but I honestly believe there was never any type of love. Not genuine love, not from the other girls.” Old feelings began to surface, anger and venom dripped through her words. “Drugs and alcohol, immaturity, issues with management and theft. A LOT of sleeping around.”

“Are you guilty of any of that?”

“Yes, but I won’t say what just yet. I will say; it was half of a group effort to keep ourselves together while struggling to work with one another. It was a full group effort in tearing ourselves down. They just like to throw the blame at one person. It was all of us.”

Troy arrived last. She was the member Andrea had the most trouble tracking down. For the most part, she wanted nothing else to do with Fly Girl. It simply wasn’t worth it, not for her, to stress and make herself and her health worse over something that never should have even began. If she could have forgotten that Fly Girl even happened, she would have.

“What happened to cause the end? Same stuff that happens in most girl groups; cattiness. But, I’m sure all four of us can agree on egos.”

“Yes, that’s the number one reason from all of you.”

Troy nodded her head, sighing as she tried to sit comfortably in her chair. “Management telling us all one thing while doing another. Telling two of us that there was a guaranteed future while promising the other two nothing but a trip back to their hometown. Constant threats of being kicked out and replaced if things weren’t done the way management wanted. Jealousy. There are claims of favoritism, but really it was acts of greed and lies being fed to turn the outcome of the group into the wrong person’s favor. There was sleeping around, but the rumors of who was doing the sleeping around have always been false.”

“The rumors that someone slept with producers and writers for leads?”

“Tuh, it never took the promise of leads for that particular person to sleep around, they just did it and let the world believe bullshit to make them feel better about their self. I suppose.”

Andrea nodded, extremely curious as to who fit the exact descriptions of the incidents each member spoke of. “Anything else happen?”

“Mismanagement of money, lots and lots of theft. Internal issues between the four of us; a lot of ignorance, immaturity, and pettiness. Dishonesty, disloyalty. Lack of trust. Bad company and circles that some of us surrounded ourselves with.” Troy paused, looking at Andrea. “Drug abuse, physical and mental abuse, illnesses, and personal issues that others didn’t or chose not to understand because it wasn’t happening to them. Most importantly, and what a lot of people don’t realize,” Troy stopped and cleared her throat. “we were four teenagers, the youngest being thirteen when selected. Two of whom were placed with complete strangers and expected to bond within the time space of a week. Two of whom came from places where they didn’t have social skills, didn’t know anything about socializing because they’d always felt alone anyway. You’ve got siblings in the group, so two automatically feel as if it’s them against the siblings, as well as them against the world and everyone else. You’ve got two, unbeknownst to them early on, being put up on a pedestal and instructed to act as if everything is all good. We were impressionable, could be told anything and we would have believed it if we were too tired to do a little extra research or a little extra reading into contracts we were told to sign. Most times, we were too tired. Most times we were assured that we didn’t even need to read, and we went with that because we trusted the adults that handled us. Extremely naive teenagers, so naive that we were damn near dumb. We were still discovering who we were, we could have easily been molded in any way and fashion they chose if there were no parents or adult family members with us.”

“And were your parents around?”

Troy shook her head. “Not on the tours or in the studios or anywhere outside of Tennessee, Louisiana, and Arizona where we came from. We had one adult that truly cared and everybody else knew how to pretend enough to keep us comfortable and safe, they knew how to gain our trust.”

“While gaining your trust, did they try to change you all immediately?”

“I can’t speak for the other members; but I know those people went through hell and high-water trying to change how I saw myself, what I did, and what I said. And how I acted with my sister and the others. I didn’t see it that way then, but they tried to pit me against everybody early on, I just never had it in me to turn my back on anyone, especially my sister. They went through hell trying to force and pressure me into things I knew weren’t right. And yeah, some I went along with because I had this great fear, at the time, of being kicked out. Being told I’ll never sing again; we were all told that. Imagine hearing I can end your career now, forever when you’re that young. Imagine hearing that when all you know how to do is sing and dance, or rap and dance.” Troy chuckled at the thought of all she’d heard in her young life, shaking her head at how foolish she’d been to believe most of it. “It’s some mess thrown in from all of us, I’m certain; and I believe to an extent that we’re all to blame. Certain things can be excused because of circumstances, but some can never be excused or forgiven.”

 

Andrea nodded, leaning forward in her seat. “I’m going to ask you one final question. The same I’ve asked Torii, Leann, and Ava.”

