“Running Thoughts” by Cortney Joseph

It’s been some dark days,

Months of confusion, tears clouding my eyes

When I want nothing more than to move past crying.

It’s been some lonely nights,

Weeks of seclusion, pain tearing my heart apart

Because I want nothing more than to hold you in my arms.

Lonely Girl (Snippet from an Unfinished Project) by Cortney Joseph

Charmaine Hollands exhaled sharply, opened her eyes and looked towards the front seat where her parents sat comfortably in their bubble of wedded bliss. They were all smiles, excitedly chattering the hours away about their big plans for the summer.

Jet-setting around the world without a care, no expenses spared. New adventures, fun to be had, great people to meet, magnificent foods to be tried, dreams to be followed. And all without a moody teenager tagging along was just how they described it.

It wasn’t unusual for Charmaine to be dropped off in the middle of nowhere for months on end, to receive only a single dread-filled call upon her parents’ return. This time, however, she wondered if this would be the last time.

Sounds of The Isley Brothers filled the space within their station wagon, instantly annoying the girl as her father screeched illegible lyrics that collided awfully with her mother’s laugh.

Catching her mother’s eye, Charmaine diverted her attention to the vast fields they were speeding past. Silently, she counted bales of hay to keep herself occupied. Her hope to avoid an awkward and unwanted conversation dashed when her mother turned down the radio. “There you go with that moping again, bringing down everyone’s mood. You should be excited to see your grandparents, Char! It’ll do you some good, help you with a little more discipline before you get to college.”

“But it never occurred to you that traveling out of the country at least once might serve me well too?”

“We tried that Darling, you fought us against boarding school. Time with your grandparents really is the only option.”

Seeing her grandparents had never been the problem, feeling unwanted by her own parents had.  All this trip would do, she felt, was give someone else the chance to finish raising her while her parents continued to live their lives freely, as they had tried the entirety of her seventeen years. Almost as if they were finally ridding themselves of her.

“Besides,” her father chimed in “it’s not as if Charles and Odessa have anything better to do with their time. Do they ever?”

“In that little old town, never. I can’t tell you how glad I was to pack it up and get away once I turned eighteen.”

Charmaine scoffed, mummering to herself as she scrambled to put her headphones on. “And yet you choose to drag me there summer after summer, instead of inviting them AND me with you wherever you go.” 

“Small surroundings like that builds character, that’s for sure. You loved it as a young child, you’ll love it today. Now please lighten up Char, no one likes a buzzkill.” 

She sank deeper into the backseat, turning up the volume on her Walkman. “And no one likes to feel alone either.” She allowed the heavy drums and rock driven guitar riffs of a Taylor Dayne song take her away from the conversation her parents continued about her pitiful and ungrateful attitude and all the fun they’d have without her.

Time To Get Serious

I mean it this time, I’m publishing my official debut novel!

And I’ve got a game plan to go with it.

In 2012 I joined Wattpad and shared a few Urban novels here and there, stories and characters that I enjoyed for the moment but none that truly moved me to take the huge step of publishing.

Then, in 2014 I began to delve into the lives of four very special young women that changed my style of writing completely. While I’ve always been a nerd and into deep dives and researching for authenticity, these characters made me look into things I hadn’t even cared about because I wanted to be true to them.

Those characters were named Torii, Troy, Ava, and Leann. They took me through hell and highwater and unlike my other novels, Fly Girl and all that it encompassed with these four girls has held the tightest hold on me.

I mean, I’ve tossed HUNDREDS of novels and stories to the side but I always come back to Fly Girl and make the promise that it will be the one I publish. The one I use to break my fear and nervousness over publishing my novels.

I mean, I’m sitting on some money with many books but I feel I can’t publish any other than THIS one book.

It’s been eight years, and Fly Girl said they ain’t going nowhere.

While I’ve put myself on a schedule, I won’t be announcing any release dates or parts of my plans and ideas for promotion just yet. Just wanted it to be known that your girl is getting it together slowly, and in year 31, I’m gonna take myself and my talent more seriously. Because I deserve it.

Happy writing and happy reading! I hope you all have a blessed week.

Late Night Vulnerability

So, so much has been happening and it’s taken a bit of a toll on my creativity.

Mainly working and overworking at my 9-5 has been taking up so much of my time but also, lately, there’s been this lingering feeling.

