Games Children Play

I participated in a horror writing prompt in 2010 in honor of Halloween. I enjoyed it and will be seeking out other prompt this years. But here’s the story I wrote below the link to where it’s featured online: http://fictionwriting.about.com/od/writingexercises/a/Games-Children-Play.htm

 

Games Children Play

After dinner, our host, who was then renting the place, told us that the house was said to be the vacation home of an eccentric millionaire who built the house in honor of his young daughter who’d drowned in the nearby lake.

“He wanted to be near the final resting place of his only daughter,” said Randi, our host, with a small smile.

We all waited for a ghost story to follow, but Randi didn’t go into one. She went to the kitchen and came back with two bottles of wine. Distracted by the wine, we all followed her into the living room to chat and drink. A couple of hours later we retired to our rooms. We’d been asleep for a while when the room got really cold. I sat up and looked at Frank who was still asleep. I nudged him.

“Are you cold?” I asked softly. “I’m going to find another blanket.”

Frank moaned slightly.

I got out of the bed and padded out of the room. I went to the closet where Randi showed us she kept the linen. As I was grabbing a blanket, I heard giggling. I quietly closed the closet door and looked around. Nothing was there. I headed back to our room. As I put my hand on the door knob, I got light headed.

I slowly opened the door.

“Frank, are you awake?” I asked. “I got another blanket.”

Frank didn’t respond. I took the blanket and put it over the bed. Then I lay down and promptly fell asleep.

Suddenly, I couldn’t breathe. It felt like someone’s mouth was over mine breathing into me. I coughed and felt water come out of my mouth. I felt someone grab me in a hug then I heard Frank whisper in my ear.

“I thought I lost you. Oh my God. I’m so glad you’re ok,” Frank whispered hoarsely.

I tried to speak but my throat was dry and I was still gasping for air, plus I was wet and cold. The noise of sirens filled the air then stopped. I felt someone pull Frank away from me and something was put over my mouth. I began to breathe in the oxygen and passed out.

When I woke up again, I was in a hospital room. Frank was sitting by my bed and everyone else was sitting and standing in various parts of the room.

“I need some water,” I croaked.

Frank reached over and handed me a cup of ice chips. I ate them slowly because each chip made my dry throat burn. I looked at Frank with questioning eyes.

“I woke up in the middle of night and you were gone. I thought you’d gone to the bathroom but when you didn’t come right back, I got worried. I looked for you in the room then woke everyone else up. Tracy saw you skipping by the lake. By the time we got there, you’d gone under. I gave you CPR and you came back. Why were you at the lake?” said Frank.

“I went to the lake?” I asked. “I don’t remember going to the lake. I got up to get a blanket and got back in the bed. Wasn’t there a blanket on the bed?”

Frank slowly shook his head.

“It wasn’t cold in the room,” he said slowly.

Just then, everyone heard a giggle.

“What was that?” asked Randi.

My thoughts on Selma

I got up this morning determined to go see Selma today. I wanted to make sure I saw it while it was in theaters so that my watching it would contribute to the viewership numbers for the film. This is important when I want to support films created by black people. Opening weekend is the most ideal time to go watch the movie but I try to make it no later than the second weekend. Those tend to be the times that people look at when they’re determining whether a film is doing well or not.

I didn’t make it out during Christmas when the film opened here in Atlanta. I was dragging my feet to go see it, and it took me a minute to recognize why. I was afraid to go see Selma.

I remember the anger I felt after seeing Rosewood in the theater. I also remember sitting for several minutes after watching Precious as tears streamed down my face. I couldn’t stop crying. Both movies were really upsetting for different reasons. I blame it on the way I watch movies. I like to immerse myself in the story. If the characters experience great emotion, so do I. It can be both thrilling and exhausting. When it comes to movies made about the struggles of black people, I tend to shy away from those. I feel those struggles all too deeply. I’ve read up on enough things to know that they happened. I don’t need to be educated about them.

But I realize that this isn’t the best way to be. I don’t want to shrink away from the truth. I want to confront it head on. So with this resolve I headed to the theater to watch Selma. After the opening scene, I knew I would be in for an emotional roller coaster. It was a great movie that is quite timely and really gave me some insight into what it takes to enact change. Yes, it was about the march from Selma to Montgomery to give blacks the unencumbered right to vote. But, for me, it was a glimpse into the organization and strategy required to build a movement. It really opened my eyes to our current movement of #BlackLivesMatter behind the public killings of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner and countless others at the hands of police officers.

