Happy Monday! Hope your weekend gave you everything it needed to give.
I saw this writing prompt last week and wanted to share it with you. If you’ve been meaning to start writing or get back to writing and needed some inspo, this is for you:
Think about a time you reconnected with someone after a rough patch in your relationship. Whether with a parent, friend, sibling, or significant other, write about what reconnecting felt like and how you went about it. Was it amicable? Were you able to resolve the issue and move on or has your relationship changed ever since? Write about how you did (or didn’t) resolve this, then write about what you wish would’ve happened.
This Week’s Story
Katrina is one of the first writers I connected with when Carefree first launched last year. Her story, Adventures Unknown: Saint Martin, was a majestically dreamy piece about falling in love in a foreign place. This piece you’re about to read is no less majestic. It’s a series of vignettes, short love stories, the main character experiences during her life. Each vignette stands on its own and I’m swooning with the writing style. Enjoy!
Her Love Life
by Katrina Mitchell
She liked to build houses only to have them destroyed. Her Lego houses always had the same structure— green base, a room set aside for a living room, a room set aside for a kitchen, and a room set aside for her bed. There was always a front door and a side door. Front door connected to her heart, side door to her mind. Side door visits came frequently, destruction knocked down the outer walls. She always enjoyed it, rebuilding the walls, realigning the bricks in different ways. Front door visitors were less frequent, but they tended to stay longer. They tended to knock down the inner walls, create open spaces within her home. These destructions took much longer to rebuild.
Pasadena: Her godmother gave her a houndstooth skirt. The skirt was a bit snug on her, her hips just starting to round, her legs lengthening by the day. She liked the way it made her look; she was more confident when she wore it. Her father calls her molasses, cuz she moves so slow. He and her sister were already heading in the house when she let one long leg step out of her father’s Camaro, then the next. Grabbed her bible and her purse before closing the car door. She saw them looking at her, three neighbors from across the street. Probably all high schoolers. She ran her fingers through her hair, a little self-conscious as they approached. She wished she wasn't holding her bible.
They approached her, the one in the front was cute, with his dark hair slicked back and a gold earring hanging from his ear. The cute one opened his mouth to speak, but before a sound could come out, her father turned the corner and said, “What’s up fellas?” She knew her dad is not a fighter, but he was a former bodybuilder and he knew how to use his size to his advantage. The boys redirected themselves quickly. Her father said she had no sense of danger.
The Underground: Like any teenager in the late 90s in the South, she spent all her free time at the mall. When her cousins came that summer, it was no different. They all piled into the back of her mother’s blue Expedition and drove to Atlanta, where her mom dropped all the girls at the mall while she went to lunch with a college friend. The girls made a beeline to Sam Goody to scroll through the CDs. Her cousin had a small security tag remover a friend had given her, and quickly and quietly removed an Outkast CD from its security case and slid it in her purse. She watched her cousin do this, then broke the only rule she could have allowed herself to break, and left the store without her.
Deja Vu: She had the biggest crush on him. And honestly, who wouldn’t? She drifted to sleep thinking of him, thinking of one day when there would be a storm and a tornado warning and the power would be out at her job. And they would get stuck in the room that held the damaged goods, and spend hours in there, alone. Then one day, while in school, the siren went off and all the students were filed into the hallway and ordered to sit facing the wall.
After school, when her grandfather dropped her off at work, she discovered that the power was out in the whole store. And she ran to the back and ran into him. And he said something to her and she cussed at him, and he recited a Common line, which made her laugh, and touch his arm. And her boss appeared and told her to get the damaged goods. She smiled harder than she’d ever smiled before. He started to follow her, but her boss stopped him and told him to go restock toilet paper.
Savoy Club: Reggae bounced from the walls and marijuana smoke hung low overhead. This was her first time in a club, and she was going to one in the Bronx no less. She tried to keep up with the rhythm, but she wasn’t used to those beats and that tempo. After all, she was from the South, where they like their music slow and their bass deep.
Her friend and her friend’s sister were beside her, each wining down on their beaus for the moment, and she felt out of place. Until she felt the heat of another body begin pressing against her back. She watched her friend wine, and she tried to imitate that. He held her waist as if to guide her. Then he wrapped one arm tightly around her belly. Then another arm around her neck. Then she felt him pull her away toward the door. She couldn’t speak, but she was able to reach out and grab her friend. Her friend yanked her back, and gave a death stare to the guy, who quickly disappeared into the crowd.