I don’t know if it’s sadness, dread, stress, or what, but it’s been very weird.

One thing I do know for certain; this past year and a half I think I’ve done a pretty decent job of holding everything together.

Mainly my emotions. Not crying, not letting anyone know when I’m feeling down. And most importantly keeping a tight grip on my depression and not letting it overpower the moments when I do feel good.

Guilt as well because I still very much feel guilty for going on and living my life as if nothing has happened or changed.

Right now though, in this moment, it’s a little different. I’m typing this with a smile on my face, vibing to some good music. But I’m incredibly sad and I feel the loneliness and complete loss of my brother more than ever.

That’s all I wanted to share, just to get it off my chest so I don’t hold it in and combust in a bad way later.

I always say it, but new works and greatness on the way …. as soon as I get over this little hurdle.

Love you all who have been here and continue to return to MyPenWritesNice. The support is appreciated more than you could ever know.

xoxo, Cortney.

“Untitled (5/25/21)” by Cortney Joseph

You’re still gone,

And I’m left to spend my days wondering when you’ll be home.

And the nights tick on by, I’m lost and alone.

It’s when I miss you the most.

You’re still gone,

And the clouds have gone gray, flowers no longer bloom.

And the space I made for you is just an empty room.

Here’s where you’re needed the most

“Date In The Rain” by Cortney Joseph

Red cup filled to the rim,

Tears hitting the table as I stare blankly into space.

My soul’s so lost, heart’s full of pain,

Nothing could numb this more than a glass of crown

And a dance in the rain.

Nothing can heal me more than shot after shot,

And a truthful talk as hard drops of water hit my face,

While I dance, and prance, and cry in the rain.

So I sip, and I sip, and I sip until I hit that point where I stand

And take uneven dips, struggle with my steps,

And “oops, haha, I almost slipped”, and then I slip.

I stand and stumble, making my way out the door,

Squinting my eyes as I watch the rain; it pours and it pours.

Hand out, little droplets hit my fingertips and I step out slowly.

Step into it so that the rain can console me.

And as I spin around,

Nature’s shower drenching me while my bare feet pick up the dirt from the ground,

I cry and I begin my date with God in the rain.

Now, I know He has to be looking down on me asking

My child, how can you step before me to speak when you’re not even in the right place spiritually, mentally, or emotionally?”

Well, I figured this would be the best time,

Because they say a drunken tongue speaks a sober mind.

And all I’m trying to do is speak my mind, and find peace of mind.

So I cry, and bare my soul,

Asking why are the things I want taking so long?

Asking why it seems no one cares, why do I constantly feel alone?

Why is there no place for me to be free, and feel loved?

Why can’t I love myself enough to know that I need no one’s approval but God’s

And my own?

“I wasn’t able to have a mother to teach me my worth. And I wasn’t born pretty. I’m not skinny, and I cy too much. Maybe I’m just dumb. I should probably stop telling myself I’m talented when it’s well known that I’m worthless. You know, maybe it’s because I’m just undeserving. Yeah, yeah,  I’m unworthy. And I’m hurting, and can’t stop. And I hate myself with every part of my being; I hate myself, and I can’t stop. I feel abandoned, family don’t even have my back. Doesn’t that say a lot? I’m not supposed to question your will, but why God, why?”

And as the rain beats against my back,

My tears creating ripples in the puddles that lay before me,

I sink lower.

And I pray for healing.

I pray that this drunken date with God, in the rain,

Cleanses me of all the hurt, and anger, and pain I’ve been feeling

Before it’s too late.

The Engaged &The Complicated by Cortney Joseph

The following is a brief excerpt from a collaborative novel I wrote with a former friend. For now, I’ll only share a section I wrote. Please bare with it, ’cause it was written around 2013/2014 so it’s definitely not up to my current self-standards as a writer. I owe many more posts since my latest unexpected hiatus, and they’re coming. Enjoy.

______________________

It was going on midnight, and the last thing Omega wanted to hear was Destiny’s mouth. Normally he could stare at her lips for a few minutes and tune her out, but today the yakking was entirely too much. His nerves were bad, he was starving, and she was going on and on about a non-existent side relationship. She knew damn well he’d never cheat on her, no matter how many times they broke-up.