“Okay.”

“We hear of old groups reuniting nowadays for award shows, small tours, and even a few because they missed one another. Do you ever see Fly Girl reuniting in the future? Could you see yourself working with any of them again?”

“I still work with Torii. That’s my sister, always will be and the disbandment of a packaged group won’t change that.”

“Okay, in terms of Fly Girl, including Leann and Ava. Is there a future for Fly Girl?”

“Probably. Would I join in, or want to join in?” Andrea nodded, waiting for Troy’s answer. “Nope. Some things are better left broken. And if someone were to try and fix it one day, it would take a major miracle.”

“Such as?”

Troy smiled before grabbing her cane, taking her time as she stood up. “We’d have to be in the same room without wanting to kill one another. Or, in my case, I’d have to see them and want to wish the best for them and mean it. That sounds mean but,” She lifted her cane “this was wished on me, so I can’t really feel anything positive for Leann or Ava. I haven’t made it that far past my anger yet.”

And with that Troy left, kicking off what Andrea was certain would be the very last Fly Girl interview. While she was glad she’d gotten the interview, and that she still had a few days left with them to get all the information she’d need, she was left a bit heartbroken and discouraged. She’d heard countless times about groups falling out, but never this badly. They’d all answered that question the same; a resounding NO to any type of reunion.

Andrea was now unsure of what she was getting herself into by penning the official Fly Girl biography. Perhaps it would be better to leave their memories as just that; memories. But as a longtime fan, and one of the many fans who held out hope for some type of explanation or resolution, her curiosity about the ins and outs of the group kept her mind on the prize. There was just one small glimmer of hope she would hold going into this task. Helping to heal the group by getting them to speak honestly. There had to be some good to come from this.

Songs To Write To #5

Not sure if I’m the only writer who feels they thrive with period pieces, or settings in the past, but that’s my thing. And most often I like to write to music from whatever time period or era I choose.

As a 90s baby/kid, I think I can say with confidence that we had some good vibes, and some of the best songs. Here are six of my favorites.

Enjoy and Happy Writing!!

Comin’ Down (My Life Intro – Unfinished Novel Snippet) by Cortney Joseph

Very faintly, I could hear music around me. It was that New Jack that always pumped from the speakers of boom boxes, that dope vibe that I was glad made it’s way into the nineties. This one song though, I’d never heard. Didn’t know the rapper but I definitely knew the singer on the hook.

“Turn that up.”

“Brooklyn, if you don’t shut your drunk ass up. Ain’t nobody turning shit up for you. You don’t run nothing in this damn house.”

It actually took me a minute to open my eyes, a real struggle since I’m sure I’ve been passed out for a good chunk of the day. With my hands over my head, stretched out on this couch that feels like it has more springs than cushion, I took one deep breath and inhaled. Immediately my nose started burning so I know I either threw up at some point, or my nose bled during this binge I’ve been on. I think it’s been four days, maybe five. “Fuck you Bubb, I said turn that shit up!”

“Druggie ass bitch, since when do you listen to political hip-hop anyway?” He killed the noise his fat ass was making and turned it up. Eyes open, I squinted until they adjusted to the bright lights of the room and I looked around.

The friends that I’d come with were gone, I was half naked, and it was nothing but niggas spread about the room. Same shit, every day.

“Alright, alright, Baton Rouge, that was the new jam from Laquan featuring Ricky Bell and it’s called Now’s The B Turn. That’s a hot one, sounds like it was recorded for the summer, but still a dope hit nonetheless. Be sure you pick up his album Notes Of A Native Son on the 11th of September, from what I hear it’s supposed to be an instant classic. And of course, you know that I will be giving away a couple of free copies on release day. Keep it tuned in to KQXL-FM, 106.3. It’s ya boy Corey B, and we’ll be right back.”

I stood up, stumbling as I tried to keep my balance while I looked around for the biker shorts and crop top I’d worn. I was also searching for my Adidas but I know Bubb’s big, ugly ass got those hidden somewhere just so I won’t leave. This nigga swears up and down that holding my shoes hostage will make me drop to my knees and beg for them or suck him off in exchange. Psh, not this bitch.

A druggie, a bit of a hoe, sure, but a bitch ain’t that damn desperate. Not behind some shoes my main nigga can replace. “Stupid bastard, made me miss the rest of the song. Where the fuck is my clothes and shoes?”

