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6 Years?!

It’s our anniversary!!!

It has been a wild ride, sometimes stressful but always fun. I have to say that my biggest fear when I began January 4th, 2017 was failure. Or at least never getting more than a handful of reads, or feeling that my craft isn’t well received/liked. I guess my biggest lesson over these last six years has been to just post and go. It will do whatever it does, my work/talent will speak for itself.

Adopting that lesson, I have had some great opportunities come my way.

As some of you know there have been times when I wanted to just give up. Be it for personal reasons, or in the most recent years because I felt I had nothing left to give after losing someone so important to me (and the biggest reason I was fighting to be a success).

It has NOT been easy, but I always end up so happy and proud of myself for not throwing in the towel. Most importantly, I’m glad I never shut MPWN down (trust, I’ve thought about it). Even when I don’t post as frequently as I should, this site and everyone who visits day in and day out have been here for me in ways I couldn’t have imagined. I am so appreciative of the support and all the forms it has come in during the last SIX years.

Six, that is so crazy to me. I haven’t accomplished every goal I set for myself just yet, but I’m on my way.

The only goal I have, that includes anyone who comes across my site … is that we get a bit more feedback going. I would LOVE to know your thoughts and feelings about all of the stories, poems, etc. that I will be sharing this coming year. COMMENT, COMMENT, COMMENT. Comments and feedback are so important to me, the good and the bad. I want/need/accept it all. So if you read a post, please comment your honest thoughts. At this point in my 20+ year journey, there’s nothing that will hurt my feelings. Bring on the comments!

Lastly, I want to say thank you sooo much to everyone who’s made the past six years so great. Uplifting me and pushing me to keep going. Family, friends, & supporters.

Here’s to a better year, and more great art!

xoxo, Cortney.

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A Change

Something great has been happening.

Lately I’ve been going to church. I’ve ALWAYS had a relationship with God, have always believed and known God, but of course we’re supposed to have a home church or at least frequent a physical House of God. That had not been the case in many years. I believe other than a few visits sprinkled out, I hadn’t consistently been to an actual church since I was maybe 17 or 18.

You don’t always feel at home, or you don’t feel some of the teachings are for you directly. I also like to be preached TO and not preached AT if that makes sense. I also can’t enjoy the word when there’s excessive and unnecessary hollering (sorry).

Well, while I still don’t feel any specific church is or will be HOME just yet, I’ve been frequenting two amazing churches and so many wonderful things have been placed on my mind and heart.

I’ve been letting go of A LOT lately, and I feel proud to have taken that step (with a little nudge from a wonderful family member of mine).

I’d been so torn up inside and mentally about so many things and it just seemed as if I would never be okay. To my great joy, I’ve been okay as of late. And with so much off my shoulder, thanks to these visits and of course God never leaving me, I feel as if I’m finding myself again.

My strength to keep going (I felt I couldn’t after losing my brother). My passion for the talent I have (so much doubt took hold of my mind). And I’m having more moments of happiness (because depression was/is a HUGE battle).

A change is happening, and I’m excited.

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First WIP of 2022. “There’ll Be Bluebirds”.

I’m so excited to announce my first full project of the year!

I’m hoping for it to be a short novella or full novel (we’ll see what happens and how the story wishes to be told as I go along), and I have a feeling that it’s going to be one of my favorite stories to tell.

As I’ve learned about myself recently, I TRULY enjoy writing stories set in past decades, sometimes decades before I was even a thought. I truly believe that is my niche. I have my most fun as a creative doing the research and learning about the past while piecing together a world and story worth exploring through the eyes of a Millennial.

With that said, I’m so happy and excited to make a quick introduction of “There’ll Be Bluebirds”. I’m sure most of us are familiar with the myth or idea that the bluebird is a signifier of overall happiness and/or hope, of faith in the future and what may come.

While this may not be the final title for this work in process, happiness (or finding happiness) is what I intend to be the overall theme of the story.

Set in post war 1940s, an African American soldier finds himself in a town he’s never lived, trying to navigate a new life with unfamiliar yet friendly individuals. In one of those individuals, he feels a sense of peace and familiarity but neither of them has a full understanding of why. (this is NOT a full synopsis, just what I have for now).

I intend for this to be a bit of a drama and romance, but I have this tendency to blend multiple genres, so I’m not truly sure how to define it just yet. I can only say, as long as this idea has been in my head and the way it won’t go away, it is a story that I am meant to tell and it will come straight from my heart.

I will share the first few snippets or chapters here, with the full story being posted on my Wattpad.

I cannot wait to share, cannot wait for you all to meet these characters. With the growing ideas and the way I’m shaping them, I just know you’ll love them as much as I do.

xoxo, Cortney!

Let’s Stay Connected (Click The Sites Below To Follow)

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It’s Our Anniversary!

Do you know what today is?!

That’s right, MyPenWritesNice is officially 5 years old today. FIVE! It’s so hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that I not only started something big, to me, but I have kept it going in spite of the many obstacles life has thrown my way.

I’ve seen growth, not only with this site and those of you who have stuck with me since day one (and those who have joined along the way) but also growth in myself as an artist.

As someone who is hyper critical of themself, I’ve found in starting and trying my best to maintain this website that making this move was just what I needed to teach myself to have patience AND trust in myself and my talents.

