Aggie and the Woman, The End.

That Monday afternoon, Marième waved at Aggie when she stepped onto the train. Aggie waved back. I wish you the very best, she told the woman silently. It was all she could do.

*

As usual, Marley was waiting for Aggie when the latter exited the train station. “Did you have a good day today?” Marley asked her.

“I did, yes,” Aggie replied, smiling, before reaching over and hugging her friend. 

“A hug? Do you love me again?” Marley asked, grinning. 

“I never stopped.” As they pulled away from the Cornavin, Aggie then informed her best friend that she and Daniel were dating. 

“Thank goodness,” Marley said. “I was wondering how long his secret staring would continue.”

“You noticed all of that?” Aggie asked, surprised.

“Of course I did. Look, I may want to kill Daniel most of the time, but it was obvious that he had totally fallen for you, so he has good taste. There: I said it. Those words will never come out of my mouth again.” With that, Marley began to excitedly describe a future wedding with a bridal party clad in a variety of African head wraps that matched their dresses. “We also need different wraps for the ceremony, the reception, when we do a traditional Ghanaian dance in your honor…”

*

Later that evening, as she and the Van Strecks gathered around the dinner table, Aggie gazed around at her second family. Her eyes momentarily rested on her soon-to-be official boyfriend and purported future husband. She felt a tiny jolt of excitement at what their future held.

She felt a larger jolt of excitement at what her own future held.

Aggie then smiled to herself. She felt very much at home. 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Thank you for reading, for commenting, for liking. Aggie and the Woman is pretty special to me as a writer, as I previously mentioned; sharing it with you has been the icing on the cake.

More reflections will come about the story. Feel free to also follow me @frowriter on Instagram if you’re not already; many more writerly things await you there. The link is at the very top of this page you’re on.

Let me know what you thought about the story overall in the comments, yes? Thank you, and Bon Tuesday.

Aggie and the Woman, Part 7

This is probably my favorite portion of the story.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

“Yaa, is everything all right?” her mother asked breathlessly when her daughter’s face came into view on the computer’s camera a few hours later.

Unlike the majority of her friends and family, her mother rarely referred to her as Agnes or Aggie. Rather, she preferred Aggie’s Akan middle name, Yaa, given to girls born on a Thursday. This suited Aggie just fine. Gone were the days of adolescent longing when she wanted her mother to call her by her English name like the other girls in her boarding school. Now, hearing “Yaa” sweetly reminded her of her birthplace, her culture, and a family she hadn’t seen in quite some time. “Everything is fine, Ma. Sorry to call you so late,” she said. Switzerland was two hours ahead; it was 1:15 in the morning in Accra.

Akosua Boateng waved her hand. “It’s fine. We just arrived home from your auntie Mercy’s house anyway. Those parties. They are endless.”

Aggie laughed. Her aunt Mercy, the youngest of her mother’s six siblings, was famous for throwing Friday night parties that lasted long into the early morning hours. Her mother both loved the parties and loved to complain about them. 

“How are you, Yaa? How is Thomas? Diana? Marley? Daniel?” she questioned. 

“They’re all doing well.”

“Are you washing your own dishes, Yaa? Doing your part and helping and thanking Thomas and Diana for their hospitality?”

Aggie smiled. “I am. 

“Work is fine?”

“Work is fine. Most of my colleagues are quite nice, and I don’t pay any mind to the not-so-nice people.”

“Good girl. Well, it sounds like everything is fine. But things are not. I can tell.” Her mother leaned forward and peered into the camera. “What is it?” her mother questioned. 

Taking a deep breath, Aggie launched into describing everything related to Marième, from their first meeting to yesterday’s jarring encounter. “I just want to shake her,” she said. “Just grab her and ask why she did this to herself.”

Her mother sighed. “You were always so disturbed when you would see those women. I should have shielded that from you.”

“It was nothing you could control, Ma.”

