Human Interest

Ingram’s March

Participants link arms in the Poor People's Campaign in Marks, Mississippi, May 1968. Photo courtesy of www.folkways.si.edu
Participants link arms in the Poor People’s Campaign in Marks, Mississippi, May 1968. Photo courtesy of http://www.folkways.si.edu

A few years ago (2009-2012), I was freelancing for the publication By U Magazine, based out of Mississippi.  It was an incredible experience as I had the opportunity to speak with and get to know a wide selection of honorable individuals who I otherwise would have never come across.  One interview that will forever stay with me is with Helen Ingram.  Days after Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed, 16 year-old Helen Ingram participated in “The Poor People’s March” and helped pave the way for Civil Rights.  Here is her story…

It was 1968 and Helen Ingram was 16 years old.  Dr. King had been assassinated weeks prior to the event.  Several prominent leaders in the Civil Rights Movement had visited Marks, Mississippi and encouraged the Delta residents to move forward with the march, which was part of “The Poor People’s Campaign.”  This march would demonstrate to the government the need for jobs, healthcare and homes that so many Delta residents lacked.  “Kids didn’t eat lunch because they’re parents couldn’t afford it.  So teachers were giving their lunches to the kids, leaving them without food.”  Ingram grew up attending the Civil Rights meetings.  She knew without a doubt that wherever the campaign took place, she would be there fighting for her rights.

That day Ingram went to school with the plan of participating in the walk-out.  It was in class she and her classmates heard about the arrest of several Civil Rights leaders.  Plans altered: now, they would be marching to the jail instead of heading to the local church.  In a crowd of 400 students, Ingram walks amongst her classmates.  They approach the jail, Civil Rights leaders “ hollering out the windows for the kids to sit on the grass and cover their heads.”  Guards surround the jail, eager to attack.  “You better leave,” a family friend warns Ingram.  She ignores him.  Told from a young age she had a big mouth, Ingram was done with the segregation and lack of respect.  No more eating behind the kitchen at a restaurant.  No more friends dropping out of school to work in the cotton fields.  And for goodness sakes, no more outhouses!  “My children will never go through this,” she says to herself, resisting intimidation.  Forward, come the guards.  Left, right, left, right and bam!  They start beating the kids.  Ingram’s “kicked in the back, then hit upside the head with the butt of a gun.”  Blankness.  Waking up in the hospital, she overhears a nurse complaining “they don’t have enough doctors.”  She later finds out that a pregnant friend of hers was kicked in the stomach, terminating the pregnancy and a teacher stomped to death.  Two of the many attacks made that day.  The guards think they won but they’re wrong.  Ingram checks out of the hospital and returns to the campaign.

Forty-three years later, Ingram now lives in a neighborhood that back in 1968 she wasn’t allowed to even enter.  Segregation has dispersed; however, there is still racism, still disrespect and worse ignorance.  She wonders if kids today realize how hard generations before them had to fight just so they could be where they are now.  She doesn’t expect them to understand the full impact the Civil Rights movement had but appreciate it?  Yes.  Let them hear her story, be grateful it wasn’t them and be eager to want more for their future kids as their parents wanted for them.

Featured in By U Magazine as Amanda Williford

Fiction

The Day Facebook Shut Down

Cracked-Facebook-Logo-Medium-700x700It wasn’t a tornado or a hurricane that blew a town’s residents into a wave of hysteria, it was something far worse. The day that Facebook shut down, residents were forced to learn how to survive on personal interaction as opposed to the internet; something no one should have to suffer through.

Jenny takes a bite of the crispy, buttered toast as she gathers a few files and shoves them into her purse. Through the open window, she can see the sun rising, which only reminds her that she has eight hours of work ahead of her. With her laptop on the kitchen counter, she checks her email only to find her inbox empty. “Impossible” she says to herself. Jenny always has at least five emails awaiting her every morning, all from Facebook notifying Jenny that friends have commented or posted on her wall. Closing out of her email, she immediately goes to the Facebook login site and enters her username and password. Nothing. She hits the ‘enter’ key again hoping for a different outcome. A pop-up appears. Error 101. A look of disappointment appears on her face. She tries again only to be given the same results, Error 101. She looks at the clock. “I’m late!”