I can’t begin to thank everyone that has read, liked, commented, shared, or even just clicked around the site in curiosity. The engagement from different countries is what continues to surprise me, and I can only hope that my words have touched and/or resonated with readers in all of these amazing places in some way or another.

To celebrate a bit, I thought we’d take a trip down memory lane with a few of my favorite stories that I’ve posted over our first five years. Check them out below.

As always happy reading, thank you so much, and I appreciate you all very much!

  1. A Friend In Need (by Cortney Joseph)The very FIRST short story I shared via MPWN.
  2. So The Myth Goes [“Prayer Lake” Intro] by Cortney JosephMy very first attempt at writing horror.
  3. A Life To Remember : Prologue by Cortney JosephA look into one of my favorite types of stories to write (period/era pieces)
  4. A Place In The Sun (Intro) by YoLana CrocketOne of the very first stories shared by a fellow writer/friend in support of MPWN.
  5. A Meeting In Secret (‘Batiste’ Novel Snippet) by Cortney Joseph One of my favorite shorts/snippets to share when I’m promoting the site!

Have a read, leave me your thoughts, and I look forward to how we’ll grow within year five!

xoxo, Cortney.

Let’s Stay Connected (Click The Sites Below To Follow)

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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.

To Grandmother’s House She Goes by Cortney Joseph

Just a little something I started and never finished. 😀

______

Olympia sat quietly, staring out the window of her parent’s station wagon as she and her younger brother were being driven to their grandparents. As they did every summer; she would be spending time with their grandmother, their mother’s mother. And her brother, Owen, would be spending his time with their grandfather, their father’s father.

It was an arrangement that went on year after year, and much to Olympia’s annoyance, it never got any better. In fact, as she got older, she’d grown increasingly persistent in her requests to spend time at home or elsewhere. Anywhere but the small and country town where her grandmother now resided. There was never anything to do, it was always entirely too hot, and there was never anyone her age to talk and hang with.

“I suggest you get that mug off of your face young lady. We go through this drama every year; you should be used to it.”

“We go through it ever year, and you still fail to realize that I leave your presence depressed, and return depressed.”

“You’re too young to be feeling any type of depression. You don’t do anything. Besides, some kids aren’t lucky to have their grandparents. You both should feel lucky you have yours and that they want to spend time with you, you’re blessed. Two months is not going to kill you.”

“Whatever.”

James, her father, turned around with his usual goofy smile planted on his face, hoping to cheer his daughter up. “Alright, your mother is wrong for saying that you’re too young to feel something as deep as that. But she’s also right about how blessed you are. Owen always has fun, why don’t you?”

Olympia looked at her father, shrugging. “Oh, I don’t know Daddy. Maybe it’s because Owen gets to leave the house he spends two months in. They go fishing, hiking, hunting, to museums. Shoot, I’d settle for Grandpa taking me to the park if that was all he felt up to doing. Grandpa is dang near immobile some days, can barely do for himself when he’s in pain and they still have the best adventures. Meanwhile, Grandma is in perfect health and I can’t even get her to let me take a step into the backyard. I’ll settle for gardening and you know most flowers and plants set off my allergies.”

“Maybe she’s worried you’ll end up hospitalized on her watch again.”

Olympia rolled her eyes. “That would be the most fun I’d have all summer.” Slouching down in her seat, Olympia grabbed her headphones from the spot the rested in beside her and put them on, hoping to drown out her family’s cheerfulness with a little of her favorite rock songs.

Sitting up front knowing their daughter was now zoned out, James took a deep breath and looked at his wife for a second as she focused on the road. “I hate to say it Anne, but I get the feeling this might be the very last summer we get that call saying I am dying of boredom, come and get me.”

“What do you mean?”

“She’s fifteen, and already rebelling when she’s home with is. Imagine what could happen when she’s states away.”

“Psh, she’s not crazy enough to try me.”

James shook his head. “You always want to discredit her feelings, but I remember a time in your life when you struggled with your own parents about doing the very same thing to you. She’s a teenager, she’s growing, she knows what upsets her. And yes, she is indeed old enough to feel ‘depressed’ or anything close to it. Maybe next year would send them both to my father’s.”

“You know this is the only thing my mother requests. Why would you want to take that from her?!”

“I love your mother very much; she’s done more for me than my own mother has. But I’m certain that Olympia has expressed these same feelings to her as well. If we told her and had an adult conversation about the matter, I’m more than sure she’d understand. Maybe we should consider what Olympia wants for once.”

“She’s a child, she has no wants. If Owen does fine in Mississippi, she will be just fine in Georgia. And this is the last we’re going to talk about it.”

James sighed and sat back in his seat. “Something happens to my child or she goes missing, and we gon’ have a lot more than this to talk and yell about, that’s for sure.”

“Oh my god! You’re where she gets the dramatic bull from. Toughen up! She and Owen will grow to appreciate all of this sooner or later. We’re the parents, what we say goes. They can deal with it, or mope until they’re old enough to pay their own bills.”

Finally reaching their destination about two hours later, James turned around and gently shook his children to wake them. Owen opened his eyes and looked around for a few seconds. “Dang Oly is still with us, I thought we’d dropped her somewhere.”

“Well, if there’s one thing to be glad about, it’s being away from you, Twerp.”

