Black Hair Magic

[This story is taken from a book I’m self-publishing called ‘Impossible Things.’ The genre is magical realism. Thanks for reading! Full book coming soon. ❤ ]

A short story

By: Ashley Tiara Lilly

Black Hair Magic

It was a hot summer day but the air conditioning was cool. Abigail sat on her bed, flipping through a copy of her favorite magazine while eating from a pack of peach-flavored mints. She was wearing a new pair of denim shorts with her favorite white top that was decorated with lace.

She paused when she saw a picture of her favorite popstar, Daphne Moon, and circled it with a blue pen. Daphne wore red lipstick, a golden, glittery dress, and her smile was bright. What really stood out, though, was her hair, slicked back but still showing off her beautiful curls. Abigail snapped a picture with her smart phone and sent it to her best friend, Jayla, typing,

“Ugh she’s so perfect. Why can’t my hair look like that????”

There was a knock on the door and her mother walked in, carrying a brown box. She shook the box to get her attention, its contents rattling inside. As soon as Abigail heard it, she knew exactly what it was. She hopped out of bed and took the box in her hands, holding it to her chest like a long lost treasure.

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Like this story? Read the rest of it here 🙂

A couple of short stories I wrote are published on The Haunting of Sunshine Girl website :)

Check out the stories here:

http://thehauntingofsunshinegirl.com/scary-stories.php

And if you’re not familiar with The Haunting of Sunshine Girl YouTube channel or book series, be sure to check those out as well!! ❤ 🙂

Arts and Budget Cuts

Disappointed but not surprised that the National Endowment for the Arts may be among organizations that experience budget cuts. When will people realize that the arts shouldn’t be brushed aside every time they want to save a buck? Arts education gives young people a healthy way to express themselves, builds confidence, improves work ethic, and allows them to be a part of something. Arts educators are some of the most inspiring and influential people I’ve had in my life. Fine art, music, theater, dance, and literature also teach empathy, which is something certain people in power could use a whole lot more of. These are some of our greatest tools in promoting diversity, equality, and acceptance. The arts are not nothing. They matter.

Check out this article at the Huffington Post to see how you can help to protect national arts funding:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/neh-nea-funding-political-action_us_58865ea9e4b096b4a233ca04

 

A few of my favorite creative writing and art blogs

A couple of days ago, I wrote a post about online literary magazines. Today I’m gonna talk about creative writing and art blogs! Blogs are a great way to find poems, stories and artwork you’ll love. Here are twelve of my favorites:

StarsRainSunMoon – Also titled “Arrows & Metaphors.” This is one of my favorite blogs that I’ve stumbled upon on WordPress. The author posts lovely poems and photographs.

Very Short Fiction – I didn’t discover this blog until recently, but the title says it all. This blog is stories, stories, and more stories! The author has maintained this site since 2008. Check out his “The Author” page to learn a bit more about him.

‘V’ as in Vixen – Another WordPress blog, this author’s writings are relatable and emotional. You can’t read her work without feeling connected to her experiences.

Beautiful Hello – You guessed it, this blog is from WordPress too 🙂 The author shares her paintings, enjoyable insights, and thoughts on living a creative life.

The Mischief Memoirs  – The author of this site posts thought-provoking poetry and artwork. They also sell their artwork online.

Cameron D Hamilton – This author posts poetry, stories, thoughts, and more. His posts are relatable, honest, and often give insights into his everyday life.

Button Poetry – Button Poetry is a Tumblr blog that posts videos of performance poets.

Mindful Poems – Another Tumblr blog, this site posts beautiful poems that are also aesthetically pleasing.

Queer Poets – A blog with work by and for queer poets.

Erin Anastasia – Blog, vlog, same difference right? This vlogger makes poetry videos that are totally worth checking out.

Little Short Stories – Little stories, cute images, and adorable rhymes. Also powered by Tumblr.

Black Poets – A blog that features Black poets each week.

It’s impossible for me to list all the blogs I’ve liked. I follow so many talented people on WordPress alone. These are just a few that have inspired me. I hope you enjoy them too ❤

 

 

 

 

Things of the Heart

[I wrote this story a few years ago. While my writing has evolved quite a bit since then, this continues to be one of my favorite stories that I’ve done.]

           I stood in front of the Lindherst Concert House, where my name was up in lights. It said in big, shining letters, “Tonight, Cindy Kale, Live Performance: The Hottest Ticket in Town.” So, this is what it feels like to see your dreams come true, I thought. I stood outside in the cloak of night as strangers passed me by in the street. I wondered, would any of them see my show tonight? Would any of them see the mountains I’d climbed, the desperation, the hard work, and the tears that led me to this very moment? When they heard me, would they remember my voice, or would it only be another insignificant moment in their memory bank, stored away only to be forgotten? I shook the thoughts away as I held my coat closed over my chest, took a breath of the cool night air, and made my way into the building for my sound check.

