The Devil You Know, Part I #52weeks52stories


#52weeks52stories: Week 11

Word prompt: assailant

Word Count: 3634


“I don’t like leaving you alone with that maniac still on the loose. I’m calling Reynolds to cancel.”

“You’ll do no such thing, Francis Bennett!”

Sally grasped both of her husband’s hands in her own, clutching them to her chest.

“You and Bill have worked hard for this. No one believed a couple of baby boomers could compete in today’s marketing madness of social media. You’ll proving all the naysayers wrong. You two beat out national companies to get this meeting and you will not miss it.”

She kissed his hands.

“And besides, even though the thought of this guy still out there in the shadows unnerves me, I’m more concerned for my clients, the poor dears. I don’t fit his profile.”

The list of women attacked by Marbury’s Senior Citizen rapist now numbered four—all 69 to 89 years of age; all widowed; all in poor health or recuperating from illness.

Francis ‘Frankie’ Bennett pulled his wife into his arms.

“I know, honey, I know. But no one knows what drives these sickos… better safe than sorry.”

“And I promise I will be safe. Now go finish packing. If you miss your flight, you know Bill will have a mental break.”

Husband and wife shared a laugh before Frankie kissed Sally’s forehead and left to pack.

She retook her seat at the breakfast nook. She gave the article about the Senior Citizen Rapist another read before closing the browser on her tablet.

Sally didn’t know Pearl Wright, but her heart went out to the eighty-one-year-old grandmother of twenty-three.

Plagued with heart problems, Pearl was a regular client of Angels Assist, the home-care agency Sally worked part-time for as a services scheduler.

It was Angels Assist volunteer, Leanne Brinkley, scheduled to prepare breakfast and do light housework, who discovered Pearl’s battered and bruised body.

Awed the elderly woman survived the brutal attack, Sally also worried about Leanne.

After calling police, paramedics, and Pearl’s family, the perky volunteer went into mild shock and was hospitalized overnight.

Angels Assist staff and volunteers were all concerned with their safety. Staff was requesting security escorts and volunteers were canceling late evening and early morning assignments. Any more schedule changes and Sally would have to add herself to the schedule. She didn’t mind though. With Frankie away, she liked to keep busy, but there was no way Sally would tell him she may have to do home visits. He’d cancel his trip for sure.


After completing her weekly reports, Sally emailed the new schedule to supervisors and Blanche, the owner. She uploaded all the documents to the office server and powered down her tablet, grateful for the technology which allowed her to do most of her job from home.

Pouring another cup of coffee, Sally opened her journal and went to work on their upcoming anniversary banquet plans when the phone rang. The name ‘Kristen’—an agency volunteer—flashed on the caller ID.

“Hey, Kristen. How are you?”

“I’ll be a lot better when I know you don’t hate me.”

Sally’s brow knitted in confusion.

“Hate you? What’s going on, Kristen?”

“I-I… have to cancel my hours of availability.”

Sally’s hand shook as panic gripped her. The thirty-something Kristen was pregnant, expecting her first child after she and her husband tried for years.

“Are you okay, Kristen?”

I’m fine, Sally. Midway through my second trimester without morning sickness or heartburn anywhere in sight.”

She paused.

“It’s just… these attacks on elderly women.”

Grateful mother and child were fine, a hint of annoyance niggled at Sally while Kristen continued.

“I don’t know Mrs. Wright—was never scheduled with her and I only know Leanne as another agency volunteer. But my husband knows Leanne’s family. Her dad was his supervisor years back when he first got hired into the fire department. After he heard what Leanne went through… well, he kinda lost it and insisted I stopped volunteering.”

“Kristen, it’s okay. We’re all unnerved by these attacks and to have one hit so close to home is terrifying.”

“I know, Sally, but – “

“No buts. I hate to even think what could have happened if it had been you instead of Leanne who found Mrs. Wright.”

“That’s what Rory said. We’ve tried so long for this baby, and at my age, the shock alone might – “

“Enough, sweetie. Don’t allow your mind to go there. We’re all grateful Leanne is better and pray for the same for Mrs. Wright.”

“Thanks, Sally. I only had one assignment on this schedule—an overnight tomorrow with a woman recovering from eye procedures for glaucoma. I took it because it was light duty and Rory was scheduled for a four-day shift at the fire station.”

“We’ll get this covered, Kristen, please don’t worry over it.”

Sally pulled up the current schedule.

“This was your only assignment this week. I’ve got next week’s schedule done and you were on for two four-hour respite visits near the end of the week. I’ll have no problem getting those covered. You just concentrate on that sweet baby you’re carrying and putting your hubby’s mind at ease. We’ll all breathe easier when this psycho is caught and behind bars.”

She could hear Kristen exhale over the phone.

“I agree, Sally, and thank you. I’ll be in touch when I can help out again. Take care.”

Sally Bennett smiled as she ended the call. While she hoped the maniac terrorizing the city was caught soon, she doubted Kristen would be volunteering again anytime soon. She’d be a new mom in less than four months, and free time would no longer exist for her.

Sally red-lined the two shifts under Kristen’s name on the new schedule then opened the staff database looking for someone who could cover tomorrow’s overnight assignment on such short notice.

Sally entered the hours of coverage needed, pressed enter, and groaned when no names appeared on the screen.

She’d have to take the assignment.

Sally was good with it, though. She subbed once or twice a month, and Frankie would be away, it would give her time to keep her own caregiver skills sharp.

She was jotting down the address and contact information for Graciela Ramirez when Frankie bounded back into the kitchen.

“I can take you to the airport.”

Frankie Bennett pulled his wife from her seat into his arms. “We are not going to start that again, Sal.” He kissed her forehead. “It’s an hour’s drive one way, parking costs a small fortune, and you can’t go past the security check-in.”

“I know, I know. It just seems as though I’m always telling you goodbye lately.”

“Well, this is the last trip for a while and you know what happens when I get back, right?”

He began to lead her around the kitchen in an exaggerated waltz. “We have an anniversary to celebrate.”

Sally giggled as he spun her around.

“Yes, thirty-two years and we’re still on speaking terms.”

“And don’t forget the fabulous five.”