“I don’t know what you leavin’ for? You coming right back as soon as you cop another hundred from that dumb nigga you with, and you gon’ be right here smokin’ it away with me.”

“First of all, even on my highest day, I wouldn’t buy a motherfucking bag, rock, or anything else from you. Enough for you to fuck around and lace my shit? Nigga no. I come here with my own shit, and the only time I come is when I’m with Bonita hoe ass. That’s who you need to worry about sucking that tiny ass dick.”

“You want it Brooklyn, and you know it.”

“I’d rather be hooked on heroine. Gimme my shit so I can leave!”

I felt something hit my face, my shirt and shorts and it took everything in me not to fly my little ass across the room at this dude named Tyrone. “Get the fuck out, bucket head ass bitch.”

“Shut yo ass up before I let all your boys know you got fucked by a tranny.” His eyes bugged and I covered my mouth as I smirked. “Oops. My bad.”

Before I could say anything else, and get my ass beat in the process, I left, only stopping in the hallway to put my clothes on. I’ll just have to walk home barefoot again.

Like I said, same thing, everyday.

What should have been a thirty minute walk took me an hour and by the time I finally make it home, I didn’t even want to go inside. Instead, I took another twenty-five minutes and walked all the way to my mama’s.

She’s gonna bitch and complain but I know that she’ll get me back into a better state by the time I really sober up.

I walked through her door and not even a second later  I could hear her loud and booming voice. “Strung out again, ain’t you?”

I’d waste my time by lying to her again, but there’s no point in that. I don’t even hide the fact that I do drugs from her anymore. “Yeah, but I’m still not prostituting.”

“Tuh, as if the life you live isn’t pretty damn close to that.”

I shrugged before plopping down on her couch, rubbing my sore feet. “Get your funky ass up off of my clean couch!”

“Damn Mama, can’t I just rest for a minute? My feet hurt, I had to walk here.”

“You’ve been in a house full of drugs, probably having orgies with multiple men and women, and I don’t need none of that filth resting and stinking up my furniture. I don’t even have my good plastic down.”

I shook my head and stood up, pulling at the ends of my stringy and matted red hair. “Just look at you Brooklyn; skinny, sick, face looking all gaunt. You’re the first black woman I’ve seen look so damn pale, you don’t even look like my pretty little brown baby anymore. Girl, you look like you could die any day now.”

I’d like to say that comment hurt me, but I’ve heard it so much over the last three years and the fact that she feels I’m gonna die soon doesn’t even bother me anymore. “You know what they say Mama, we’re not guaranteed days on this Earth. Every time I take a hit or snort a line or inject myself, I feel like it’s my time to die.”

“Why would you put yourself through that type of thing?”

I looked at her for a minute. I know my eyes are bloodshot red, maybe still a little glossy, and I know that it pains her to see the darkness in them. My bright brown eyes have been as black as my heart for years and every time she looks in them, she bursts out in tears. Mama won’t hug me anymore though, won’t comfort me, or let me know that everything will be okay. She never tells me that I can make it through my addictions anymore.

She knows I won’t, and don’t want to.

“I’m just over life. I’m tired of my life and I don’t want to live it anymore.”

I just wish that I could tell her why.

Movin’ On by Cortney Joseph

Cecelia walked back and forth between her closet, her drawers, and her bed where her three suitcases sat. All that ran through her mind as she attempted to pack every piece of clothing she owned, if she was making the right choice in trying to move on with her life.

At twenty-six, she’d spent the last five years of her life trying to build a future with someone she thought was the love of her life. Yeah, she loved him. Sometimes more than she loved herself. But at the same rate, she knew she deserved so much more than he was giving.

There’d been too many nights where she was left alone, too many sorry excuses or none at all. Too many lies, too many unanswered questions. She knew very well that love was not supposed to leave her hurting or wondering if it was right or wrong.

What she wanted was stability, security, passion, and respect. From Dejuan, her boyfriend, she wasn’t getting any of that. Only broken promises, and the shaky foundation of a crumbling relationship that others thought was flourishing.

She knew the absolute truth; and whether he confessed, or even if she never saw him again, she would be moving on with her sanity and peace of mind.

I’m just gonna leave before he gets home, leave him with this empty ‘home’, she thought as she threw the last of her tops in one of the suitcases.

