National Random Acts of Kindness Day!

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Observed on February 17th, National Random Acts of Kindness Day has grown in popularity each year.  It is celebrated by individuals, groups, and organizations nationwide to encourage acts of kindness.

I believe we can all agree random acts of kindness are always a good thing, but society could really use a few right about now. Let’s get to it!

The phrase “practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty” was written by Anne Herbert on a placemat in Sausalito, California in 1982. It was based on the phrase “random acts of violence and senseless acts of cruelty”. Herbert’s book Random Acts of Kindness was published in February 1993 speaking about true stories of acts of kindness.

The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation (RAK) was founded in 1995 in the USA. It is a nonprofit headquartered in Denver, Colorado.

However, launched in 2004, New Zealand was the first country in the world to have a Random Acts of Kindness Day!

New Zealand’s RAK Day started after co-founder Josh de Jong was stuck in Auckland traffic one typical afternoon and watched some irate drivers ahead of him getting into a bit of a road rage altercation. He began to think… ‘what would it be like if on one day everyone in New Zealand was kind to a stranger?’ Thus the national day was born and quickly spread around the world.

A simple online search of ‘random acts of kindness’ yields a return of thousands of related items, not the least of which is dozens of groups and organizations created to spread kindness.

The cynic in me could say how sad it is we need groups to motivate us to be kind to each other. But, my optimistic side applauds them for leading by example.

I hope the day is celebrated with millions of acts of random kindness, but I also hope we don’t wait for February 17th or some random group to recruit to us. It doesn’t take much to show kindness. Hate takes effort and forethought, and energy to sustain it. Kindness is natural when you treat others the way you wish to be treated.

A few ideas for random acts of kindness could include:

  • Pay for the person behind you in the drive-thru
  • Let someone go ahead of you in line
  • Buy extra at the grocery store and donate it to a food pantry
  • Buy flowers for someone (postal worker, grocery store clerk, bus driver, etc.)
  • Help someone change a flat tire
  • Post anonymous sticky notes with validating or uplifting messages around for people to find
  • Compliment a work colleague on their work
  • Send an encouraging text to someone
  • Take muffins to work
  • Let a car into the traffic ahead of you
  • Wash someone else’s car
  • Take a gift to new neighbors and introduce yourself
  • Pay the bus fare for the passenger behind you

Showing kindness to someone else makes them AND you feel good – so enjoy your day…and feel good!

No Random Act

 

(Repost)

 

(Compiled from Google, Wikipedia, and NationalDayCalendar.com.)

#My52 “The Price of a Life, Part VI”

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#My52: Week 7

Word prompt: maintenance

Word count – 1361

Reading time – 3 mins,  35 secs

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Part VI

Bitterness and anger warred inside Dexter Morgan.

His mother stole his childhood and forever changed his life chasing the affluent lifestyle she believed she deserved.

Jerome Gaffney’s inquiry into Dexter’s eligibility for a scholarship through his father’s veteran benefits was the catalyst for Verna Morgan’s undoing.

He received the funds he needed for college, but the Department of Veteran’s Affairs also launched an investigation into the benefits Verna claimed before Proctor divorced her.

Authorities were certain she forged allotment documents before she left her husband. Though it was rare, it wasn’t unusual for military families to maintain two residences.

Proctor’s diminished physical condition could account for any disparities in his signature on the documents, and even with abandonment as his reason for divorce, the VA still had no concrete proof Verna forged his signature.

Since Dex was Proctor’s son, he was entitled to Social Security disability benefits for dependent children. That he never knew about the monthly checks and Verna dressed him in thrift store gleanings while buying new suits for Simon only proved her a bad mother. Reprehensible, but not illegal.

Dexter’s strained home life grew more contentious after Verna’s machinations came to light.

Counting the days until graduation, a part-time job with the school’s maintenance crew filled enough hours for Dexter to only return to the dusty apartment for a few hours sleep each night.

When graduation day arrived, an unrepentant Verna did not attend.

And Dexter didn’t want her there.

With all he’d been through, Dexter Morgan was proud of his accomplishments, but his heart mourned his father not seeing him accept his diploma and scholarships.

By the time he returned home, his sadness had turned to rage.

“Well, lookie here. We have an honest-to-God high school graduate in our midst.”

Headed to his room, Dex froze in his tracks, fed up with Simon’s smart mouth.

“Yeah, I am, and I appreciate you being there to support me.”

Verna interrupted before Simon could respond.

“Don’t start, Dexter. It’s still a hundred and fifteen degrees outside. There was no reason for us to get heatstroke trying to get to an overcrowded gymnasium and sit for three hours.”