Her mother nodded slowly in agreement. “I will tell you something now, Yaa. Listen to me carefully.” She paused. “When you were born, we knew there would be no more children after you. The doctors had already told your Daddy and me. There were complications; there was nothing we could do.”

Aggie breathed in sharply, having always been told that her parents were simply content with one child, which had unsurprisingly caused a divide in both sides of a family—and a society—where multiple children were the norm. As far as that divide, it rapidly disappeared after a succession of warnings leveled by her mother to respective members of their families to keep their mouths shut.  

“The day you were born,” her mother continued, “we held you and your father looked at me and said, ‘She will always know that she is the center of our world.’ Did you know that, Yaa? That you were and still are the center of our world?”

“Yes,” Aggie whispered. 

“Good. But some women don’t have that. They were not the center. And if they were, they didn’t know it. Maybe this woman doesn’t have what you have. No love in her life, family, true friends. Maybe she believes she will find that love if her skin is lighter.” 

Stunned by the truth of what her mother was saying, she merely nodded and waited for her to continue.

“Some people, some women, are just lost,” her mother said. “I understand that you were excited to see her. But do not allow her choices to make you unhappy, to bring you down. Just wish the best for her.”

*

“Do you feel better?” her mother asked several minutes later.

Aggie had excused herself to shed more than a few tears following her mother’s words and disclosure. She smiled. “All better. Thank you for the advice, Ma. I appreciate it.”

“You will do the right thing,” her mother replied.

Aggie nodded, still relatively unsure of the matter, yet nevertheless feeling better about things than she had previously. A voice in the back of her head now urged her to discuss Daniel with her mother. She decided to obey it. “So, Ma,” she began, “I met a boy.” 

Her mother’s eyes widened. “A boy? Yaa! Who? Who?” 

“He’s very nice. He’s actually known for me a long time. I like him a lot. And he really likes me, too,” she said, recalling Daniel’s earnest entreaty from before. 

Her mother frowned. “Yaa, who is this boy that has known you for so long? It’s not Julian Asamoah, is it? Sarah Asamoah’s oldest son? I heard that he is also in Switzerland. Yaa, his head is far too big for his body. It’s not natural and your future children will suffer..”

Aggie stifled her laughter. “No, Ma, it’s not Julian. This boy isn’t Ghanaian. He’s European.” She studied her mother, waiting for a reaction. Nothing. She hadn’t actually expected a reaction, but was curious nonetheless. 

“Fine, but who is he?” her mother asked.

“And he’s not a boy, either. He’s a man,” Aggie specified, momentarily surprising her own self with that particular description and how proudly she had said it. 

“Fine, fine, he is a man. Who is he?”

“It’s Daniel, Ma.”

Her mother blinked repeatedly. “Daniel? Van Streck? Your big brother, Daniel?” 

Aggie chuckled. “I don’t look at him that way anymore, but yes, Daniel.” She then told her mother everything, from his revelation a few weeks ago to their decision to start seeing each other. 

“Oh, my,” her mother said, visibly astonished. “Do Thomas and Diana know?”

Aggie shook her head. “Just me and Daniel and now you. I haven’t even told Marley yet.”

“Well, he’s always been a fine young man. Raised well, good manners. And he has a nice-sized head. See what happens, Yaa,” her mother said. “But I know you will marry him.”

“Ma!”

“Oh, Yaa, you will. Trust your mother; she knows these things.” She then smiled brightly. “Next time you call, I want him to be there with you. I want to talk to him.”

Envisioning the many highlights of that future conversation, she promised her mother that Daniel would indeed be with her on their next Skype call. Later, after Aggie had told her mother repeatedly that she loved her until the latter playfully but firmly ended their call—she had never been one for “I love you’s”—she climbed into bed and reached for her mobile phone. 

Thank you for earlier, Aggie typed.

Almost seconds later, her phone buzzed with Daniel’s reply. You’re welcome.