Parking Lot: She knew a place. It wasn’t hidden, but it was quiet enough that she could hang out there and do what she wanted and not get caught. He rode silently, rubbing the sweat from his palms onto his jeans repeatedly as she drove. When she parked, they both climbed over the center console to the back seat. Are you sure you want to do this, he asked, as if to give her a last chance to back out. He was used to messing with “good girls”. She’d left that title behind years ago.
Bayfair: Before he left town, he told her to buy him a cross piece. She got $50 and went to the mall to buy him one, and gave it to him before he left. It sparkled with cubic zirconia, though she told him it was diamonds, though he knew it was not. Then she found out that she was coming to his city that summer for her grandparents’ 50th anniversary. Once the festivities were over, she went and saw him and saw he wasn’t wearing his piece. I don’t have a chain, he said. So they got his mother to drop them off at the mall, and she bought him a silver-ish chain to go with his piece. And to thank her, he fucked her quietly in the handicapped bathroom stall.
Anansi: She dreamed of spiders. She hated them in waking life, but in her dreams she was one of them. She would shoot out her silk to find what she wanted, and retracted it to bring it home. In college she heard of Anansi, and how Nyame allowed him to be the keeper of the stories. And in her heart, she knew when they called Anansi’s name, they were really calling hers.
East Hall: She and her best friend partied every weekend. Their running joke was trying to see who could collect the most bodies on the dance floor. Sometimes her best friend would send bodies her way, challenging guys that they couldn’t handle her. But that night, the club was dead. Some magazine party, they didn’t know anyone there, so they left and went to Wawa to get snacks before heading back to the dorm. When they walked into the dorm, she saw the guy with who she’d been flirting for a few weeks in the lobby, playing pool with a couple of his friends. They locked eyes. She and her best friend got on the elevator. Looks like I’ma get a body tonight, she told her friend. He was knocking on her door less than thirty minutes later.
Strawberry Mansion: Even for Philly, this was cold. Snow in November was not unheard of, but also not common. So she layered herself in thick socks and sweaters, huddled under her blanket, and tried to maintain what little warmth she was able to generate that day and night by not moving. He had taken her car keys, and locked the tiny electric heater in the back room. She could hold a grudge…and apparently so could he.
Ça va?!: She didn’t notice ’til the third or fourth time they’d hung out that he had blue eyes. Maybe it was because she generally avoided eye contact. Or maybe it was because she closed her eyes when he moved inside her. But when she discovered his eyes she couldn't stop staring at them. They were like the ocean. And she was in awe.
Choice: It took her a while to pick up on patterns. Rarely did she want the ones who wanted her. She had to choose them first. They always told her it was wrong, that she had to be chosen. But eventually, she accepted that the prescribed path would not be for her, and she guarded her right to choose like a mother lion protects her young.
Conjurer: He couldn’t shake her, and she knew it. There was something about the way she laid her love out there and somehow made it new each time. It was never the same with her. He never knew what to expect. And she was draining him, and he couldn’t stop it if he wanted to. He just knew that whatever the hell she did, he needed more of it. The magic was real.
Odo Nnew Fie Kwan: Love Never Loses Its Way Home. He left her but he always came back. Convinced herself that she was his home, and that no matter how far he went, he would always find his way back to her. But one day he left and never came back. She was empty, her home was without life. Dust grayed the tables, rust overtook the bedposts, faucets, and appliances. She tried to sell her home, but no buyers. Couldn’t give it away. Rent was too cheap, then too steep. She boarded up the windows. Her home was abandoned. Until one day, as she walked through her house, she realized it wasn’t empty. Because she was there. She could paint the walls purple, sweep away the dust and cobwebs, buy new furniture, and decorate to her liking. Her home wasn’t empty. It was full. Full of her. Her love found its way home, because it never left.
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Katrina Mitchell is a filmmaker and writer based in Los Angeles, California. She has written two books: “She Lives” and “Text Messages”, and has directed over 20 short film projects. Her goal is to use storytelling to expand the narratives of people of African descent throughout the world.