By Lourdes Dolores Follins
Image: Tolu Bamwo c/o nappy.co
All we have to do is steal my mother’s cremains from my elderly stepfather’s apartment in Staten Island and I can fulfill my last filial responsibility to her: Scatter them where she wanted. But there’s a hitch: My wife Martine is freaking out on the other end of the phone.
Image: Tolu Bamwo c/o Nappy.co
Nia’s father was standing next to the stove. He was bent over his laptop, squinting at the screen, his lips tucked around an ink pen. Now and again he plucked the pen from his mouth to jot something on a notepad. The kettle whistled. He turned it off, poured water into a mug, and stirred in Folgers.
To Nia, he looked like he was in a play kitchen. Like the one her parents had put into storage along with her mother’s piano (which had once belonged to Nia’s great-grandmother), and the dresser her father had had since he was Nia’s age. None of it had come with them to the new apartment because there wasn’t enough room.
Photo by Brit c/o nappy.co
Missy Elliott was scooping ocean froth into her jowls at the water’s edge as I watched the waves rolling in from the dry beach. She was my favorite bull dog, maybe the best dog I ever owned. I loved her more than anyone, probably more than I ever loved Anthony.
Image by Sofia Coeli c/o nappy.co
Juliana Josephine Marquez. Julie. Julie la chula. Bendita Julie. Sweet Jules, the Mayan Princess, lingers stubbornly on the edge of my lips, a smoldering kiss beneath the layers of my nascent love life.
Photo by Shaunda Jay c/o nappy.co
“I had a really nice time tonight Olivia,” he said with a sexy smile I could get used to.
“Me too,” I replied coyly with the purpose of trying to be cute.
DeVon was probably – no definitely – the man of my dreams. He was the epitome of tall, dark and handsome, basically fulfilling my Idris Elba and Morris Chestnut fantasies. On top of that, he was ‘old school’ if you know what I mean. In this techie age that we live in, how many guys do you know are still down for a good old fashioned blind date? DeVon was, and just like I’m sure my Mom and my Auntie’s felt when they did this all the time in the 1990’s, I was actually quite nervous. But it was an exhilarating feeling!
Me and Bobbie and Jr. Lee were just hangin’ out, bein’ cool and sipping Slurpees outside the 7-Eleven Store. What else is there to do on a hot summer night in this chump town when nothin’s goin’ on?
Image by José Bittencourt Neto c/o Nappy.co
Saturdays started out pretty fleeting at Carmita’s house. The mornings typically included a collaborative cleaning session to some Jerry Rivera, followed by a gigantic lunch (the glucosic goodness that is white rice always on the menu), and maybe someone taking a nap. Everyone always went their separate ways in the evenings.
Photo by Mauro Yange c/o nappy.co
About two years ago, I was just like every fourteen-year-old boy, looking forward to a good life in my town, learning new things and having fun, feverishly curious about girls, and their breasts, and the thing between their legs.
I was particularly amused by the ones who wore tight skirts that would mould their skirts to perfect roundness; the ones that would easily make my thing stand. In my secret private moments I would close my eyes, I would lick my lips and moan and groan and imagine my ideal partner.
by Deyonne Bryant
Before the sickle cell made her sick, my fourteen-year-old cousin Roxie visited my mother—and me. We met Roxie at the bus station in El Monte. I hadn’t seen her in years because when my grandmother died we stopped going back south, and, too, after my parents divorced, I started spending summers between L. A. and Oakland, where my dad lived. I couldn’t believe my eyes when Roxie stepped down from the bus, looking like a black debutante. She wore one of those long, circle skirts teen girls wore back in the Fifties with a tight-fitting, white blouse and low-heeled ballet flats. Her hair was pressed and curled like Mrs. Coretta King’s. How would Roxie fit in with my clique in our frayed bell-bottom jeans, Black Power t-shirts, and Afros? What could she tell us? Was she capable of the stone-faced stares we had perfected to an art, or our insolence?
Roxie lived in a constant state of nostalgia for the Fifties—a past she had not lived through—and she was uninterested in my friends. She preferred being with my mother, yearning for bygone days that, incredulously, did not bear witness to any hatred of us. So one day I showed Roxie my collection of lynching postcards. She wept.
Photo by Craig Adderly c/o Pexels
What’s-her-face stands at the kitchen sink pretending to wash already-clean dishes. I know, because she’s washing the same Batman mug for the third time. Which is cool, I love Batman, but does she love Batman or did the mug belong to an ex-boyfriend, and when they broke up, he left it in a haste to move out? Are they even broken up? Is he going to catch me here having breakfast with his girlfriend and try to kick my ass? I look around for a way to escape in case he crashes through the front door looking like Bane. There’s an open sliding door that leads to a cluttered balcony. We’re on the third floor, but if I tuck and roll when I hit the ground, I might be okay. I’ll go with that.
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