Jenny runs out to her car but stalls before getting in. The street, normally crowded with school buses and cars is empty. Parents who gather by the bus stop and see their kids off to school each morning are absent. “Is it Saturday?” She looks at her phone and confirms that it’s Wednesday. She looks around, hoping to see someone walking down the street or a car driving by. Silence. “Maybe it’s a school holiday,” she says reassuring herself. The drive to work remains unsettling lonely. Continuously, Jenny attempts to login to Facebook only to be given the same message, “Error 101”. The inability to login frustrates her so much she fails to notice she’s the only car on the road. “Why won’t Facebook work?” she yells, hitting the steering wheel in anger. She arrives at work, pulling into the parking garage located next door to her office. Whereas she normally spends ten minutes searching for a parking spot, this morning she’s able to find a vacant spot in front. Her excitement quickly grows to concern when she notices the car parked next to her. The driver’s door is open with the keys still in the ignition. “What happened?” she asks herself. Running to the front of the garage where two parking attendants are always stationed, she finds the station empty. “Where is everyone?” Her voice echoes throughout the garage with no response. Fear rushes over her, prompting Jenny to run out of the garage and into the office building. Storming through the main doors, she bumps right into Albert, an accountant who sits three desks down from her.

“I’m sorry Albert,” she apologizes, trying to catch her breath.
Albert looks more frazzled than usual. His short curly hair hasn’t been combed and he’s only wearing one shoe. “What are you doing here?” he asks.
Jenny looks around only to see an empty office. “Where is everyone Albert?”

“Don’t you know?”
“Know what? Know what?” she screams.

“Facebook shut down.”
Jenny gasps, covering her mouth with her hand.  “When did this happen?”
“They don’t know the exact time. The first record they have is 4 o’clock a.m. Didn’t you hear the news?”

“Who has time to watch the news?” Jenny snaps. “I tried logging on a few times but it kept saying there was an error.”

“Some speculate this might be the end of Facebook.”

Jenny’s speechless.

“They’re calling it the Facebook Apocalypse.”

“It can’t be the end of Facebook. What will we do? How do they expect us to survive?”

“I don’t know. They’ve closed down all the offices, schools and stores, except Starbucks. Starbucks is open and offering free coffee.”
“I can’t drink coffee at a time like this. What am I supposed to do?”

Albert takes Jenny by the hand. “Come with me. I’m going to the Starbucks across the street where they’re holding a support group for Facebook survivors.”
Jenny feels lost and alone. Everything is closed.  She doesn’t have anyone’s number, just their Facebook page.  “Okay.”  She follows Albert outside.

Whereas the sun was awake and bright early this morning, it’s now hiding between a mountain of clouds, leaving the sky damp and gray. The streets are littered with empty soda cans and fast food wrappers. People roam the streets calling out the names of family members and friends. A man runs down the intersection, his body on fire and covered in flames. “Dislike!” he screams, “dislike!” An elderly lady stands at the corner holding a sign that reads “The End is Here, God Save Your Facebook Souls”. Albert holds on to Jenny and guides her across the street. A young woman approaches them.

“Excuse me but have you seen my sister?” the lady asks. She holds up a piece of paper with a drawing of what looks to be a woman on it.

“Is that supposed to be your sister?” Albert asks pointing to the drawing.

“Yes, it’s the best I could draw. All my pictures are on Facebook. I don’t have any pictures, except on Facebook.

“I’m sorry but I haven’t seen her,” he replies.

“It’s the best I could draw,” she whimpers.

Albert nudges Jenny and they continue towards the Starbucks. Inside, it’s packed with scared and frightened Facebook survivors.  One guy at the counter is taking shot after shot of caffeine.  “I can’t handle this!” he cries out, downing another gulp of liquid courage.  A girl sits huddled in the corner crying. “Someone could have died, had a baby, gotten married and I have no idea!” she sobs. Two high school students are arguing by the coffee display counter.

“You cheated on me with that fat and ugly chic?” the girl screams. Holding her cell phone she waves her hand over her head, creating a dramatic gesture.

“I just accepted her friend request, that’s all!” the boy hollers back. “I didn’t cheat on you!” Before Facebook shut down, an incident like this would have drawn attention to the teenagers; however, no one notices them now. Nor do they pay attention to the old lady hiding under a table. Instead, they’re all consumed with their own grief.