“Both of you shut up with that nonsense and get out of this car. Owen, go speak to your grandmother. Olympia, get your bags and go and get settled in.”

Owen did as he was told and hopped out. On the other side of the backseat, Olympia sat with her arms folded across her chest. Anne sighed heavily. “This is the last time I’m going to tell you to fix your face, because I can surely give you something to mug and cry about. Would you like that?”

Opening her door, she stepped out, mumbling to herself as she walked around to the trunk to gather her bags. “When I run away again, they’ll contact CPS. Would you like that?”

As she walked up the driveway with her bags in hand, Olympia was stopped by her father. He stood in the entrance of his mother-in-law’s door, giving a knowing smile and embrace to his daughter. “I know the real reason you’re extra upset this year.”

“Oh?”

He nodded. “I just don’t want you two caught in the middle of the final proceedings, that’s all.”

“As long as you’re getting custody when we return, I am more than okay with the two of you divorcing. I’m thrilled.” Looking over her shoulder, she sighed. “I don’t see how you married that woman in the first place.”

“Loved her at one point, it’s that simple. And your mother loves you, she just doesn’t know how to express any type of emotion other than her need for control and dominance. In the meantime, please enjoy yourself.”

“I don’t see how when I’ll be locked in this house twenty-four, seven. You may as well have locked me in a padded room or something. I’m going to lose my mind!”

He chuckled. “You’d be surprised Olympia. Who knows, this might be the summer you learn a few things you never knew.”

“There’s more than one way to pick lint? Okay then. Bye Daddy.”

James gave her a kiss on the cheek before letting Olympia step past him.

Standing next to her couch, Valen Harper smiled wide, extending her arms towards her favorite granddaughter. “There’s my princess! I’m so overjoyed.”

Gritting her teeth as she forced a smile on her face, Olympia spoke. “Likewise.”

Pulling her granddaughter into her arms, Valen hugged her tightly. “This is going to be such a great summer for us. I have so much to share and do with you now that you’re old enough.”

“Yippee.”

Anne walked in, leaned against a wall. “You better correct that tone Olympia.”

Valen waved her daughter off. “Leave this baby alone. All you’ve ever done is pester this child, her entire life. Girl couldn’t even act the way a child should when she was one, now she can’t act or think like a teenager. Let her be. I know she’s not really that excited, but let me pretend that she is. Thanks, goodbye.”

“You know, it amazes me how you’re the grandparent that goes above and beyond for someone else’s kids, but you were inattentive to your own.”

James stood back, shaking his head at the way his soon to be ex-wife spoke to her mother. Valen simply waved that off as well. “I could have doted on you twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, for all eighteen years you lived with me and you still would have been a spoiled and ungrateful brat that only came to me and acted like a caring child when you wanted money. But I digress. Thank you for bringing my princess to me, you’re dismissed. James, love, it was so great seeing you. And you know, you’re always welcomed here.”

“Thanks Mama. Olympia, I’ll call you in a few days.”

“Yay, can’t wait.”

She stepped out of her grandmother’s welcoming embrace and headed upstairs to what would be her bedroom for the summer.

Valen sighed. “I really do want to make this summer different for her.”

James nodded. “I was thinking about that on the ride here Mama. Maybe it’s time you talk about what you’ve always been afraid to share with her. Anne and I know about your past, why can’t she?”

“Because I know how much that part of my life would interest her. I know it’s something she wants to do, and I’m scared knowing will increase her desire and need to break into that industry. I don’t want her to be hurt.”

James nodded again, understanding completely. “You never know though, might be the thing that brings you two together again. You said yourself you’re sad when she leaves here uninspired and unhappy, uneager to return. That could change if you invite her into your world, show her that your world and hers aren’t as different as she thinks.”

Anne groaned loudly, popping a piece of gum in her mouth before she spoke. “Oh my god, can we go now? We gotta drop the other one off and I have things to do when we get back to New York.”

Valen rolled her eyes, shooing her own child away. “Take that thing and get on before she gives me a reason to hurt her feelings. Don’t know how I raised such an inconsiderate person.”

“Easy, Mother, you didn’t raise me. Nannies did.”

“Get out of my house.”

Anne smirked, chuckling as she grabbed Owen’s hand and pulled him along. “With pleasure, and don’t count on me returning.”

James shook his head, quickly giving Valen a hug. “Sorry, for what she’s become since I asked for the divorce.”

“Oh Baby, that thing was a lil’ witch before she even met you. If you can’t provide for her the way she feels you should, she don’t give a rat’s ass about you or your feelings. I just hate that she puts all of that on Olympia; her anger with me, her personal dissatisfaction with how her life turned out. Maybe you’re right though. I bet she doesn’t even know her mother shares the same talent.”

He chuckled. “Not a clue, even though that’s what she’s going to give me full custody to run off and do. If it scares you so much Mama, just gradually work your way into sharing. I don’t know, maybe share a piece of your history every day. I promise, she’ll listen and she’ll love and thank you for it later. Lord knows I love my kids; but when it comes to Olympia, I can’t relate because I know nothing about singing and wanting to be a recording artist. Just like I can’t vibe with Owen about his love for science and robotics like my father can. I have to go, before your daughter tries to stab my eye out, but I love you, and I’ll call to check on you both soon.”