She’d thought too soon. Dejuan walked in, confusion written all over his face as he saw taped up boxes, her suitcases and her half of the closet completely empty. If he took the time to check drawers, their bathroom, and other areas of the house, he’d find that any and everything she’d purchased for herself was missing as well.

Even the dog, the little Yorkshire Terrier he’d given her was gone and chilling at the new apartment she’d gotten herself weeks before.

“What is all of this Cecelia?”

She shrugged her shoulders, giving Dejuan the same tight lip he’d give any time she questioned his whereabouts.

“What you mean you don’t know? Come on, you gotta give me some type of answer ‘cause this walking out like there doesn’t need to be a discussion ain’t gon’ fly with me.”

“Really.” She laughed, closing the three suitcases. She walked past him, setting each one in the living room before she came to box the last of her shoes and perfumes.

“How about this. We have one final discussion. You answer my questions, and I’ll answer yours.”

“Nah Cecelia. Where are you going?”

“I’m leaving. Moving out, moving on with my life. See, the last few days of sitting home alone, I’ve had so much time to myself to sit and think about whether or not I’d made the right decision in finding and getting myself my own place. To be honest, I should have moved in with you in the first place.” She sighed. “I was head over heels in love with you, and there was nothing that you could do wrong to me. I ignored so many signs that were always in my face, and I always got so mad when you wouldn’t answer my questions. But that was dumb of me because I always knew the answers anyway.”

“W-what are you talking about? You’re not making any sense.”

“I’m making perfect sense. See, in this relationship, it has always been about you. What you want, comforting you, making sure you’re good, okay, and secure. I was ready to give up everything about myself just to keep you happy and I never got that in return. Honestly, you came in this relationship with the assumption that I would wait around, forever, for whatever you decided was right for us.”

“No.” He chuckled.

“Yes. What made you think that I would wait around in vain? You know that I want a true love, happiness and joy. I know that hard times come, but it shouldn’t be nothing but hard times. I want to get married, and it’s obvious that you don’t because you can’t even commit and stick to the girlfriend that’s been sitting here like a duck for five years. Boy, I’m moving on.”

She attempted to walk past him to get another box and he grabbed her wrist, stopping her. “Come on, don’t start this cheating stuff again.”

“Why not? We both know that this whole thing is over. It’s been over for over a year, and I’m not stupid. I know there’s someone else. I can see it all in your eyes. Your heart isn’t mine, is hers. If it were all about me, I wouldn’t have to call you every night, wondering when you’ll be coming home. I wouldn’t have people telling me that they’re spotting you out, shopping for rings with someone else.”

Dejuan’s jaw dropped. “I-I…”

“I know about it all. You know, it amazes me how I’ve always been there for you. Sickness, pain, major injuries. You called and I was there. But you couldn’t ever do that for me. You said that nothing between us would change, but I should have known that was a lie.”

He cleared his throat, attempting to justify his actions, without actually admitting to anything. “But you knew how I was when we met.”

“Yeah, I did know. But why’d you think that I would just sit around and wait, that I could keep accepting this. Even a fool in love has to learn when to let go.”

He sighed, clearing his throat. “You’re mad?”

“I was, at first. But then I realized that sometimes, things just aren’t meant to last. You’ve left me alone, and I’ve felt a little pain but it’s okay. I will be okay.”

“Can I at least know where you’re going?”

Cecelia smiled, pulling her shades down over her eyes as she bent down to grab two boxes. “You don’t need to know where I’m going. Just know I’ve moved on, happily. But um, you can help me with all of these boxes. Let that be the one good thing you do for me.”

And with that, she walked out of what had been their bedroom, feeling confident in herself and her decision.

Yes, she would be just fine.

“Broken Thoughts” by Cortney Joseph

We’re not supposed to question, but…

there’s still so much I’ve yet to understand,

so much that doesn’t sit right.

And it probably never will.

Why me,

left with this broken heart, and…

these constant tears falling,

this aching pain replaying daily,

tearing me to pieces day after day.

Why a constant reminder of what’s no more

Why no peace of mind, why no new beginning,

or, why no second chance to do it all over.

When Will I See You Smile Again by Cortney Joseph

Holding a bouquet of fresh pink roses, Ahman walked into his and Tatyana’s bedroom. For once he hadn’t come home late, instead he was hoping she’d accept this small token as one of many ways of apologizing for his wrongdoings over the past four months.

No, he wasn’t unfaithful like her past boyfriends. But he was forgetful when he didn’t need to be, or he’d front in front of his boys and family as if she didn’t have him wrapped around her finger. She did.