“Damn, how did you do that, Simon? I didn’t even see your lips move.”

“Dexter James! How dare-”

“How dare me what, ma? Call you both on your crap?”

“You listen to-”

“I’m done listening to you, ma. Seeing your only child graduate from high school… with honors wasn’t a good enough reason to brave Las Vegas heat, but I was a good enough reason to steal money from dad and the government.”

“I am not a thief!”

“Taking something that doesn’t belong to you is stealing-”

“I stole nothing! They found no grounds to file charges against me.”

“Only because dad’s dead… now.”

“We’ve already been over this, Dexter. I was entitled to that money.”

“Because of me!”

His tone startled the shameless couple.

“And we haven’t been over it. I was in the room the last time you talked to the VA people. But you,” he pointed an accusing finger at her, “refused to say another word about it when we got home.”

“There was no point. We needed to put the ugly accusations behind us and move on.”

“There wasn’t enough proof to charge you, ma. No one said you were innocent.”

“How can you speak to me this way? I’m your mother-”

“It’s always about you. Dad getting deployed to Afghanistan, his coming home wounded, and you walking out on him… all about you. All to interrupt your life.”

Verna pleaded with her boyfriend for help. “Simon, baby, make him stop. Don’t let him talk to me like that.”

But the older man had not forgotten how the teenager pulled him off Verna and threw him across the room. He withered under Dexter’s dark glare and focused on his beer.

“He only hits people who don’t hit back, ma.”

“What have I done for you to disrespect me like this?”

“How many times can I say it? You used me to take money that didn’t belong to you.”

“I was entitled to that money.”

“No, you weren’t.” He pounded his chest with each word. “I was entitled to those benefits, ma. You were only able to get as far as you did because you used me.”

“I did it for you!”

“You did it for yourself.”

“Dexter-”

“You fed me Hot Pockets and Pop Tarts, dressed me in thrift store hand-me-downs, and made me sleep on the floor until you found an old bed at a garage sale… for ten dollars.”

“It’s not like I was getting big bucks, Dexter James. You have no idea what it costs to raise a child.”

“Does it cost as much as that fancy bed Simon had to have for his bad back? Or his high-tech gold watch? What about the gold cuff links, ma? Does raising a child cost as much as those?”

“You need to leave.”

“And there it is. Kick me out so you don’t have to face your own lies. Only this time you and Mr. Big here won’t come looking for me. I’m eighteen and the checks have stopped. I hold no value for you anymore. I’m a liability… and a reminder of your meanness.”

“My lies? My meanness? What about your father, Dexter? He promised me we’d travel the world. We were supposed to buy a new home, new cars and join the country club. He promised me.” She paced next to the rickety dinette. “But instead he comes home barely able to feed himself, and I’m supposed to be the dutiful wife and caregiver. No. No. I deserved better.”

When Dexter didn’t respond, Verna turned to her son.

Even Simon looked up from his beer.

Dex stood frozen in place, his eyes on his mother.

And his lips twitched at the corners.

Unable to hold it in, he bent at the waist… and roared with laughter. He wrapped his arms around himself as guffaws rumbled up from deep inside his belly.

“Dexter James! What is wrong with you? What are you laughing at?”

The teen buried his face in his hands and righted himself. Scrubbing his hands down his face, he tried to catch his breath. Looking around the shabby apartment, Dex returned his mischievous gaze to Verna.

“Welcome to better, ma.”

Hit by another wave of laughter, Dexter stumbled backward into the wall.

“I’m glad you find this funny, young man.”

Pushing away from the wall, Dexter Morgan stood to his full height, the laughter gone.

“You took me away from my home, my friends. You took me away from my dad… after he lost the use of his legs serving his country.” A single tear slid down his cheek. “All because you could. All because you knew there was something better waiting for you.”

He took two steps toward his mother.

“But you ended up in this rundown hole-in-the-wall with a man who beats you like it’s a hobby… while you took care of him with money I was eligible for because of my dad… the man you walked away from.”

He took two more steps.

“You don’t think that’s funny, ma? Because I think it’s fucking hilarious.”

Verna opened her mouth to speak, but Dexter talked over her.

“I’m leaving, ma, but not tonight. Mr. Gaffney is making arrangements for me to move into the dorms early and work on-campus until classes start. So, you’re stuck with me sleeping here until that happens. You owe me that much.”

Dexter turned and headed to his room, stopping in the doorway.

“Don’t worry, ma, it’ll only be for a couple of weeks and then you’ll be rid of me. But what’s even better is I’ll be rid of you.”

 

Dexter Morgan leaned his forehead against the cool window and closed his eyes. His jaws trembled as though the memories left a bitter taste in his mouth.

