It's dark here in Florida.
The crickets are chirping full force, the mosquitos are biting without restraint, the frogs are croaking for a mate, the trucks are barrelling down the dirt road, and I'm sitting here, listening to it all.
Not many people enjoy Florida, when they actually live here.
Most times, I don't either, but there's something about it at night that brings peace to me.
Maybe it's the factors above. Maybe it's the dewy humidity that can linger any time of year, especially in spring and summer. Maybe it's the stars I love to look at, the open sky giving me a glimpse of the Milky Way and if I'm lucky, a shooting star for only a brief moment.
The weather isn't ideal. I get bitten by bugs and flown at and scrutinized.
But I love it.
There's so much to find in darkness if only we look for it.
This post was meant to ask about the weather I'm dealing with right now.
Well, this is mine.
Darkness, without silence.
Humidity, without blistering heat.
Sky, without clouds.
Peace, without war.
Not My Own.
I thought I was a soldier going for training in invasions,
Now I've been ordered to kill my brother.
I don't want to kill my brother,
But if I don't,
They'll kill my family.
It's just orders,
Or so they say.
Can I be held accountable if my actions don't stem from a conscious decision?
Or am I just as bad as my enemy,
Because I don't want to risk a threat that could cost me everything.
Maybe I am less of a man,
Or maybe I'm a man with a bleeding heart.
I have a wife, a daughter, a son, another daughter,
Is it so horrible that I wish to see them again?
That I'll do whatever I can to make sure they live,
So I can come home to them.
But now I am killing my brother.
What would my mother say?
They aren't my orders,
So are they really my actions?
1. When I was fourteen, I began to write steadily. I had just entered high school, and my interest in reading had heightened. My English teacher taught me a lot about grammar, punctuation, and word use, which gave me more confidence to keep writing. As I became a more avid reader, I wanted to create stories that others could/would enjoy as well.
2. Writing gives me this sense of accomplishment, like I'm creating something worthwhile and doing something not only that I love, but that I can share and hopefully have others love as well. It also gives me something to think about, stirs my creativity, encourages my reading, and brings me out of these slumps I sometimes get into.
I would like to publish at least one of my works one day, however I would be just as happy if my works would take off on one of the online platforms I've published them on.
I’m Not Sure.
Taking a different route home, I felt enlightened with possibilities.
I walked into the wood and my life changed.
It's funny how the simplest change in routine can have dire consequences.
For me, I stepped into a world I knew nothing about and came back taken. For the first time I realized the world was endless and beyond any imagination conceived.
You may be wondering what I'm referring to. You may be curious to learn what I learned that day in the wood. The answer isn't simple and it may surprise you.
Too bad I can't tell you.
A Typically Uneventful Monday.
The time I wake up depends on which class I attend that day. Let's say it's Monday. I wake up at 7:40, do morning business, power up my laptop, and sign in to Zoom.
I attend a Humanities lecture for 50 minutes.
After, I make myself something to eat, and read for a while.
Then I write down my assignments for the week and pick a few to complete.
I take a break, read, or play Stardew Valley, then do some more work.
I drink some coffee. Reply to messages from friends or family.
I pet my dog and read some more.
I might write a chapter in one of my incomplete works or reread some of what I've written for inspiration.
I read some more. And eat. I may watch ASMR on YouTube, or reruns of old sitcoms.
If there's something I need, I may go to the store, but I'm more of a homebody than anything.
I like my privacy so most of this is done within the confines of my room.
I make dinner, shower, then lay down in bed and read until I'm ready to go to sleep.
Boring, yes, to some, but it's the truth.
I feel alone.
I'm terrified to be alone.
I think all the time about my future, and if I'll have someone to share it with.
I get scared that I'm going to be lonely.
That I'll get my degree and work in a nice hospital, but I'll come home to an empty house.
I'll sleep in an empty bed.
I'll never have someone to hold me.
Or share my life with.
It's scary, because I already feel alone and lonely sometimes.
It's this endless cycle of thoughts that I can't break. It's that one fear that you can't escape.
Everyone has one.
And that's mine.