It also gave me new insight into the idea of hash tag activism. I heard a snippet of Shonda Rhimes’s commencement speech where she talked about hash tag activism. She said that hash tags were pretty but not ultimately action. I have to disagree. One of the reasons why the Trayvon Martin case became such a big deal is because of hash tag activism. People learned about the injustice and took to Twitter to discuss it. When things were happening in Ferguson over the summer, it was the people tweeting, Facebooking, Youtubing and telling the story digitally that kept the story relevant. But if their stories hadn’t been shared by people in their living rooms, cars, coffee shops and other places, it wouldn’t have been as big of a story or lasted as long.

One of the reasons why the civil rights movement worked is because King would do things to entice the press to cover them. When the press would cover the marches, speeches and other nonviolent protests, it would tell the story on a much larger stage. Black people have been bullied by police officers for years. It’s not a secret that the police may or may not be trustworthy if you’re black and need their help. While this doesn’t apply to all police officers, it applies enough to be a longstanding issue. So while the killings that took place over the summer were upsetting, they weren’t surprising or shocking to many people. But this time, rather than these things happening in isolated silos, outraging a community, they happened in a time where we have social media.

So now the rest of the world’s attention is being brought to things that have been happening in the black community for decades because of social media. Hash tag activism is action. It shouldn’t be the only action, but it is a viable tool. After watching Selma, I realize that we have our stage.

What is Net Neutrality?

As I become more involved in the digital industry professionally, I am becoming more invested in certain issues and topics. One of those things is net neutrality. It’s something I learned about a few years ago but I didn’t realize the importance of it until the last year or so.

When I realized the gravity of net neutrality and why it’s slowly becoming a hot button issue, I began to wonder why more people weren’t talking about it. Until President Obama made mention of it in a speech last year, it was largely only being discussed in tech/digital circles. The first time I saw it was in a link on my Firefox browser. Then when I first read up on it, I was completely unclear as to what it really was, which led to me not being sure why I should care about it. But as I continued to see it, I decided to do more digging around and gained some more clarity about what it is. Then I became concerned.

As someone who appreciates the free nature of the internet and the flow of information that it offers, the idea that the flow could become commercialized is alarming. Once you truly understand what net neutrality is, you may find cause to be concerned as well. I’d like to help with that. I want to contribute to the conversation educating people about net neutrality. I was poking around online reading up on the more recent developments (which I will discuss in a later blog post–or two) and I found this great video. It does a good job of outlining net neutrality and why it’s important.

 

About My Life Pivot

In the years since I launched this blog and website my life has taken many turns. Some of them have been major turns that redirected how I saw myself. Others have been smaller turns that simply tweaked my perspective. In most instances there were a series of small turns that ultimately led me to a new perspective.

That’s where I am now. I’ve spent the last few years doing two things:

1. Figuring out what I wanted my future to look like
2. Figuring out how to combine my professional interests into a career

Now before I go into my current conclusions, I want to share something. While I’ve gotten more clear, I’m still doing some figuring. When I was fresh out of college, facing the world, I thought I had it all figured out. When a year had passed and I wasn’t doing what I thought I’d be doing, I felt lost and confused because I didn’t have anything figured out. It’s taken me several years to realize that it’s tough to have everything all figured out.

Yes, there will be moments of clarity where I will be able to move forward with a high level of certainty. But there will also be moments of complete confusion where I will be focused only on putting one foot in front of the other. So with that being explained, this is my current conclusion:

I am here to help people. I have a unique set of life experiences and insight that I want to use to help. I’m still figuring out exactly how I want to help but professionally I’ve found a sweet spot.

I’m a storyteller. I can use my storytelling skills to help businesses. I’m also a tech nerd who enjoys the expansive nature of the digital world. I’ve combined those interests as well as my experience in public relations, internet marketing and writing to begin to pursue a career as a Digital Strategist.

Essentially, I help businesses take advantage of the digital space using tools like content marketing, search engine marketing, social media marketing and other marketing strategies. I’m writing all of this to set the tone for the types of things I will begin to share here. While I will still be sharing my uninspired ramblings of pure inspiration, I will also be discussing different digital and tech related topics.