Six days later, Jerome Gaffney had picked up Dex and his modest duffle bag of belongings. As they drove away, he closed the chapter of his life that included his mother.

But Verna Morgan wasn’t done with him yet.

Next week, the conclusion of The Price of a Life

Part I     Part II     Part III   Part IV   Part V

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©2019 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

 

Song Lyric Sunday | “Love Can Move Mountains” – The Passion cast

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Song Lyric Sunday was created by Helen Vahdati from This Thing Called Life One Word at a Time and author Jim Adams from A Unique Title For Me is our current guest host. For complete rules or to join in the fun, click here.

This week’s theme is  “Hills/Mountains.”

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Written by the amazing Diane Warren, Love Can Move Mountains was first recorded by Celine Dion in 1992. With its up-tempo pop beat drawing influence from gospel and dance music and lyrics detailing the abilities that love has as an emotion, the song charted worldwide and was a Top 40 hit in the U.S.

However, my favorite version of Love Can Move Mountains is from 2016’s The Passion: New Orleans, a contemporary retelling of the Passion of Jesus Christ aired during the Easter weekend.

Jencarlos Canela, Prince Royce, Shane Harper,  and Michael W. Smith lead the cast in a rousing rendition of the song.

Enjoy!

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

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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.

Love Can Move Mountains

by The Passion cast
Songwriter: Diane Warren
There ain’t a dream that don’t
Have a chance
To come true now
It just takes a little faith
Anything that we want to do
We can do now
There ain’t nothing in our way baby
Nothing our love couldn’t raise above
We can get through the night
We can get to the light
Long as we got our love to
Light the way
With a little faith
Just a little trust
If you believe in love
Love can move mountains
Believe in your heart
And feel, feel it in your soul
And love baby love can
Move mountains

Ocean deep and mountains high
They can’t stop us
Because love is on our side baby
We can reach the heavens and
Touch the sky
Just believe it, believe in you and I baby
If we got love that is strong enough
We can do anything, make it
through anything
‘Coz through it all love will always
Find a way

With a little faith, , ,

You believe in me
I’ll believe in you
If we believe in each other
Nothing we can’t do
If we got love that’s strong enough
Love will find a way

With a little faith

#My52 “The Price of a Life, Part V”

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#My52: Week 6

Word prompt: swing set

Word count – 632

Reading time – 2 mins, 4 secs

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Part V

Dexter Morgan touched the heavy, dust-laden drapes.

Who hung these? Did dad ask them to? Was he trying to hide or block out the world he was no longer part of?

He pulled the drapes open, flooding the room with light.

Like the front yard, the backyard was well-kept, but the empty pool resembled a large bathtub and his swing set was gone.

The swing set had not been a simple toy but more so a covenant between father and son.

During a quick phone call home sixty days before Proctor returned stateside, he’d promised Dex a new swing set.

True to his word, after all the pomp and ceremony of his unit’s return to the base and the fallen were laid to rest, but before the upcoming celebrations with parties, cookouts, and tributes, Proctor made good on his promise.

Waking his son early on a Tuesday, Proctor and Dex enjoyed breakfast together at IHOP. The swing set was never far from his thoughts, but Dex was happy to be with his dad and thrilled when he learned he wasn’t going to school that day.

After breakfast, Proctor drove the two short blocks to Meijer’s Toy World.

Dexter’s heart was in his throat, but his excitement faded when his dad didn’t pull into a parking space.

His disappointment soon mixed with confusion when Proctor pulled up to a door behind the store. A large sign over the door read WILL CALL.

A young man sitting in a windowed office looked in their direction and came outside.

“Pick up today, sir?”

“Yes, for my boy.” Dex watched his dad hand the attendant a slip of paper.

“Whoa. I’m gonna need help with this. Open your truck gate while I grab a couple of coworkers.”

Without a word to his son, Proctor stepped from the truck to open the gate.

Dexter’s young mind tried to process what was happening. He was about to take off his seatbelt and join his father at the back of the truck when a large metal door opened next to where the attendant has been sitting.

The young man and three of his coworkers carried cardboard boxes of all shapes and sizes to the truck.

Dex flipped the seatbelt loose and got on his knees staring out the cab’s back window.

“Sure you don’t need assembly for this, sir?”

“Thanks, but we got this.”

Nothing made sense to Dex until two of the men lifted a large box into the truck bed. One of the men jumped into the truck and pushed the large box all the way to the window Dex was staring out of.

That’s when he saw it.

A large, colorful label showed the box contained the main beams and swings for the Gymboree Playland Swing Set.

