It is Black history month so here take a little Blackity Black Black ghost story. Written using my fave prompr book no seriously get it. Instigation: Creative Prompts on the Dark Side.
Now here we go. Unedited and hot n fresh.
Begin a story with the line, “It was when I died that….”
It was when I died that I understood what Nana had meant by, get free at all costs. When I was a baby, everyone said I was her spitting image. Same big black eyes, same crooked right eyebrow, same deep brown skin and as I got older the same stank ass attitude and habitual resting bitch face. There was a picture of the two of us, I think I was four and we both had the evilest expressions. It was my favorite photo.
Mama said that we were one soul in two bodies like twins separated by time and blood. Nana used to like to take walks at night, the street dudes always spoke so nicely to her. She took me on occasion when I couldn’t sleep, we were both nighttime babies. The first time I was about ten and it was the kind of hot dank night nobody really sleeps very well, we wore almost matching housedresses, she held my hand and we shuffled along together in the deep of the night.
“Nana, what time is it?” She checked her watch, “it us 2:57 AM. You know what they call 3 AM?” I couldn’t stop staring around, I never got to see our neighborhood at rest. Even the various houseless folks, pimps and hang rounds had gone to bed. I was fascinated by the quiet, I stopped and pointed at shiny eyes peering at us from under a porch. “Nana, what is that under there?” She looked and reached into her purse, she tossed crackers into the yard and a plump opossum waddled out to her bounty. “Look, she got babies.”
Many nights we walked together that way. We fed the raccoons, opossums and ne’er-do-wells. I loved how even the hardest dudes were so soft and deferential to her. “Hey Mrs. Gennessee. Hello Nina.” I remember one of them, Nana and I called him Walter, everyone else called him Big Money. “Hi Walter. How are you?” He like most of the guys never quite met my eyes, he held his hat in his hands and fidgeted like a child. “I’m good Miss Nina. I um, here.”
He thrust a paper bag into my hand and Nana handed him a little old babyfood jar. He took it, gave us a strange, terrified smile and sauntered away as quickly as his manhood would let him. “Nana, that ain’t drugs is it?” I gave her the paper bag and she chuckled. “No, you’ll see. Come on baby let’s go home.” The gangsters always found us, Nana showed me how to make them specific mojo bags and oils they anointed themselves in before they went to war.
When I was 17 at 2:57 AM on February 19th, Nana visited me one last time. I felt her weight on my bed and I pulled her down to cuddle me. “I don’t want you to go. It is our time; Pisces season is just starting.” She held me and stroked my hair; I felt her whisper in my ear. “Freedom. No matter what Nina Simone Gennessee. You hear me?” I turned to put my face in her soft wrinkly neck, I put my hands in her hair like I did when I was a tot and I wanted 2:59 AM to last forever.
After she was gone, my hair started to turn grey. Just a scattering of delicate silver coils just like hers. My ass got wider, I started to limp a little bit and favor carrying great ugly bags that tinkled with jars and mystical nonsense in them. On my 50th birthday, March 10th at 3 AM I stood in front of the house my Nana had been born in.
Long before I was born my Grandfather disappeared. Some said he ran off with a loose woman from down the street, others that he was on the run from the law. But, as I stood there watching the play of shadows on the crumbling walls, I knew. I sprinkled salt and a few other things, I watched the spirit trapped inside the remains of the structure rant and rave. I saw Nana right there on the porch, shotgun in her lap and a cigarette hanging from the corner of her mouth.
When I died, my daughters and granddaughters laid in bed with me. I told them stories, I told my eldest grandbaby, my baby where to find my most secret herbs, recipes and ephemera. And as 3 AM bore down on us, I saw my death and somewhere in the light, ultimate freedom. Before I went, I told my girls like Nana told me.
“Get free baby by any means necessary. Any. Means.”