I invite you to join me on this journey.

Appearances Can Be Deceiving

“Have a good evening,” she said with a naughty grin.  “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”

“Bye!” I said laughing as I walked toward the elevator.

I walked to my car and got it.  It was a nice day so I rolled down my windows and turned up my radio a bit as I headed out of the parking lot.  I had to stop by the store so I decided I would give him a call when I got to the store.  I needed some time to enjoy the music and the breeze.

When I got to the store, I rolled up my windows and hopped out of the car.  As I was walking in, I dialed my cell phone to give him a call.  I got his voicemail so I left him a message letting him know that I had left work a bit before 4pm and was heading home but that I was still open to the early dinner idea from my email.  I hung up and pulled out my list.  I had to make a list every time I went to the store so I wouldn’t get off task and pick up things I didn’t need.  I had a bad habit of doing that.

As I was going through the self check out line, my phone rang.  I hit ignore so I could pay attention to my purchases.  I hated it when people were at the register doing twelve things at once and holding up the line.  I paid for my purchases and grabbed by bags.  As I was walking to my car, I pulled out my phone and checked the call log.  He had called me back but didn’t leave a message.  I closed my phone and headed back to my car to put my bags in the trunk.  Once I got in and backed out, I picked up my phone to call him back.

I got his voicemail again and left another message.  “Hey, I saw that you called but didn’t leave a message.  I just left the store and am headed home now.  Give me a call back and let me know if you still want to get together.”

I rolled down my windows again and cranked up my music.  I put my cell phone on my leg so I would feel it vibrate if I got a call.  As I was pulling into my parking space, my phone vibrated.  I turned down the music and answered.  It was him.

“Hi!” I said.  “How are you?”

“I’m fine,” he said in a tight voice.  “Where are you?”

“I’m just parking at my apartment.  Did you get my voicemail messages and email?” I asked.

“Yes, I got them,” he said.  “When I called you back, you didn’t answer.  What were you doing?”

“Sounds you didn’t get my second message.  I was at the store when you called.  I called you right back, though,” I said.

“Oh at the store, huh?” he said.

“Yeah,” I said feeling a little annoyed.

“Well I wanted to come over and see you tonight.  Do you feel up to company?” he said.

“I am tired from last night,” I said.  “But I’m ok with you coming by for an early dinner.  I can cook something.”

“An early dinner?” he said.  “Why does it have to be an early dinner?”

“Because I’m tired and I need to get some sleep.  I barely made it through the day today and I have some deadlines coming up at work that I need to be alert for this week,” I said.

“Oh,” he said sounding disappointed.  “I wanted to come and spend the night with you again.”

“While that sounds absolutely lovely, I would probably fall asleep on you,” I said.  “What if we do that Friday night so we can spend Saturday together as well?  My Saturday is wide open.”

“Well, I guess that would be ok,” he said.  “I was really looking forward to seeing you tonight but I guess I can hold out.”

“Cool,” I said.

We continued talking as I got out of the car and headed inside.  After I put everything away, I told him I was going to take a shower and get comfortable for the evening.  We said goodbye and I headed to my room to take a quick shower and put on my lounging clothes.

After I got out of the shower, I went to the kitchen to make myself some dinner.  I was more tired than hungry so I took out the ingredients for a salad.  I had some grilled chicken left over from another meal so I cut that up and added in some apple slices, onions, carrots and cheese.  I put it in a bowl and pulled out a bottle of white wine.  I took my glass of wine and salad over to the couch and turned on the television.  I really needed to veg out some before I went to bed to rest my mind.

As I was eating the salad and watching television, I heard a knock at my door.  I walked over to it and looked out the peep hole.  It was him.

I opened the door.

“What a surprise,” I said.  “What brings you by?”

“I just couldn’t wait until Friday to see you again,” he said.

He grabbed me and kissed me passionately.

When we parted, I stepped back.  He was still standing in the open doorway.

“Wow,” I said.  “That was a lot.  Is something wrong?”

“No,” he said.  “Can’t I just be happy to see you?”

“Sure,” I said.  “I just wasn’t expecting you tonight based on our conversation a couple of hours ago.”

“Are you not happy to see me?” he asked.  I saw a small flicker of that thing in his eyes again.  It was the same look I saw the other night.  My stomach clenched slightly.

