““Family always finds its way back” That was her mantra. Sometimes I’d catch her staring at me, deep in thought. It was like she was plotting something from the very beginning, like she knew I was never enough and that one day, one day she’d have no use for me and I would end up alone, broken, weak and held prisoner by a mad man.
I was never the strong one; that was my older brother. He had the looks, the charm and the slick tongue that found a way to get him just as much into as it did out of trouble.
I was never like that. I was never like any of them.
That had to be why she sold me. I hope I was worth it.
“Fire of the Lord” That’s what our surname meant. So my mother, who spoke more and more about the importance of family the bigger her belly got, drilled it into our heads that all we had to do was follow the smoke, because that’s where the fire will be, that’s where family will be.
But I couldn’t do that even if I wanted to. It’s been days since anyone’s offered anything more than a cold, tasteless meal and a quick senseless beating.
The beatings are something I kind of miss now.
Part of me hates myself for thinking like that, but I can’t help it. When he beats me, the man my mother sold me to who always smells like cigarettes, at least then I know I’m not invisible. At least then, in between the screams and the cries and the begging, I know that he sees me and he knows I’m still here. Without the beatings, I’m scared that he might forget about me and the food will stop coming.
I wish I had been invisible before I was brought here. If my mother hadn’t seen me and I had been part of the furniture and nobody felt threatened by me, or if I was quiet and didn’t eat too much, maybe then my mother wouldn’t have done what she felt she needed to do.
If I was smart enough, though, I would have seen it coming. She did warn me. She’d always tell me that I didn’t belong with them. She told me I was beautiful and delicate and too precious. She must have been lying. Nobody throws away something that’s beautiful.
I’ve been in the dark for too long. The boarded window just below the ceiling is the only thing that gives away the day and night. Right now it’s too dark, so it must be night.
My mother must have had her reasons for giving me up, so I can’t hate her for doing what she did. We’re not a rich family; it’s just the three of us, probably four now, and so each of us has to work hard and make sure we provide for the family. This was her way of providing for the family. I can’t hate her for surviving.
It just means that I have to survive too. Maybe if I showed them that I can be strong too, that I can be a fighter and I can work hard too, maybe then my mom will keep me.
All I have now is a box with two matches, a wooden door, boards against a window and the clothes on my back.
If I make a big enough fire, maybe they’ll see the smoke and come find me.
This is how I’ll prove to them that I can be better, before the smoke takes over my lungs and before the fire takes everything, maybe they’ll see that I’m just like them. Maybe they’ll see that I’m family.”
“I would fall apart”
“I would get back up again and move along. Life’s short; you fall and you get back up and go at it again”
“My husband would be right there to pick up the pieces”
“I don’t know if I would be able to pick myself up again”
“Everything I held back, from years ago to last week, would come crashing down on me and I would literally suffocate. I’m a ball of repressed emotion; I would not survive an open wound”
“I would look for someone to help save me, maybe. Maybe I’d let it be and fall apart and just let it happen”
“I would definitely let it all out. I don’t want that toxicity in me. I’d rather fall apart today, than keel over tomorrow because of all the stress I put my heart through”
“I would pray; seek counsel from the bible and hope that those who have gone through it have encouraging words for me in my time of need”
“I wouldn’t want to come back. I would remain in that nightmare, swallowed whole by it and I would surrender to it because I think it’s a safe space in its own way. Our minds can’t cope with something, an external, stressful and dangerous stimulant, so our mind goes to the darkness to help save what little sanity we have left. I would remain there where I have a shot at being whole”
“I fall apart everyday and I’m made better by it”
“I would document it. I’d use the experience to feed future literary journeys. I would welcome it hey”
“I’d have to reassess my entire life and the people in it if I fell apart and had nobody to turn to”
“I would remain with myself. I want to come undone in the privacy of my own evils so I can exorcise them in my own way, deal with them accordingly and come back with a clean slate. That way I can do it over again and wait for the next time I fall apart”
the gentrification of my emotional self has come to an end.
It ends when the realisation that I too, the self they came so save, have been left destitute and displaced by beings who wield maturity like warriors in battle, deftly and with skill inherited from a bloodline of emotional
privilege sureness superiority.
This obvious operation will now come to an end, because the boy you so carelessly moulded into a distorted version of obedience has broken and is baring the wounds you carved into his skin for the world to witness.
I and he will no longer cater to your desires. We will no longer look to your aspirations. You are not the beacon here.
The light arrives in the night, when the wall has fallen, when the shackles have been broken, when votes have been cast, when the flag has been raised.
The light has arrived, the regalia donned and the salute offered because I am here to stay and I am proud of who I am.
