Reality

I couldn’t write for a long time. I could blame NaNoWriMo, but I didn’t finish that either. A more accurate excuse would be the election. It broke my heart and anxiety over the nuclear arms race that is coming has rendered me virtually immobile. But I am surrounded by people who claim that while things look pretty bad, there is hope. Their strength has melted the ice of fear that has gripped my heart for the last month and a half.

I’m back.

This week’s prompt was “Reality”.

 

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The truth of it? She didn’t want to know where her girlfriend had been for three days. She’d do this—start a fight for no logical reason and then disappear for a few hours. This time she’d been gone long enough for her partner to be worried. But there was no apology when she returned. There was no reconciliation. Just more excuses.

Someday, she’d find the courage to make her own life away from the perils of loving a woman so broken. She couldn’t find the strength to do it now. Too many bad habits barring the path to freedom.

 

© 2016 Heather Stephens

Surprise

The prompt was surprise. Inspired by the terrifying results of the 2016 election, but I don’t think surprise is quite the right word. Shock is definitely apt. Fear as well. I wrote this piece as my reflection on what the election revealed about America and what the violence in the proceeding week set out to prove.

As a disabled LGBT mother to a child that is a WOC, I am scared. What happened on November 8th proved to me that my life doesn’t matter to nearly half of America. And nothing will ever make it right as long as that administration is in office.

America is no longer safe.

 


There are no words for the political horror America has unleashed. People of color are dying. Lesbian, gay, and transgendered people are being assaulted. There is no end in sight for the trauma we have done to ourselves.

America is broken. A flawed, unjust system gave rise to the greatest threat to peace and prosperity, and some celebrate it. The death of the American Dream is imminent.

Many may not survive this. But those that do must maintain their memory, fight for their legacy. The survivors must not simply rebuild what America was, but what it always promised to be.

 

©2016 Heather Stephens

Novel

This week’s prompt got me thinking about our current political climate. The clock is ticking, counting down to the most important election in our lifetimes. Will America choose fear and hate or will they choose experience and tolerance? I chose to be hopeful for this piece despite my fears of a Trump presidency. I am not very hopeful about this election, but I need to hold onto whatever positivity I can. As a disabled, LGBT woman who is mother to a person of color, I fear what a Trump presidency (and Trump-appointed justices) will bring.

But here’s to hope. Here’s to choice.

Good luck, America.

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“We have only taken a few writers in this niche,” the man said, “but you are by far one of the most original.”

She smiled. She was grateful for the opportunity, but she wondered if she would live up to the reputation her agent had created for her.

“I just want to give people the chance to see things from more variable perspectives,” she said, belying her reticence.

“It’s a brave new world for diversity, and I am sure you will be just fine,” the man said, patting her on the shoulder before walking away.

She knew she would be.

© 2016 Heather Stephens

A Distant Devotion

I like to think about love. Not necessarily my own love – for my family, my friends, myself. I like to consider what love can look like. It is my belief that there are a million different forms of love. On Sundays, I will look at a different way love can manifest. Some may be relevant to many people while others may only be pertinent to a select number of people. Still, I think love is something that should be studied by everyone.

Here is my first addition to the conversation.

 

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Her passion for the woman in her bed was distilled. All the toxic ingredients of a mutually beneficial arrangement – the drama, the attachment – was shed the moment the woman entered her apartment. It was a new sort of sensation, touching the woman without the perspective of romance. She had never done anything like this before, but her partner certainly had. Laying underneath the graceful, sensual ministrations of her lover’s hands, she experienced a new sort of love: a grateful devotion to the beauty of her sexual education.

She didn’t need commitment to learn. She only needed eagerness to come alive.

 

© 2016 Heather Stephens

Wine

The prompt for this week was the word “Wine”. I find that amusing because I’ve been craving wine all week, but only just got around to reading the prompt (a little late, but I have two kids so I was busy, damn it). Coincidences like this always make me curious about the tapestry of life, but never enough to consider a metaphysical significance.

It feels good to write again after a busy week. Perhaps one day I’ll be able to devote several hours a day to it, several days a week.

Someday.

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There is much to say about the elegance of self-sufficiency.

The woman felt coziest when she could come home on a rainy evening, pop the cork, pour herself a glass, and sit alone on her sofa. With her legs curled underneath her and a book in her hand, she felt a satisfied peace not easily found in those her age.

She didn’t need a partner, a child, or a pet to keep her company. Her personality was interesting enough to keep her content and the thousand worlds she’d explore through literature offered ample excitement.

She’d always be her own best friend.

 

© 2016 H.R. Stephens

Sleep

This week’s prompt was the word “Sleep.” I pondered my options – should I do another one based on current events or should I return to my strengths and explore a more romantic idea? You can see what won.

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She loved to watch her partner.
Sweet in repose.
Quiet and unaware.

Waking at dawn was of little consequence when she could doze until noon, wrapped in their arms.
Legs tangled together.
Pillows discarded on the floor.

Nothing could be more intimate than syncing her breath to theirs, listening for two heartbeats to drum together. Each breath deeper than the last until she too succumbed to the dizzy lull. With love deeper than any lust she’d ever known, she found sensible fulfillment. Slowly approaching bliss gave her a sober hope that things could stay as they were – content and untroubled.

 

© 2016 H.R. Stephens

The Resilience of Diversity

To feel you are not the sole arbiter of your destiny is painful. Indeed, the sorrow lies in the million little violations engineered to teach you to stay in your place. The lane designated especially for your kind.

You learn quickly that freedom is to be achieved in this world, so you rise. To escape the confines of stereotype and systemic aggression is hard, but worthy of the effort. Even if you fail, achievement lies in the fight. Your children will continue the battle for you. This is the only war that once won will leave the world better place.

 

© 2016 H.R. Stephens

Secret

I’m going away on vacation. The first vacation in years. The first vacation as a married mom of two. The first vacation since I started writing as routine, writing as therapy, and writing as identity.

I will not be bringing my laptop.

I plan on bringing a notebook and a pen to jot down any ideas, depending on my ability to grasp a pen.

This is my first vacation since I’ve been wheelchair-bound when needing to walk more than five minutes.

I’m excited to go, although I’m nervous.

What if I fall in love with the desert? I’ve always loved the sea and I’ve always loved the mountains. This nowhereland that is Irvine is mediocre at best because it lacks the intense beauty of a place with vibrant ecosystems. If the desert calls to me as well, how will I ever be satisfied with a home in the suburbs?

Secret