            My heals clicked softly as I walked across the stage. I sang my “do re mi’s” and my “mi fa sol’s” as the sound guy cued me and the stage lights gleamed into my eyes. Then, I sang the first few bars of my opening song. “Keep me here, don’t let me go, if you really loved me, then you’d stay. Our hearts, they still can beat as one, even if we’re miles away…”

            “Okay, you’re good.” The sound guy told me. I smiled a charming smile and thanked him for his time, and then let the owner of the fine establishment show me to my dressing room. I took in the sight of the white walls, the mirrors lined with lights, and the neat display of make-up brushes paired with eyeliner and face powder. There was a table with bottled water, flowers and fruit, and beside that was the clothing rack that contained all of my costumes. I scanned the rack for the blue, glittery, strapless dress that I’d be wearing for my show tonight. When I spotted it, my heart leaped in my chest, and that’s when it all began to feel real. I was performing tonight, and people were coming from all over town to see me. I looked back at the manager to see that a golden plaque hung from the dressing room door, and engraved on it was my name: “Cindy S. Kale.”

            “You’ll be on in forty-five minutes, Miss Kale.” The manager told me. I thanked him and he went on his way, closing the door behind him. I pulled out a stool and sat down in front of a mirror, and looked back at the painted smile and pretty red curls that stared back at me. My lips have learned to smile on command, but my blue eyes couldn’t lie, and they told me the whole, sad-hearted truth. I made myself busy with placing my make-up in front of me. I pulled out all of my brushes, shadow,  highlight, and lipstick; my make-up sponges, powder, mascara, and eyeliner. Then, just as the pressure began to build, I let the tears fall, cool and salty, down my cheeks, just missing the corners of my quivering lips. I felt a lot of things in that moment.

            I felt the things I knew I should feel: the excitement, the fulfillment, the sense of joy and achievement. But mostly, I felt empty, because there was someone I missed. Someone I left behind in pursuit of this life. And even though I knew I was about to embrace the stage lights and the audience and the piano keys, I knew there was another love I wished to embrace. Someone who I ran away from, someone who I was afraid to love in return, someone I pushed away when I needed to let the music in. And I knew that he hated me for it. I knew that he wouldn’t come to my show, even though all I wanted was to see him there, sitting in the front row, hearing me sing, that way, I would know that we weren’t completely lost. That way, I wouldn’t feel forgotten.

            I wiped the tears away with my hands. I dabbed my face with a cloth and began applying my eye makeup. I applied my shadow and blush, my lipstick and my false lashes. I applied powder and smacked my lips together, and then smiled, my blue eyes bright this time with the adrenaline of getting ready to perform.

            “Break a leg,” he said. My memory brought me back to a time when my love was still with me. We stood outside of Coffee and Jazz, a hole in the wall café in a secluded location. It had an open-mic night and the best cheesecake you’ve ever tasted. I was there to sing, and he was there to watch me. He gave me a kiss on the cheek and held my hands in his.

            “You’re going to watch me sing, aren’t you Brian?” I’d asked him. Light snow flurries had begun to fall, and I watched his sweater collect the glimmering crystals.

            “Are you kidding? I’ll be in the front row, cheering you on. And afterwards, I’ll take you out to celebrate, anywhere you want to go,” he told me. I told him that sounded wonderful and he gave me a gentle kiss for luck. He walked me inside, and later that evening, I got up on stage and I sang. Brian kept his word, and he sat right there, in the front row. It didn’t matter that there weren’t many other people there. I was really only singing to him, anyway.

            “You’re on in five minutes Miss Kale.” The manager called through the door, pulling me out of my memory. A tinge of sadness was left behind as I realized it would be only that, a memory. I slipped out of my jeans and into my dress and my heals. Shimmering, dolled up, and pretty as a sunset, I took one last look in the mirror.

            “I’m living my dream, I’m living my dream, I’m living my dream,” I told myself. The manager knocked on my door and I opened it up, my smile easy and natural, and my body energized. I told him I was ready to go on, and he led me to my entrance onto the stage. He walked out to greet the audience and to introduce me, and I felt my heart pounding, accompanied by sweaty palms.

            “Ladies and gentleman, now, the moment you have all been waiting for. I present to you, Miss Cindy Kale, the hottest ticket in town.” The audience clapped as I walked out, showered by the love of their applause. The piano keys started playing on cue, and I started singing my song. I didn’t need to do much of an acting job. The feelings I needed were already there.

            “Keep me here, don’t let me go, if you really loved me, then you’d stay. Our hearts, they still can beat as one, even if we’re—“ And I stopped. I couldn’t continue. Confused, the piano keys dwindled to silence, and all I could do was stare. I knew it was unprofessional, but I couldn’t help it. I only did it because I saw a familiar face sitting in the front row. When I saw Brian, I was caught off guard, and all I wanted was to step off the stage and into his arms. I wanted to touch his face, to see if he was real. I wanted to say his name. But instead, I remembered where I was, and decided to sing another song.

            “Sorry about that, but if you all don’t mind, I’d uh, I’d like to start off with something a little different.” I cued the piano man to switch to song number three, and when he was there, he gave me the okay.

            “This song is for all of the couples out there tonight. This song is for anyone who’s ever been in love.” The piano came back to life and I started to sing.