The noise of his clapping and cheering sounded like a classroom of eight-year-olds instead of just one. The men stopped loading the truck to enjoy the child’s happiness as Proctor walked around the truck to open Dexter’s door.

He leaped from his seat locking his arms around Proctor’s neck.

“You remembered. I thought you forgot, but you didn’t.”

Proctor squeezed his son tight then pulled back to see his face.

“It’s all I could think about. It helped get me back home to you.”

With their eyes brimming with tears, Proctor and Dex leaned their foreheads together, not noticing the four attendants clearing their throats and looking away, moved by the love of a father for his son.

That was the best day of my life. She stole so much from me, but she can’t touch my memories.

Dexter’s jaw hardened. Mr. Gaffney’s simple inquiry into his dad’s VA benefits to find help with Dex’s tuition opened a floodgate of lies and coverups and showed Verna Morgan’s true treachery.

To be continued

Part I     Part II     Part III   Part IV

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©2019 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

 

Song Lyric Sunday | “You Don’t Miss Your Water” – William Bell

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Song Lyric Sunday was created by Helen Vahdati from This Thing Called Life One Word at a Time and author Jim Adams from A Unique Title For Me is our current guest host. For complete rules or to join in the fun, click here.

This week’s theme is  “River/Stream/Creek/Brook.”

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Sticking with my water prompt leads me to another song that’s sounds like it about a broken relationship, but it didn’t start out that way… You Don’t Miss Your Water.

Lyrically, the song’s theme revolves around the singer’s confession of his unfaithfulness to his lover and, now that she’s gone, his realization of his foolishness. However, Tennessee native William Bell was actually writing about being homesick while he played with jazz musician Phineas Newborn and his orchestra in New York.

You Don’t Miss Your Water did not chart in the Billboard R&B charts when it was first released in 1961, although it did reach #95 on the pop charts. Since then, the track has gone on to become a Southern soul classic. The song was also released on Bell’s 1967 album The Soul of a Bell, along with the original version of Do Right Woman, Do Right Man, which was more famously covered by Aretha Franklin.

FUN FACT:
  • Otis Redding, Taj Mahal, The Byrds, and Jerry Lee Lewis are just some of the artists who have released covers of You Don’t Miss Your Water.
  • Bell co-authored the Chuck Jackson hit, Any Other Way and  Billy Idol’s 1986 hit, To Be a Lover.

The video is from a live performance at the White House in 2014.

Enjoy!

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

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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.

You Don’t Miss Your Water

by William Bell
Songwriter: William Bell

In the beginning, you really loved me
But I was too blind and I couldn’t see

But now you’ve left me, oh, how I cry
You don’t miss your water, till your well runs dry

I kept you crying, sad and blue
I was a playboy and I wouldn’t be true
But when you left me and said ‘Bye, bye’
I missed my water, my well ran dry

Now, I sit and wonder and how can this be?
I never thought, you’d ever leave me

But now you’ve left me, oh, how I cry
You don’t miss your water, till your well runs dry
You don’t miss your water, till your well runs dry

#My52 “The Price of a Life, Part IV”

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#My52: Week 5

Word prompt: knees

Word count – 496

Reading time – 2 mins, 4 secs

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Part IV

Dexter Morgan pleaded with his counselor for several minutes to not call for the school nurse or dial 911.

Jerome Gaffney relented, but only after insisting Dex explain how having to apply for financial aid almost made him pass out.

Dex was reluctant and anxious but knew he had no choice. He had to divulge at least part of his shameful home-life. “We live with my mother’s boyfriend and I don’t know what he does for a living… legally. Simon, my mom’s boyfriend, gambles, I think. I know he’s always looking for high stakes poker games… and always loses.”

He averted his eyes at the scowl on Gaffney’s face and continued.

“She left… we left my dad when I was twelve and I haven’t seen him since.”

The counselor scrubbed a hand down his face. “I’m sorry, son. I wasn’t aware of that. However, he’s still eligible to file for your financial aid. What does he do?”

Dex tilted his head to one side, working up the resolve to speak the words for the first time.

“He died three years ago.”

“Oh, Dexter! I am so sorry, kiddo. I must sound like a heartless troll asking these questions. I can’t imagine what it’s been like for you.”

“Not your fault, Mr. Gaffney. You didn’t know. And thank you.”

“May I ask what he died from?”

Dex waved his hand through the air. “Your guess is as good as mine. Ma’s not big on details.”

He leaned forward resting his elbows on his knees. “But it had to be because of his injuries. He was in a wheelchair and the doctors said-”

Gaffney cut him off. “Injuries? Wheelchair? Was he in an accident?”