“As if they’d let us. I know they’re cooking up some big surprise for us. Joanie called, and I could hear it in her voice.”

Frankie laughed. “Five kids and the one who can’t keep a secret is the one who calls the most.”

Sally laughed, but stopped suddenly, running from the kitchen.

When she returned, Frankie was closing a browser on her tablet.

“Doing my job for me, Bennett?”

“No, my sweet sunflower. Just making sure my flight’s on time. Where you run off to?”

She held her hand up, a medicine bottle balanced on her palm. “I knew you forgot these—one bypass surgery is more than enough. We don’t need to go through that again. And what did I tell you about calling me sunflower? Can’t you think of a more feminine flower?”

“Ah, yes, my love. There are more feminine flowers, but they’re also fragile and wilt under pressure.” He stretched his arms toward the ceiling. “But the mighty sunflower is strong and resilient, rising up in the field to provide beauty, shade… and a tasty little snack.”

Giggling, Sally threw the medicine bottle at him.

Frankie caught the bottle of Lipitor. Stashing it in a side pocket of his suitcase, he backed toward the door leading to the garage. “I’d better get out of here while I’m still breathing.”

Sally Bennett grabbed his lapel, kissing him deeply. “Good luck with your meeting. You guys got this. And stay out of trouble.”

He wiggled his eyebrows. “Aw, sweetie. Don’t I always?”


Estelle Ramirez showed Sally around the large well-kept home.

“Mom’s vision is still blurred from the surgery, so even though her television is on, she can’t see the screen. She never misses her Spanish-language novellas, though.”

Sally smiled and nodded once as they approached Graciela’s bedroom.

“I made her favorite dinner—albondigas soup—but she didn’t eat much. There’s sliced fruit in the fridge and sweetbreads on the counter.”

“You done all the work, Estelle. What did you leave for me?”

Estelle Ramirez smirked.

“Trust me, Sally. The queen will keep you busy. She’s independent and spirited. My grandmother and great-grandmother lost their sight to glaucoma. Mami knows she is blessed new medical procedures may help her avoid that.”

Reaching for the doorknob, Estelle tilted her head toward Sally. “That doesn’t make her any less grouchy, though.”

She opened the door and Sally followed her into the darkened room. Even with the low lighting, she could tell it was beautifully decorated in golds and reds with a Latin flavor.

The large queen-size bed was empty, but looking past the bed, Sally saw her charge for the evening.

Graciela Ramirez sat in a gold brocade high-back chair. Sally pursed her lips to hide her grin as Estelle’s reference to ‘the queen’ came to mind.

Despite her diminutive size, the senior Ramirez was regal in her appearance. Her iron-gray hair, swept over one shoulder, was long enough to reach her lap. Long, slender fingers rested on the arms of the chair. Already dressed for bed, Graciela’s winter white robe could put some ball gowns to shame.

Sally’s grandson, Mark, would say Graciela Ramirez was large and in charge.

“Mami, this is Sally Bennett, from the home-care agency. She’s going to stay with you tonight.”

“I do not need a babysitter.”

Sally was struck that despite the thick accent, Graciela’s voice was strong, deep, and clear—not frail and wispy like most of their clients in their seventies.

“Do not start, mami. We’ve argued about it enough. This was the only shift I couldn’t switch this week, and I’m not leaving you alone. I’m grateful for places like Angels Assist. You should be too.”

“I don’t need a babysitter.”

Dragging her hand through her short, dark curls, Estelle then gestured at her mother.

“As you can see, she’s stubborn.” Estelle turned her head, speaking in Graciela’s direction. “But I’m sure she will be show all the grace of her name and the manners she instilled in me.”

“I’m sure we’ll be fine, Estelle.” Sally’s voice held a confidence she didn’t feel. Graciela was a force to be reckoned with, even with limited sight.

“Mami is tricksy too with her language. She likes to play poor old Spanish lady and will refuse to speak English. Ignore her until she does.”

Sally covered her mouth too late and her giggles escaped.

An indignant Graciela raised her hand and pointed in Estelle’s direction.

“Oh, mi hija.”

Resting her fists on her hips, Estelle shot back, “Don’t you ‘oh my daughter’ me.”

Estelle went to her mother and knelt at her feet. She cupped Graciela’s cheek while speaking in a low hushed tone. The senior Ramirez smiled and leaned into her daughter’s hand.

Sally could see the love between mother and child. Their banter was part of that love.

Rising, Estelle kissed her mother’s cheek and turned to Sally.

“She’ll be good… for the most part.” The two women shared a laugh as Graciela feigned a look of innocence.

“Her next meds are due at nine and she must take them all.” She picked up two small bottles from the dresser. “Two drops of each in each eye. They sting and blur her vision even more, but the stinging passes quickly.”

Replacing the bottles on the dresser, Estelle reached for another containing pills.

“She also gets two of these… no matter how she feels. Mami doesn’t have a blood pressure problem, but it has been elevated since her procedures. The doctor doesn’t want to risk any break-through pain exacerbating the problem and wants her to take these as prescribed until he sees her on Thursday.”

Graciela crossed her arms, mumbling and pouting like a petulant child.

Estelle threw her hands up. “I’m going to work, she’s all yours. Call me if you need anything.” She headed for the bedroom door but turned before leaving. “Thank you, Sally. You’re a lifesaver.”

Removing her cell from her back pocket, Sally opened the Angels Assist app and entered the names, dosage, and time for Graciela’s meds.

Sally didn’t have to look up to know the senior citizen was staring at her, sizing her up. Closing the app, Sally gazed out the window at the beautiful twilight caused by the setting sun and knew she was in for a long night.


Graciela Ramirez did not disappoint.

Between numerous requests for snacks and drinks, Sally had caught the spry old woman stumbling through the house three times.

Saying a silent prayer, Sally was grateful when the hall clock chimed at nine.

A new argument started when Sally sat Graciela on the edge of her bed to put in her eye drops.

The client refused to open her eyes.

Sally snapped at the old woman before she could catch herself.

“Mrs. Ramirez! Didn’t your mother and her mother both lose their sight? Is that what you want to happen to you? It seems to me someone as independent as you would do everything they could to keep their sight. And that includes taking your meds.”

