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Archive for the ‘Short Stories & Excerpts’ Category

Tori had been on an emotional rollercoaster since her birthday. Actually if she was being honest, she’d really been on this rollercoaster since Kori got sick over a year ago. Tori had not only lost her big sister but her best friend, which sent her through a spiral of emotions from the perils of disbelief and helplessness to pain and emptiness, along with every emotion in between. This journal was bringing her some much needed joy, though it left her in a painstaking tug-of-war between the togetherness she felt when she read it and the emptiness she felt when she closed it. She could hear Kori’s voice in her head, telling her to find balance, to not become so consumed, not to drive herself crazy; but she ignored her sister’s soft accented voice in her head.

 Tori was taking an AP biology class as part of the pre-med professional program for high school students that the university sponsored, but the class was hard and forcing her to really buckle down and study. Between class and cheerleading practice, Tori was finding herself dead tired every night, too tired to read Kori’s words and that was leaving her in a foul mood.

 First there was the time she had gotten flip with her mom about things as simple as washing the dishes. Yes she knew her mom hated leaving dishes in the sink, and yes she was the one who left them, but when her mom called her downstairs to wash them just as she was about to start reading the journal, she let a smart mouth comment fly out of frustration. She knew she only had a little bit of energy before sleep crept up on her and if she spent it washing dishes, she would never get any time to talk with Kori. She felt like her mom was doing it again, taking what little time she had with Kori away from her, like she did during Kori’s last days, when her mom would send her home and not let her spend the night at the hospital. And as if that wasn’t enough, now her mom had a ‘tude with her for the smart comment she let loose; she didn’t want her mom mad at her, but she didn’t want to apologize either.

 Then there was the incident when she snapped at her best friend Michelle after she’d been invited over to work on some stunts they were putting into their latest cheer routine. When Tori walked in the backyard she already felt her emotions boiling as she watched Michelle and her older sister practice together. On the first stunt she faked an injury and limped to side calling the routine stupid and lame; she sat the rest of the afternoon watching with jealousy as Michelle and her sister continued to laugh and joke with each other—the way she used to do with Kori.

At the week’s end, Tori was exhausted. Not from class, or cheer, or chores, but emotionally drained from the incidents with her mom and best friend—it left her feeling empty, and as the tears rolled down her cheeks, she felt alone. It was Friday and with no need to get up early in the morning, she curled up in bed and opened the journal.

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Entry #4: Green Eyes, Red Heart

So I’m sure by now you’re walking around here pouting and biting off people’s head for no reason at all. You haven’t learned how to control your emotions; always letting them get the best of you! And don’t you dare roll your eyes at me little missy because I’m sure that since you started reading this journal you’ve been extremely moody and touchy; snap out of it, I don’t need mommy blaming your little mood swings on me!

 Tori, emotions are good. They remind you that you’re human. Every emotion exists for a reason, to display a different sentiment to a circumstance, and no emotion is off limits. You’re just as allowed to feel angry, mad, or sad as you are to feel happy, glad and joyous. But you can’t allow them to dictate you. I know we all joke about you being such a firecracker and that’s great, but there is a fine line to it all- you need to balance between using emotion to drive you and being driven by your emotions, the latter of which will get you in a world of trouble, especially if you let jealousy and hatred get the best of you.

 Jealousy is stealthy. It is more often than not passive aggressive, slowly brewing as your eyes turn green with envy with each passing moment of watching someone indulge in what you think rightfully belongs to you. The killer about jealousy is the ‘denial awareness’ complex that comes with it…”I don’t want those shoes, I’m sure they are way over priced”, “I would never drive a car that flashy”, etc. It’s easy to turn our nose up with a complimentary smart remark denying ever wanting what they have. But then you silently acknowledge you can’t look away because the girl with the overpriced shoes is with a loving guy who has showered her with a dozen compliments since they walked in and the girl with the flashy car is celebrating with friends on her recent promotion in her budding career. You see very rarely is it the shiny new things that someone has, but ratehr the relationships, progress, and fulfillment that we stare longingly at. Jealousy will have you acting in sheer madness; rushing life’s natural timings just be able to say ‘me too’ which all to often is the result of a poor in-the-moment-decision that you will have to live with for the rest of your life. It will also have you being rude, short and temperamental with these people thinking “how dare they smile in my face and ask me what’s wrong when they have the audacity to flaunt their joys in my face.” News flash: it’s not them, it’s all you! They aren’t doing anything malicious towards you. You are mentally tripping and taking it out on them.