Aggie and the Woman, Part 6

“You were quiet at dinner,” Marley said to Aggie as the two strolled down a path behind the Van Streck home that evening. The path led to a clearing, which provided an even more breathtaking view of the Alps.

Since the incident on the train a few days ago, Aggie had been reliving it all in her mind, unable to concentrate on anything other than the shock, sadness, and confusion of seeing what Marième had done to herself. Glancing at Marley, Aggie nodded. “Just a lot on my mind,” she replied.

“Can I help? Is it work?” Marley asked.

Aggie shook her head. “Other stuff.”

“Like what, Ags?” Marley pressed. “Tell me. You seem so far away.”

Would Marley even begin to understand the heartbreak Aggie felt? Sure, Marley and Daniel had been raised in Ghana and had been exposed to a culture that became like second nature to them. Sure, she and Marley’s relationship was so close that Aggie considered her to be family. But reality was still reality. Would a Danish woman, born with the kind of Nordic features that Marième was attempting to recreate, truly understand? “I’m fine,” Aggie said, deciding that she wasn’t quite ready to discuss the matter with her friend.

*

But a part of her wanted to simply stop thinking about it. She ached for a distraction. So, when Daniel suggested later that they catch a film together, Aggie immediately agreed.

*

After a late-night showing of Hitchcock’s Rear Window, they drove back home and situated themselves on the patio. A few quiet moments later, Daniel reached for Aggie’s hand. Following his revelation from several nights ago, they had agreed to start dating, albeit slowly, deciding not to rush into anything simply because they already knew each other.

“Thanks for the film,” she said, studying their intertwined fingers. 

“You’re welcome,” he replied. “So, are you going to tell me what’s going on? You’ve been quiet all evening.”

“You and your sister have a lot in common. She said the same things earlier.”

“It’s noticeable. Everything all right?” he asked.

“No, but you wouldn’t understand.”

“Try me.”

“Quite honestly, Daniel, you’re blonde and European. There’s nothing about this situation you would understand, even if you did grow up down the street from me in Accra.”

“It’s Marième, isn’t it?” he eventually asked. “Something happened with her.”

Aggie exhaled deeply, watching her breath spin around the cool night air. “It’s all women who have been corrupted by an unrealistic ideal of beauty that can never be achieved, which causes them to desecrate their bodies and their skin. And, yes, Marième is included in that number.” Grudgingly, Aggie described the scene she had encountered on the train. “To think that this beautiful woman has turned herself into a…a caricature—I can’t stomach it. I can’t.”

“I’m sorry, Agnes. I’m sorry she did that to herself more than anything, that she felt that doing this would beautify her.”

In that moment, she recognized the rising tide of her emotions. Soon and for the second time in Daniel’s presence, she would be in tears. It was all too much and hardly part of her nature. Abruptly, Aggie took back her hand and stood up. “I’m going inside,” she muttered. “It’s zero degrees out here.” 

“Aggie, please don’t leave.”

“I just need to be alone, and—”

Daniel stood up, as well, and faced her. “I may be blonde and European and unable to understand, but I also care about you, so I’d like to think that counts for something,” he said. “When we left Ghana and came to Switzerland, I thought people ate fufu and listened to highlife music here, too. It took me a long time to realize that the world I came to know and love wasn’t the world at large. But that’s neither here nor there. You don’t have to run away from me. Say whatever you want. I’ll listen.”

Aggie gazed up at him, her vision blurry. “If this is part of your boyfriend campaign…” she began, her voice trailing off as Daniel drew her into his arms and held her tightly. But she let herself be held and held on to him, as well. 

@frowriter.

The word for this year: intentional.

I discussed my social media break here. Well, today, I posted on my frowriter IG page for the first time since 2019. Why?