Sally saw the look of shame on Graciela’s face as she opened her eyes.

“I-I… am sorry, Sally Bennett. I’m acting like a sullen child. But the drops do burn, and those pills make me fuzzy in the head. I don’t like not being in control of myself.”

Sally Bennett’s heart broke at the sadness in Graciela’s eyes.

“So many of my friends have passed on. And the one who are still here? They wear diapers and have to be spoon-fed. They use mobile chairs and hospital beds.”

She pointed to the foot of her bed.

“There’s a cane there somewhere near the foot of my bed. I stumbled over my house shoe a few weeks ago and Estelle rushed out and bought it for me. I feel like I’m being rushed to the grave sometimes, and I’m not ready for that.”

“Sounds to me like Estelle doesn’t want that either.”

The older woman squinted, trying to focus on Sally’s face. “How so?”

“I don’t think Estelle bought that cane because she thought you were getting old and frail. I believe she bought it for support—to help you with your balance and keep you from falling and injuring yourself… to keep you here with her longer.”

A lone tear slid down Graciela’s cheek, betrayed by the huge grin on her face.

“You are a wise woman, Sally Bennett. I’ve been so busy arguing with everyone, trying to get my way, I never stopped to consider anyone else’s feelings. Especially my sweet Estelle. Thank you, Sally Bennett.”

Graciela then tipped her head back and waited for the eye drops. After Sally finished, Graciela held out her hand for the pain pills and water, taking her meds without argument.

She crawled up into the center of the large bed and Sally was struck by how much the septuagenarian looked like a child in her parents’ bed.

“If you’ll hand me the remote, Sally Bennett, I’ll listen to my novellas until the pills make my brain thick.”

Laughing, Sally passed her the remote.

“Estelle put me in the guest bedroom two doors away. I’m going to read a while then come check on you. If you need me before then, just call out. I’ll leave the door open.”

“I like you, Sally Bennett. I hope you’ll come visit me when I’m not a client.”

“Is that an invitation?”

“I suppose it is.”

“Then I’ll be here.”

Sally smiled as she made her way to the guest bedroom. Graciela Ramirez was a lot like Carol Jean Munson—Sally’s mother. Strong, proud, and independent, she felt both women saw accepting help as weakness.

Grabbing her reader from the side of her overnight bag, Sally snuggled in the easy chair next to the closet. The muted lighting of the Ramirez home had grown on Sally and she reached over and turned off the lamp, choosing to read by the illuminated light of her ereader.


Startled and disoriented, Sally bolted upright. She looked around the dark room, trying to get her bearings.

She laughed at herself after glancing toward the hallway.

Real good, Bennett. What kind of caregiver are you falling asleep on the job?

A swipe of her ereader provided light and the time.

12:50 am.

My word! Has it been almost four hours since I gave Graciela her meds? I’d better see if she’s sleeping or needs them again.

Sally held the reader over the edge of the chair, looking for her overnight bag. She reached for it but froze when she thought she heard a large thump.

What was that noise?

She sat motionless on the edge of the chair listening for the sound again. Hearing nothing, Sally grabbed the bag and tossed it onto the foot of the bed. Reaching for the table-side lamp, she heard the noise again, louder and closer.

No, no! I hope Graciela isn’t up trying to get her own meds. Why didn’t she call out for me? Damn it! Maybe she did, and I was asleep.

Feeling her back pocket for her cell, Sally raced the few steps down the hall to her client’s room.

She froze in the doorway.

A dark figure was on top of Graciela.

Without thinking, Sally charged the bed, launching herself at the assailant. She heard a sharp intake of air as the intruder fell toward the foot of the bed.

Sally took the few precious seconds to drag the small woman from the bed. Not able to tell if Graciela was wounded and too terror-stricken to speak, Sally pushed her toward the bedroom door, screaming one word, “Run!”

With her arms out in front of her, the spry senior bolted for the door, feeling her way down the hall.

Before Sally could follow, she felt a hand grab her arm, pulling her back to the bed. She whirled around, swinging blindly with her free hand. Her punch connected with the intruder, but he didn’t let go. As he pulled her closer, Sally bit the hand clutching her arm. Muttering a curse, he let go and Sally flipped onto her back, kicking her legs wildly.

Her attacker leaned down, grabbing the front of her shirt and flung her from the bed. She crashed into the dresser, slumping to floor.

Praying Graciela had found her way out, Sally knew her time was growing short. Her heart raced as she looked up at the shadowy figure approaching, blocking her path to the door.

His breathing was hard and labored.

Sally froze. Something about him was familiar.

She could see him raising his arm and the hallways light behind him allowed Sally to see he wore a ski mask… and the glint of his knife.

Adrenalin barreled through her body. Sally Bennett would not hand this killer her life.

She kicked out both legs, catching the masked figure in the knee.

As he doubled over in pain, Sally leaped from the floor, throwing herself across the bed and toward the door.

Her assailant recovered quick enough to grab her ankle.

Clawing at the bed, Sally struggle for purchase. As he dragged her across the large bed, Sally grabbed at the low bed railing, but its surface was too smooth to hold on to. Sally still clawed and groped until her fist wrapped around something.

Graciela’s cane!

The middle-aged woman was tiring, but holding tight to the cane, she swung around towards her attacker. The blow made him let go and allowed Sally to turn and get in two more good swings. The intruder stumbled backward to avoid the blows.

Sally launched herself across the bed one last time, this time falling to the floor on the other side.

She popped up, threw the cane toward her assailant and dashed out the bedroom door. She heard the cane clatter to the floor and knew the man was rounding the foot of the bed, but she refused to waste time looking behind her.

Barreling down the hallway, Sally thought she heard the killer stumble and fall, but it was Graciela’s screams that guided Sally to the front door.

Graciela Ramirez had made it out the house and stood in the front yard screaming. Lights came on in several houses, and Sally grabbed her client and headed for the closest one, still not looking behind her.

A woman opened the door and called out to Graciela by name.

It was only then Sally looked behind her… and saw two men from the neighborhood run into the Ramirez home.

She called out to them. “Be careful he has a knife!”