“Thank you James. Be safe.”

Walking him to the door, Valen smiled and waved goodbye to her family, hoping that her son-in-law was right in his assumption.

Turning around after closing her front door, she took notice of Olympia finally returning. “Ready for the summer, Princess?”

She gave one of the fake smiles that Valen had become accustomed to, one she hoped would become real before the beginning of August got there.

Hello, Again… by Cortney Joseph

Treasure sat in the very last booth at the back of her favorite diner, sipping on an ice-cold Dr. Pepper as she waited for her fiancé. As usual, she sat watching others as they came in and out of the busy establishment, ordering their breakfast to go. Little kids at surrounding booths and tables were either coloring, creating a mess as they ate, or dropping the food they didn’t want on the floor nearby. As usual, her fiancé was late but it was starting to become something she didn’t even mind.

They lived together, were almost always together unless one or the other was at work. The unplanned moments apart were a bit of a breather in the routine life she’d become accustomed to over the months. In a way, it wasn’t what she’d imagined her life would be. But this new normal would do just fine.

With her head down moments later, looking at her phone as she read over a text she’d just gotten, Treasure hardly heard someone calling her name. The voice, familiar, but one she hadn’t heard in years. “Treasure, is that you?”

Finally looking up, she was taken aback by the site of her ex-boyfriend. Her very first boyfriend, first love. “Dante, hi.” Immediately her voice caught in her throat and she literally had to search for words. “Uh, uh, what are you doing here?”

“Getting food.”

She rolled her eyes, not finding his light sarcasm funny even though Dante began laughing immediately. “I meant back Zwolle. You always said that this town and all of Sabine Parish was entirely too small for you.” She spoke softly, almost hoping he couldn’t hear this slight sadness that took over her tone. “I heard you’d moved out of the country.”

Dante nodded his head, sitting down on the opposite side of the booth once Treasure offered a seat. “Yeah, moved all the way to the other side of the world. Paris gets kind of lonely though and having no family out there, I thought I’d come and see everyone first chance I got. It’s a real funny coincidence running into you though.”

“Running into me here? Why, you know that The Jones’ Diner is my favorite.”

Dante smiled, biting down on his bottom lip. “Yeah, I remember that. You love grits and bacon, a small side of eggs and French toast with maple syrup. Very little syrup though, and a dash of cheese topping your eggs. And you always have it with two glasses of orange juice, and a small side of strawberries. And sometimes, if you go back to your grandma’s place after, you’d have a piece of sugar cane to chew on for the rest of the day.”

“You remember all of that?” He nodded.

That tickled Treasure. Those specific details were something she’d have to tell her fiancé over and over any time she was running late and he wanted to order for her, and he’d still get it wrong. He’d think it were no big deal, that she should be glad he at least ordered something. It’d been more than ten years since she’d last laid eyes on Dante and those details came back to him so naturally.

Treasure chuckled, quickly moving on from old memories. “So, how’s the other side of the world treating you? I imagine that Paris is beautiful, lively and full of lots of amazing things to do and learn.”

Dante nodded, sighing lightly. “Yeah. I started off in Spain and somehow ended there. Been there five years and still can’t speak French.”

“Oh, now that’s sad. You even took French as your foreign language in high school.”

Dante laughed. “And failed, all four years. But it’s fun. I know enough to get by. I’m just sticking around to say I’ve gone somewhere and done something different.”

“Really, and where do you think you’ll be next?”

“Somewhere back in the United States. Probably not Zwolle, or Louisiana for that matter, but somewhere in the states. And if my mama doesn’t beat my face in for not calling her in nearly ten years, I’ll be able to call and talk to everyone more.”

Treasure nodded her head slowly, re-adjusting in her seat as different thoughts began to play out in her mind. Even after all this time, she missed Dante, and the relationship they had in their teen years. She’d never tell him that though.

“Um, I’ll be here for about two weeks. Maybe you and I could get together sometime, Treasure, do a little catching up.”

She smirked. “That depends on what your definition of catching up is.”

“Well, I won’t lie to you. I miss you; and though I’ve tried numerous times to move on in my life, relationship wise, I’ve never found anyone who compares to you.”

Treasure smiled, looking out the window right beside her for a few seconds. “Comparing one woman to another isn’t right, that’s where you mess up.”

“Yeah, I know. But it’s a natural thing for me. I think about how happy I was with you and, naturally, I want to be that happy again. I didn’t expect that you would wait around for me to do whatever, so I figured I could find that same happiness elsewhere with someone else.”

 “I don’t see how that would have worked out well for you if you couldn’t speak the language wherever you were living and looking.”

Dante laughed. “One thing I can say, I understood them asking for sex quite well. So many disturbing conversations, and moments.”

“I doubt you turned any of them down though.” She knew him, and knew him well. He was extremely handsome, could have any woman he wanted, and he most definitely was not the type to turn any female he found attractive down.

Dante just shrugged his shoulder. “I turned plenty down. Just like some women here; everybody ain’t clean, everybody ain’t healthy. Being beautiful doesn’t negate the fact that someone might look after or take care of themselves properly.”

 “That’s true. Anyway, it was great to see you Dante but…”

“Wait, why are you rushing me off? Didn’t you miss me?”