 Isn’t it crazy how jealousy can have you acting out??!!

 Then there is hatred, a bona fide thief. Its much bolder than jealousy, making itself known with declaration. How easily we announce “I hate (fill in the blank)!” And if asked we quickly give a laundry list of whys to back up that “I hate (fill in the blank)!”. But hatred is a silent killer. See it manifest in your heart, the very place where love is suppose to dwell, but since hate is making house there, there isn’t enough room for love too. Then of course there is the constant upkeep of hate, now you actually have to keep up reasons for this hatred and as this becomes a hazardous preoccupation so goes your time to worry about yourself. And alas you wake up one day and don’t know for the life of you why you were hating in the first place, but that red burning flame in your heart has already stolen love and time from you —like I said a bona fide thief.

 People never see the problem with being emotionally driven until the ‘wrong’ emotions are driving you. On the other hand though, when you drive from emotion (vs. being emotionally driven), you are in control, you have the power to say I feel this way and I’m going to act this way. Own your emotions and own your actions.

 I’m not trying to lecture you, and not saying you’ve let any of the above happen, but I’ve had the chance to see the ugly side of emotions and it has shown me that emotional intelligence is a highly underrated thing and we could all use a course or two on checking our emotions.

 Well kiddo, that was just free advice for a rainy day. Most people will never tell you about emotional control, its one of those things that just never comes up in life’s teaching moments until you sit back and reflect on how out of control you were…funny how things like that go huh?

 

…til next time, have a coke and smile.

 

Love you,

Kori

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 Entry #3: Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Hello. Bonjour. Ni hao. Hola. Selamat pagi. Al salaam a’alaykum.

There are over 192 countries in the world, 1,500 different culture groups, 2,796 languages, and 7 wonders of the world (pick from any list!). What’s my point…with endless options of where to go, what to do, and things to see, travel the world!

There is absolutely no reason for you to spend your days only knowing the city you were born in. I love Nashville, and at times I long for it and its way of life. But, the world is so much more. Why wouldn’t you want to sit in the Taj Mahal , walk the streets during El Dia Los Muertos, or stand at the foot of the Great Pyramid of Giza???

But traveling is so much bigger than just ‘seeing’ the world; it’s about ‘doing’ across the world. Practice Tai Chi in the morning in Beijing for discipline, Pray in the afternoon in Saudi Arabia for spiritual awakenings in your own faith, Kiss at night in Paris under the Pont-Marie to fill your heart with everlasting love. Eat Pizza Margherita in Italy, a Gyro in Greece, or Doro Wett in Ethiopia. Do you get what I’m saying? Don’t be a passive traveler. There are plenty of spas and bed & breakfasts to visit for relaxation or a quiet get-away (and you will definitely need these!), but when you decide to travel, really travel, go to experience life! Experience the history, the language, the food, the music, and the people. If you don’t, you will return home as narrow as you left; world travel stretches you to explore a culture, pushes your comfort zone to accept (and hopefully admire) a way of life unlike your own, compels you to understand you are a part of a bigger human force, and heightens your empathy to life’s freedoms and limitations.

One of my favorite places is Italy. Ahhh, Italy (excuse me as I daydream). Let me tell you honey, Italy is the place to learn about three of the finest things in life, Food! (pasta, cheese and tomatoes, gelato…my mouth is watering as I write,,,yum!) Leather! (cotton may very well be the fabric of our lives, but leather, full-grain Italian leather, is the material of the finest boots, purses and gloves, ohh, and Mercedes Benz interior!) And Men! (I now understand how “tall, dark and handsome” applies to the other race!).