The woman pulled the two women inside and closed and locked her door.

Sally Bennett and Graciela Ramirez stood in the foyer clutching each other tightly, grateful their nightmare was over.


©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved


Song Lyric Sunday | “Shadow Dancing” – Andy Gibb

Song Lyric Sunday was created by Helen Vahdati from This Thing Called Life One Word at a Time. For complete rules or to join in the fun, click here.

The theme for Song Lyric Sunday this week is “shadow.”


Family and long-time friends saw this pick coming a mile away.

I graduated from high school May 26, 1978. It was the time of funk and disco and artists like Kool & the Gang, Parliament, Tavares, Chic, and of course, the queen, Donna Summer, dominated music charts. Already a chart-topping group, movies Saturday Night Fever and the remake of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band made mega-music gods of the amazing Brothers Gibb – the Bee Gees. But, it was their baby brother, Andy, who would take center stage… and the number one spot on music charts for seven weeks in the summer of 1978 with Shadow Dancing!

According to Billboard’s Book Of Number One Hits, Gibb became the first solo artist in the history of the U.S. pop charts to have his first three singles hit the number-one spot. Shadow Dancing remained in the top spot for seven straight weeks from 17 June to 29 July 1978. On 5 August it was replaced by The Rolling Stones with their hit “Miss You.” Additionally, “Shadow Dancing” was listed by Billboard as being the number one single of 1978. In addition the song peaked at number eleven on the soul chart and sold 2.5 million copies in the United States alone.

Sadly, plagued with depression, Andy Gibb was paranoid about his success and the people around him, leading to his cocaine addiction.

After complaining of chest pains, Andy was admitted to the hospital where he died a short time later as a result of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle caused by a recent viral infection,  which was exacerbated by his years of cocaine abuse. It was March 10, 1988–five days after Gibb’s thirtieth birthday.

We’ve lost many young lives far too soon in the recording industry, but fortunately, their music legacy lives on.


See my Song Lyric Sunday selection on Nesie’s Place.


Disclaimer: I have no copyrights to the song and/or video and/or hyperlinks to songs and/or videos and/or gifs above. No copyright infringement intended.

 Shadow Dancing

by Andy Gibb

Written by Barry, Robin, Maurice, and Andy Gibb
You got me looking at that heaven in your eyes
I was chasing your direction, I was telling you no lies
And I was loving you
When the words are said, baby, I lose my head

And in a world of people, there’s only you and I
There ain’t nothing come between us in the end
How can I hold you when you ain’t even mine?
Only you can see me through
I leave it up to you

Do it light, taking me through the night
Shadow dancing, baby you do it right, uh-huh
Give me more, drag me across the floor
Shadow dancing, all this and nothing more

All that I need is just one moment in your arms
I was chasing your affection, I was doing you no harm
And I was loving you
Make it shine, make it rain, baby I know my way

I need that sweet sensation of living in your love
I can’t breath when you’re away, it pulls me down
You are the question and the answer am I
Only you can see me through
I leave it up to you

Do it light, taking me through the night
Shadow dancing, baby you do it right
Give me more, drag me across the floor
Shadow dancing, all this and nothing more

And in this world of people, there’s only you and I
There ain’t nothing come between us in the end
How can I hold you when you ain’t even mine?
Only you can see me through
I leave it up to you, oh

Do it light, taking me through the night
Shadow dancing, baby you do it right
Give me more, drag me across the floor
Shadow dancing, all this and nothing more

Do it light, taking me through the night
Shadow dancing, baby you do it right
Give me more, drag me across the floor
Shadow dancing, all this and nothing more

Do it light, taking me through the night
Shadow dancing, baby you do it right
Give me more, drag me across the floor
Shadow dancing, all this and nothing more

Do it light, taking me through the night
Shadow dancing, baby you do it right
Give me more, drag me across the floor
Shadow dancing, all this and nothing more

Compiled from Wikipedia, Google, YouTube, and AZLyrics.

Dabbling in Drabbles


“Deja vu” – Drabble #4

His tight squeeze elicited a moan from Vonna as the music faded.

“Wanna get out of here?”

She responded with a kiss before going to update her cousins of her plans.

Smiling as she approached their table, the sight three tables away stole her smile.

Her dance partner grabbed his coat while arguing with a crying woman.

Vonna froze. Who was she?

It didn’t matter.

The look on his face—anger… evil and violent—caused a mixture of déjà vu and premonition to wash over her.

Turning, Vonna bid her cousins goodnight and hurried from the nightclub. Alone.


©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

Touch #52weeks52stories


#52weeks52stories Writing Challenge: Week 10

Word prompt:  friend

Word count: 1193


“Hey mom, look at my rock.”

Jill Morgan, distracted by dinner preparations, responded without looking at her eight-year-old-son.

“That’s nice, Jeffie.”

“And it’s cool, mom. It changes colors, see?”

Jill glanced over her shoulder to see the glow of the smooth orb in her son’s hands change from green to red.

Potato and peeler fell from her hands to the floor.

“Jeffrey Alan Morgan!” What did your dad and I tell you about messing around near the old rock quarry?”

She rushed over to him.

“They shut that place down and walked away without any notice. We have no idea if there are open shafts or toxic chemicals in that place.”

Grabbing the rock from his hands, Jill’s face went blank. The glow was gone, and she held a plain piece of gray slate. She tilted her head down to her son. “Are you playing a trick on your mom?”

His eyes locked on to the rock, Jeffie shook his head. “No, mom. Honest. It changed colors. You saw it, right?”

“I saw something, I’m just – “

Sizzling pops behind her grabbed Jill’s attention.

“Dang it!” She raced to the overflowing pot but was startled by the ringing land-line phone.

“Oh, for the love of…” Sliding the pot from the burner to the counter, Jill stomped across the kitchen to the phone, tossing the stone back to Jeffie.

“You take this thing back to wherever you found it, Jeffrey Alan, and come right back here for a hot bath, just to be safe.”

Rock and child were forgotten as she answered the phone to get a health update from her husband about his dad. Jill didn’t see the red glow return to the rock cradled in Jeffie’s hands.