A man in his late forties climbs up on the counter and faces the crowd. “Excuse me,” he calls out. The cries and screaming continue. Clearing his throat, he tries again, this time yelling out “Facebook”. Everyone stops and turns their attention toward him. “I’m Dr. Jones and I’m here to help you through what they’re calling the Facebook Apocalypse.  We haven’t heard any updates about Facebook but all we can do during this time is deal with it in a calm manner.”  The girl sobbing in the corner lets out a cry.  Dr. Jones continues “If everyone could get in a circle, I have an exercise we can do.” Jenny follows instructions and helps formulate a circle. “Let’s try this first,” Dr. Jones begins.  “Everyone go around and say what your Facebook status would be if you were online right now.”
“But Facebook is down,” a kid points out.
“Yes I know that but since we can’t actually be on Facebook, this will have to do.”
Silence.
“I’ll start.  Andy Jones is trying to help others but getting no success.”
The lady next to him goes “Lacy Specks is sick of the smell of coffee.”
“Lisa Sams feels like I’m going to die.”
“Alan Sanders is frustrated.”

The teenage boy who was fighting with his girlfriend speaks next. “Richard James is single and ready to mingle”.

Richard’s ex-girlfriend follows. “Emily Smith is single and hates high school boys.”
Jenny’s turn is approaching.  She doesn’t know what to do.  She isn’t capable of speaking aloud what’s on her mind.  She isn’t used to it.
“Andy Blake wants pizza.”
It’s Jenny’s turn now.  All eyes are on her.  “I, I can’t do this,” she blurts out.
“Sure you can,” Dr. Jones assures her.
“No, I can’t.  It’s too hard, I can’t.”
Dr. Jones walks over to her.  “Maybe this will help.  Put your hands up like this and just air-type your status update while you say it aloud.”
Jenny takes a deep breathe.  Lifting her hand up she presses Shift + K and types out her name.  “Jenny Marks is….all alone.”  The circle clasps.
“Good job Jenny,” Dr. Jones congratulates her.  Albert goes next.
“Albert Grinch is hungry.  Where can I get some donuts?”
The group goes around till everyone has verbally updated their Facebook status.  Some befriended others and comment on their status updates. One woman throws Albert an actual donut from behind the counter.  Afterwards the circle breaks up and people disperse throughout the Starbucks.  A young girl around Jenny’s age comes over to her.  “Don’t I know you from somewhere?” she asks.
Jenny shakes her head.  “I don’t think so.”
“Wait, I do!  You’re one of my friends,” the girl says.
“I don’t think so.”
“Sure I am.  Here maybe this will help you get a better idea.”  The girl uses her coffee cup to treat it as an alcoholic drink and does a supermodel pose with pursed lips.
“O-M-G Lucy!” Jenny yells.  “I’m sorry I didn’t recognize you until you did your Facebook picture.

Lucy giggles, “it took me a few minutes to realize it was you.”

“So, how have you been?” Jenny asks.

Lucy nods her head. “Good, just the same old, same old. You?”

“The same. Working, hanging out with friends, you know.” Both girls nod and stand in awkward silence.

Albert runs over. “Twitter created a support group for Facebook survivors.” He pulls out his cell phone and shows Jenny and Lucy. “See? Already 6,000 tweeters are already following.”

The thought relying on Twitter instead of Facebook for social interaction saddens Jenny. She walks away from Albert and Lucy who stay glued to the phone, tweeting their latest thoughts on the Facebook Apocalypse. Browsing the room, she sees the teenage couple who thirty minutes earlier were breaking up, are now kissing and smiling. The girl who was hurdled in a corner crying is now joking and laughing with others. Once chaotic, the Starbucks is starting to feel calm and peaceful. Loneliness overcomes Jenny, making her ache for Facebook even more. Without reading what her friends are doing at this moment or looking through pictures of their recent vacations, Jenny feels empty and alone. Besides having mutual friends, Jenny and Lucy have nothing in common. Jenny needs another Facebook friend with her here. Without one of them, she has no one. Leaning her head against the edge of the main door, she notices a boy running down the street, aimed right for the Starbucks. At first she’s not sure if he’s in danger or hurt but as he gets closer she sees that he’s smiling, laughing even. He runs past Jenny and into the Starbucks.

“Facebook is up again!” he yells into the crowded room. Everyone claps and cries out with joy. Some log on with their cell phones while others use laptops.

“It’s working!” a lady confirms.

Jenny takes a deep breath and exits the Starbucks. Holding her phone she looks down at the screen and logs on to Facebook. Her homepage immediately appears, listing various friends and status updates that were just posted. Friends are updating by the second, causing Jenny’s homepage screen to refresh several times. Within the several hours Facebook was shut down, one friend separated from her husband, another friend met a guy at a nearby Starbucks and one friend gave birth to a baby girl. “Thank goodness for Facebook,” Jenny tells herself. A smile appears on her face and she knows it’s going to be all right. Once gloomy, the sky is bright and sunny again. The streets are cleaned of trash and now full of cars and buses. Stores and businesses have re-opened and life is back to normal. It’s a good feeling Jenny thinks to herself, to not be alone anymore. 