“Yeah, I did. But I was sitting here…”

“Alone.”

Treasure rushed herself to get the words out before Dante could continue. “Waiting for my fiancé to show up. Knowing him as well as I do, I don’t believe he’ll appreciate someone sitting with me. Even though you’re a friend.”

Dante smirked. “Your ex-boyfriend, with whom you had a six year long relationship.”

“Don’t do that Dante.”

He took her hand in his, smiling. “Are you happy?”

“Yes, I am. I wouldn’t get married if I weren’t happy.”

“You were happy with me and…”

“I still told you no when you asked. We were great together, but that doesn’t mean we were meant to be forever or that we need to go back to that. But, if it means anything to you, Dante, you’ll always be my first in many ways. When we both had nothing and no one in our corners, we were there for one another. You supported me when all I had were crazy, small-town ideas, and I supported you as you dreamed of having everything the world had to offer. Let’s just keep it at that.”

He nodded, standing up as he slowly let her hand go. “You’re still beautiful, Treasure. And whether your fiancé likes it or not, anytime I see you from now on, I’m still gonna call you my boo. Because that’s what you’ll always be, my boo.”

“Just to get yourself slapped.”

He nodded, accepting a hug as Treasure stood up momentarily. “Congrats, and I wish you all the best. And he better treat you right, ‘cause I don’t mind fighting behind you.”

Treasure smiled, nodding her head slowly. “I’ll keep that in mind, Boo. Now go and see your Mom and apologize. Stop by Ms. Jean’s flower shop first; your mom loves the tulips, that’ll keep her from slapping the taste out of your mouth as soon as you walk through the door.”

“Ha, thanks. See you around.”

Treasure waved, taking her seat as she smiled to herself and went back to waiting for her fiancé. She sat quietly, thinking. Although she knew she’d made the right choice, and had no regret of setting things straight quickly, she felt the exact same way as Dante. He would always be her ‘boo’ as well.

Daily Prompt #8

What makes you feel nostalgic?

A lot of the old Disney movies that I thought came out in the 90s ’cause that’s when they were released on VHS tapes (but they were really from the 30s, 40s, & 50s). To this day Sleeping Beauty is a comfort movie, and I will indeed watch it 10xs in a row if I don’t feel like searching for anything else.

Certain songs/artists from my childhood give me nostalgic vibes. Some of the music is questionable now, and I’ve since learned most times they weren’t singing for themselves, but them two B2K albums are still fire to this day.

And sometimes just looking at old photographs give me the nostalgic feel. Found a picture of myself from the mid-90s, and it made me think of how I loved stories like Stone Soup and Velveteen Rabbit. And weird movies that felt like fever dreams (Rock-A-Doodle, which I love.) Anyone remember the 70s cartoon version of The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe? Totally thought that was a 90s film with HORRID animation.

A Fresh Start by Cortney Joseph

A long and awkward silence filled the air as Leisel stared into the eyes of her niece. As if the moment weren’t already a difficult one, standing face to face with the girl was like staring at a ghost. Her sister’s, to be exact all the way down to a single mole on her left cheek and the auburn hair she’d begun sporting in their teens.

“Aren’t you going to say anything?”

It’s like she never even left, Leisel thought to herself. Taking a deep breath, she reached for and took possession of one of the suitcases. “I’m very glad to have you here with me, Karter. I think we’ll get along well.”

“Like you got along with my mom, sure.”

While the statement sprung from a fair assessment, it didn’t stop a surge of pain from rising in Leisel’s chest. “Yeah, like she and I did as children. I can admit, things got really rocky once we grew up. But she was my sister, and I always loved her. Always will.” The young girl only stared, making no further acknowledgement of her aunt’s decision to take her in for the remainder of her school year. “So, have anything you like to do? Any activity or sport you want to stay in or jump into? I want to make sure we have a decent schedule to work around everything.”

“Nah, I don’t do anything anymore. Besides, I’m just here until the summer. Hopefully by then my dad will be okay with me moving out of the country with him.”

“Right.” Leisel sighed, insisting that they get a move, to get home before it got too late.

Once they were on the road, with Karter comfortable and relaxed in her seat, Leisel turned down the radio and tried to strike up conversation again. “Any favorite foods? Anything you’re allergic to or just don’t like at all.”

“Nah.”

“Special talents? I can get you any type of materials you need.”

“Nah, I’m good.”

The short answers would surely be the thing to annoy her most, but Leisel had to remind herself that she was now dealing with a young teen who’d lost her mother. She immediately placed herself in Karter’s shoes, remembering just how angry she and her siblings had gotten when they lost their own parents. “I think you’ll like it here. There’s lots to do.”

“Tuh, in the boondocks? I doubt it.”

“I mean, yes it’s a small town. But there’s things to do. There’s a mall, an arcade, a skating rink. LOTS of good restaurants. If you’re anything like me and your mama, I know you love to eat.” Karter said nothing. “I bet you do a little happy dance as soon as you take a bite out of something good.” And still nothing. “We don’t have to spend these next few months living as strangers. I know how difficult it is to lose a parent, I can take a guess at how you may be feeling. And if I’m wrong, then you can tell me what you’re feeling and we can talk about it.”

“I said I’m good.”

