The Prophet

Hey folks,

It occurred to me I hadn’t posted a short story in a while. This one felt appropriate. Enjoy~

When I saw Dorian coming up Clinton Avenue, I’d cross the street. Whether or not I had the right of way. Whether or not it made me late. Whether I struggled with a packed shopping cart at nightfall, or strolled by in cutoffs and flip-flops to sun at Fort Greene Park. Only one thing mattered: that I avoid eye contact with my uncle.

Dorian had once been first in his class at Brooklyn Tech. He was in the Air Force for a while. In my childhood, he was the only consistent male role model I had, but I knew a different version of him then. He’d taken his high-school sweetheart on a first date wearing an all-white silk suit and grey shark skin shoes; it was tough, squaring that image with the man I later knew. The person he had become made rounds through the neighborhood wearing overlapping strands of red, black, and green beads across his neck. Over those were roped dozens of religious pendants: Jesus with neon white eyes, a brown Mary with outstretched arms, tangled among layers of crosses of fake silver and gold. And in the crook of one arm, always present, was his Bible. Dorian couldn’t eat or sleep without it. I mean this literally. Toward the end, he couldn’t use the bathroom without having it in his sight.

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Where Do Broken Hearts Go? by Orlando Bishop

In the wake of Whitney Houston’s death this weekend, I found myself sitting around as shocked as everyone else. I felt I should write about her, but where to even begin? I was overwhelmed and staring at a cursor on a blank Word document. Suddenly, in a lovely bit of kismet, my good friend and fellow writer Orlando Bishop mentioned he’d put together “a little something”–writer-speak for a thoughtful, engaging piece that I immediately begged to repost here. With that, I gratefully introduce my first guest blog entry. Enjoy~


On Sunday morning, at around 5:30, Maya, my six-year-old daughter strolled into the kitchen, where I sat drinking coffee, enjoying a quiet moment with Whitney Houston. She asked what I was listening to, angling toward the TV remote and hoping that she could turn on “Phineas and Ferb” before I decided to watch “SportsCenter.” I answered her, “I’m listening to Whitney Houston. She had a beautiful voice. She died yesterday.”

“Whitney Houston: Dead at 48” The succinct headline states the fact without embellishment, as if the folks over at TMZ knew we could take it from there. The outpouring of emotion after this loss has been and will be enormous, appropriate given the magnitude of Whitney’s talent and stardom. Over the next days, weeks and months, we will see tributes, music videos, status updates… A combination of these, in fact, stirred me to start typing.

I’d been reminded of many of Whitney’s masterpieces on Facebook and elsewhere. I’d grabbed my own iPod as soon as I heard the news. However, it is the song title that stared at me from my friend’s page, the simple question Whitney had infused with exquisite pain and longing so long ago, that lingers: Where Do Broken Hearts Go?

My daughter has been down this road too many times over the course of her short life; she was moved neither by the news nor the note of melancholy in my voice. After all, I’d had my one-man music wakes for Teena Marie, Rick James, Heavy D and, of course, Michael. (In fairness, even my six year old twins knew to care about that one.) As my baby girl settled on my lap, remote in hand, I offered, “After Phineas and Ferb I want to show you some of her music.”

As I gazed down at Maya, her head pressing back against my shoulder, her ever-growing legs stretching on forever–or at least to the next kitchen chair–I immediately thought of Bobbi Kristina. Bobbi Kristina, who hasn’t lost an icon or an idol or a diva, but a mother. I wondered how she was at that very moment. I wondered how she might have learned to manage stress over the years. I wondered…

Downward dogs, cheese plates, and bittersweet chocolate: Ah, February

I didn’t think I wanted to write about or around Valentine’s Day. I wasn’t sure how a post might be perceived: bitter? annoying? bitchy? At the moment, I feel pleasantly glad for my friends in relationships. Yet it’s a hard day to ignore. It’s Black History Month too, but 90% of what I see online is about creative ways to  seduce your partner, links to buy heart-shaped candy, and deals on last-minute romantic getaways. Maybe in an alternate universe, there are pop-up ads with airfare deals to DC to see the MLK memorial. But I’m stuck in this one, where no one’s selling black history, so I’ll keep my focus narrowed for this particular post.

I’m single at the moment. I’m OK with this now; I wasn’t always. I think relationships are wonderful, vital, meaningful, and I hope to be in one again. Thankfully, though, I’ve moved past the stage where every day of single life is another rumbling bell toll toward a solitary death. That stage—experienced mostly in my 20s—was awful. Lots of tears, self-critiquing, jealousy of other women and couples in general, and moaning, “Whyyyyyyy?” to a pitiless God. I’m not sure when and how I moved past it; all I can say is like anything else, it got easier with time. I’m an only child, which probably helped; I’m already accustomed to and comfortable in the quietness of my own company. Without a boyfriend, what was there to do? Simply, everything I would do with one.  Some may find me quirky (fine, substitute your own word here, but be  gentle) but if my friends or family aren’t free, I dine, see movies, travel alone—things aren’t put on pause because no one’s responding to me on Match.

This leads me into the fantastic, gruesome, awesome world of Internet dating. Wowza!
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