Written by Amanda Stewart

Fiction

Innocence Lost

The-Dirt-Road

Summer had fast past and now the stench of August heat was setting in.  The roads overgrown with weeds, crickets and rabbits hopping about in between.  At fourteen, puberty was becoming old news to Claire and things like shaving and applying deodorant were her top priority.  “Personal hygiene is a woman’s best friend,” her mothers always relayed and Claire never doubted those sleek words of wisdom.  She no longer played outside with her younger sisters as she once did but instead stayed indoors, reading Jane Austin and helping mom around the house.  Southern belle she was not but a lady, she’d always be.

The doorbell rang, causing her to jump back to reality.  She could hear her mother’s footsteps clack across the linoleum tiles, making her way toward the door.

“Jacob, thank you so much for coming so soon.  If Mr. Hannon wasn’t in the city for the week, I’d just hold out but I can’t take the faucet dripping any longer.”

“No problem Mrs. Hannon, I’m glad I can help.”

She could smell his rich scent from around the corner; a mixture of sweat and cheap cologne.  Jacob Landon, who lived down the street had always been a crush of hers.  At sixteen, his weight had finally caught up with his height, filling his arms and midsection with lean muscle.  She sometimes fantasized about grabbing his upper arms and holding onto them for dear life, like some damsel in distress she often read about.

“Right through here,” her mother instructed Jacob as she guided him to the kitchen.  Claire briefly turned her head to see them pass, catching Jacob’s quick nod to her.  Her heart beat fast, excitement that Jacob Landon was in her kitchen, only ten feet away from her at this very moment.  She returned to her book, trying to focus on the black words typed across the page.  She could hear Jacob clinking and clacking away at the sink, her mother standing by asking question after question.

“Here’s the problem,” she heard Jacob say, “your pipe down here is completely busted.  You’re going to need a new one.”

Her mother sighed.  “Wonderful.  Why does these things always happen when John is out of town?”  She imagined her mother shaking her head.

“It can be easily fixed,” Jacob assured her.  “I can run to the store, grab a new pipe and have it fixed for you before dinner.”

“Really?  Oh, thank you so much.  Here, let me grab my purse to give you cash, how much do you think you’ll need?”

She didn’t hear Jacob’s reply, only the movement of both bodies returning to the hallway from the kitchen.  “Thank you so much dear, I really appreciate it.”

“My pleasure Mrs. Hannon, honestly, I was just killing time around the house so at least I have something to do now.”

She felt the attention of both, even with her back to them.  “Claire, honey, why don’t you go with Jacob to the store?  You know, get some fresh air?”  Her mother turned to Jacob, “It used to be I could never get her inside and now she stays cooped up all day with her head in those books”.  Both Jacob and her mother laughed.  Claire sat up, trying to dissolve the blush that had overcome her face.

“Sure, that would be nice.”  Her eyes met Jacobs’ and she could feel the heat rise in her cheeks.  She diverted her eyes and grabbed a pair of shoes while following Jacob out to his truck.  I’m going with Jacob Landon, Jacob Landon!  Wait till she told her friends, whenever she talked to them next that is.  The truck made more noise than a steamboat with the inside humid and dry.  With only a front row seat, absent of seat belts, Claire kept her hand firmly on the passenger door as not to slide down to Jacob.  Even with the thick heat, Jacob had on thick jeans and a green t-shirt with sweat stains embedded under his armpits.   He seemed calm and collect, asking her about her summer and what books she was reading.  She couldn’t believe she was alone, in a car with the Jacob Landon.

The trip there barely took ten minutes, Jacob finding what he needed and then ushering her out of the store.  The drive home was different.  Jacob seemed off but she couldn’t tell why.  His speed home accelerated that of before and this time, he barely said a word.  Turning onto the dirt path, 1/2 a mile from her house, he pulled over and turned off the ignition.  She was confused, curious but didn’t say a word.   Jacob slide down next to her and put his arm over the seat, gently stroking her hair.

“You look really pretty today Claire, almost like you’re a woman now.”  His voice dropped an octave.  His tone frightened her.

“Thank you.”  She didn’t turn her head, just stared straight ahead, frozen.