Because I’m a writer. And this year I have a lot of projects in the air. And I want folks to know about those projects and promote them. So pandemics and struggles and all of that, yes, but I choose to intentionally feed my muse and allow my writing to fuel me. My posts will be intentional, too. Rather than allow social media to exert the kind of control it seems to weirdly have, I think intentionality will allow for sanity and balance. At least I hope it will. By now you know I’ll pull the stop cord if I need to.

All that said: follow your Square Peg at frowriter on Le Gram or click the link at the top of this page.

Onwards.

Quarantine Check-In.

Quarantine Life. It’s been a thing. Here’s a round-up.

apple devices books business coffee
Photo by Serpstat on Pexels.com

Professional Life. I’ve been working from home since mid-March. It was initially a huge adjustment for me; I’ve worked remotely before, many times, but in a space where it’s happening 8 hours a day, 7 days a week–there were a lot of tough moments. Structurally, I’m one of those folks that doesn’t mind being in an office. I learn a lot when it comes to nonverbal cues and in-person conversation in general, so I think I struggled with not being in an active people space when it came to the day-to-day. Doing everything from behind a screen–from working on projects to discussions with colleagues–wasn’t always easy. But with time, it’s gotten better. And boy, am I thankful to even have a job with everything that’s going on and an option to do it from home. So yes, continuing to gratefully take things one day at a time.

Goals: have a more thoughtful workspace. Right now, I’m at my dining table with my desktop and laptop. It’s not the most ergonomically sound or practical space, but it works. I’ve been perusing Pinterest, naturally, to make some changes. We shall see.

african american woman performing in darkness
Photo by Fillipe Gomes on Pexels.com

Personal Life. It’s been tough. Life pre-pandemic wasn’t easy for this singleton who longs for her Person and struggles with deep loneliness, so I’m sure you can imagine (or perhaps you can’t, and that’s okay; what words and sharing and hopefully empathy are for) that life during a pandemic and being on quarantine has been pretty hard for me. But there are always lessons. For one thing, I’ve learned–even more than before–that my peace of mind is priceless. I protect it fiercely. Which means the abundance of noise–social media, news stories, on and on–has become too loud for me, at times. So, I intentionally shut off and shut down. I need to. Another thing: videoconferencing is…interesting. Who would have thought that living in an age of so much connection would almost make all that connection so exhausting? Perhaps it’s because the power of choice isn’t there; pre-lockdown, we could choose however we wanted to connect. Now: it’s all on video and that’s it. Managing it. But I also say no a lot to invitations via video, all for the purpose of decompression. Overall, prayer has been key for me. Communicating my frustrations to a close, trusted, understanding friend or two really helps, as well. But I won’t sugarcoat it: the one day at a time sometimes has to be handling things one hour at a time.

Goals: I’ve been longing for a dog forever, y’all. Always put it on the back burner because, to me, it wouldn’t be fair to leave a dog home all day while I was at work. But now that I’ll be home for a while…seriously considering it and researching my readiness. I’ll keep you posted.

close up view of an old typewriter
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Creative Life. I’ve been writing, actually. Working on my latest project, for one thing, and also managed to squeeze in a pandemic-inspired sci-fi short story that I’m pretty proud of. When all of this began, I didn’t even bother to wonder if a creative surge would come; after years and years of living this creative writing life, I recognize that, eventually, the ideas and desire to write will come. And as the pandemic days continued, they did. Ideas came. Stories came. Desire came. We’ll see how it goes.

Goals: finishing that project mentioned above. What’s it all about? Mum’s the word for now. Just know that I’m enjoying every bit of its creation. You’ll be the first to hear when it’s complete.

So, yes, that’s life for me so far. Hope you’re making it wherever you are.

quotes

[Not] Writing.

close up of hand holding pencil over white background
Photo by Lum3n.com on Pexels.com

I haven’t written anything creatively in a long while. Fiction is my thing, my jam. You know that. But it’s been excessively hard for me to hunker and write. I have some suspicions as to why. Let’s talk them over.