Frowning, the eight-year-old walked out the back door and sat on the steps. Why did the colors stop when his mom touched the rock?

Jeffie Morgan needed answers. With a quick glance over his shoulder, he hopped from the porch steps, headed for the far back corner of the backyard—the corner on the side of the garage shrouded in bushes and trees.

He ducked down and crawled under the lowest bush, scooting forward until his body cleared the thick branch. Pushing himself to his knees, Jeffie sat up in the small hollow created by the bushes. The denseness of the foliage kept the pocket cool, allowing enough light to stream through the brush so the child could see clearly.

“I know you’re here, Hypo.”

At first a transparent outline, Hypo faded into corporeal form.

The alien sat in the dirt, his thin lower limbs crossed at each of his two sets of knees.

“Why didn’t the rock work for my mom, Hypo?”

The Hypogean extra-terrestrial extended his upper limb to Jeffie, who placed the rock in his two-digit hand.

The stone flashed a bright yellow, rising into the air. As it hovered, Hypo reached out and touched Jeffie’s arm.

Jeffie Morgan wasn’t afraid. He learned soon after finding Hypo near his favorite tree swing two days ago touch was the only way he and Hypo could communicate and hear each other.

“The globule illuminates only for the one who created it and the one it was created for.”

“But why, Hypo?”

“When we met, you were despondent because you thought your elder was losing his life source. I filled the globule with my energy to help you feel better.”

Arthur Morgan, Jeffie’s grandpa, had a heart attack three days earlier and Jeffie’s dad flew to San Francisco to be with him. Grandpa Art was better and would leave the hospital soon, but Jeffie, afraid he’d never see his grandpa again, had sat in his tree swing and cried.

“When my people experience distress, it disrupts their life force. Sharing our energy helps to calm the disruption. I believe your people would call it a boost.”

“I think I understand, Hypo.”

The globule ceased to spin and lowered back into Hypo’s palm. He gave it back to Jeffie.

“Our life forces are different, and this will serve you well into your later years. But, I must caution you again against sharing the knowledge of it. Your people are impetuous and act before knowing the facts.”

“You haven’t told me how you know so much about us, Hypo.”

“We’ve been watching you for thousands of years, Jeffie. In some ways, your people have made great strides. Your technology, though crude, serves you well, But the minds of humans… your thought processes, still hold you back.”

Hypo’s body, a pale coral in color, morphed to deep, dark red.

“I must go now, Jeffie Morgan. The lunar eclipse approaches and it is the only time we can exit your world undetected.”

“What? No, please. Can’t you stay longer? You can stay in my room so you don’t have to worry about the sun.”

Hypo’s coloring returned to his normal shade.

“No, Jeffie Morgan. Even if we didn’t have to avoid direct sunlight, extended exposure to the atmosphere of Etieran—this place you call Earth—would weaken us over time. The moon has no atmosphere, but still has solar exposure. That is why we live inside it.”

Jeffie hung his head.

“Why does your energy darken, Jeffie Morgan?”

“I liked having a friend.”

“Please explain.”

“We haven’t lived in Southbrook very long. My dad’s job sent him here. In San Francisco I had friends and people didn’t care my mom is black and my dad is white.”

A single tear rolled down his cheek.

“Here, they treat me like I’m the alien.” His face brightened at his joke.

“I understand, Jeffie Morgan. It’s something else we’ve witnessed about your kind that bears no logic. The separation of your species based on how your outer surface appears. The mistreatment and alienation… wars fought and life forces lost. Hypogeans do not have this.” His deep-set emerald eyes blinked sideways. “Nor do we want it.”

“I get it, Hypo. I just have so many questions. There’s so much I want to know.”

Hypo’s coloring flashed to deep purple.

“I must go. Hypogeans are in danger of discovery. That can’t happen.”

“But I know about you, Hypo.”

“Yes, you do, Jeffie Morgan, as do many others. When there’s no sense of danger detected, we interact.”

Hypo’s touch on Jeffie’s hand lightened as he faded from view.

“We will see each other again, Jeffie Morgan, and be encouraged. The elder—your grandpa Art—and your parents will be with you for many years to come.”

Hypo’s departure paused and he gripped Jeffie’s wrist with his two digit-hand.

“Take care… my… friend.”

Jeffie was sad Hypo was gone but happy they’d met.

Spreading a few branches on the ground, he placed the globule on them and covered it with a few more. He would follow Hypo’s instructions and keep it hidden.

Laying on his belly, Jeffie crawled from the dark hollow.

He didn’t need the globule right now anyway. Hypo said grandpa Art was going to be fine and that was enough to make Jeffie happy.

Heading for the back door, Jeffie began to run.

He didn’t even mind having to take a bath.


©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

Song Lyric Sunday | “We Are Family” – Sister Sledge

Song Lyric Sunday was created by Helen Vahdati from This Thing Called Life One Word at a Time. For complete rules or to join in the fun, click here.

The theme for Song Lyric Sunday this week is “unity.”


Nothing says unity like family and what family song is more well-known than Sister Sledge’s 1979 hit, We Are family? One of the many songs from the disco era with staying power, We Are Family is still a big request in clubs across the country and has been used in commercials as well as movies like Bridget Jones’ Diary and one of my favorites, The Birdcage.

The song helped make the four sisters from Philly international stars on the music scene and their celebrity continues. The sisters sang for Pope Francis in 2015. Sadly, Joni passed away a year ago yesterday, March 10, 2017, at her home in Phoenix, Arizona. She was only sixty years old.

Kim, Kathy, and Debbie Sledge vow to continue performing as Sister Sledge.

Music videos weren’t a “thing” in 1979 and I didn’t care for the “official” video for this song. Bad lip syncing, bad lighting, what’s up with those outfits, and the sisters move as though they went to the Whitney Houston School of Dance. (You know I still love you madly, Whitney!)

Instead I chose a 2011 live performance from an Oprah show featuring “Women Who Rock.” Near the end of the video you’ll see Stevie Nicks, Sheryl Crow, Pat Benatar (YAAY!), Salt-N-Pepa, Avril Lavigne and Miley Cyrus join in the sing-along!


See my Song Lyric Sunday selection on Nesie’s Place.