“I’m happy,” I said.  “I’m just surprised to see you-that’s all.”

He reached for me again but I was too far away from him after I took a few steps back.  He came into my apartment but left the door open.  He narrowed his eyes a little and took a step towards me.  I tried to focus my mind and assess the situation as best I could.  I couldn’t understand why this was happening.  I really liked this guy and here he was stepping menacingly towards me but I wasn’t sure why.

“Is everything ok?” I asked.

“No,” he said.  “I really wanted to see you and you didn’t want to see me.”

I shook my head slowly from side to side as I continued to back away from him further into my living room.

“No,” I said.  “It’s not that I didn’t want to see you but I am really tired and I didn’t want to be rude and fall asleep on you.”

“Well I really wanted to see you so I came over anyway to see you,” he said.

I wanted to get him to calm down and start acting like the guy that I had been falling for over the past few months.

“Here, have a glass of wine,” I said motioning to my glass sitting on the living room table.  “Let me go get another glass from the kitchen and we can talk.”

He looked at me with that crazy look in his eye and then walked over to the couch and sat down.

I walked into the kitchen and looked for my cell phone.  Thankfully I had left it in the kitchen when we finished talking earlier and no one had called since then.  I picked up the phone and dialed 911 but didn’t hit the send key.  I pulled out the bottle of wine and got another glass.  I walked back to the living room and sat down next to him on the couch.  I pulled out the wine cork and poured myself a glass of wine.

“Would you like more?” I asked.

He shook his head so I reached over and poured a bit more into his glass.  He picked it up and took a big gulp before sitting the glass down.  He stared at the television for a minute then he looked over at me.  I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that crazy look out of his eyes.  He looked like the guy I’ve gotten to know and like a lot again.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“Well you kind of caught me off guard,” I said, choosing my words carefully so as not to set him off.  “I wasn’t expecting you to stop by tonight. I thought we were going to get together Friday.”

“Oh,” he said.  “I just wanted to see you and the next thing I knew, I was in my car driving over.”

He reached over to give me a kiss and I flinched slightly.  He pulled back, eyes widening.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.  “Did I scare you?”

“Yeah, a little,” I said.  “There was a look in your eyes that worried me.”

He leaned over again and brought me close to him for a hug.  After a few minutes, he let me go and kissed me on the cheek and forehead.

“I apologize if I frightened you,” he said.  “Sometimes I get really intense when I feel really strongly about something or someone.  I really like you and after last night I just couldn’t get you off my mind.”

I smiled at how sweet he was being.  I leaned over and gave him a kiss.

“It’s ok,” I said.  “I’m flattered that you wanted to see me so bad.  Let me take your jacket.  Would you like some salad?”

He took off his jacket and handed it to me.  I closed the front door and walked over to the closet to hang up his jacket when I felt him right behind me.  I turned around in shock and he grabbed my neck tightly.

“When I say I want to see you, you’d better make the time to see me,” he said menacingly.  “Don’t ever tell me no again.”

I tried to speak but couldn’t get the words out as he squeezed my throat.  Tears began to roll down my cheeks and I felt myself getting dizzy.  My hands were hanging by my sides so I reached into my pocket and hit the send button on my cell phone thankful that I had kept 911 keyed in.  Right before I passed out, I felt him kiss me on the forehead and whisper “I’m sorry.”

Practicing Authenticity

A few years ago I made a promise to myself that I would be my most authentic self at all times. This happened as a result of me feeling kind of resentful that the people around me seemed to think they “knew” me and would try to inject that knowledge into my life at various times. Once I got past being annoyed, I realized that it wasn’t just happening to me. This happens to everyone and there is no real way to make people stop doing this.

However, I realized that the one thing I could do to manage this was to make it a point to be myself authentically at all times. So when someone tries to tell me who I am, I can receive the information and recognize that it’s simply how they see me based on their own lens of experience.

That was an empowering thought and I began to do it right away. But after doing it, I began to notice that while being my authentic self is important, it’s not always easy to do. I know that may sound odd because who else should you be but yourself?

But I did learn that authenticity, like many other things, is a practice. The more you practice it, the better you will get at it. I’ve made some videos about this very topic. Since I’ve come to fully accept and realize that authenticity is a practice, I will make more videos to accompany this one.

I would love to hear your thoughts. Please join me on this journey into practicing authenticity.