And he’d act as if she didn’t own every inch of his heart and soul, when he knew for a fact she did, and that would sometimes hurt her the most.

Ahman knew that she sat up most nights, waiting for him to come home or for a call, waiting to hear when he’d be coming home from the studio. But as his fame and popularity rose, as his vocal talent earned more demand and bigger artists began requesting him on their tracks, well, it all meant that he had to be away from home.

And though it made him seem somewhat heartless, he sometimes meant it whenever he’d tell her that he’d rather be in the studio than home with her.

Tatyana lay across the bed in the pretty, pink, lace bra and panty set that she’d brought just for Ahman. It was their anniversary and the only thing she wanted to do before he hit the road for his first set of shows was celebrate.

Unfortunately, he couldn’t even give her that. Even though the day marked five years, he couldn’t give her this one little piece of happiness.

Tears fell down both sides of her face as she sniffled, her chest rising and falling as she stared at the ceiling. She’d heard him walk in, and she already knew he had flowers in hand. Those were his go to, and they always worked. But not tonight.

“Why are you crying?” She scoffed at the question, wondering if he was really that stupid or was he trying to be funny.

She’d take stupid for 200. “I don’t know why you’re even asking Ahman, it’s not like you actually care.”

“Of course I care Tatyana. It’s just that, Baby you know how hectic this music thing can get for me.”

“Yeah. I know.” Her voice was dry, monotone, and he could tell that she’d finally reached that point he’d been dreading. Tatyana rose slowly before looking back at him, stating coldly that he could just throw the roses in the garbage. She didn’t want them.

“Baby, I’m just grinding right now. I’m trying to make sure you and I are able to live comfortably, I’m trying to take care of you, and give you the world.”

“I’ve got my own money Ahman, I could give myself the world if that was all I wanted.”

Pulling a t-shirt and some sweat pants out of her drawer, she began to get dressed as he watched, trying to figure out what he could say to stop her. There wasn’t a single line in this world that he hadn’t used at least once or twice.

“I know I’ve messed up a lot Tatyana.”

“Tuh.”

“And I’m so sorry. I don’t make you a priority like I should, I don’t treat you like I should, but Baby you’ve got to know that I love you.”

Tatyana turned slowly and looked at Ahman, wondering how he could lie so quickly and so easily. As far as she could tell, there hadn’t been any real love between the two of them in at least a year.

Just amazing sex and one sweet moment every three or four months. It was getting old. She wanted and felt she deserved more. “You know Ahman, I love you. But I’ve been wondering to myself for weeks now, what kind of fool do I look like? Sitting around waiting for someone, and riding for someone who can’t even feel proud enough to tell his boys or managers or whoever that I’m the woman who rides for him. I understand that as a singer you’ve gotta have your little sex appeal, but even when asked if you’re single, you straight up say yes you’re single when my stupid ass is here waiting on you. I’m over it, I’m over you.”

Those were the very words Ahman never expected to hear. Just as she was trying to brush past him, he dropped the roses and grabbed onto Tatyana, pulling her close as he began to beg and plead.

“I’m sorry Tatyana. Baby, please, you can’t leave me. You’re my heart, my rock, you’re the only person in my life that’s truly riding and rocking for me. I know I don’t say it and that’s messed up, but I love you and I swear that I appreciate you.”

“Yeah right.”

“Please Baby. I swear, I’m doing this for us. I want us to have nothing but good and positive days in the future, I never want us to worry about or want for anything.”

“Whatever. Find somebody else. I’m sure you got plenty of groupies ready to hop on the bandwagon.” Tatyana tried to brush past Ahman again but he held her back, pulling her into his arms as cold tears slid down his face.

He’d never cried before, about anything, and that kind of caught her off guard. Still, Tatyana stood her ground. “I can’t stay.”

“Please Tatyana, let’s talk this out. We can work it out, just tell me what you want me to do. I swear, I’ll do anything. I’ll make it better, I’ll make it right. Do you want me to crawl on hands and knees, bend over backwards, you want to punch or kick me… please Baby, let’s just talk it out.”

“No. Don’t you get it Ahman? I’m no longer happy coming in second. Yes, I get working and I get following your dream but you’re doing too much. When it gets to the point where I can’t even crack a smile when I think of you, it’s bad.” He nuzzled his nose into the crook of her neck, inhaling her sweet scent as he continued to beg.