Disclaimer: I have no copyrights to the song and/or video and/or hyperlinks to songs and/or videos and/or gifs above. No copyright infringement intended.

We Are Family

by Sister Sledge

We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up ev’rybody and sing
We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up ev’rybody and sing
Ev’ryone can see we’re together
As we walk on by
(Hey) and we fly just like birds of a feather
I won’t tell no lie
(ALL!) all of the people around us they say
Can they be that close
Just let me state for the record
We’re giving love in a family dose
We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up ev’rybody and sing
We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up ev’rybody and sing
Living life is fun and we’ve just begun
To get our share of the world’s delights
(HIGH!) high hopes we have for the future
And our goal’s in sight
(WE!) no we don’t get depressed
‘Cause here’s what we call our golden rule
Have faith in you and the things you do
You won’t go wrong
This is our family Jewel
We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up ev’rybody and sing
We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up ev’rybody and sing
We are family
We are family
We are family
We are family
We are family
We are family
We are family
Songwriters: Nile Rodgers / Bernard Edwards

Minus One… finally

Marriage Cert

There’s always that one piece of unfinished writing which haunts a writer.

This is mine.

My 2014 NaNoWriMo project, Plus One.

It was my first time taking the NaNoWriMo challenge, and I got off to an amazing start. But as an uninformed pantser, I had no idea what I’d set myself up for.

Words flowed as my word count surpassed two-thousand daily. However, as I neared the 40K mark, I ran out of words. And ideas. And energy. All I had was the sound of crickets buzzing in my head. My total word count for the next eleven days was 547 words! I was so disgusted, after November ended, I couldn’t finish or revise it.

The experience taught me even a pantser can benefit from a bit of prep work, and I’ve had no problem finishing NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo ever since.

But there’s still this one. Sitting on my hard drive… mocking me.

I try to pull it out once a week and work on it. I went back to the beginning and created an outline, character sketches, and plot points. I will complete and publish it sooner than later. I have to. It’s a moral imperative. 😀


Perri Norton was exhausted.

Her joints throbbed with each step. Beads of sweat ran down her back as she approached the parking garage. She should never have come alone. She should have told someone, and asked them to come with her. Three blocks were a breeze for a healthy person, but for someone dealing with multiple chronic illnesses like her, they may as well have been a marathon.

It had been much easier making the short walk when she’d arrived three hours earlier. Now, not only was the sun high in the sky, Perri was certain Los Angeles would record a new high temperature for this mid-August day. Combined with the slight incline back to the parking garage, Perri knew she could trigger a flare-up which would leave her immobile for days. She said a silent prayer as she reached her Lexus LX SUV.

Giving her car remote a click, she opened the rear driver-side door. A blast of heat hit her in the face, taking her breath away. The car’s interior was stifling. Another quick click started the car, and Perri was grateful she remembered to leave the air conditioning settings on high.

Setting her bag on the back seat, Perri removed her linen blazer, grabbed her cell phone from the pocket and the manila folder from the side of the bag. She laid the blazer over the bag and closed the door to give the car time to cool off.

She turned and looked out at the Los Angeles skyline. Thick, brown smog hung over the city like a blanket. Perri could not wait to get back to the less oppressive environs of Brentwood. She loved the frenzied, cacophonous atmosphere of the shopping district, but it was humid, smoggy days like this that reminded her why she moved away.

Her lips curved into a faint smile as she glanced at the Los Angeles Court House. The few hours she had spent there, and the exhausting walk back to her car was a small price to pay for what the folder held inside. She opened the car door and stuck her head inside. Satisfied with the cooler temperature, Perri slid into the driver’s seat and closed the door. A sense of euphoria washed over her as she stared at the folder. She opened it, removed the formal document and read the bold heading.


It was over. Leaning back against the seat, Perri ran her fingers over the paper. No more pretending.

No more phony smiles or empty promises.

No more sad, pitiful looks from family and friends.

No more dreaming of the day when her farce of a marriage would end. Today was that day.

She knew she should feel remorse or regret, but Perri had to stop herself from laughing out loud. She was giddy… happy, and she wanted to celebrate.

Sobering, Perri realized again no one knew where she was. It was no secret she had filed for divorce. The week after Marlena’s eighteenth birthday party, Perri hosted another small dinner party and made her announcement during the first course. No one was surprised. Most were relieved and applauded her decision to dump Parker. Her children were ecstatic. There was no love lost between them and their father.

But no one knew today was the official end to the Norton marriage.

However, they all knew Parker well enough to know he would never just agree to a divorce, and he had not made it easy for her. But as Perri prevailed and walked away, she still had the hope of a reconciliation between Parker and their children… children who had long ago reconciled their feelings for the father who all but ignored them.

Had the twins, Daniel and Ethan, had their way, she would have sought a divorce seven years ago. The young men had the misfortune to witness firsthand their father’s adulterous ways and wanted their mother as far away from him as possible. Having grown up in a household ripped apart by the ugliness of divorce, Perri assured her two oldest children that evening she knew of their father’s after work “activities”, and she could handle it for the time being.

A few short months away from their twenty-first birthday, and less than a year away from their college graduation, Perri’s boys argued that she should at least start the proceedings and they would return after finishing school to help with their two younger siblings. She remembered the pride she’d felt seeing the seriousness in their faces. Perri wasn’t in the habit of explaining herself to anyone, but her children were the life’s blood that kept her going. It had taken most of the evening, but her boys understood and had promised not to confront their father. Ethan was even complimentary on her way of thinking, saying he almost felt sorry for anyone who was silly enough to underestimate her.


The word brought Margaret Gower Bradford front and center to Perri’s mind. The unsympathetic family matriarch was adamant Perri caused all her own problems. From her straying husband to her chronic health issues. If Perri had done enough, given enough, been enough… none of her problems would exist. Margaret didn’t even see them as problems, but more like Perri’s issues. She had cautioned Perri to not even consider divorce. Marriage was forever in the eyes of God. This sentiment from a woman who had been divorced for forty years, refused to remarry, and still found a reason to fight with Maynard Bradford anytime they were in the same zip code.

No, Perri would not be calling her mother anytime soon.