Destiny was the love of Omega’s life, though he often found himself wishing that his love for her wasn’t so strong. There wasn’t a day that didn’t go by when she didn’t test his patience or throw some foolishness in his face. And he never understood why.

He’d tried for years to chalk it up to the fact that she was born and raised a spoiled brat. But she was grown now, and out of her father’s house; the only thing she had yet to do was fully mature.

“Desi, please. Can’t I even come home to a quiet house for once? You know I was out working. I’m trying to pull in as many hours as possible; trying to make sure my business is straight before we go on this trip. You know, the one you insist is going to make things better for us.”

“You doubt that it will?”

Kicking his shoes off, he nodded. “To be honest, yes, I do. It’s to the point in our relationship where I don’t even know why we bother getting back together.”

“Because you love me, Omega.”

“Yes, I do.”

“And I love you too.”

Destiny took a deep breath and got up from her side of the bed, knowing that she was wrong for coming at him in a crazy manner. Lately that seemed to be the only way that she could get his attention. “You sure don’t act like it. I’m up here busting my ass for us and I can’t even come home to peace, not a single thank you. Just bitching and complaining. I’m starting to feel like we’re never gonna get it together. And, I feel as if I’m being taken for granted. I’m telling you Destiny, I do and will do anything in this world for you but you don’t appreciate shit. Just gotta have something to complain about. I’m tired of it.”

Slowly sitting in his lap once he sat on their bed, Destiny began helping Omega out of his tie and shirt. “I’m sorry Baby. I just, I don’t know, I’ve been really insecure lately. You’re always gone and I miss you so much.” She looked into his blue eyes, knowing that as fine as he was, women checked him out and stepped to him daily.

Omega wasn’t just any random dude. He wasn’t a thug, stayed out of the streets, and he showed respect and love to everyone. He was a black man who worked hard; well-educated, independent, and he owned his own company. He was no pushover either, strong but gentle and kind towards those he cared about. And out of all of the women he could have had, he chose her.

Destiny knew she had a good man, but her own insecurities led her to foolish conclusions more often than she liked to admit to. Her jumping to conclusions before finding out the full story on any situation often led to their many breakups over the years.

Pinching the bridge of his nose, Omega licked his lips and sighed as he looked into Destiny’s brown eyes. “I know I work a lot Destiny, but I’m just trying to make sure you and I are always straight. You know I’m trying to marry you, but I want to make sure that I can always provide for you and our family.”

“I know.”

“I gotta take care of you and my son, I’m doing all of this for y’all.” Destiny smiled before hugging Omega tightly, thanking him.

“I’m sorry O, I love you. Forgive me?”

She pouted her lips and Omega sighed, hating that she had him wrapped so tightly around her freshly manicured fingertip. He could never stay mad at Destiny, no matter what she did or how much drama she caused.

She was his fiancé, the mother of his only child, and he’d do anything to make sure they both got what they needed and deserved.

“Yeah Baby, I forgive you.”

Destiny smiled before kissing Omega and walking off to prepare herself for what was sure to be another late night between the two of them.

May’s Drama by Cortney Joseph

Another snippet from one of my many incomplete stories. 😉, part of a story that includes Home Again.

____________

Hearing a knock at the front door, May groaned before hurrying to answer. Almost immediately, she regretted her choice. She grew angry with herself when her attempt to slam the door failed. On the other side, her ex-husband stood, using his arm to keep the door between them open. 

If looks could have killed, Louis would have dropped dead on the spot. May’s eyes shot fierce daggers, cutting into his soul. “You’ve got some damn nerve.”

“I didn’t come here to argue.”

“Get off my mama’s property.”

Louis ignored May’s request, attempting to step forward into the house. She figured that the heat had to be messing with his head, there was no real way he could have been stupid enough to feel he was still welcomed anywhere around her family’s home. “We need to talk.”

She eyed him up and down with a glare that could have been etched, along with the hatred she felt for him, straight into his memory. A reminder to serve as the reason he shouldn’t return after today. “Go away.”

“I’m not going anywhere until we talk.” He stood tall, his confidence brooding as he straightened out the jacket of the double-breasted suit he wore. Navy blue, tailored to fit his athletic body perfectly. Towering over May, her fury did nothing to deter him, and that angered her more. 