Gripping the steering wheel a little tighter, Leisel let another cloud of silence hang above them. She wasn’t sure what to do, how to help. Especially if the olive branches she was extending were being snapped at every moment presented.

Auld Lang Syne began to play and she mumbled the words to herself, wondering what exactly she had signed herself up for. It was only three weeks prior when Karter’s paternal grandmother reached out to say she couldn’t handle caring for her anymore. It was only two months before that when Leslie, Leisel’s sister, had passed away suddenly.

She could only imagine how irritated someone may have felt if they were being shipped to someone that had been a virtual stranger, family or not. “You know, we’re ringing in a New Year at midnight. If you want to stay up with me, you can. In fact, I’d like it very much if you did. I can whip up a really great snack tray, some mocktails. And I made the best sweet potato pie you’ll ever have in your life.” Karter only stared out the window. “Have you ever made a resolution before?”

Rolling her eyes, sensing that her aunt wouldn’t stop until she at least spoke a paragraph’s worth of sentences, Karter checked her tone and responded. “Yeah, me and my mama used to make them every year. I think it’s kind of stupid though.”

“Why?”

“Same as making a wish for your birthday and Christmas; you never get what you ask for, and you never make the changes you say you will. And she broke hers, so that just shows you how worthless they are.”

“And what was Leslie’s?”

Karter remained silent for a long while, twiddling her thumbs. “To always be here, to never leave me alone. It was one of the three resolutions she made every year. And look where we are now. She’s gone and I’m just … alone and thrown away.”

Leisel looked towards her niece briefly before refocusing on the road. “You’re not alone, even though it feels like it. Like you no longer have someone who understands you.”

“Tuh, and I guess you’re the one to understand me now?”

“I can try, if you’d like me to. And if not, I could at least be a listening ear. A shoulder to cry on. Whatever you need me to be. And why do feel thrown away.”

“Wouldn’t you feel that way if your grandmother and everybody else in your immediate family didn’t want to deal with you?” She slouched down in her seat, looking out the window again. “I didn’t even do anything, wasn’t even giving her a hard time like she was telling people. Wasn’t even letting on how I’ve been feeling ’cause she don’t like showing or hearing about emotions. And she still didn’t want me. Mama would have never done that.” Leisel shook her head. “And what’d she offer to get you to say yes, after it took her so long to find you? And why were you so hard to find?”

Leisel thought for a moment, shrugging her shoulders. “Yeah, I guess I’d feel that way. And it’s not that I didn’t want to be found. I’ve always been in the same place, and Leslie knew that.”

“So you’re blaming her for whatever beef y’all had?”

“No, Karter. I’m not blaming my sister for anything. Siblings fight, it’s life. I guess people assume that twins, always have the greatest bonds. We didn’t, once we got older. We drifted apart. She wanted more out of life, and I didn’t. I’ve been very content in our small, country town all these years. I’ve never changed my number, which she always had. And sometimes she called when you were a little baby. I’ve never changed my address, always sent her letters and things for you. Even when she didn’t reply back.”

“So what’s the deal then? Why weren’t you at the top of her list of family? Why she never mentioned you when she was thinking of who to invite for my special events?”

“I don’t know. It’s as simple as that. And I can’t be mad about whatever her reason was, because it does no good. It’s going to be regret enough knowing we lost so many years for whatever foolishness WE let come between us. And lastly, I don’t know why your grandmother called me last, but she didn’t have to offer me anything.”

If anything, it pissed Leisel off that the older woman was in such a rush to put a child out at such a difficult time, but she would keep that thought to herself. “So what’d you take me in for?”

“Because we’re family, Karter. I don’t know what that means to your father’s side of your family, but on ours it means we’re here for each other through anything and everything.” Karter nodded, but remained silent. “And in my heart, I know that if it were me and I had a child that I left behind, Leslie would have done the same for me. Whether we ever talked again or not, I know she would have done the same for me. Besides, who can love and care for your baby just as much if not more than the literal other half of you?”

Sensing their ride wouldn’t be coming to an end anytime soon, Karter kicked off her shoes. She huddled close to the door and rested her head as comfortably as she could. “I guess. But don’t expect me to be excited about whatever it is you like to do. And don’t be tryna come at me with no extra girly activities, or expect me to make no friends. I barely like people.”

Leisel chuckled, knowing that in the she’d gotten a little of her sister back. “Let me guess; you’re too cool for anything your old aunt would want to do? Too cool to hang with folks who move a lil’ slower than city folk?”

“Nah, I just know whatever your little town has is probably whack, people included.”

“Yeah, you’re Leslie all over again. I love that. I guess making resolutions is out; but I would still very much like to bring in the New Year with you. New beginnings, and who knows; you may even enjoy your time with me.”

“Eh, we’ll see. And uh,” Karter paused for a little too long, causing Leisel to glare in her direction for a brief moment. “Thanks for caring. It makes me feel less alone knowing at least one person does.”

Always have, always will Leisel thought to herself as Karter dozed off, allowing a sense of peace to wash over her for the first time in months.

Best of 2022!

So, I think I want to start a little tradition here on MPWN. Best stories/posts of the year.

With this being one of my least productive years, I only have a small selection to choose from, but I still thought this might be a good idea. Below will be 5 of the top short stories for 2022. Check them out if you haven’t already, or let me know what your favorites were!