That I'll be alone.
A Couple of Things.
What makes me believe there is more out there?
Parts of our history we cannot explain.
How did the Mayans cut so precisely with the tools they had?
How did the Egyptians build the pyramids in a precise alignment to the stars?
Why do perspective paintings show aircrafts not of that century? Before the dawn of television and CGI?
Where did the immortal jellyfish come from?
Magic? Or something greater?
It: A Simple Perspective
Everyone experiences it,
And no one can run from it.
It's what makes our lives beautiful,
What gives it meaning.
What comes of us?
Where would we go?
Who would we see?
What takes us, if not it?
It's a mystery,
And yet it's the most known thing in the world.
And death doesn't stop coming or going.
It's lingering around, waiting,
For our time.
Because it comes,
And it goes.
“Ye are Blood of my Blood, and Bone of my Bone,
I give ye my Body, that we Two might be One.
I give ye my Spirit, ’til our Life shall be Done.”
-Diana Gabaldon, Outlander
Gia pulled nervously at the bottom of her new dress. It was a babydoll style dress with sunflowers printed all over it.
“What if he doesn’t like me?” she asked, pulling harder on the hem, tapping her flats against the pavement at the bottom of the steps.
Leon grabbed her hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze. “It’ll be fine, Gia. Trust me: he’s going to like you. A lot.”
She was meeting his son today.
It was the day before they were due to go to Louisiana for his family reunion, and they were spending the night at his house before waking early to go to the airport.
Gia was excited for the trip. They were headed to Thibodaux, Louisiana, a small town an hour and change outside of New Orleans. Leon promised to take her on a day trip there to see Bourbon Street and all the sights, something she has wanted to do since she was young.
Today they planned on taking him out for a boat ride and then for ice cream. After, they were going to rent a movie and settle in while eating some popcorn.
The day would undoubtedly be fun and full of things to sightsee and look forward to, but Gia was nervous all the same.
She really wanted Tyler to like her.
Over the last week and a half, she had been learning everything she could about him. And Leon. They had been getting to know each other on a deeper level.
She found herself telling him everything about the client who changed her life-how he’d gotten the virus from a man he had experimented with without protection and didn’t find it necessary to tell her he wasn’t safe when he wanted to have anal sex, something Gia felt pressured to do and only understood his insistent need for once he admitted he liked men more than women- among every other deep seeded thing she could think to tell him about herself, not that there was much else. They had reached a more in depth connection with each other that was filled with convicted assurances and heated nights-and mornings and mid afternoons.
There wasn’t a single night spent apart, and so far, it was heaven, even though she still had a lot to work through and was still learning how to manage her emotions. She planned to meet with her mother and sister soon to tell them what had happened to her. They already had the date for when they would meet halfway and eat dinner. Leon would be there.
Leon had been talking her through the fears and insecurities she had. He even recommended a therapist that she could talk to if she felt she needed it. So far, she hadn’t, because Leon was a soothing presence all on his own. He had a way of making her own up to her mistakes without putting herself down for the choices she made.
Their developing relationship wasn’t one sided, either. Leon confided more of himself in her, and together they formed a bond that was strengthening more every day.
And the most amazing part of it all, Gia was nowhere near wanting space from him-she had yet to panic and push him away like before, and most importantly, she didn’t think she would, because she simply didn’t want to. She wanted to be around him all the time, was beginning to crave just his presence alone. It was dangerous, this dependency of hers, but Leon only seemed to want to encourage it. In fact, he was just as smitten himself. Every morning he woke her up with kisses, and most of the time his hot flesh followed soon after, making every morning better and more intimate.
Hand in hand they walked up the steps of Tyler’s mother’s house.
It was a blistering hot day, and the sun beamed down on them, as if encouraging their steps to the lovely looking brownstone.
Leon knocked on the door while Gia tried to downplay her nerves.
She was excited to meet Tyler, but still her nerves rattled with the possibility of him not liking her as much as she hoped. She already liked him so much and she hadn’t even spoken a single word to him. She had seen several photos and videos of him, though, all of which she enjoyed gazing at with Leon.
