I started with what I thought would be a short story, but it’s become an actual . . . novel. In 30 days, I’m due to have a great work of fiction that explores the complicated relationship of Jack and Ahlia, Jack and Ahlia are best friends, sometimes lovers, business partners, and a complicated pair who may just destroy each other due to their fear and secrets.
Since I quit my job I’ve had a lot more time to be creative. So, when I was cruising the online streets, I came across a writing challenge, #XD30 created by Blogger and Online Influence, Xavier D’Leau. XD hosts a writing challenge that’s as simple as it is difficult. Basically, you write everyday for 30 days. The simple part is you can write WHATEVER you’d like: poem, sonnet, haiku, or short story. The difficult part is writing everyday – LAWD! But, I started the challenge and realized I missed writing fiction.
Check out the chapters on my Tumblr account. I share a new chapter everyday, BUT after the 15th or June, I’ll only share an excerpt because I will be publishing and selling this book in August! Yup! I thought I wanted to write a style guide, but whoa, I’m dropping a novel! And, it’s good! Give it a read and tell me what you think.
Jack and Ahlia were sitting in the car. They were in the parking lot of the local Wal-Mart facing the entrance of the busy store. Jack thought it would be fun for them to play their favorite game, “What About That Guy?” A game that can easily be described as ‘people watching’. By the second or third person, Jack and Ahlia would have tears in their eyes from the hilarity of their own stories. They were both good story tellers.
Tonight, Ahlia wasn’t laughing. She was barely looking at the people walking by. She was barely looking at Jack, although she could feel him peering at her from the driver’s side. She was sipping on her strawberry milk shake from Friendly’s, twirling the red straw in her hands. The fake crystals on her airbrushed acrylic nails cast tiny star-like reflections on the dashboard. She could hear Jack talking, attempting to make her laugh, but she was too deep in her head to respond. She let out an audible sigh.
Jack stopped talking. Playing with the zipper on his oversized Mecca jacket, he gazed out the window looking at the lights from a passing plane in the sky. Soon enough he’d be on a plane too, heading to Atlanta to attend Morehouse university on a full ride scholarship. Jack managed to get a 3.8 grade point average, scored very high on the SAT, and played basketball well enough to have recruiters coming to his games. He had his selection of schools, but thought attending his father’s alma mater would somehow bridge the gap in their relationship. Jack’s father lived in Atlanta and was ready to be in his son’s life. Jack was petrified. The least his father could do was write that sparkling recommendation letter and donate $10,000 to the HBCU. His ‘father’ had been absent since Jack was two years old.
Ahlia tried to sip the sweet milkshake, barely able to swallow the cold creamy confection. Strawberry Milkshakes used to be her favorite. Little cramps rippled through her abdomen, every so often, making her feel nauseated. The effects of the hydrocodone pill were making their arrival and she could feel a sleepy heaviness start to take over her body. She needed to go home to lay down, but she wasn’t ready to leave Jack. The too-friendly doctor at the clinic said she’d feel almost flu-like, for a couple of days, while her hormones straightened themselves out.
She hoped that she’d feel better sooner, rather than later, because she had to be ready for her graduation party. Her entire family would arrive to celebrate their pride & joy. Ahlia was the first person to go to college and on a full ride too. She decided to attend Fordham University, in New York City, to study Psychology. She wanted to be a therapist. Today’s episode would surely be something she’d use to treat her future patients. Her stomach cramped again and she let out a breath.
Jack didn’t know what to do so he pushed the button on the six-CD changer finding their favorite CD, Emotional by Carl Thomas. He skipped through to ‘Summer Rain’ and let the lyrics play through:
I don’t mind if it rains forever
Let it rain, rain, let it rain
I said I don’t mind if it rains forever
Let it rain, rain, let it rain …
This was the cd that got them in trouble in the first place. Ahlia remembered that Jack was so excited that Carl Thomas’ album had dropped. He was addicted to all things Bad Boy, as evidenced by his Puff Daddy inspired s-curl. He raved that “Puff finally produced some quality R&B and this dude was gonna be better than R. Kelly!” He was so excited. So Ahlia knew they’d spend the afternoon listening to Carl Thomas and attempting to study, while they let episodes of COPS play on mute.
However, this afternoon was different. When Ahlia arrived to Jack’s house he’d just gotten in a big argument with his uncle. Uncle Rob had been mad about Jack’s father coming back into the picture. He called Jack a fool for trusting some “rich nigga in a Mercedes, giving you music video promises.” Uncle Rob was hurt, feeling like Jack didn’t appreciate everything his uncle sacrificed to take care of the young boy. But Jack wanted to be around, at least, one of his parents. He accepted his father’s offer with no hesitation, still very appreciative of everything his uncle had done for him. But how much emotion could a 17-year-old boy present?