She thought about her small, close group of friends — or the “old broads” as she liked to refer to them. They hated that label. Tory, Sara, Connie and Valerie were always the cause of Perri’s fits of hysterical laughter. None of the women had an OFF button. No subject was sacred and anyone with a pulse was fair game for their biting, caustic remarks. She picked up her phone and dialed Tory’s number, but hit End instead of Call. A celebration with the girls would involve a long evening with way too much alcohol. Better to save that party for the weekend. She’d call them all later and set it up.

Glancing down at the court documents again, Perri knew there was only one person she wanted to call. The only person who knew all she had gone through and understood. The only person who was always there giving her unconditional friendship and emotional support. Her fingers hovered over his name on her contact list. She hadn’t told him about this morning’s court date. He would be upset. He would have offered to come with her.

Perri dropped the phone on the seat. She would not tell him over the phone, but he would be the first one she told. After all the years he’d held her together when she thought she was at the end of her rope, she owed Grayson that much.

Easing the car into the flow of mid-day L.A. traffic, Perri focused on the task at hand… surviving the drive home. No one could maneuver the crush of downtown traffic or its many surrounding freeways unless they were a bit unbalanced, and she fit right in for sure today. Perri couldn’t name the light, bouncy, but apprehensive feelings that buzzed just under her skin. It didn’t matter. She liked it. She liked it a lot.

She felt reborn.

©2014 Copyright Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

Another Loss #WIP


Another snippet from the upcoming Family Matters. The loss of her longtime protector, mentor, and father-figure, Willis Benson, devastates Olivia Chandler.

An hour late, Olivia strode past Margot’s desk, her eyes focused on her office door.

Margot watched her pass, unhappy with what she was about to do. Setting her workstation to away status, she followed her boss into Olivia’s office.

Olivia appeared not notice Margot’s presence and fumbled around, pulling out her laptop and opening file folders.

Standing near the door, Margot folded her arms across her chest… and waited. She watched Olivia move folders around her desk several times before placing them in their original positions.

Lost in thought, the attorney remained standing at her desk, head bowed. When at last she looked up, Olivia was startled at seeing Margot.

“What’s wrong?”

“You tell me, Olivia. You’ve been in a fog since you got here… late. You’re never late.”

“We all have off days, Schultz.”

“You don’t. Not when it comes to your job.”

“Well, guess I’m due then, huh?”

“Maybe. Olivia, what’s-”

“How’s the day shaping up? Bowers custody hearing at one, right? Does Louis have the background check done for the Nealy case?”

“Yes, the background check is back… and on your desk,” she gestured at the mess Olivia had created, “somewhere. Mr. Bowers has asked for a thirty-day continuance and Mrs. Bowers isn’t arguing against it. Judge Whelan is ready to grant it as long as you don’t have a problem with the custody arrangement for the kids.”


“Okay, what?”

“I have no problem with the custody arrangement.”

Margot glared at her boss as her patience wore thin.

“I haven’t told you what the arrangements are yet, Olivia.”

A pained look marred Olivia’s features. She fell back into her chair… silent.

Margot turned and closed the office door. Her brow knitted with worry, she took a seat in front of Olivia’s desk.

“Talk to me. Olivia, what happened?”

“I’m fine, Margot. It’s an off day. It hap-”

“Stop it.”

Leaning forward, the office manager’s voice hardened. Her eyes bored into Olivia.

“You were late. In the ten years I’ve worked for you, Olivia, you’ve never been late. Not. Once. You didn’t take any of my calls or texts. You haven’t taken any of Bruce’s calls and the man is crazy with worry.  He drove by your house twice last night and wanted to call the police when you weren’t there. You don’t want to talk about it, fine. But we care about you, Olivia, and we don’t deserve to be treated like we don’t matter.”

Margot stood and walked toward the door, still talking. “Please let me know how you want to proceed after you read the Bowers’ custody arrangements.”

Olivia’s shoulders slumped, shame bearing down on her. She opened her mouth to speak, but no words came. As Margot reached for the doorknob, Olivia called out but for all her effort, her voice was low, soft and quavered.

“Margot, I’m sorry.”

The offended woman stopped, leaving the door closed but she also didn’t turn around.

“You’re right. I’m being unfair. I-I… don’t know why I have such a problem processing-”

Margot whirled around. “Olivia, dammit! What happened?”

Grief and anxiety won. Olivia wilted deeper into her chair as the first tear fell.

“Willis died last night.”


©2017 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

The Afghan

White afghan

This is another unedited excerpt from my NaNoWriMo2017 project, Sacrificial Daughter.

She smiled standing in her friend’s room. It was one hundred percent Rosie Chastain, appearing light and delicate, but held up by a solid sturdy foundation.

The ninety-year-old high-back rocking chair still sat in the corner. Made from thick oak by Rosie’s Uncle Preston, with pale pink cushions hand-sewn by his wife, Delia, it was Rosie’s special place. Whenever she had to sit and think about something, pray over something or someone, or collect her thoughts after a bad day, Rosie sat in the rocker.

Ana ran her hand over the smooth, glossy wood.

Next to the rocker was a massive nine-drawer dresser. Ana wasn’t sure what tree the dresser’s wood came from, but she remembered hearing workmen swear at the dresser’s weight when Rosie bought new carpeting and it had to be moved.

She opened drawers, not surprised at the order and neatness. Ana walked into the closet and was overwhelmed with memories of Rosie. The scent of the light jasmine and amber cologne Rosie loved was still in the air. Nurse’s uniforms, surgical scrubs, and lab coats took up a full third of the closet. Ana looked through the dress clothes, smiling at her friend’s love of silk.

She walked out of the closet and stood next to the large four-poster bed. Like the dresser, the bed was made from real wood and took four men to move it.

Sitting on the side of the bed, Analeigh buried her face in her hands.

Rosie was gone and now she had to get rid of these precious things.


Jeff told her to leave anything she didn’t want in the house and the auction company would include it in their inventory and sale.

Ana didn’t think she could part with the bedroom furniture. She had no space for it in her modest two-bedroom condo back in Columbus, but these were the pieces Rosie loved and cherished most and they were important to Ana too. She would find premium movers and storage until she made decisions about her future.