Her heart was pumping when Leon brought her hand to his mouth and pressed tiny kisses to the back of her palm. Instantly, she felt herself calming down enough to put a smile on her face.
He smiled back.
The door opened and Tyler’s mother stood at the threshold, her eyes immediately finding Gia. She assessed her in an openly curious way before her face broke out into a lovely grin.
She was beautiful, with deeply tan skin and dark eyes that offset her corkscrew curls that were layered with a blonde frost.
Immediately, she could see where Leon had been attracted to her.
The strange thing about the whole thing was that Gia felt no lick of envy. How could she, when the woman was smiling so amiably at her.
“You’re Gia, right? Leon spoke to me about you on the phone. I’m Nya, Tyler’s mother.” She greeted and shook Gia’s hand.
“Nice to meet you too.”
“You two can come in. Tyler is finishing up checking his bags to make sure he had everything.”
“Told you,” Leon whispered in her ear as they followed Nya through her lovely foyer.
In no time at all, an excited voice boomed through the hallway. “Daddy is that you?!”
“In here, buddy!” Leon replied.
He laughed as a small body came bounding to the living room where they stood and jumped into his arms. “Mommy said you’re taking me on the boat again. Is that true?”
“Of course it is. We’re also going to visit Grandma tomorrow. Are you excited?”
He laughed some more and hugged his son tightly while he talked a mile a minute, his excitement a palpable force that spread throughout the room.
Gia smiled, officially relaxed.
“I have someone I want you to meet,” Leon said as he put Tyler down. “This is Gia.” He grabbed her hand and pulled her into his side.
She looked down at the mini version of Leon and smiled brighter. “Hi, Tyler. It’s so nice to meet you.”
“You too,” he responded politely. “Are you coming with us on the boat?”
“Yes, is that okay?”
“Sure! I can steer it and everything! Daddy lets me and we go really fast!”
“I heard. I can’t wait to go out on the water with you guys.”
“Are you coming to grandma’s too?”
“I am. Is that okay, too?”
“Sure! Grandma is always saying when we talk on the phone that she wants Daddy to bring a lady home finally.”
Gia laughed, her heart light. “Is that so?” She looked at Leon, who was watching the exchange with fondness shining in his eyes.
“Yeah! Do you want to see my cars? I have Lightning McQueen and Mater and Luigi and Doc and Red!”
“Maybe some other time, buddy. We have to get going.” Leon said. “I’m sure your mother is ready for her anniversary weekend with Omar.”
A man, Omar, walked into the room then and shook Leon’s hand. “Hey, man. How’s it going?”
“Great, great. This past week has been particularly perfect,” Leon looked at her and smiled a heated smile that had Gia’s insides melting like ice.
“Good, I’m glad. Nice to meet you, Gia, by the way.”
He shook her hand.
“You too, Omar.”
“Alright, we should get going. Tyler, let’s go get your stuff, buddy.” Leon ushered his son out towards his room, Tyler’s excited voice bouncing through the walls the farther they went. He sent her a reassuring smile as the two of them disappeared from sight.
“I’m happy Leon found you,” Nya said, making Gia focus on her from where she was watching after them.
“Thank you,” Gia replied shyly. “Congratulations on your anniversary by the way.”
“Thanks. I mean that, though. Even speaking on the phone with him, he sounded more happy than he has in a long time. We’ve been encouraging him to find a woman for a while now. He kept telling us that he hadn’t found the right one yet. I’m guessing he found the right one in you.”
“I found the right one in him, too. I’ve never met a man like him before.”
“That’s how I feel about my Omar,” Nya looked up at Omar as he pulled her closer by wrapping an arm around her waist.
It was nice for Gia to see that. She couldn’t help but think that she had lucked out with this. She had read so many times about mother’s of the hero’s kid being rude and manipulative, always attempting to worm their way into the hero’s heart and take out the other woman.
Nya was the complete opposite of that, if the lovesick expression on her face as she looked at Omar was any indication. He watched her with the same admiration that reminded Gia of herself and Leon.