“I don’t have shit to say to you, Louis! You did all your talking when you dragged me in that court and forced me to sign those papers so that you could run off with your whore. Go talk to that bitch!”

He chuckled, pulling papers from the inside of his jacket. “Don’t worry, I’ll be out of your hair soon enough. Now as it stands, we still own property together, and I don’t agree with the judge’s orders to sell them. Now you can keep the townhouse apartment. But I need and want the winter home in Vermont. Once Claire and I get married, we plan to move there with the kids. I also want the vacation property in Hawaii.”

His words cut like a knife as he went on with his demands, digging straight into what bit of a heart May thought she had left. Not only had he cheated for the entirety of their marriage; he’d fallen in love with the other woman, treated her the way he should have treated the wife he had at home. Began a family with that woman when May could not give him children. He’d humiliated her, dragged her through the public court of shame.

And, just to say she still had him, May had accepted it all. The roof and walls of her broken home came toppling over her head when he requested a divorce. She fought tooth and nail, and lost. No amount of money, no high priced property or cars, no agreements could have eased the pain or betrayal she felt. And here Louis stood, demanding more of her when he should have just continued walking away with the victory of using her, with what he’d stolen and pulled from her when she was so willing to give him the world. Her body, her love, her time, her life. If she had the power in her small frame, May would have jumped on Louis and strangled him right then and there. “Did you hear what I said? I need you to sign these papers, signing everything out of your name. After that, you’ll never have to hear from or see me again.”

May blinked away her tears, standing straight as she eyed him. Her vindictive nature shone through as he waited for her to take the pen he held in her face.  “I’m not signing shit. And if I get word that you and that  bitch are on any of my properties, I’ll have you arrested. Come back around this here house, I’ll shoot you with one of my daddy’s guns and then I’ll have you arrested for trespassing. Now you have a good day, Louis White.”

She pushed him back, slamming the door in his face before she locked it. As she headed to her room, tears spilled from her eyes. She just didn’t understand how this had become her life, confused as to what she’d done so wrong.

Welcome “Home”, Addison by Cortney Joseph

The following is the second chapter of a novel I wrote titled “Web Of Lies”, a teen tale set in the late 90s/early 2000s that focused on the excitement and fun as well as the drama and dangers that came along with the BOOM of the internet when it truly exploded (as well as other themes). That novel also included the first chapter that I shared on MyPenWritesNice when I first began the site, Dallas Down. So, be sure to check that out if you’d like to meet the first of my three main characters. I may also share the third main character and her introduction chapter soon too.

Idk, I say I may bring a lot of my stories back and don’t, but I just might bring Web Of Lies back because it’s REALLY good. And considering I was about 9/10-ish when the story is set, ya girl and her memories and research is on point.

Enjoy!

_________________________

Staring at herself in the full length mirror that had been put in her room while she was away over the summer, Addison sighed. She wondered to herself how she’d manage to make it out of her bedroom without having to see her reflection. Heck, how would she even be able to sit on her own bed without having to see her reflection.

It was like some cruel joke, another one of her parents tactics at getting her to see everything they did not approve of when it came to her appearance. 

She ran her fingers through her hair, pushing a bit of it behind her ears a second later as she looked herself over.

Addison noticed the change, it was a constant one, one that had been happening since she was about twelve years old. She just couldn’t understand why others made such a big deal out of it, why it was such a problem.

“Well, look who’s back home.” She turned to see her older sister, Peyton, standing in her doorway. She watched as Peyton ran her hand down her flat stomach, no doubt showing off that she could get away with wearing a shirt that stopped right where the band of her bra stopped. “You must have gotten in real late last night, not that I would have cared to see you. How was Fat Camp?”

Addison rolled her eyes. “Hell, as always.”

Peyton snickered, smirking as she ran her fingers through her hair. “It’s gonna be more hell when Mom and Dad see you. Send you off to Fat Camp, and once again you waste all of their money by returning looking like … ha, looking like a broken can of biscuit dough.”

“I’m not that big, Peyton.”

“Yeah, tell yourself that while you’re snacking on the zebra cakes and twinkies I’m sure you have hidden in your dressers.” Peyton walked away, laughing to herself.

It was true; Addison had a real bad sweet tooth, and at one point she did hide different types of candies and snacks around her room. Comfort snacks that often aided in bringing relief from the constant bullying she faced.