You were always my muse
I used your image, the lines on your face, the timber of your voice, the smell of your skin as fodder to fuel my literary libations.
I took the words you so innocently offered me, the touches you so carelessly threw my way and the confusing in my direction to create worlds, emotions and feelings that hinged on the very breath and word you possess.
I used you.
I took what you had, what you had given me and I used it all to fashion a universe where our casual encounters, gentle and often heated exchanges were more than figments of a vibrant imagination, but they were water and air, and life, they were real.
I made sure to inhale as much as you could unknowingly offer, held it all in and breathed life into the very creations that fixed me… tried to fix me.
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The dark’s been at the receiving end of some bad press for too long. Sure what lurks beneath the shadows is scary, dangerous and damn near fatal, but I happen to like the dark.
When the lights are out and the moon is out, people change. It’s like we can hide in plain sight, we can move as a tribe of unknowns, all searching for nothing and be content. I like the dark. It’s like magic; you get to be invisible, you get to be ageless, worry-less and perfect. I bet you vampires don’t go out in the day not for fear of death, but because time stands still when you’re in the shadows.
There’s something about the night that frees you. Something about the anonymity that un–inhibits (if that’s even a word) you and cradles you and your cares.
Everyone is beautiful, everyone is perfect; it’s like God’s Photoshop. The world sparkles, the air is electric and you’re powerful.
But time’s a heartless beast, so night falls. The fall is spectacular; a shining, glorious battle that takes with it all the sparkle, the timelessness and beauty that once embalmed the freed souls that inhabited the earth in those hours.
Daylight sweeps through the streets and I’m vulnerable again, life’s real again and my imperfections are illuminated. I can’t hide anywhere; I can’t run without being caught; I’m faced with what’s really scary again; the real world.
Daylight’s the real monster.
Where the shadows have evaporated and you’re faced with the horrors that once inhabited them, when you see and hear of the beasts that you roamed the earth with, aimlessly. Daylight’s the real abomination, the destroyer of dreams, the incinerator of illusions and the great divider.
Where the night made us all equal, the day brought with it an inheritance of classism, fascism and make clear the pungent stench of war that’d we’d escaped for just a moment.
So we lay in wait, with bated breath and glazed eyes.
We anticipate the scent of twilight, and with it the promise of glamour and we wait for the night.
We wait for the great leveler.
Leopold Stokowski once said, “A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence”. Few truer words have been uttered.
I could go on for days, months even about the power of music, but the proof is in the pudding. We live in a highly digitized age where there’s little shortness of anything really.
We’re surrounded by creators, of film, photography, music, art, law (enacted law and those that govern the ins and outs of our society…the kind of constructive laws we create ourselves) and because of this we’re inundated with a ton of stuff with a click of a button.
I don’t know about you, but technology has a specific kind of noise all on its own. It’s stifling sometimes, it’s discouraging and overwhelming but once in a while, you’re afforded the privilege of witnessing something so remarkably spectacular that the world and all its clutter fall to the wayside.
For me, those moments present themselves behind a simple melody, a classic voice and sometimes it’s a loud thumping (don’t judge ). But, what i’m saying is that, in the midst of all the insanity, there are these songs, voices and souls that move us to silence.
Alice Smith is enchanting, heartbreaking, raw and unapologetically haunting in this cover of “I put a spell on you” included in the “Nina Revisited…a tribute to Nina Simone” album.
Then we have the incredible Ms Lauryn Hill. Her version of “Feeling Good” in the same album is incredible. The androgyny in her voice was new though, but i love it.
Then we have Kimberly Nichole. Her performance of “Creep” on The Voice US will live in infamy in my humble opinion. Her voice is real. She’s stunning, a powerful woman whose ability is a respectful and empowering nod to an age passed. she’s without a doubt, a woman worth remembering.
Without a shadow of doubt, Birdy’s version of “Skinny Love” claws at you from the inside. The sincerity, the purity and shear profoundness (yes, i went there) of this performance and song, originally by Bon Iver, is captivating.
I mean, do i even have to explain why this is incredible? Tori Kelly is something to behold in this cover of Michael Jackson’s “P.Y.T”. The riff she does towards the end at 2:24 literally devastates careers.
Before i go all out and ramble for days on end about the singers and songs that seem tailor made for my heartstrings, i want to leave you with one more woman who knows how to translate emotion almost effortlessly. Jazmine Sullivan is a force of nature, and this albeit risky (lol) performance of “Stupid girls” is something to play over…and over and over.
There’s a slew of incredibly talented young men and women out there and songs and singers that take you there with a whisper, if you troll long or hard enough, the silence will take you.
Click on the song titles to troll on your own, please do.
It’s a welcomed reprieve from the everyday grind, i suppose.