Storming outside, rain
She keeps me home
Quiet conversation makes me warm …
Ahlia sat at the desk in Jack’s room while Jack lay on the bed. His, already 6’2″ frame, made the twin mattress look like kindergarten cot. She felt happy and sad for her friend. She knew how much Jack loved his uncle and how much he wanted to love his parents. Jack often asked Ahlia how it felt to have both parents at home, how did it feel to know they “really love you?” She’d often shrug. She didn’t know how to describe a feeling that seemed so normal to her. She could tell her friend was in pain because his usually very tidy room was littered with old candy wrappers, sneakers out of their boxes, and his clothes weren’t even hung up. She decided to start cleaning his room for him, hoping that would make him feel better.
“Is this Carl Thomas too? This song about the rain?” She asked, as she picked up a pair of Jordan’s and put the sneakers on a shelf.
“Yeah, its SMOOTH right? This is some grown-up music. This song is bangin!”
“Yeah, this is real nice. Ugh! You are making me a bad boy fan!” She faked a whine, knowing this was his favorite thing to talk about. She saw him sit up in the bed. She knew he was coming out of his funk.
“Man, listen! You KNOW you love Bad Boy! Without Puff where would music be right now? Bad Boy been holding it down since ’92! Come on!”
“Jackie, we were 10 years old in 1992! Stop acting like you Funkmaster Flex or something!” She bent over laughing at her own joke
“Whatever!” Jack huffed as he reached for a bag of Cheetos sitting next his tiny bed.
In a sing-song voice Ahlia said, “Man! Give me some of them Cheetos!”
“Come get them! I ain’t yo slave! Shoot, you came in here with a strawberry milkshake and ain’t offer a nigga a sip! Why should I offer some of my Cheetos!” Jack chuckled, slamming a handful of cheesy snack in his mouth, yellow dust coating his fingers
Ahlia rolled her eyes, and cocked her head to the left. She knew this was Jack’s attempt to get her to come over to the bed. She walked over willingly, stopping to stand in front of him. She put her hand out, close to the family sized bag but not reaching in. This was the only time she could be taller than her friend as he sat on the bed looking up at her. She couldn’t help but to giggle, she loved him so much. She continued to stand as he put a Cheeto dusted finger in the loop of her jeans. He pulled her closer to him. She acted like she didn’t want to come.
So go ahead and make it rain
You bring the sunshine back again
So go ahead and make it rain
Your tender touches wash away my rain …
She bent down and kissed his full lips. She could taste the salt from the snack as she went in for another. The hair from her ponytail tickled his cheek and he laughed. She laughed too. Her friend was happy again, for a while. Ahlia sat on the bed next to Jack. She took off her hoodie, to reveal a spaghetti-strapped tank top. Her perky breasts sitting high as she didn’t have to wear a bra in those days. She lay back and Jack lay on her chest.
“Man, am I wrong for this. Is my dad trying to play me? I shouldn’t move to Atlanta?”
“Dude! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Even if your dad is a dick, you still get to go to Morehouse. MOREHOUSE, my nigga! And it’s already payed for. Uncle Rob will get over it. You know he loves you.”
Jack knew Ahlia was right, but he still didn’t want his uncle to feel betrayed. He could smell the scent of Ahlia’s Victoria’s Secret body spray, she smelled like pears. It was his favorite. He began to kiss her neck. She caressed his strong back as he put his hand under her shirt, playing with her breasts. Ahlia knew where this was going. Just two months ago the friends had begun having sex almost regularly when Uncle Ron would go visit his lady friend. Ahlia’s parents never questioned her because Jack was like a second son to them and their daughter’s best friend.
“You got a condom this time?” Ahlia asked.
Jack paused, “No. I’ll just pull-out like I always do.” He continued to kiss her neck as he tugged on the zipper of her jeans. They hadn’t had an accident yet, even though Ahlia kept warning Jack to get condoms. He slipped his hand in-between her thick thighs. At that point it was a wrap, Ahlia was already caught up. She loved him so much.
Sometimes I swear I hear her call my name
To wash away the pain
My summer rain …
Ahlia finally stopped baby-sipping the milkshake. She looked at Jack in the driver’s seat. She wanted to cry. He looked like he wanted to cry too. They both knew they had done the best thing for their lives. Two very smart kids on the way to college shouldn’t have a baby. Two very smart kids who made a bad decision. Two very smart kids who had full scholarships shouldn’t have a baby. Two very smart kids took the money from their after-school jobs and made a very smart decision. He squeezed her hand. They both stared out the window blankly. They wouldn’t have sex again, for a very long time. Carl continued to sing …
So go ahead and make it rain
You bring the sunshine back again …