Happy New Year, and I look forward to sharing and growing more in our upcoming 6th year!

  1. Memory Lane by Yo’Lana Crocket
  2. There’ll Be Bluebirds by Cortney Joseph
  3. I Don’t Want To Do Wrong by Cortney Joseph
  4. Robin’s Revenge by Cortney Joseph
  5. Overlooked by Cortney Joseph

Overlooked by Cortney Joseph

Closing her bedroom door, Etienne held her towel around her body as she quickly began looking through her closet for something to wear. It was the first day of school, too early in the morning, and all she wished she could do was lie in bed and sulk.

The past summer hadn’t been the greatest, and she felt that if she had to surround herself with hundreds of people again, she’d hate herself for not being able to go through with what she’d attempted just a month before. Grabbing what she wanted, what she would feel most comfortable in, she moved to the right side of her bed and turned her radio on. If there was one thing that seemed to pick her up, and help her make it through most days, it was music.

As she turned the dial to KBRH-1260 AM, she heard Back And Forth by Aaliyah. Pulling the towel from around her head, she quickly grabbed a brush and moved around as she went through her hair, making sure to get every knot and tangle out before pulling it into a low ponytail.

Looking in the mirror of her vanity, Etienne sighed. As it’d been for most of her teen years, her face showcased a full breakout, with scars from the acne she’d scratched and picked at. She took a seat, looking through the four cases of makeup she had, trying to figure out how she wanted to go about covering up her imperfections. Although she’d been told countless times that she didn’t need make up, it gave her that extra sense of security and a small amount of confidence she needed.

She’d made the mistake of going to school bareface once, and learned immediately that the constant name calling, and having people pointing out how bad her acne was, it wasn’t something she wanted to deal with. Not that any of that had stopped. Starting in her freshman year, she had no doubt that it would continue to follow her now that she was a junior. If they weren’t going to taunt her about her face, it would be about the prescription glasses she wore or the type of family she had. It could certainly be about her hair and whether or not it was real. She’d gone through too many instances where girls would pin her down and cut her hair off just to see if it was a weave or not. There’d been so many incidents she reported, and as always, nothing was done about it. When she realized that she would always be bullied and beat on, often for no reason, she gave up fighting against it. Sometimes she felt she deserved a good bit of it.

After choosing all she’d be using, she ‘put her face on’, and took a deep breath. She went with the most natural look possible. Feeling a lot better than when she’d first woken up. Setting her brushes aside, she caught a quick glimpse of her left wrist, and the multiple scars that decorated it.

She ran her fingers across each of them, counting to herself. “Attempt one. Attempt two. Attempt three and four. Can’t ever do anything right, can you Etienne?” She looked down at her legs next, looking over the cuts she’d given herself during some of her low moments. These weren’t things that she was proud of, but she always found comfort when she did it. Then, she focused on her right wrist. “Attempt nine; the one that almost worked. Why didn’t it work?”

Hearing a loud commotion outside of her door, she quickly snapped out of her thoughts and took a deep breath. Standing and removing her towel from around her body, she tossed it on her bed and began getting dressed for the day.

Dressed in a white, Flintstones graphic tee with a pair of black overalls and her Timbs, Etienne walked into her family’s kitchen. As always her mother, Claudia, was moving back and forth swiftly, acting as if she was out of time. Her younger siblings, triplets, all boys, were running back and forth around the center island, playing tag so that they could hype themselves up for the first day of school.

Her mother’s girlfriend, Lee, sat at the kitchen table, tuning everything out while finishing up some work on her Powerbook, portable computer.

“Good morning, everyone.” As usual, she went unheard and speaking a second and third time made no difference. “Nice to see that, as usual, I’m not on anyone’s mind. I woke up with roses and daisies on my mind, dreamed of Heaven and clouds. You know, good things for a change.” And still, everyone was off in their own world. “In case you were wondering, I took my anti-depressant. I have like four left, you know, kind of need that refill.”

After grabbing an apple juice box, Etienne closed the fridge door and looked up to see that still, no one had looked her way.

Nodding her head slowly, she pushed through all of her brothers and walked towards the counter where her mother was looking over a homemaker’s magazine. Reaching directly over her mother, she grabbed the biggest knife from the block and turned around, walking away.

Claudia blinked twice before turning to see that Etienne was heading upstairs. “Get back here!” She rushed, knocking one of her sons down accidentally as she grabbed her daughter’s wrist and pulled her from the steps. “Give me the knife. What are you doing?!”

“Trying to see what I had to do to get acknowledged. You know, none of you have said a word to me in like a month.” Etienne pulled away from her mother and set the knife on the island, sighing. “I was telling you that I need my prescription refilled, I’m almost out. I’m trying to rid myself of these harmful thoughts, and all I need is your help, Mama.”

Sure, Etienne was old enough to call the prescription in herself. She did everything for herself anyway, but she was beyond tired of being overlooked, sidestepped, and ignored; especially by someone who claimed they’d be focusing on her more once she was released from the hospital.

“You’re going to get enough of faking these suicide attempts, Little Girl.”

Etienne looked at Lee, remembering why she was glad Lee never talked to her, or made any type of attempt to get close to her. She hated Lee, with every fiber of her being. “Oh yeah, because someone can fake locking themselves in a car with carbon monoxide being filtered in with a hose through a rolled up window. Alright.”