The boy tried to school his features, but his pain was obvious. “He was wounded in combat. Afghanistan. There was a firefight, lots of wounded. My dad was trying to get a buddy to the medics and took a bullet. It did a lot of damage… and left him partially paralyzed.”

He took deep, measured breaths to fight off the anxiety which always threatened to consume him when he thought of the father he was forced to abandon.

His counselor hadn’t responded and was flipping through file folders on his desk.

“Mr. Gaffney? Is something wrong?”

“You just told me your dad was a veteran, Dexter, and I don’t recall seeing that in your file.”

Dex frowned.

“Ah! Here it is. Mother, Verna Henley-Morgan, 2227 Shamrock Court, Las Vegas. Father, Proctor Morgan, whereabouts unknown.”

Dex sat up straight. “That’s not true. We left my dad at our old house in Bennington, Colorado.”

The counselor blew out a rough breath. “Did your parents divorce?”

“I-I… don’t know. Ma mentioned nothing about it. Is that important?”

“Some parents don’t discuss family finances with their kids, but either way, you’re entitled to benefits.”

“Benefits? What does that mean? For college?”

Gaffney chuckled as he pulled out new forms. “At the very least, Dexter, at the very least.”

To be continued

Part I     Part II     Part III

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©2019 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

 

Song Lyric Sunday | “Get Here” – Oleta Adams

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Song Lyric Sunday was created by Helen Vahdati from This Thing Called Life One Word at a Time and author Jim Adams from A Unique Title For Me is our current guest host. For complete rules or to join in the fun, click here.

This week’s theme is  “Ocean/Sea/Lake/Bay.”

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I went down the street and around the corner to make this week’s theme jive with my song pic. 😀

Get Here was written and recorded by American singer and songwriter Brenda Russell. The title track of her fourth studio album Get Here (1988), it became a moderate hit on the Billboard R&B chart on the heels of the album’s massive first hit, Piano in the Dark.

American vocalist Oleta Adams recorded the song in 1990, making it a major international hit that reached the top 5 in both the US and the UK.  Adams’ version of Get Here, co-produced by Roland Orzabal from the band Tears for Fears (for whom she had performed the female vocals on the hit single, Woman in Chains a year earlier), became her signature song.

How far did I stretch to reach this week’s theme? In the second verse, she sings, “you can reach me by sailboat,” and that takes WATER… ocean/Sea/Lake/Bay, so… see? Oh hush. Don’t judge me! 😀

Enjoy!

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

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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.

Get Here

by Oleta Adams
Songwriter: Brenda Russell

[Verse 1]
You can reach me by railway
You can reach me by trail-way
You can reach me on an airplane
You can reach me with your mind
You can reach me by caravan
Cross the desert like an Arab man
I don’t care how you get here, just get here if you can

You can reach me by sailboat
Climb a tree and swing rope to rope
Take a sled and slide down slow, into these arms of mine
You can jump on a speedy colt
Cross the border in a blaze of hope
I don’t care how you get here, just get here if you can

There are hills and mountains between us
Always something to get over
If I had my way, then surely you would be closer
I need you closer

(Musical break)
There are hills and mountains between us
Always something to get over
If I had my way, then surely you would be closer
I need you closer

You can windsurf into my life
Take me up on a carpet ride
You can make it in a big balloon
But you better make it soon
You can reach me by caravan
Cross the desert like an Arab man
I don’t care how you get here, just get here if you can

I don’t care, I don’t care, I need you right here right now
I need you right here, right now, right by my side
Yeah,yeah, yeah, yeah

I don’t care how you get here, just- get here if you can

#My52 “The Price of a Life, Part III”

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#My52: Week 4

Word prompt: tacos

Word count – 1062

Reading time – 1 mins, 34 secs

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Part III

Focused on his studies, Dex pushed thoughts of his early morning from his mind. School was the only thing he had going for him and he didn’t know how, but he was determined to have a better life.

Verna Morgan’s words didn’t return to his mind until he passed the counseling center next to the library at the end of the school day.

His mind raced as he weighed his options.

I have nowhere to stay… not even a friend to bunk with for a day or two until I figure things out.

He peered through the large office window and spotted his school advisor.

Jerome Gaffney was an okay counselor, even if he was stuck in the eighties in appearance and language, and Dexter knew he would try to help. But he was a minor and that help would involve foster care or worse, juvenile hall.

Deciding to check area shelters on his own before approaching Mr. Gaffney, Dex left the building and headed across the school parking lot toward downtown.

“Dexter?”

Startled, Dex looked around the parking lot. He froze when he saw Simon standing next to the rundown Explorer. His mother sat in the passenger seat, channeling Audrey Hepburn, but the scarf and sunglasses couldn’t mask the damage caused by  Simon.