“Tell me what to do to put that beautiful smile back on your face.”

Pulling away from Ahman, Tatyana sighed as she shook her head. “Nothing, because you’ll do something once and then I’ll get my hopes up, thinking that you’ve changed. But that’ll be it, and you’ll be breaking promises and hurting me all over again.”

“Tatyana please. Listen, I don’t know why I keep doing the things I do; failing to acknowledge you, not coming home, everything, I don’t know why but I am so sorry. Please just tell me how to make you smile again, tell me what to do to make you love me again.”

“Goodbye.”

Walking out the door, Tatyana could hear Ahman calling behind her. “Baby, I know I messed up but you’ve gotta hear me out. You’ve gotta let me fix this. Tatyana, please, at least smile for me.”

He got exactly what he always left her with, nothing.

Doin’ Just Fine by Cortney Joseph

Ready to get a few drinks in my system, I laughed heartily as my boys and I walked around the French Quarter, clowning and playfully flirting with any woman that looked in our direction. “Aye, I don’t think the woman who had that Saints jersey on was playing with you though, Nathan.”

I laughed. “She could have walked up to me if she wanted to.”

“Her girls were blocking and shit. Just ‘cause y’all might leave lonely, that don’t mean you gotta get in the way of your girl.”

“And we all know that you need to get some, badly.”

My boys, JB and Carl laughed loudly, causing me to shake my head as I side stepped a group of tourists who were too busy watching a few natives flash for Mardi Gras beads.

“Aye, between work and caring for my mother, things fall wherever they fall. Unlike y’all asses, I have no issue with just chillin’ for a while.”

JB shook his head. “Chillin’ don’t get you no ass though, Man. Y’all know I’m whipped as shit behind my girl, but we can’t chill on a couch all the time watching Lifetime and shit. She want me to watch that Bring It shit, we gotta get it in as soon as we finish looking at Ms. D’s fucked up teeth.”

I doubled over, seriously crying as I laughed because that was the same shit my mother said after every episode. “Bruh, I’m not playing with you.”

“Ask Mama Katy! I’m right. That couldn’t be my woman. You wanna do what, Baby? You wanna suck my–nah, that’s okay Honey. That’s not a need that I need from you.

I closed my eyes, beyond weak.

Before I could catch myself or step to the side, I bumped into someone. Clearing my throat, I turned to my left and apologized. “The streets are crowded, it’s o-” I looked up at the sound of a familiar voice, more than surprised to see my ex.

She gave a weak smile, instinctively turning to my boys. “JB, Carl, it’s great to see you guys. What’s it been… a year or so?”

JB, having always hated Aniyah, took his chance. “Since you left my boy for his cousin, yeah, that sounds about right.”

She put her head down and I cleared my throat, pulling her off to the side so that none of our friends could get in the middle of whatever is said. They could bicker on their own.

“You look fantastic, Nathan. I had always liked it when you shaved all of your hair off. That bare face, works for you.”

“Yeah, you always said it took off ten years when I shaved.” Those who don’t know me well, they never assume, think or guess that I’m in my thirties.

“How have you been?”

Honestly? “I’ve been great, Aniyah. I’m doing fine now. Hit a real rough patch when you walked out, thought I was pretty damn worthless.”

“Why would you think that?”

“Couldn’t keep you happy; friends and family laughing behind my back because you were out here sleeping with my cousin and shit.” I shrugged, speaking truthfully. “Even though I put on that tough guy act, that shit hurt. I uh, I really loved you Aniyah. Thinking that you felt the same, well you could imagine what a kick in the gut it was when I came home to find a damn Dear John letter.”

“I was just conf-”

I held my hand up, smiling as I pulled her into a hug. “No need to explain.”

“I’m sorry. For everything.”

I nodded, unsure if she thought that was supposed to do anything, make me feel anything. “How have you been, Nathan, really? I-I’ve spent so many nights worried about you, concerned and scared for how you would take the entire situation. When I saw your mother and she said that she’d lost you, I assumed that, tha-”

“That I’d what? Killed myself?” I chuckled. “A couple of people thought that ‘cause I went M.I.A. for about two weeks, but nah. I was held up in my room for a long time, feeling pretty damn worthless. You left and I felt more alone than I’d ever been in my life. I had given you everything; my time, heart, love, money. I’d invited you into my life and world, even though I’d explained to you early on that I didn’t trust easily. I’ve always been sensitive, but you said you liked that in a man, loved that about me. I thought we were good.”