I love him already, she thought with wonder. And I think he loves me too.
It was one of the only things in her life she had ever been completely sure of, and it didn’t scare her as much as she thought it would.
In fact, it liberated her and made her feel warm and fuzzy inside.
The two boys came back into the room, Leon holding a red book bag over his shoulder and rolling a tiny Cars themed suitcase while Tyler had a toy car in each hand.
He was boasting about the movie to his father, who had to have heard it a million times by now. But Leon didn’t seem to mind in the slightest. He was beaming at his son, hanging on to every word.
It was something beautiful to see, and Gia had her own vision of a child, their child-a daughter- playing on the living room floor with Tyler. Then another one with a little boy passed through her thoughts, and she couldn’t decide which image she enjoyed better.
Both seemed to be perfect.
Both now seemed possible, when before Gia couldn’t even entertain the thought without being flooded with guilt from her mistakes.
I really am making progress.
I can have a future; a happy one, where the man of my dreams is by my side to help me through it all.
And this time, she could believe it.
“I really enjoyed today,” Gia said as she slipped into Leon’s bed.
He finished brushing his teeth in his adjoining bathroom, then joined her. “We all did. It was a great day. Tyler couldn’t stop talking when I put him to bed. He even forgot to fold his laundry after he changed into his pajamas. I did it for him so he won’t get upset in the morning.”
Gia smiled, “You were right; he is very peculiar. But I liked getting to know him firsthand today. I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure if he would like me. He took to me well.”
“He’s a very good judge of character. I remember this one time a man ran into us in the park. He seemed to be in a rush and we were in his way. Tyler jumped behind me and told me he was a bad man. Seconds after, three police officers came running from the same place he was after him. Turns out, he was involved in a drug bust and was on the run.”
“Yeah. Tyler thought he accidentally touched him and washed his hands over and over. I had to put lotion on them because they got really dry.”
It wasn’t particularly funny, but a laugh escaped against her will. “I’m sorry,” she said, chuckling. “I know it isn’t funny, but I can see it in my head and it’s kind of comical the way I’m picturing it.”
“That’s alright. I know it’s funny. Like I said, my son is my little OCD buddy. He can be a little over the top, but it’s endearing to me. I wouldn’t trade him for the world.”
Gia thought back to this afternoon, when she gave Tyler the pack of white grape juice boxes while they were setting up for the boat ride. He grabbed them from her, gave her a huge smile, then turned to his father and said, “I like her!”
From then on, he was constantly pointing things out to her-the dolphins they saw swimming through the waves, the sea turtle that floated next to the boat, the buoy they passed on the way out-that he thought was intriguing.
Gia was just as captivated by it all. It had been a perfect day, made all the more perfect when Leon pulled Tyler to the steering wheel when they were going back to the docks. She got to see firsthand the things Leon had told her about Tyler and his relationship.
It was all sweet and joyful. She was already looking forward for more.
“He’s a treasure for sure, Leon.”
Leon turned over on his shoulder to face her and pulled her to him by the waist, flipping her legs over his hip. “So are you, Gia. I can’t tell you what it means to me that the two of you got along so well today.” He leaned in to kiss her.
Gia’s body lit up with flames, and she wrapped her arms around his neck, bringing him closer.
“He’s asleep? I don’t want him to walk in on something he shouldn’t.” She asked, her eyes flitting to the door.
He buried his face in her neck, sucking in between words. “He’s asleep, baby. Don’t worry about that.”
Before they got too busy and Gia couldn’t form words, she wondered, “Are you sure you want to take me tomorrow? I’ll understand if you want it to be just the two of you.”
“No. I want you there. I’m not sure when I can visit next, and I’m too excited for my family to meet you, especially grandma.”
“You think she’ll like me?”
“I know she will. I think she’ll even love you. And not just because I do.”
Her breath caught, and her hands gripped him tighter subconsciously. She felt more exposed being half naked with those words in the air between them, but it was her heart that was the rawest.
She didn’t think, “I love you too, Leon.”
His dark eyes filled with joy. He didn’t respond, didn’t double check for assurances because he already had them. He looked into her eyes and he knew how she felt.