It was my first trip there that I learned what it really meant to travel. I ate pasta for 2 weeks straight (my thighs paid for that little carbohydrates free-for-all, but who cares? Kickbox off the pounds when you get home!). Then there was the heavenly treat of gelato that I had for desert everyday; AND gelato proved to be a handy little obsession for me because it’s how I met Christian, my “Roman boyfriend” (he was my gelato server, but hey no need to nick pick at his career, I got two scoops of gelato for the price of one!) After going back to the restaurant for a few days, I agreed to meet him at a dance club (now, let’s be clear—i didn’t get all slap happy and forget my ‘stranger danger’ radar! I didn’t know this guy from Adam, so I didn’t let him pick me up and I certainly had friends with me….i said see the world, I didn’t say be stupid. Don’t act like there are no crazies out here!) I danced til 4am (whew they know how to go all night long)! I traveled the city by train with just a map and a transit card. I visited The Last Supper and cried; I stood in the center of Vatican City in awe. And when it was time to go, my “Roman boyfriend” kissed me with such affection that I felt all the passion of a first and last kiss at once. In short it was a life changing trip. I was exhausted for a week afterwardss and needed a stay-cation from the vacation, but it was so worth it!

See the world and have your own adventures and memories. You have nothing to lose but air miles!

Well baby girl, I’m going to do some more day dreaming of Italy, and you, well, go get a passport (smile)

Love you, ~K~

(by the way, that’s Hello is English, French, Chinese, Spanish, Indonesian and Arabic!)

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Entry 2: Boys Dating, and Love

Hey chica, how you feeling today?

 So the last time we had one of these little talks we had the water works going and we were slinging snot, the whole nine yards, so let’s try for something a little less dramatic today, yeah J

 Hmm, what should we talk about today? Ahh yes, I promised you we’d talk about boys.

 Boys are overgrown children—all they do is eat, sleep and play–and this is regardless of how old they are! Whether its sports, video games or electronic gadgets, if it’s a chance to say “mines is bigger than yours” they are all over it. Great example, you remember that guy Rob I went on a date with once—well that didn’t last but a hot second because this clown blew me off for lunch because he had to play some stupid pickup game after a 18 year old kid tried to ‘punk’ him by calling him an old-timer on the court. Yep, uh-huh, he showed him all right, went all half-man, half-amazing to the hole and tore his ligament in 3 places. And if you need another example, take our dear dear brother Rori; waited until he was a grown man to get his first speeding ticket because some kid with a shiny red Camaro revved his engine. Like I said, overgrown kids!  Ha!

 When it comes to dating, well you’ll have to kiss your fair share of frogs before you get to Prince Charming. The dating world is brand new now. Guys used to do their best to impress a girl on the first date, but now everyone is ‘hooking up’, ‘kicking it’ or ‘just chilling’—which by the way, those are the most vague nothingness phrases I have ever heard.

 Here’s the beware list:

  1. Beware of Mr. Boring—if he can’t come up with anything better than dinner and movie, he’s lacking creativity. Remember my friend Monica; she dated a guy that took her to 5 dinners & movies in a two-week span. There are never that many good movies out at one time to see!
  2. Beware of Mr. Mack—if every compliment out his mouth is a slick one-liner, leave him where he stands. He’s trying to wine and dine you out of your panties and no one’s game should be that slick!
  3. Beware of Mr. Militant—if he’s ready for the revolution and wants you to be down for the cause to get the ‘white man’s foot off the black man’s neck” you black power your way right on out the door.
  4. Beware of Mr. Conceited and/or Pretty Ricky—hear me and hear me good, no man should ever spend 80mins of a 90min conversation talking about himself!! Clearly he likes the sound of his voice and is too into himself to be into you. And if a man spends more time getting dressed than you do, leave Pretty Ricky at the mirror by himself.