“We were.”

“But you still went behind my back. Not only did you cheat, you cheated with someone close to me. Now this isn’t the first time you and I have seen one another since the breakup. So what’s the reason you didn’t walk right past me this time?”

Aniyah took a deep breath. “I miss you, Nathan. I made the biggest mistake by walking out on you. You were everything; treated me the way I deserved to be treated. I just, I lost the best when I left you.”

I nodded, smirking a little. Maybe this sounds a bit conceited, but I knew this moment would come. The cousin she left me for, he’d never been shit. That hood/thug type that all the women go for when they can’t handle the love of a real man. Then, I just laughed in her face. “I’m sorry to laugh, this is just funny to me now. What was it that you’d told me in that letter?”

She sighed, recalling the exact line I was asking about. “I need a real man that can handle me and put me in check when I need it.”

I nodded, clearing my throat. “He beat you, didn’t he?”

“Yes. Cheated on me, put me down and degraded me. After he had me in his life fully, he stopped treating me well. I was nothing to him.”

“And that’s what you are to me now, nothing.”

“Nathan, please.”

I held my hand up, pushing hers away as she attempted to grab me. “I would never wish for anyone to put their hands on you, that’s where he was wrong. But anything else that came along with you choosing life with him over the life you and I had together, Aniyah, that was karma. You were my world, I would have dropped any and everything for you. And maybe if you’d have realized this weeks or even a few months after the fact, I would have taken you back. I loved you, you were my heart. Never would it have even crossed my mind to hurt you, in anyway. But you walked out that and thinking that you can just apologize and things will be okay, well, that’s where you’re wrong. I don’t need you. I’ve moved on and I’m happy.”

“Nathan, couldn’t I just have one chance to prove myself.”

“No. I’ve accepted that sometimes, things happen. And whether you believe so or not, I’m doing just fine.”

I gave Aniyah a kiss on the cheek before smiling and pulling away, insisting that JB and Carl follow me before they could have a real fight with Aniyah’s friends.

JB looked at me, I guess seeing something. “Are you good man? Seeing her after all this time, you not gon’ break down in the middle of the bar are you?”

I laughed and shook my head. “Nah, I’m straight. I didn’t wanna deal with her crying, so I didn’t say it to her face, but she’s honestly not someone I think about anymore. Anyway, wassup with the drinks. Y’all asses owe me.”

Carl laughed, shaking his head. “Y’all not about to have me out in New Orleans, pissy drunk with lopsided titties in my face just so y’all can take pictures and have Chasity pissed off at me. I’m not sleeping on the couch for y’all bum niggas tonight.”

I fell out, smiling at a few lovely ladies as we finally walked into the first bar of the day.

Do What I Gotta Do by Cortney Joseph

Cassidy danced around her living room, bopping and picking up the latest dances as she watched the new episode of Soul Train.

A fan of the ever popular New Jack Swing, she was jammin’ to Stone Cold Gentleman as those performing in the Soul Train line showcased their skills. She picked up a few of the moves she’d never seen before, doing them a little until she got them down perfectly. She was certain that by the time she hit up the next big party, she’d have it down.

Her best friend smiled and laughed, shaking her head as she sang along and danced in her seat. “You’re determined to be named the best dancer in the class of ‘91?”

Baby I’m nooooooot no Casanova…. Damn right, Paige. I’ve had my nose buried deep in the books since freshman year, and there is no way I am leaving Grambling without having done something great, that doesn’t have to do with school work.”

“Or Brandon.”

“Shush. Don’t even bring my baby up. Hell, as over protective as my pops was, he had to know I was going to break out and find me a man as soon as I stepped on this damn campus.”

Paige laughed, nodding her head as she turned the TV down and Cassidy finally sat back in her seat. “Yeah, parents are a trip. And speaking Brandon, have you two decided what you’re going to do once graduation and all of the celebrating is over with? Come on, I know that you two have talked about marriage and all that, what’s the 411?”

“The 411, is that things seem so different lately. I mean, he’s the one who brought up marriage first. It wasn’t even on my mind, but of course, we’ve been together for the last three and a half years, and I love him. Of course, I see myself spending my life with him. If he were to ask me, the answer would be yes.”

“But?”