  1. No inspo. Like most artists, inspiration is so huge for me. I need that flow, that impetus, that spark that leads to me wanting to sit down and work on something. I haven’t had that in a while. For the record, I personally gain inspiration from the people around me, from visual art, from music, and really anything that germinates into the desire to storytell. And although those things are still around me, nothing is really germinating.
  2. No patience. Lest you believe I’ve abandoned my passion altogether, however, there have been times when I’ve worked on stories…and then I’ve quickly let them go. I don’t know. Something comes over me. I’m moved to action and then the flame quickly goes out. If I understood why that happens, dear reader, perhaps it wouldn’t happen so much.
  3. No… You know how difficult this year has been for me. Maybe this is the fallout. Wanting to find catharsis through writing but not being in a place where I’m ready to go there. I think this particular reason is a strong possibility.

My intention is to find a quiet place somewhere and just allow the muse to do what she does. Maybe a trip to a museum. Or a few days out of town, alone, armed with a notebook and a pen. Something. Because at the end of the day, I miss writing creatively. I miss the excitement that comes from creating. Gotta get back.

Blogtober #18: Keep That Same Energy.

five bulb lights
Photo by Rodolfo Clix on Pexels.com

I’ve said it a million times over: when it comes to writing and creating, I seem to burst with ideas and projects in the fall. It’s the electricity in the air. It’s the leaves. It’s the absence of mosquitoes. Ideas have been coming at me nonstop (like legit novels, dear reader; me, who looks at the commitment of a novel with the side-est of eye), and I’ve actually not allowed them to languish in the cushiest, warmest corners of my mind, never to see the light of day. I’ve actually been working on them. It’s kind of amazing.

But it’s short-lived, y’all. This creating high will last as long as autumn lasts, which doesn’t last long at all.

Here’s the thing: I get writers laziness and/or block every month of the year. These have been pervasive problems since this writing thing took chose me all those years ago. Which also meant that the most isolating of passions chose me and brought with it, on the downside, inaction, inertia, and times when my particular muse just doesn’t want to deal with me. It’s a writerly thing. (Writing is like, that’s all you, sweetheart. Don’t be blaming me for everything.) Anyway, that’s OK. No passion is 100 percent perfect. It’s the conflicting, fluctuating nature of it all. I get it. It’s just that I want that electric, thrilling, creative push for more than a month or so.

A random voice in my head: yeah, so what are you going to do about that?

I don’t know. Just keep writing, I suppose, regardless of the season. Oh, were you expecting a grand denouement to all of this blog chatter, a remedy for this constant struggle? See below.

writing2

Onwards.

it chose me.

It was inevitable that fiction would choose me, that my world would become consumed by it. From the fairy tales my mother brought before me, to the fascinating living stories around me, to the nursery rhymes that incited such vivid images in my mind, to the billowing curtain in my childhood bedroom that, to me, offered pretty terrifying possibilities on the other side, my imagination was its own character from the very beginning. When I would hide in the library during recess (we’ll talk about that in another post; praise kind librarians), I would read. And read. And read. All fiction, all topics, all possibilities. A fiction writer was being born. By the age of eight, that writer came alive.

After messing with my dear father a bit about majoring in psychology while filling out my college application (“I want to be a shrink, Daddy.” “No; choose something else.”), I chose English as my major. It was always going to be English; I knew that when I was sixteen years old. Soon thereafter, I chose the concentration for my major: Fiction. For four years, I was ensconced in literature, stories, novels. It was like being in the stacks all over again.