Jacob moved in closer, this time taking his other hand and moving it under her light summer dress.  “I bet you’ve never been touched, have you?”  She shook her head.  “You’re becoming a woman now, don’t you think it’s time?”  She remained motionless.  His hands pulled down her underwear and soon she felt his fingernails scratch across what her mom referred to as her “privates”.  “Yes, yes,” he moaned softly into her ear, “doesn’t this feel good?”

“I, I no Jacob,” she stuttered.

His hand that was stroking her hair, brushed across her face and was soon cupping her chin.  “What?”

“Jacob, don’t, no,” she whispered.  She couldn’t speak.

He shoved her head back, smacking against the glass window and pulled her down on the seat.  “Don’t you want to be a woman Claire?  Don’t you want to be wanted?”  She couldn’t move.  Her throat ached to scream but no sound came out.  He ripped off her panties, her favorite pair her mother bought for her at the department store and soon she could hear him unzip his pants and suddenly he was in her.  Sweat ran down his forehead and fell onto her chest as he pushed in and out of her, treating her like some tool.  The pain started off small and then grew the size of a basketball.  She felt like throwing up, or passing out, whichever freed her faster.   His face scrunched and he let out a moan, putting a stop to all motion.  Soon his heavy weight was lifted off her and he was sitting back behind the wheel.

“Sit up you little slut,” her ordered.  Her legs felt like 100lbs stones.  On the floor lay her panties, ripped into three.  He took a piece and wiped himself off then threw it at her.  “Get yourself together, wouldn’t want your mom knowing about this.”  She looked down at her dress, now crinkled with a slight red stain.   Jacob started the car and soon they were in front of her house, like nothing happened.  He opened the door to get out but turned to her before moving.  “Say one word to anyone and I’ll be forced to come clean about how you begged me to pop your cherry.”  His eyes cold.  “Your mom will be so embarrassed Claire and your dad, how will they even look at you?”  He shook his head.  “Their daughter, the little slut.  That’s what you are, you know?”  She kept her eyes on the dashboard and remained silent.  He grabbed her inner thigh.  “Understand?”  She nodded.

She followed him up the porch steps and into her house.  “That was quick!” her mother exclaimed upon greeting them inside.  Jacob made his way to the kitchen to replace the pipe while Claire walked past her mother and into her bedroom without saying a word.  That night and days after, she laid curled in bed, afraid to come out of her room.  Her mother blamed it on the flu, never thinking twice it could be something else.   She couldn’t look her parents in the eyes, ashamed of what she’d become in those brief but excruciatingly long minutes.  She no longer read the tales of romance as the thought of being touched made her shudder and cry.  She sustained from school dances and chats with boys, finding solace in solitude and dark rooms.

Forward to years later, revenge finally took its toll. Doubt left as quickly as it came.  The burn of her vagina, the rash on her thigh.  She could feel it like it was yesterday.  Jacob Landon, the bastard that took her life was about to get his due punishment.  Without blinking, she jammed the knife into his chest, maneuvering it like a joystick.  She dug deep and pulled it out, slamming it back into his chest, this time deeper and with harder thrusts.  And again, and again.  The odor of warm blood filled her nostrils, causing her to step back.  She looked down at the pathetic soul lying beneath her.  His skin, aged and wrinkled, covered with blood.  She stepped over him, leaving the knife jammed in his chest and made her way out the door.  Several years from now, she’d be known as the Killer Queen.  But today, she was just Claire, the shy girl who never spoke much and winced whenever you tried to make eye contact.  Yes, today she was just Claire.

By Amanda Stewart

Fiction

Visions of Rory Mae

night-driving

Monday, March 16

I often wished Joanna Dereks would get hit by a car until the day it actually happened.  She came to me in my dreams night after night over the weekend, only I didn’t know it was her until this morning when Principal Matthews came into class with the announcement.  Hit and run, he said.  Joanna had been walking home from a friend’s house late Friday night when she was hit by a car and left for dead on the side of the road.  A paperboy found her early Saturday on his morning route.  Joanna was a bitch but that doesn’t justify her death.  She had friends, mostly out of fear and intimidation.  I’d known her since kindergarten but fortunately, I wasn’t cool enough to be selected as her friend.  She’d ignore and bump into me, as if I was a piece of furniture in her way.  I was just grateful she didn’t consider me prey, more for her sake than mine.  Principal Matthews assured us Joanna died instantly and didn’t feel pain, which I knew to be false.  As he continued to relay details of the investigation, while passing out hotline flyers telling us who to call if we know anything, flashbacks from my dreams began playing out.