Instead, he kissed her.
Then made love to her.
He moved inside of her perfectly, making her body pulse with a million different sensations, all euphoric, and all centered to bring her towards an explosive climax that jolted them both.
“Je’ t’aime,” he told her as he pulsed through his release.
He collapsed on top of her, their sweaty bodies loose and swaying.
“What did that mean?” Gia asked after a few minutes of them laying in content silence.
“It means ‘I love you’ in French.”
Her heart stuttered and felt as if it was electrified by an EKG.
“I love you too.”
He smiled. “I wanted to say it to you outright, not when it was implied. But I do, I love you, Gia. I know it’s soon, but it’s one of the truest things I have ever felt in my life.”
“Me too. I feel that too, Leon.”
“I know, Gia. It’s written all over you, in those captivating eyes that I’ve been ensnared with since the beginning.”
“When you know you know,” she quoted the words he’d spoken to her their first night together.
“I know,” he said softly while he held her.
“How do you pronounce it again?” Gia asked early the next morning on the plane ride. Tyler was in the middle of them, his head lolled to the side while he slept.
“Thibodaux,” Leon repeated the name of his hometown. It sounded like ti-buh-doe in his southern drawl.
“Thibodaux,” Gia parrotted.
It didn’t matter though, she’d forget it in a few minutes when she attempted to say it again.
“Very good,” he said, smiling. His expression told her he thought she was being cute.
“Thank you. I’m trying.” she wrung her hands out over her knees. “Ugh, I’m still so nervous.”
“Don’t be. Everything will go great, I promise. My family is incredibly large, but we aren’t scary. Very protective, but as long as you eat our food you’re gonna to be okay.”
“Is that a joke?”
“I wish I could say yes,” his expression was serious, but his lips turned up, making her nerves ease.
“I’m sure I’ll like the food anyway.”
“It isn’t for everyone. But to me, it’s the best stuff around.”
“I love the way you talk. It’s sexy.” Gia bit her lip, feeling bold.
It was because of Leon. He made her feel confident in the things she wanted.
His expression tightened with heat. “Thank you. I’ve been told that before, but it didn’t mean half as much as it does coming from you. Part of me wishes we were back home. I’d take you to bed if it kept that look in your eyes.”
“We can’t do anything at your grandma’s.”
“No, no. I respect her too much to do anything foul under her roof.”
“And I respect you for having that manner.”
“She taught me well.”
Talking it out made Gia realize just how excited she was to meet this woman. She wanted to personally praise her for the work she did on the man before her. A man she hadn’t known long, but who had made an impact on her life so greatly, she no longer feared what her life would have been like without the hardships she endured.
She wore her issues and gave them their due, but she no longer wallowed and felt sorry for herself.
Now, she only looked forward.
And the horizon was looking pretty good right now.
She had never seen so many people in one place before.
There was laughter and the sounds of sizzles and crackles from the grill and deep fryer that were being manned by some of Leon’s cousins. His uncle Jeffy was watching over the ribs at the barbeque.
A scuttle of children ran past them, making Gia smile at the pure joy present on each of their faces. “Wow,” she breathed, watching after them.
“Let’s go wish Aunt Mildred a Happy Birthday, see grandma, then make our rounds and then you can go play okay?” Leon said to Tyler, noticing his giddiness to go play with his cousins.
The three of them had just arrived and stowed their luggage away in one of the closets by the entryway.
A few family members had already greeted them, and even though Gia was the only white person there, she wasn’t treated with any prejudice. All she had heard was their joy that Leon had found someone after being astray for so long.
It was all sweet and comforting.
Leon spotted his aunt across the yard on the patio, surrounded by other family, and took both their hands to lead them that way.
His aunt glanced up as they neared and smiled. “Leon,” came her soft voice, timid from age. Her gentle hand came up and grabbed Leon’s pulling him down, down for a hug.
“Aunt Mildred, Happy Birthday. This is my son, Leon,” he encouraged Tyler to embrace her as well and once they parted, she looked up at Gia. “and this is Gia, my love.”