 But you’ll know a good one when you come across him. If a guy is truly interested in dating you, he will do just that, date you, court you and learn you. He will take the initiative to experience your company in so many spaces of life. And these guys do exist. I know there is so much male bashing going on, especially on black men, but we can’t give up on them. When I say don’t give up on black men, remember that your father, brother and uncles are black men. They cannot afford for women of their blood and struggle not to support them in life. Don’t let negative media and bitter/scorned women taint your image of our men. You must always cheer them, uplift them and support them. This however doesn’t mean you need to marry a black man. Love is still love, even if he doesn’t come in our shade of black. If he treats you like the best thing in his life and loves you enough to see perfection in your flaws, then his color doesn’t matter.  But Black Love is special!

 Speaking of love….you’ll have to experience it to know it, but it’s worth all the frogs you kissed! Now, love isn’t this fairy tale that they describe in the movies and it takes more work that anyone ever talks about; but the Lord knew what he was doing when he created it. Love, real love, well its worth all the work you need to put in to keep it alive. To have someone in your corner 365 days, 24/7 is unspeakable. Trust me on this, don’t get lost in this “I don’t need a man” song-n-dance, because you do. No you don’t need him to pay your bills, take you shopping, or send you on trips, but success won’t hold you at night and finances can’t romance you.

 Brian has been my Mr. Wonderful. He was never short of making me feel like I can do anything (and look good doing it). You know, I know I said I’ve made my peace and all, but I have to admit, I would have liked to have made it down the aisle with him because I know we would have been great, a modern day power couple. But hey, he did put a ring on it! HA!  It takes a selflessness to love—this whole time I have been more concerned about what this was doing to his spirit and his heart, more so than my own. I don’t want to be the reason he doesn’t love pure again. He told me the other day that I made him want to be a better man, and I knew exactly what he meant because he made me want to be a better woman. That’s love honey, simple and plain.

 I don’t know when you are going to find love (though I better be the first to know!) but I know you will, and when you do, slow dance with him every day (smile)!

 ……until next time.

 P.S. the one piece of advice Daddy told me and I have to tell you, DON’T EVER EVER EVER DATE A MAN THAT HAS A SNAKE!! Weird, yes I know, but he couldn’t be more right! It ain’t right that man would want a snake as a pet; snakes aren’t even pets! So if you meet a guy with a snake, do not pass go, do not collect $100, just move far far away for him! 

~Love you much, talk to you soon~

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Tori closed the door to her room and moved towards the wrapped box that said “Happy Sweet Sixteen, love your big sis Kori!” She folded herself on the floor like Kori – legs crossed Indian style, pillow in her lap, face in the palm of her left hand, body leaning forward. She noted how effortless and casual Kori always made this look, though everyone knows that as you get older sitting Indian style is probably one of the least comfortable ways to be positioned.  But that’s part of what Tori loved so much about her big sister; she made everything look so simple.

 Underneath the wrapping paper Tori discovered a hand-made wooden treasure chest with ‘Precious Moments’ scribed across the lid. She slowly raised the lid to find a bundle wrapped in a silk Hermes scarf tied with silver horseshoe scarf ring. Inside the scarf was a journal that had a cursive K&T embroidered on the cover. Noticing that over half the journal was written in, Tori flipped to the front of the journal to find a dedication from her sister.

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Dear Tori,

Happy Sweet Sixteen babygirl!! I hope today has been wonderful for you! I know you’re a tad bit confused on why I would give a journal that’s all ready written in…don’t worry, I have good reason, but I’ll get to that in a second.

First I want you to know how proud of you I am. You are growing into a beautiful lady, on the inside and outside. You’re so full of vibrancy and you’re a little firecracker. Don’t lose any of that! That’s the light in your eyes that’s just contagious. Ahhh sixteen, what a glorious age. It’s a ‘coming of age’ milestone, life is going to really start happening now from dating, college, friendships, self discovery, etc. That gets me to this journal.

So much is about to happen to you and for you. Life is about to come at you a thousand miles a hour and that’s so exciting! I know when I turned sixteen there became so much to talk about and that’s why Rori and I are so close. He is such a great big brother (except that he will tell you don’t date until you’re 35)! I could talk to him about anything and he never judged me, always listened to me, and always let me find my own way; but there were times when I wished I had a big sister, someone to have girl talk with. Soo, needless to say that since the day you were born I’ve been waiting on you to turn 16 so we could have girl talk. Unfortunately I am not there to have these talks face to face with you in my room with popcorn, ice cream and pizza late nights. But I didn’t want either one of us to miss out on this, so I have been writing down the ‘big chats’ for a while now. On these pages you’ll find my little flashbacks on the topics, my thoughts, and my encouragement to you.