The wind nipping at her ears, hands buried in her armpits for warmth.  It was black, pure solid darkness, causing her to increase her stride down the street.  She hears a roar in the distance but sees nothing when she looks back.  The roar becomes a vibration and without notice, she’s shoved in the back by a thick layer of metal, pushing her to the ground.  Before she can lift her head up, it’s smacked back down as her body is flattened to the ground.  An intense line of pain sparks up her spine and immediately turns numb.  Her chest hurts, she can’t breathe.  Her eyes are blurred from the hit but she hears a car door and footsteps heading towards her.  She tries to call out but no sound comes out.  She begs God for life and questions him when she no longer hears footsteps but rather a car driving away.  She lies there for what seems an eternity, scared and alone.  She’s tired and gives in to sleep only to never awake again.        

The premonition stirred queasiness in the pit of my stomach.  I barely made it out of the classroom before lunging towards a trashcan and vomiting over empty milk cartons and soda bottles.  I hate this “gift”, as my mum would have called it.

 

Tuesday, March 17

Joanna’s still being a pain in my subconscious, refusing to let me relax during sleep.  I want to tell her there’s nothing I can do or say that will help catch her killer.  I’m not  a psychic genie with unlimited abilities.  I see things, feel emotions and warnings but not at my control.

I’d go crazy if weren’t for the juicy eye candy I’ve been partnered up with in Chemistry.  Tyler Jacks, oh hot and sweet Tyler.  Considering the fact my knowledge of Chemistry is shorter than my index finger, it helps that this beauty has brains and can walk me through our mundane and repetitive experiments.  Science failed to cure the cancer from my mother’s body and since then I’ve failed to find any significance in periodic tables, hybrids and equations.  Before today, I never said more than two words to him.  Her voice is smooth like jazz and intoxicating.  I had to remind myself to answer him when he asked a question instead of daydreaming about what our future babies would look like.  He touched my arm but instead of feeling giddy with butterflies as I normally do, I felt sick and weak.  A hot guy gives me attention and I want to throw up.

 

Wednesday, March 18

First night Joanna didn’t grace me with her presence; however, her killer did and now I’d do anything to have her back in my dreams.

He’s driving fast and erratically without his lights on.  His breath, reeking of alcohol and cigarettes, leaves a taste of disgust in the air.  He’s angry and repeatedly slams his hand on the steeling wheel, causing the truck to swerve.  He notices it’s unusually dark but doesn’t think to turn his lights on.  Leaning back into his seat, he relaxes his hand on the wheel and briefly shuts his eye.  The gravel smacking against his tires warns him but it’s not till he feels a bump and then another that he’s startled and awake.  He leaves the engine on and opens the driver’s side door.  It’s a ways to the ground and he stumbles, barely catching himself.  Holding onto the truck, he makes his way to the back and hears a moan.  There’s a girl on the ground bleeding.  She’s not moving and her bones are sticking out.  He doesn’t know what happened but knows he caused it.  He scurries back into his truck and drives off.  What the hell has he done?

The vision, so powerful and strong disturbed me to new extremes.  I don’t know who killed Joanna but I know he’s a heartless, coward.  I woke up in tears, mourning Joanna and the cruelty life hit her with.

 

Thursday, March 19

I know the pathetic scum who took a life away and secured his own.  High school boys are a lot of things but ‘killer’ isn’t one I’d use to describe them, unless he’s the topic of discussion.

I was in Chemistry, aka ‘Heaven’, sitting next to the love of my life.  He got up from his desk and his sweater fell on the ground.  I picked up the sweater and went to hand it to him when my palm touched his.  The smell of alcohol choked me.  I looked in his eyes and saw what he was capable of.

He’s always been the good child who scored excellent grades, chiseled looks and athletic talents.  Girls came and went but on his time and the last time he asked his parents for something and was denied remains unknown.  Yes, he’s Mr. Perfect until now.  Now, there’s a girl dead and it’s his fault.  He’s remorseful but not enough to come clean with his sins.  This accident will blow over and one day he’ll be able to wake up and not think about Joanna.

His thoughts froze me in place, so much he asked me if I was okay five times before I could respond.  I released my grip on his sweater and backed up.  I ran out of the classroom, confused as what to do.  Tyler killed Joanna and I refuse to let him get away with it.