She looked at herself again, running her hands down her stomach. She poked, gripped and pulled at the rolls she saw. Letting out a deep sigh, she shook her head. “There’s nothing different about you Addison, you’re just as good as Peyton.” Both girls were short, under 5’3. They both had long blonde hair, they were always complimented on their beautiful eyes. Both former child beauty pageant participants. Both highly intelligent, respectful towards adults, hardworking, and ambitious. At least, Addison used to be ambitious. “Oh, who am I kidding. Peyton’s skinny, like I used to be. No matter what she does, she’ll always be looked at and noticed for her beauty and talent. Me, the fat one.”

All summer long she’d been told that she was fat, ‘A Tubby Bunny’ as one of the male counselors often taunted and called her. Her parents sent her to that same camp, year after year, and every year she came back a little bigger than when she left. “And who wants to be stick thin anyway.” She sighed again, answering her own question. “I do.”

There was a short knock and when Addison turned around, she looked into the disapproving eyes of her mother. A former beauty queen and pageant host. She had such ridiculous standards for both of her daughters, and in her eyes… Addison could never live up to any of them. Didn’t matter that she was usually a straight-A student. Didn’t matter that she’d won numerous Young Authors contests. Didn’t matter that she’d met a president, gotten numerous academic awards. Didn’t matter how much Addison tried and wanted to prove that she was worthy of the same love and affection Peyton got. They were pitted against one another, in everything, simply because Peyton was the skinny one.

“Well, at least you won’t be wobbling or struggling to fit through doors this time. They made some progress with you. Still not enough though. What are you now, a sixteen… eighteen? On your frame, that is too big, unacceptable. What the hell were you doing up there, Addison? Working out, doing enough to get a head nod and sneaking back to the secret stash beneath your bunk?”

“No, Mom. I was doing what was  required.”

“I can’t tell.” Marilyn, her mother, shook her head as she scoffed. “Oh well, you’re going to get right now that you’re home. I was trying to hold off on handling you myself, but you’ve left me no choice. Beginning today, you’re going on a strict diet. You will be a size four or smaller when I am through with you. No way am I allowing you on the pageant circuit looking like a cow.”

“Maybe it’s just not meant for me to be that small anymore, Mom. That’s not even healthy for someone my size. Last weigh-in, they said that I am the ideal size for a sixteen year old that is five 5’1. Why is this not okay?”

“Are you kidding me, Addison? We have standards to live up to in this family, and if you can’t meet them on your own, I’m going to force you to meet them. Be home as soon as you get out of school; I will have your diet planned out, you’ll be put on a strict workout plan as well. Gonna get you a pager today, help keep tabs and make sure you’re on top of things.”

Before Addison could say anything else, her mother had stormed away, ranting on and on about the standards the women in their family had to live up to. 

Heading straight for her closet, Addison said a silent prayer that her mother hadn’t already tossed out her old clothing. Marilyn had a bad habit of assuming she’d come back the perfect size. She’d throw things out and replace them with what she deemed acceptable, the types of things Peyton wore. Mini-skirts, midriffs, tube tops, and tanks. High-waisted shorts, cut off shorts, and tight jeans. Wedges and platforms, sandals, heels, and anything else hot girls wore.

That prayer was a waste; sure enough, all of her comfortable clothing was gone. She searched frantically threw the new items, trying to find something that wasn’t revealing. “Just great.” She stepped out of the closet, falling back on her bed a few seconds later. “Why can’t I be good enough the way I am?”

After managing to find a few things she’d thought to stash away, Addison showered and got herself ready for school. Walking into her family’s living room, the first one to look up was her father.

“Baggy clothes, again. Why do we even send you to that place?”

“You’re deranged.” 

Addison tried her best to whisper, but they’d heard her. “You’ll do well to speak to me with respect, or hold your tongue. If you’d do what’s expected of you, look the way you’re expected to look, there would be no need for these discussions.”

“When will you understand that I am not perfect! I can’t be perfect!”

“Ha, we know that much.”

Before Addison could utter another word, Peyton came strolling downstairs, all smiles as the heels of her boots clicked against the floor. “Morning Dad.”

“Hi Princess. Ready for your senior year?”