Cassidy sighed, her happy mood fading. “I don’t think we’re heading in that direction anymore. He’s so distant, cold. We barely see one another because of work and classes. When we do see one another, he’s either sleeping, or we’re having little petty arguments.” She pulled her knees to her chest, clearing her throat. “I think we’ve finally hit that rough patch, and I’m only hoping that we get it together.”

Just as Paige was about to say something to make her best friend feel better, Cassidy’s pager went off. “Speaking of him, that’s his code to let me know he’s on his way up.”

“That boy loves paging from his car phone.”

Cassidy chuckled. “He calls it the perks of being a rich kid.”

Paige began gathering her things, saying goodbye and hugging Cassidy. As she was walking out, Brandon was walking in. Instead of the smile Cassidy was used to, he had a weary look on his face. Almost as if he’d done something and now he was regretting it.

“Hey Baby, I’m so happy to see you!”

He smiled when she jumped into his arms, hugging Cassidy tightly as he planted kisses on her lips and cheek. Setting her down, he took a deep breath, quickly announcing the nature of his visit. “I know this is unexpected, and we had no plans to see one another, but there is something that I really need to talk to you about, Cass.”

“Oh, okay.”

She stepped aside, letting him walk in before she closed and locked her door. Walking back into the living room, she pushed her things aside and made room for him to sit. The entire time, Brandon stood silently, fighting with himself.

He was certain that Cassidy had the surprise visit pegged as something good. It was quite the opposite, and he was wrestling with himself, trying to decide if it was truly the right time.

Graduation night wouldn’t be the right time either though, he thought to himself as he finally took a seat. Taking her hand in his, he gave one small smile before getting straight to the point. “You know that you and I have been together for a while now. Three and a half years, and it’s been amazing.”

“Yes, it has.”

“And Baby, you know that I’ve loved you from the very moment that I laid eyes on you.” He took a deep breath. “And because I love you, there’s something that I need to do. Something that I need to tell you so that there’s no confusion and that things aren’t taken the wrong way.”

Cassidy cleared her throat, sensing that this was not the proposal that she and Paige were just about to speak in detail on. Something was troubling Brandon, and as much as she wanted to dive right in with the questions, she allowed him time to get his thoughts together.

“It’s like this Cass; my pops always told me that there is no way that I could make the woman I love happy, if I’m not happy about myself or something in my life. There is so much that I want to do for you, so much that I want to give you, but I can’t. Lately I’ve been going through so much, struggling with trying to cope with losing family and money and all of that. I’ve been struggling with who I am as a person, figuring out what truly defines me.”

“Brandon, are you concerned that I’m only with you because your family had money? I promise, that’s not it at all. I would be here with you, right by your side if you had absolutely nothing. I love you, and I would help to make a way for us, you know that.”

He nodded. “I know Cass, and no, that’s not at all. I’ve just been thinking lately, feeling like I need to go off somewhere and be by myself, find myself.”

Cassidy took one deep breath, nodding her head. “Oh. You’re breaking up with me?”

“I just feel like, with us graduating in two months, we’ve both got different plans for the summer. I don’t know if I’m coming back after the summer. I just feel like it’ll be better if we take some time apart, it’d be best for us to be apart.”

“Okay.”

A single tear fell and he wiped it away, pulling her into a gentle embrace. “I swear, I don’t want to hurt you baby. I don’t wanna make you cry, I don’t want to break your heart, but I feel like I’ve got to do this now, so that there aren’t any problems later on.”

“Doing what you’ve gotta do.” She chuckled as the song played in her head, realizing, finally, why he said he identified so much with the song the first time they’d heard it.

“Cass, if it’s meant to be, we will find our way back to one another. I just don’t want it to get to be years down the line and we’re both faking like we’re still in love with one another, living our lives as if it’s perfect when it wouldn’t be.”

She nodded, giving a small smile. “It’ll all work out for the better, whatever is meant to happen.”

Instead of showing him out, like she normally would, Cassidy excused herself and went to her bedroom. Whether he left right away or not, she didn’t want him to see the rest of her tears fall.

Brandon put his head down, taking a deep breath. The moment he’d wrestled so much with had gone better than he expected, but he just knew nothing between them would be the same. Even if they did reconnect after the summer was over, it would all be different. “I had to do it. I had to be real and honest about the situation. And it’s going to work out, eventually.” That’s what he told himself over and over as he walked out, locking her bottom lock and closing the door behind him.

Hoping he’d made the right decision.