 

Friday, March 20

I called the hotline at two o’clock this the morning.  My disgust with Tyler and sense of responsibility for Joanna made it impossible to sleep.  I grabbed the flyer Principal Matthews had passed around.  Being early morning, the hotline went straight to voicemail.  Using a husky voice for disguise, I spoke into the phone and recorded how Tyler was seen out drinking and driving the night Joanna was killed.  I told the voicemail how Tyler had mentioned he was in an accident, which impacted his front bumper and passenger-side tires.  His truck is all the evidence they needed to tie him to Joanna.  By noon today, the news broadcasted that a prime suspect in Joanna’s death had been identified and was currently in custody.

It doesn’t feel as good as I’ve imagined it to be.  My first time catching a killer and all I can think about is how Joanna’s still dead.  The little control I have is far less than life’s tight hold on us.  Tyler’s parents will most likely buy his freedom and in no time, he’ll be out, trying to forget it ever happened.  I will never forget and as long as he’s alive, he can rest assured Rory Mae will be watching him.  Yes, I’ll be watching him because Joanna no longer has to.  We all have our secrets but when they become deadly, they’re no longer given the right to be kept hidden.


Nonfiction

That’s What She Said…And Other Famous TV Quotes

There’s no greater feeling than having a connection with someone who watches the same tv shows as you.  One line can bond you for life, leaving you cracking up louder than a drunk at a comedy club.  I could go on for pages listing the best tv lines, but I’ll save some virtual space and just “yada, yada, yada” about my most recent favs (in no particular order).

1. “Legen…Dary!”  – Barney Stinson, How I Met Your Mother
Legendary

No one has better catch phrases than NPH himself.  Everything from his “self fives” to “challenge accepted” never gets old, but my all-time favorite Barney Stinson quote is “Legen…Wait for it…Dary.”  It just amplifies everything that is awesome in this world.

2. “Treat Yo Self” – Tom Haverford and Donna Meagle, Parks and Recreation
treatyoself

Work hard, shop harder?  Yes, please!  Tom and Donna gave us permission to “Treat Yo Self” to whatever is you please because we all need a little retail indulgence every now and then, don’t you think?

3. “Deal Breaker” – Liz Lemon, 30 Rock
Dealbreaker

Tina Fey is the voice of reason for girls and women alike.  She’s smart, funny, and regardless of how self-deprecating she is about her looks, I think she’s fabulous gorgeous with a great bod!  Act all indifferent you want Tina, but we both know you limit your Hostess Ding Dongs and hit the gym more than Kelly Ripa’s 6-pack abs.  Anyway, back to the topic.  “Deal Breaker” cuts out the bullshit and forces you to move on…to something BETTER.  Grown-ass man still living and mooching off his mama?  Deal Breaker!  Employee comes into the office looking ravaged and smells like a fish?  Deal Breaker!  Dog refusing to keep his shits to outside?  Deal Breaker!  Okay, well not really because he’s a pup and you’ll always love him, but you get the point.  Tina’s “Deal Breaker” gives you the authority to call it as it is ditch whatever it is that isn’t working like a hot tomato.

4. “Turtle Time” – Ramona Singer, Real Housewives of New York City
turtletime

Better than  RHOC Vicki’s “Wahoo,” no one can resist a little “Turtle Time.”  I think Ramona’s swag dance moves hype the saying even better.  After working a long week, who wouldn’t want to take off their shoes, down a little Pinot Grigio and Turtle Time it up?  I think every moment should be Turtle Time!

5. “Chang / Chang-ed / Chang-ing” – Professor Chang, Community
chang

It’s like “Fuck.”  It can be a noun, verb, adverb, whatever you want to make it, which is why I love “Chang.”  You can “Chang It” or “Be Chang-ed” or “just Chang.”  Professor Chang may be crazy, but at least he’s making “Chang” happen.  It’s so fetch!

6.  “That’s What She Said” – Michael Scott, The Office
Thats-What-She-Said-Michael-Scott-Last-EpisodeCome on, it never gets old.  I’m a chick, and a proper one at that and even I can’t even resist when someone says something and the opportunity to blurt out, “That’s what she said” comes…”That’s what she said!”  See what I did there?  Right there?  I just did it.

  1. “It’s Handled” – Olivia Pope, Scandal
    its-handled

My favorite is actually, “I’m the Best” but I couldn’t find any attractive memes with it.  Scandal is like a more sophisticated soap opera my husband and I enjoy indulging in.  And by sophisticated, I mean it airs after 8pm.  Overly dramatic and ridiculous, the hubs and I have an ongoing joke that whenever a really intense scenario appears, one of us will ask, “will get it handled?” and the other responds, “yes, because she’s the best!”  Perfect drinking game.