“Yes! It’s going to be great. I’m captain of the cheer squad this year, I was voted most popular, and I finally got Brad to ask me out, so I’m dating the star of the football team.” She sighed dreamily. “Life’s just perfect for me.” She smiled in her sister’s direction, laughing at what Addison wore. “Oh my God, you’re just a walking fashion DON’T. Off-brand sneakers, black baggy pants, oversized t-shirt. And your hair, so dull and… God, I hate that I will be seen with you, once again. Ugh.”

“I’ll make sure to remind everyone we’re siblings as soon as I walk through the doors.”

Peyton rolled her eyes, knowing that her baby sister really would do no such thing. No one would listen to her anyway, she was barely noticeable until someone teased her. Their father spoke up, preventing an argument they had every year on the first day of school. “Addison, as much as you complain, you would want to look up to your sister. She’s the perfect example of doing right. She’ll get everything she wants in life, and you-you’ll just be the same old, grungy Addison.”

“Fat Addison. Daddy, can I have a little money? I don’t get my check from work until tomorrow.”

“Sure Princess.”

Addison groaned to herself, quickly grabbing her backpack and heading out. Usually she’d wait to catch a ride, but she didn’t even want to ride with her father and sister. They would only talk down to her, reiterate the foolish standards her mother had set. As far as she knew, riding the bus with the kids who tormented her at school was more of a relief than actually being around her own family.

He Has Returned (from If You Stay) by Cortney Joseph

Guitar case in hand, Daniel Lawson stood straight, head lowered and eyes to the ground as his father circled him at a pace that seemed to drag like the time. It had been years since he felt the heat of his father’s eyes searing a hole into him.

The silence bothered him most, left him wishing the harsh words and judgement would flow with all the venom and anger he was certain the surly old man had harbored just for the moment he’d reemerge. He wanted it to be out and over with.

Tufts of his curly blonde hair fell in his face, but he dared not raise his hand to push them aside.

“Six years and still-“

His father’s words were cut short by the touch of a frail hand to his chest, a gentle smile thrown his way in hopes of cutting into the tension that was building.

“He’s home, Richard, and that’s all that matters right now.” Gloria turned to face her son, asked him sweetly to hold his head up high. Much shorter than he, she smiled and stepped closer. Raising her hand to his cheek, she looked up into his sparkling blues and spoke the words she knew he needed to hear most. “I’ve missed you so much, and I’m so very happy that you’re home.”

“Thanks Mom.”

A small sigh escaped her lips as she caressed his cheek, concern placing itself front and center in her mind. “And where have you been, my dear?”

“Here and there, anywhere a starving musician could play and get a meal.”

Gloria’s hand moved upward, brushing his curls from his face. Daniel looked rough, much older than his years, and not a sign of peace or happiness to be found in his eyes. She could tell that he hadn’t slept much, or not very well; the bags under his eyes giving away a lie he would have surely fed her. He was thinning, the large and baggy clothing he wore engulfing him as his frame towered over hers. “Promise me you won’t leave again, not on bad terms.”

“Can’t make that promise Mom.” He gave a weak smile, stepping back and away from the comfort of her touch. Behind his mother, his father stood with an angry glare and unwavering disappointment flickering in his cold eyes. “Don’t want to overstay my welcome, if there is one. Definitely don’t want to keep being a disappointment.”

“You are my baby, and you’re always welcome.” She turned and looked at Richard, daring her husband to utter a word of difference in her presence. “Now, what we’re going to do is get you all taken care of. Lucky for you, I just stocked up on all of your old favorites. Something in my heart just told me you’d be coming home soon. I’ve got toiletries, some clothing, new bedding. Don’t worry, mama will give you a nice haircut, got some stuff you can shave your face with. Ooo,
” he jumped a bit at the high and giddy lilt that came with her words. “I get to cook again today and I’ll actually enjoy it!”

“Mom, please don’t make a fuss over me.”

“What fuss?! I cook big meals every day. Since your brother moved back in I’ve had to cook three full course meals a day just to keep up with his appetite. It’ll be a pleasure to watch someone else not eat like a pig and actually savor my good cooking.”

Daniel couldn’t help the smile that danced across his lips, slowly following his mother as she headed down the hall that led to his old bedroom. So often he would turn around, notice that his father was still staring, seething, waiting for a moment to lay into the son he disapproved of.