I LOVE YOU  ~Kori

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Entry 1: Faith & Family

Yes I know this journal is for you, but do me a favor and read this entry with mom, dad and Rori.

Hi Family,

So first thing first, ground rules:

  1. 1.       You are not allowed to read anything in here that has not been noted to read with the whole family (which is only this entry!)
  2. 2.       You are not allowed to ask Tori what’s in this journal!
  3. 3.       Rori—you are not allowed to call this a ‘diary’..it’s a JOURNAL!
  4. 4.       All—you are only allowed to love and believe J

I am ‘girl talking’ Tori through life, and I guess I have a lot to say about it. But today’s lesson is probably the hardest and while this journey is meant for her, this lesson is meant for you all.

DON’T BE MAD AT GOD FOR TAKING ME AWAY. The funny thing about Faith is that you never know how much of it you really have until it is tested. When I was diagnosed with Sepsis, the whole family’s Faith was tested; from the days in the therapy sessions to the nights in the hospital after plasma transfusions none of this was easy. I know it seems unfair that after all the research studying this disease, money spent on treatments and time spent on our knees calling to God that I would still have to leave. But God didn’t rob us, cheat us, or steal from us. I think God only knew my body could take so much more and I think God knew you all could only continue to see me suffer for so long. So by his Grace, he’s letting me come home. But, He let me stay until He knew you all were strong enough to let me go, Thank Him for that. He let me stay long enough for us to make a few more memories together, Thank Him for that. He let me stay long enough to write this journal, Thank Him for that. We’ve always walked by Faith and not by sight in this family, and there is no greater time then now to hold-fast to that. Faith brought this family together on Earth, and Faith will bring this family together in Heaven; believe in the plan, even when you can’t see it.

 I know you all have cried ‘Oh God why Kori…why did you have to take her?’ but I need you to stop. I’m going to a better place and I won’t be suffering anymore. I’ve had my talks with God and I get it now. Some people’s most glorious and meaningful purpose is to be more for someone else than they could be for themselves. I have a fluttery feeling in the pit of my stomach that this family, especially Tori, needs me more watching over you than amongst you, so I’m off to be your guardian angel, and I’m blessed to be so.

See you in the next life, watching over you in this life.

Love, Kori

P.S. Tori—see why you needed the family? That’s the other lesson. Family is there when no one else is. No one else will ever share this moment with you. Sure, we drive each other crazy sometimes, but don’t take the souls in that house for granted. Family will keep you strong and cheer you on when you don’t have the strength to do it for yourself, believe me I know. Godspeed.

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­­­­­­­­Tori closed the journal and the family sat quiet for what felt like a lifetime, only the sounds of sobs and sniffles echoing through the living room. They all could hear her voice so clearly and see her face so vividly, her words were like that– so engulfing they could take you to the very place in time she wrote them.

“When, when did she have time to write that?” their mother asked as she held her hands over her heart. “She, she should have been resting. She…” was all she managed to get out before their father joined their family hands and told them all to do the one thing his daughter had told them to do…..have Faith.

Tori spent her birthday with her family, no friends, no party, just family. They had popcorn, pizza and ice cream and Tori silently thanked God for the time to make another memory with her family.

After the long day, Tori nestled in bed and opened her journal to read:

GO TO SLEEP!! IT’S BEEN A LONG DAY. SAVOR THE LAST COUPLE HOURS OF YOUR BIRTHDAY. I’M NOT GOING ANYWHERE, I’LL BE RIGHT HERE WHEN YOU’RE READY TO TALK AGAIN, AND DON’T WORRY, OUR NEXT CONVO WILL BE MUCH MORE FUN, WE’LL TALK ABOUT BOYS!  (smile)

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