  1. “Patrice!” – Robin Scherbatsky, How I Met Your Mother
    Patrice

Poor Patrice.  She just wants to be Robin’s BFF, but is always the automatic scapegoat/punching bag when something goes wrong.  Oh well, I’m over pitying her because blaming her is just that much more entertaining.  Dammit Patrice!

Miss a favorite of yours?  Share in the comment section below.

Post Its

Day 17 and 18: Stronger Than My Excuses

I know I’ve mentioned it before so I apologize if I sound like a broken record, but weekends tend to be the most difficult in disciplining myself to go to class.  If I have a free weekend with no schedule, it’s easy for me to lay around all day and put it off instead of waking up and going first thing in the morning.  The minute class is finished, I’m surprised by how easy it was.  Not class.  Class should never be easy and if it is, you’re not pushing yourself.  Easy in the sense that’s it over and I have the rest of the day to do whatever I want.  Easy in the sense that 90 minutes out of my day isn’t a lot considering I spend more time watching tv or reading than that.  Easy in that I can spend more time making excuses for not going to class than the actual time I spend working out.  It’s like getting gas.  I HATE having to get gas.  Don’t know why but always have.  Whenever my gas light goes on, I stew over having to spend five minutes of my life to go to the gas station and fill up.  Don’t even get me started on the gas prices, but it’s not even that which I detest the most.  It’s the inconvenience, even though it’s 5 minutes of my fucking life – no biggie, right?   Wrong.  It’s a biggie but for reasons I don’t even know.  Those 5 minutes at the gas station allow me hours on end in the car without inconvenience.  Just like those 90 minutes in class (or running on the trail), leave me with hours, days, months, and even years of euphoria.  It’s funny how it’s hard for us to do the things that are best for us.

discipline

My fear when this challenge is over is that I’ll go back to my old habits of skipping workouts and allowing my pathetic excuses to overthrow my commitment to a healthy lifestyle.  Getting up and working out is not the easy decision but it’s the best and when I no longer have the Bikram studio keeping me accountable, it’ll be up to me to take on that task.  I know I’m stronger than my excuses, but whether I’m strong enough to maintain that strength is what I question.

Human Interest

Raising Health in Mississippi

Hushpuppies, Fried Chicken and Pork Chops have been Arkansas staples; however, over the past several years they’ve been revised and replaced by healthier options.  Once, deemed as an overweight state, Arkansas has taken proactive measures to fight the obesity rate by establishing the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement (ACHI), the Arkansas Coalition for Obesity Prevention (ARCOP) and Southern Ain’t Fried Sundays (SAFS).

Before the state of Arkansas established health programs and initiatives, Dr. Scott Hall, M.D. of Cypert Ridge Family Practice, located in Helena, Arkansas had been advocating healthy living to his patients for years.  Born and raised in Arkansas, Dr. Hall’s life has always consisted of wholesome eating habits and an emphasis on physical activities.  “I grew up on a farm, where the family sat down and ate all three meals together,” remembers Dr. Hall.  His mornings begin at 4:30 with a run followed by weight conditioning after work.  Don’t think that he expects his patients to work out as much as him though.  Dr. Hall recommends starting with one thing at a time.  “People often make the mistake of going from one extreme to the next,” he says.  For example, start by revising your diet, and then gradually incorporate exercise into your daily routine.  For many people, their days are already packed with school, work and family so to find time to workout can often seem daunting but it doesn’t have to be.  “This is your time,” Dr. Hall informs when referring to exercise.  Whether it’s walking during your lunch break or riding your bike with the kids, exercise can be fun and therapeutic.

Diet and exercise isn’t just about being physically attractive, it’s about your health.  When Dr. Hall comes across a patient suffering from high blood pressure or diabetes, he advises they follow a nutrition and exercise plan as a means to lower their blood pressure and maintain their diabetes.  However, nutrition and exercise advice aren’t just limited to patients who require it; Dr. Hall supplies it for everyone.  “Preventative medicine is the focus,” he states.  The younger a patient starts eating well and getting consistent physical activity, the more likely they’re able to avoid health scares.

1 Corinthians 6:19 tells us that “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit” (NIV).  If our bodies are temples then we should feed and treat it lovingly instead of poisoning and damaging it.  Thanks to the state of Arkansas and Dr. Hall, citizens have the tools and education to becoming healthy and live a longer, happier life.

Featured in By U Magazine’s Fall 2010 Issue as Amanda Williford