“Dexter?”

“Why are you here, ma?”

“I’m sorry, baby-”

“We’re sorry,” Simon piped in.

She continued. “I don’t want you to leave. I can’t bear the thought of my baby sleeping on the streets-”

“I can’t do this anymore, ma. The screaming, the fighting. You can’t expect me to just sit there while he beats you.” He tilted his head toward Simon while still focused on his mother. “It’s wrong and I can’t live like that anymore. It’s better this way.”

Verna removed her sunglasses and Dex’s stomach roiled.

Despite the distance between them, he couldn’t miss the array of colors in her face.

The dark bruising around her left eye feathered to purple on her temple. Her patrician nose held a greenish bump on the bridge, proof it was broken. The ruby red lipstick did little to hide the blood blister in the corner of her mouth or the split next to it.

“Your… face.”

She averted her eyes, replacing the sunglasses.

“It will get better. We will do better, baby. I promise.”

“We promise.”

Dex was unmoved by Simon’s half-hearted promise, but his mother’s concern did appear genuine.

He turned his gaze to Simon for the first time while taking hesitant steps to the vehicle.

The con man’s raised eyebrows satisfied Dex his unspoken threat was received.

He climbed into the Explorer’s back seat and hadn’t closed the door before Verna turned around, bouncing and excited.

“It’s all-you-can-eat tacos day at Nina’s Taqueria. Let’s go clean them out!”

“Love the sound of that, baby. We gotta take care of our boy.”

Our boy.

Dex looked out the window to hide his eye-roll.

For five years, Simon called him by name or your son when speaking to Verna. Nothing else.

Something wasn’t right.

 

“Congratulations, Dexter! You’re one of the first students to receive an acceptance letter from UNLV.”

The teenager accepted Jerome Gaffney’s handshake with a smile, holding back a belly laugh. The man had an amazing resemblance to one of the Bee Gees.

“The registrar is impressed with your grades and knows you’ll be an asset to the psychiatry program.”

“Thank you, sir. I appreciate all your help with the application.”

Dexter gripped the arms of the chair trying to conceal his excitement. In a few short months, he’d be a student on the Las Vegas campus of the University of Nevada.

And away from his mother and Simon… for good.

The violence at home hadn’t stopped. They waited until Dexter was gone to fight, but Verna… and the apartment always showed the telltale signs of Simon unleashing his anger.

“Dexter?”

“I’m sorry, sir. What?”

“Where’d you go, kiddo? You were a million miles away.”

“Sorry. Just excited, I guess.”

“Well, you have every right to be. A good percentage of our senior classes continue their education after high school, but few make the grades for UNLV.” His smiled waned. “I know it hasn’t been easy for you, son. I was an introvert as a teenager too and I know what you’re up against. It’s one of the reasons I ended up here. To help all students because I’ll never forget what it was like to be invisible.”

His counselor was a good man, but Dex couldn’t help but wonder how many students dealing with issues not connected with school or students suffering from depression and anxiety the kind man had helped.

“You will receive a ton of mail from the school before your graduation, but before we get to that, let’s go over your financial aid packet.”

Dex frowned. “My what?”

“Financial aid… to pay for your tuition.”

“I don’t understand. My acceptance letter said they awarded me scholarships from the school.”

“Yes, you were.” He looked over a computer printout. “And with your grade point average, you’re on target to receive one or two more from the school board.”

Jerome Gaffney laid the paper aside and folded his hands on his desk.

“But son, it’s not enough for a psychiatry major. That includes medical school.”

Dexter’s buzz of excitement slowed to a dull ache throbbing near his temples.

“What do I need to do?”

The counselor pushed a large envelope across the desk.

“That’s the application for federal financial aid. I’ll highlight the most important parts, then you can give it to your parents. They have plenty of time to complete it before the school’s first College Night.”

“My parents? Can’t I fill it out?”

“Household income, tax returns, monthly obligations… sorry, kiddo. That’s gotta come from mom and dad.”

Gaffney continued to talk, but Dex didn’t hear him.

The throbbing in his head grew to a loud roar, and the bile rose from his stomach.

His mother hadn’t worked in his whole life. They lived with her hustler boyfriend. There was no household income, just occasional wins at the card table he was sure Simon couldn’t put on any tax return.

The lump in his throat made swallowing difficult.

He’d never get financial aid. Never get into UNLV. Never get away from Verna and Simon.

Dex inhaled through his nose and gripped the chair arms when his vision blurred, then faded.

Just like his future.