“You’re a damn kid, a teenager. You ain’t got no responsibilities, the hell got you so stressed that you gotta play with God and your life?”

“Psh, ain’t no use in telling you. You wouldn’t even care.”

Claudia asked her girlfriend to be quiet before turning back to her daughter. “Baby, you don’t need to do that to get my attention.”

“I don’t make attempts to get anyone’s attention. I do that because I want to be gone and away from this world and all that I go through, things you don’t even take the time to ask me about. You fake your concern and go right back to not even seeing about me once you think I’m happy again. I wasn’t going to do anything just now, I just wanted you to see me for once.”

Claudia sighed. “I promise, I don’t mean to ignore you Baby, it’s just hard balancing everything. You know that I love you, you can talk to me about anything! I hate that you feel this way and I truly, truly wish I could do something to get my happy little girl back.” She pulled her daughter into a hug, rubbing her back gently.

“Ain’t nothing wrong with that girl, Claudia. Just dramatic, about everything. Her and her friends.”

Etienne rolled her eyes, taking a deep breath. “Just worry about yourself, Lee, as you always do.”

Claudia quickly changed the subject, refusing to let a fight start. “Etienne, are you excited about school? You’re a junior this year, so many great opportunities coming up. Oo, you might get on the homecoming court this year.”

“Please, those things are for the pretty girls only.”

“That includes you.”

She pulled away from her mother, shaking her head adamantly. ”Etienne, I want you to remember something today.”

“What?”

“The things those kids say to you, they’re only words. They mean nothing. At the end of the day, you have a support system. You have people who love you dearly, you mean something to me and your brothers, you mean the world to your father. Try to take the high road, fight back if you need to, and… call me. Call me and I promise I will answer, I will come to help you.” Claudia didn’t want another ‘girls locker room accident’ like she’d been called for the year before.

“Taking the high road won’t work if there’s five or six girls jumping me at once, but okay Mama, I will remember all of that.”

Claudia sighed. “You promise?”

“Yes.”

Claudia pulled her daughter back, forcing Etienne to look her in the eye. “You’re beautiful, Baby, absolutely beautiful. Remember that too. Have a great day.”

“Sure. Bye.”

Etienne made her exit. She appreciated her mother finally coming through, actually speaking up… but if she had to be honest, she knew hearing those things would make no difference.

“Dream A Little Dream” by Cortney Joseph

I pranced around a field of flowers, touching a rainbow of petals gently with my fingertips as I searched for a way home. They soon become sparse bushes that lead to a trail of colossal willow trees. This place is unfamiliar, and I’m not sure how I’ve gotten here. Lost, yet a sense of peace washes over me with each step I take.

Something convinces me that here within a thicket I should lie, embrace the cool breeze that rushes to envelop me.

My back against the Earth, I exhale all of my troubles and worries, and inhale the possibilities of peace and harmony. Closing my eyes, I count to five, and I feel myself drifting away.

“It’s amazing what your mind conjures when you feel you’re in danger of falling off the tightrope you walk, isn’t it?”

My eyes shot open, and above me stood a woman in white, something large hidden behind her back. An ethereal glow surrounding her, a calming presence that silences whatever fear I thought I should have. Her catlike eyes, mesmerizing and alluring, her smile beckoning me to sit up and meet her face to face.

So I did.

She sat before me, speaking softly in a voice that moved me like a lush lullaby. “I’ve seen you before. In my dreams.”

“And you, I hold in my heart for all eternity.”

Her face began to resemble one I saw daily. Perhaps, the same one I saw when I glanced in the mirror; examining myself to see what type of beauty I truly possessed. If any at all. It was all her, from her eyes, to the full lips that sat perched in a tiny grin, parting slightly as she confirmed my thoughts.

My twin, my mother. An angel before me, her spirit comforting me in my most dire time of need.

I clung to her, tears spilling from my eyes as I begged her to never leave me again. Or, at least, to take me with her. The first she would not promise, the second… she could not do.

Her fingers picked at the short curls that sprung from my head, her eyes taking in the way I sat before her. Years of grief and sadness weighing me down, the epitome of confusion in a world I’ve spent some twenty-odd years struggling to navigate through without her. I wondered did she know that I needed her?

And as if there were no barriers between my mind and the thoughts it held and her own, she caressed my cheek while giving the answer my heart desired. “Yes, I know. And I wish that things could be different. I wish you could find happiness in all that you still have, in those surrounding you.”

“But no one would have loved me like you. No one would have cared like you. Not a single person.”

In a huff, I stood, angered that she could be so calm, yet even with an answer and her feelings I couldn’t feel at peace with how life played out. How it played the hell out of me. I wished instantly for the dream to end, to never be bothered again. And in the same breath, I felt shame and regret wash over me as I turned to face her again. And still, she smiled. “I love you, My Baby. And I always will, and anytime you wish to see me; close your eyes, and dream a dream.” I opened my mouth to speak, and she stopped me. “I’m proud. And you should always know that.” She stood, came to me. Kissed my cheek and hugged me tightly. It was like cool air flowing around me, wrapping me in a flurry of tingles. I loved it.

Not another word was uttered. And in the blink of an eye, she was gone. And I was alone, lying in my bed, staring at the ceiling.