            “You held me, that’s how I knew that you loved me. You kissed me, that’s how I knew that you loved me. You told me, that’s how I knew that you loved me…You held me, that’s how I knew that you loved me. You kissed me, that’s how I knew that you loved me. You loved me, that’s how I knew you were mine…” When I finished my number, everyone whistled and clapped, but the only person I saw was Brian. He clapped in his calm, yet enthusiastic way, and when I smiled he winked at me. I did the rest of my show, just as I had rehearsed.

            And I don’t know if everyone thought it was great, and I don’t know if everyone really believed that I was the hottest ticket in town. But it didn’t matter, because Brian did. And he told me so after the show when he presented me with a kiss and a bouquet of roses. I gave him apologies and he gave me forgetfulness. He asked if he could take me to dinner, and I said yes in a thousand languages. A lot of people came to see me sing that night, and that was a dream come true. But being there with Brian, with his roses and his kisses, for the first time that night, my dream felt complete. For the first time, my heart lacked nothing, and I truly believed that I could spread my wings and fly.

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#fiction

 

Affection

Lana held her girlfriend’s hand, their fingers intertwining together as they sat on the edge of a picnic table, their feet resting on the wooden bench. She rested her head on her partner’s shoulder as the wind blew strands of her curly, red hair into her face. Her girlfriend gave her hand a squeeze and she could smell the peppermint on her breath that came from her chewing gum.

“You okay, Lan?” her girlfriend asked. Lana nodded without looking up.

“I’m good,” she said.

Scooter sat on the bench a few feet away from them. He smoothed out his black hair that was already shaped with gel. He stared at his phone and the heel of his foot moved up and down like a lever. A soft sigh escaped his lips and he muttered something to himself that no one else could hear.

Lana brushed the loose strands of hair behind her ear with her fingers and glanced over at him.

“You seem troubled, Scoot. What’s goin’ on?”

He looked at her, startled, as though he forgot she was there, and then shrugged.

“It’s Skyler. When we first met, we hooked up and drank wine at her apartment. We had fun, no strings attached. But she was funny and adventurous. I wanted to take her out for real, so I did. We went to dinner and drank beer beneath the stars, and then slow danced, not well by the way, while music played on the radio. She said she really liked me,” he said.

“Sounds like you had a nice time. Why are you upset?”

He slumped his shoulders and looked down at the grass. The air smelled like fresh earth and the clouds provided partial shade from the warm sun in the mostly blue sky. The park was mostly empty with the exception of one or two families who were at the playground, on the other side of the field. Two small birds landed in the grass several feet away and started pecking at the ground.

“She hasn’t texted me back all week. I haven’t heard from her since that night,” he said. He placed his phone on the table with a soft thump.

Lana’s girlfriend slid over to Scooter’s side and sat next to him on the bench. Her short, brown hair was shaved on one side and she wore a leather jacket even though it was summer. She popped her gum and gave him a playful punch on the shoulder.

“Hey. Don’t worry about this. Maybe she lost her phone, maybe she had a family emergency, and maybe she doesn’t want a relationship after all and is too scared to tell you the fuckin’ truth. You can sit here on this beautiful day with friends, driving yourself crazy with maybes, or you can accept the fact that you had an amazing time with this girl, which might lead to something more. Or it might not. But you can’t let one person blind you from all the affection you already have in your life. Keep your door open to all forms of love and the right person will find their way in. This is one girl. Let her come to you. And if she doesn’t, then move on. But for now, spend this day with us. Don’t spend your day with maybes,” she said.

Lana hopped down from the table and smoothed out her skirt before sitting next to her girlfriend. She reached over and held Scooter’s hand.

“Court’s right. We can go out. We can have fun. And we can make new friends, new memories, and new stories. You don’t have to stay stuck in this chapter,” she said.

He nodded and smiled a bit, revealing his dimples.

“You’re right. I guess I just wanted to have someone by my side who could help me forget to be sad.”

Courtney gave him a playful nudge in the ribs.

“That’s what the night is for,” she said.

Behind them, Scooter’s phone vibrated and rang. He picked it up off the table and looked at the caller ID. A picture of a girl with brown hair appeared on the screen along with her name. It was Skyler. He looked at his friends as if wondering if he should answer it, and Courtney gestured with her hands to say that he should.

“Tell her that the three of us are going out for milkshakes,” Lana said.

“Yeah,” Courtney agreed, “she should come.”

Scooter took a breath and answered the phone. He walked away from the bench and the two birds who were in the field flew off into the sky together. When he walked far enough to get some privacy, he cleared his throat. Lana rested her head again on Courtney’s shoulder, the two of them were barely able to hear Scooter’s soft hello.

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#fiction, short stories

I Opened Up A Book

I opened up a book

And got lost in a perfect world

This world didn’t judge me

This world didn’t keep secrets

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It didn’t matter what they looked like

They were all beautiful to me

And I was beautiful to them

I didn’t have to hide

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When the book came to an end

And I read those final words

I felt sad

But also better than before

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Because, for a while, I escaped

Into a world that was beautiful

And dark and complex and tragic

And it accepted that I was, too.

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#poetry