 

To be continued

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©2019 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

 

Song Lyric Sunday | “No One Gonna Love You” – Jennifer Hudson

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Song Lyric Sunday was created by Helen Vahdati from This Thing Called Life One Word at a Time and author Jim Adams from A Unique Title For Me is our current guest host. For complete rules or to join in the fun, click here.

This week’s theme is  no.”

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I’m not a fan of the numerous music competition shows, but am so glad American Idol brought Jennifer Hudson into my music world.

The singer has enjoyed much success in music and as an actress, garnering Grammy and Academy awards, but it’s a single from her 2011 studio album, I Remember Me that keeps her on my favorites list.

Her first musical offering after the murder of her mother, brother and nephew by her sister’s estranged husband in late 2008,  Hudson opens the 2011 album with the single No One Gonna Love You,  which begins with a major understatement – “I’ve been through some things.”

The song was released as the album’s second single and impacted Urban Adult Contemporary radio in May of 2011.

FUN FACTS:
  • The music video for No One Gonna Love You was directed by Diane Martel.
  • According to Thomas Conner from Chicago Sun-Times, “the producer Rich Harrison dials everything back, including an interesting plunky muted piano, to showcase Hudson’s voice, which builds slowly from ditty to diva in less than four minutes and never boils over.
  • The video begins with Hudson reminding her boyfriend not to be late for their anniversary dinner and he becomes confused. Later, Hudson arrives at the restaurant and her boyfriend is not there, but he tries to call her but she ignores his call and goes back to their apartment. When she gets there, she tries to turn on the lights, which are not working. Then her boyfriend turns on a lamp and the place is filled with balloons and streamers. He then surprises Hudson by sneaking an engagement ring on her finger and she becomes overjoyed and they embrace. Scenes of Hudson performing the song in their apartment, as well as dancing with two other dancers on a chair, wearing a black hat are also featured.

Enjoy!

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

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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.

No One Gonna Love You

by Jennifer Hudson
Songwriter: Rich Harrison

Aha! Hmmm! Hmm
I, I, I, I’ve been through some things
Please don’t hold that against me
Can’t nobody love you like I’m gonna love you
Can’t nobody love you like I’m gonna love you
Even though I, I, I still can feel a sting
No need to second guess me
Can’t nobody love you like I’m gonna love you
Can’t nobody love you like I’m gonna love you

See I, I, I, I, I don’t mind you
Putting up a little bit of fight, it’s alright
But why run from what’s gonna hold you tight
Through any complications, baby, maybe we can start tonight!

Hey! I saw the dirty look you gave me
Don’t care what your ex do
Can’t nobody love you like I’m gonna love you!
Ain’t no one gonna love you, like I’m gonna love you!
And if you dare, don’t dare
Send me straight to voice mail
Baby I’m just gonna text you
Hope it ain’t no issue, I just gotta let you
Know no one to love you like I’m gonna love you!

See I, I, I, I, I don’t mind you
Putting up a little bit of fight, it’s alright
But why run from what’s gonna hold you tight
Through any complications, baby, maybe we can start tonight!

Oh, oh, oh!
I put that on everything!
Ain’t no one gonna love you!
Ain’t no one gonna hold you!
Show you what I could show you!
Somebody better told you!
Oh, oh, oh!
Baby, your name’s spelled out in every heartbeat!
Ain’t no one gonna love you!
Ain’t no one gonna hold you!
Show you what I could show you!

But if you should go down that same road
You’ve been before
You’re in reverse, your pain rehearsed,just brace yourself for the blow
But don’t you know that you could just let it go?
Don’t you know

I, I, I, I’ve been through some things
Please don’t hold that against me
Can’t nobody love you like I’m gonna love you
Can’t nobody love you like I’m gonna love you
Don’t you know I, I, I, I, I’m making you this promise
Clutchin’ on a rosary
Ain’t no one gonna love you, like I’m gonna love you!
Ain’t no one gonna love you, like I’m gonna love you!
Oh, oh, oh, oh!

I put that on everything
Ain’t no one gonna love you
Ain’t no one gonna hold you
Show you what I could show you!
Somebody better tell you!
Oh, Oh, Oh!

I, I, I, I’ve been through some things
Please don’t hold that against me
Can’t nobody love you like I’m gonna love you
Can’t nobody love you like I’m gonna love you
Don’t you know I, I, I, I, I’m making you this promise
Clutchin’ on a rosary
Ain’t no one gonna love you, like I’m gonna love you!
Ain’t no one gonna love you, like I’m gonna love you!
Oh, oh, oh, oh!