Ana reached for her notepad and realized it was on the kitchen counter.

Headed for the kitchen, Ana stopped when she saw something behind the bedroom door. She closed the door to find a dark leather ottoman. It was large and square… and Ana had never seen it before.

Rosie must have bought it after Ana left Corwin.

She knelt for a closer look and saw the tiny brass hinges. Ana raised the ottoman’s lid and clutched her chest with a raspy gasp.

Her eyes filled with tears as she reached into the ottoman to retrieve the treasure.

Sitting on the floor, Ana hugged the one hundred percent Merino wool afghan. She rubbed her chin and cheek against it, incredulous it was still as baby soft as the day she and Rosie completed it.

 ~ ~ ~
Ana made a few bracelets and necklaces, but she never had the patience for jewelry making and working with crystal the way Rosie did. She had no passion for it. When a friend told Rosie about loop knitting and arm knitting, she thought they might be something Ana would enjoy, and it was a creative endeavor.

She was right.

Ana was thrilled when Rosie presented her with the bulky snow-white yarn. She watched the accompanying video four times over two days before she would even consider beginning her project.

On the third day, Rosie laughed as a giddy Ana dumped the first bag of yarn on the dining room table.

A small piece of paper clung to one of the skeins. Ana picked it up and read it. Her mouth gaped open as she backed away from the table.

“What’s wrong, Analeigh?”

Shaking her head, Ana opened her mouth to speak but the words didn’t come.

“Analeigh? What’s wrong, honey? You okay?”

Rosie took a step towards her, but Ana threw up her hands, the slip of paper clutched in her fist.

“You spent almost five-hundred dollars on yarn? For me? Rosie that’s crazy. You have to take it back.”

“Is that what has you so upset? The cost of the yarn?” Rosie waved her off. “The cost is not important, sweetie. The look in your eyes and the smile on your face is what matters. The sense of accomplishment you’ll have at trying something new… being creative, that’s how we grow. Accepting challenges. Now, calm down and let’s get-”

“No, Rosie. You have to take it back.”

“Stop talking nonsense, child. I’ll do no such thing. And haven’t I taught you it is rude to refuse a gift?”

Ana walked over to Rosie, lifted one of her hands and placed the receipt in it.

“Yes, you did, Rosie, but this is too much. I’m not worth it.”

Rage erupted in Rosie and her tawny brown skin glowed as heat suffused her body. She crumpled the receipt in her hand and stalked around the table. Her arms flailed, and her gaze darted around the room.

Analeigh Sellers took a step back, afraid Rosie would send her away and not be her friend anymore.

“I’m sorry, Rosie.”

The wiry old woman rushed to Ana, grabbing and clutching her to her chest.

The teen didn’t understand, but held on, not wanting to be sent away. When Rosie pulled back, Ana saw her face was wet with tears.

“What’s wrong, Rosie?”

She smoothed Ana’s hair down and cupped her cheeks in her hands.

“Some folks think the worst way to hurt a child is physically… beat on them, smack them around. But, sweetie, what’s been done to you is just as bad… worse in some ways.”

“I don’t understand.”

Rosie Chastain tilted her head toward the table.

“Child, if I spent ten-thousand-dollars on that yarn it was worth it to me to see you smile because you are worth it. You are important to me. You matter.”

Ana opened her mouth to argue, but Rosie stopped her.

“You can’t put a price on people, Analeigh, everyone has value. Everyone matters because they are here… alive. There isn’t one of us who is better or more worthy than anyone else. I know that to be true. I’ve seen a lot in almost seventy years on this earth, but I’ve never come across a person who was better than anyone else.”

Pain mixed with the confusion on Ana’s face and she looked away.

Rosie gently turned her head back to see her eyes.

“Child, I could tell you how special and worthy you are all day long, but it don’t mean nothing if you don’t believe it yourself.”

~ ~ ~

Ana wiped her eyes remembering that day. It took a little more time, but she soon learned to walk with her head held high. Because of Rosie Chastain.

~ ~ ~
For the next three weeks, Ana stopped by after school every afternoon, and she and Rosie worked on the afghan together. Methodically matching loops and rows.

On the last day, Ana locked the final stitch and the women complimented each other as they admired their handiwork.

“We’re pretty good, huh?”

“Child, you could sell this for twice what the yarn cost.”

“No way. I’ll never sell it.”

“Does my old heart good to hear that.”

Rosie ran her hand over the blanket.

“Just a month ago, this was piles of yarn, no shape or form, sitting on the store shelves waiting to be purchased. I bought the yarn and you, Analeigh, studied the process. You decided on a pattern and we worked together, keeping the blanket uniform…no loose ends. And now we have this beautiful creation.”

Ana admired her handiwork until she realized Rosie stopped speaking. She glanced in her direction only to find Rosie’s eyes locked on her.

“This blanket is you, Analeigh.”

Ana’s brow knitted in confusion.

“Your young life here… in this town, was just a pile of loose ends. No one tried to give you structure and guidance. They just grabbed a loose end and pulled. But you’re growing into a beautiful young woman and forging your own structure without anyone’s guidance. You’ve got the pattern, Analeigh, time to make your own creation.”

“If I did any of those things, Rosie, it’s because of you.”

“Oh, no, child. I was the shelter from the storm. We all need one sometimes, and we all act as one. You’ll be someone’s shelter one day too so they can have the opportunity to figure it all out. That’s all I did for you.”

“No, Rosie… it’s not. You gave me structure and guidance. And love. And Rosie you saved my life.”

Ana gathered the ends of the snow-white afghan and placed them in Rosie’s hands.

“That’s why I want you to have this.”

~ ~ ~
Ana closed the lid on the ottoman.
Rosie Chastain broke down in tears that day. Ana knew the spry senior citizen was fond of her, but she’d always felt Rosie acted more out of pity. A sense of dread stayed nestled close to her heart, fearing the day would come Rosie would no longer consider Analeigh worthy of her time.

The bond between the two friends was cemented that day. Ana knew she would leave Corwin and its suffocating judgment behind. Leaving Rosie Chastain wasn’t an option.


©2017 Felicia Denise
Image by jdurham