I write poetry, these lovely blog posts, articles, the occasional play, a few songs…

But first and foremost, utterly and completely: I will always be a fiction writer.

fictionquote

What do you love to do that chose you? I’m curious to know…

try: Artists Series #1

If you’re an artist (writing, painting, singing, sculpting, dance, figuring out Math equations which, to me, is a true art form), perhaps, like me, your main medium is often influenced by another art form. For example, if you draw, you may love dance as a source of inspiration. As a writer, I find myself inspired by a long list of other art forms, most of them visual: the performing arts, fine arts, etc. I can look at a painting and fly off the artistic rails, so to speak, my creative drive climbing to giddy levels. (Or not. I haven’t written creatively in a while, save for this blog. And it’s why I have this blog. More on that later.) Anyway, the latter thesis statement is an introduction to a new feature here at TSP. Quite simply, I’ll be sharing things that inspire me. From paintings to photography to dance routines to music, I’d love to feature the works that have moved/inspired me in the past and in the now. You like? Cool, huh? First up: a music video.

I will say that music videos stopped being relevant to me when people started throwing dollar bills in the air and all the flashing lights took away from the wonder of the medium. I mean, come on. My first music video experience was watching a skinny guy in high-water leather pants stepping on a ground that lit up as he walked. Who or what could compare after that? (He also solved a potential gang war and walked on the moon. You know who I’m talking about.) These days, the videos I tend to watch are on YouTube and are of artists that I personally enjoy.

Several years ago, I discovered a music video called “Try” by Nelly Furtado. You guys. The video is just rich with story. I relate to story. No surprise there. When I first watched it, I was writing in my mind. It was that compelling. And when you combine Nelly’s lyrics to the visuals (that plaintive we are we are we are in love near the end of the song/video and the images that match continue to take my breath away), it’s hands down one of my favorite things to watch. And why am I drawn to it so significantly? Ultimately, the video reminds me of the primary topic I revisit time and again in my fiction, in my poetry, what I’m drawn to in life: the emotional connection between people. Whether that connection is strong or fraying, it’s the topic what I ultimately go back to.

Enjoy. In the comments, tell me whatever you like: if you enjoyed Nelly’s video, what inspires you, whether you also swooned when that skinny guy lit up every surface he touched. 

Contests.

I recently submitted a few of my pieces (two short stories and a poem) for some writing contests. I submitted them with the reminder to myself that 1) I’m not the only writer in the world, and 2) there’s a high likelihood that I won’t even place, because see #1. I should tell you that I don’t doubt my talent for a second; gone are the days when I would compare my writing to every one else wielding a pen and/or a laptop and wonder why I couldn’t evoke emotions like Writer A or describe scenes like Writer B. For years and years now, I have wielded my pen/dusty laptop quite confidently, as every writer should. But it was also important to provide myself those two reminders because This Square Peg definitely likes being real and honest with herself. This foils disappointment and eternal irritation with judges who clearly don’t have eyes.

All that said, I received an email yesterday that with 375 entries submitted, I wasn’t selected as a finalist for the poetry contest. And how did I react, being that I gave myself those two reminders? I glared at the email and muttered to myself that I would never participate in that contest again. (It was my second time sending something to this literary festival.) And, yes, I wondered if the judges had eyes. And yes, I almost threw my phone on the ground. Of course, some time later, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at

phone
Yep.

myself–because as a writer, moments like that par for the course. They just are. Writing is entirely subjective. Person 1 may think my collected words were borne from the divinest of clouds. Person 2 may wonder why I didn’t choose basket weaving instead of writing as something to fall in love with. (And may wonder why I insist on ending sentences with prepositions.) When you think about the variety of writers and styles and then we all enter contests with each other? Kind of incredible.

However: for a few moments, more than seconds, I entertained my anger and my irritation. Yeah, I’m a writer, and I’m mostly a realist, but I’m also quite human. So there you go. But eventually, I bounced back. I told myself to cool it, to seriously stop flirting with throwing my phone whenever something doesn’t go my way, and to remember that I write for one person only: myself. When I’m happy and content with the work I produce, all is well. The icing is when my readers feel the same way. No contest needs to tell me any of those things.

But if those short stories don’t do well…kidding, kidding.

Tell me: in life, how do you deal with disappointment?