Gia smiled and held out her hand. “Happy Birthday. It’s great to meet you.”
“Give me a hug, dear. Any love of Leon’s is a love of mine.” She chuckled, then pulled Gia in for an embrace.
The two of them engaged her in conversation for a few minutes, while Tyler jittered with impatience, too excited to play to stay still.
They were making their way back toward the house when an aged voice sounded from the patio door. “Is that my Leon?”
Leon’s grandmother drifted across the yard to meet them.
“Grandma,” Leon said affectionately.
“Oooh,” she hummed as they hugged tightly. “You never visit enough anymore. Don’t you miss your grandma?”
“Everyday, grandma. I promise I visit as often as I can.”
“I’ll believe that when I see it, young man.” The note in her voice said she was kidding, but she still gave him a stern, motherly expression.
She was a beautiful woman, her skin only slightly wrinkled from age, her eyes a deep brown that matched Leon’s, clothes pristine and fit for a woman of family and elegance. Gia got a breeze of her perfume. It was old school and reminded her of her own grandmother before she passed.
Leon’s grandma hugged Tyler and gushed over how big he was getting, and how much she missed him before setting him loose to go play. He jumped away and immediately sought out the other kids who welcomed him to play.
Then her inquisitive gaze turned to Gia. “You’re Gia,” she said matter of factly, her tone unreadable.
Gia began to get nervous. Leon’s hand brushed hers for assurance.
“I am. It’s nice to-” she was cut off as his grandmother hugged her tightly.
She held her for a few long beats, and Gia couldn’t help but return the affection. It felt nice, welcoming. “Welcome to the family,” she whispered in her ear. Gia’s eyes watered as they parted.
“Thank you. Everyone has already made me feel so welcome. I love this,” she rambled. “The family, the happiness, the love. It reminds me of my mother and sister.”
His grandmother smiled warmly. “My Leon has never brought a woman to me before.”
“I heard. I feel...grateful for him. He’s the perfect man, and from what he tells me, you’re the woman to thank for it.”
“Oh, I am,” her eyebrows raised into her gray hairline, her eyes flickering between the two of them. “but his grandfather helped with him too. He was our baby growing up. Still is, though he’s moved away from home.”
“Grandma.” Leon chided in a light tone. “You know I love you.”
“I miss him dearly. I’m always giving him a hard time about moving to Miami, but I know that’s where my great grandson is, so I’m only lenient to a fault. He better keep that promise and visit me more. And now that you’re in our family, that means you come too.”
“Don’t you want to question me? Give me the third degree, see if I’m worthy of your grandson?” This was her main worry the past few days.
“I already know the type of woman you are. If Leon’s brought you here, it’s for a reason. It tells me that you’re good enough, and I don’t need more than that. As long as he’s happy, that’s all I care about. He needs all the happiness in his life he can get.”
“He’s given that to me too. When I met him, I had a lot going on in my head. Leon’s been helping me work through it. He’s great at helping me realize I can own my mistakes without bringing myself down in the process. He’s been a savior, really. I can’t imagine him not in my life.”
The whole time Gia spoke, his grandmother was smiling. She had a soft look in her eyes that spoke of a kindredness she could get used to being around.
“That’s all I want.”
“Grandma,” Leon said, “I want to introduce Gia to everybody. Can we continue this after? We’ll sit next to you inside.”
“Oh, nonsense, son!” she waved him off and grabbed Gia’s hand. “We’ll get food first, then introduce her to the family. I’m sure she’s hungry.”
Leon opened his mouth, his eyes smiling, but Gia put a hand on his arm. “Leon has told me you have the best Soul Food around. I’m dying to try it.” she told her.
She smiled wide. “Oh, yes, girl, I love you already. Just wait till you try my crawfish and grits!”
Leon and Gia laughed as she pulled them along toward the house, chatting about all the food she had prepared the night before and this morning, and talking about the cake she’d made for her sister Mildred.
She was determined for Gia to try everything she had made.
Luckily, Gia was starving, and Leon was by her side through it all, eating it with her.