#My52 “The Price of a Life, Part II”

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#My52: Week 3

Word prompt: wheelchair

Word count – 867

Reading time – 2 mins, 12 secs

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Part II

Consumed with hopelessness, Dex withdrew into his mind, immersing himself in schoolwork and dreams of being reunited with his father.

Months stretched into years and Dexter Morgan turned seventeen in a dusty, two-bedroom flat miles off the Las Vegas strip.

There was no cake or celebration.

Dex woke to the latest argument between his mother and Simon.

Sitting on the edge of his bed, he covered his ears with his hands.

I hate my life.

Resigned to his lot, he went to his closet, sorting through his meager wardrobe for jeans that wouldn’t show his ankles and a shirt that wasn’t threadbare.

Dex was walking down the hallway to the shower when he heard the slap.

His hands clenched into tight fists, gripping his jeans.

Why does she put up with it? Why are we still here? This isn’t a family.

Verna Morgan’s groans broke through his thoughts.

He continued on to the bathroom, his steps slow and labored.

He’d interfered before… tried to stop the yelling and the punches by putting himself between his mother and her boyfriend… and always came out the loser.

I’ll get dressed and leave. He will kill her one day and I refuse to witness it.

His hand was on the bathroom doorknob when he heard a harsh exhale from his mother.

And another… and another.

Dex fell against the door, hit by a wave of nausea and dizziness.

His eyes burned with unshed tears as Simon continued to deliver the body punches to the woman he said he loved.

Opening his mouth for a deep breath, Dex clamped his lips closed, fighting off the bile threatening to erupt from his belly.

He dropped his jeans and raced into the ramshackle living room.

Simon held Verna against the wall with one hand as he drew back his fist for yet another blow.

Dex crossed the room in two steps, grabbing the man’s fist.

“No more.”

Without releasing Verna, Simon turned his head. His eyes bore the darkness of evil and spittle flew from his lips when he spoke.

“Have you lost your damn mind? Let go, boy… now!”

Dexter’s face was the picture of calm as he tightened his hold on the older man’s fist and threw him across the room.

Simon crashed into the wall, overturning the corner lamp while a bruised and bloody Verna slid to the floor.

Propelled by rage, the teenager approached his mother’s lover.

Dexter had never raised his hands in anger to anyone. He’d taken the abuse and bullying at home and at every school he’d ever attended.

But as Dex loomed over the prone man, Simon raised his head and Dex saw fear… of him.

Today, his seventeenth birthday, Dexter Morgan realized he was no longer that frightened twelve-year-old boy snatched away from his father. Life had given him nothing in the last five years, but that didn’t stop nature from giving him seven more inches in height and sixty pounds.

With little effort, he lifted Simon from the floor, energized by the growing horror in the older man’s eyes.

“Every time you beat her, I hit you.” He delivered a brutal gut punch to his mother’s abuser, then dropped him in a heap and ran to Verna as her moans grew louder.

“Don’t move, ma. You need help. I’m calling 911.”

She struggled to respond.

“No, don’t. I’m fine.”

“You’re not, ma. Hang on while-”

“No.”

Her voice was light and raspy but determined.

“I’ll be fine. Just help me up.”

Dex lifted her and laid her on the ratty, stain-covered sofa.

“Ma, you’re a mess. You need a doctor.”

“I said no. You shouldn’t have interfered, Dexter. Simon was just blowing off steam. I pushed him too far.”

Dexter’s jaws tightened, his rage threatening to boil over. Once again, she was blaming herself for Simon’s sins.

“You won’t be happy until he beats the life right out of you, will you?”

“Dexter James! Do not speak that way to your mother.”

“Oh, you get mad at me for speaking the truth but it’s okay if that piece of shit knocks you around-”

“You don’t understand.”

“You’re right, ma, I don’t, and I never will. But as long as I’m here, he doesn’t get to beat on you.”

“Then… maybe you shouldn’t be here.”

Her words cut him to the quick, choking his response.

“W-What do you m-mean, ma? I s-shouldn’t be here?”

“I don’t need you butting into my business and throwing Simon around. You didn’t hurt him, did you?”

Dex’s blood ran cold. The last vestiges of the frightened twelve-year-old boy skittered to the dark corners of his mind and huddled next to his stolen childhood.

“He can still walk so not near as bad as I wanted to, ma. But I’m out. I’ll leave you two to your little unhappily ever after.”

He stormed from the room, grabbing his jeans from the hallway floor. Forgetting about his shower, Dex threw on his clothes and dumped an extra pair of jeans into his backpack with his books.

Dex walked away from the musty apartment ignoring Verna’s weak pleas for him to come back.

She made her choice, and it wasn’t him.

 

To be continued

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©2019 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved