Do ever you have a hard time finding things to write about?
No, but sometimes I do have a hard time writing period. I have been known to start two or three books at the same time because nothing is standing out, nothing is 'sticking' the way I want it to and when that happens it SUCKS! Nothing is worse than staring at a computer screen and nothing! I started over on 'Checkmate' about five times before the characters stuck with me enough to want to tell their story! Which brings me to my first tidbit of advice: Don't be afraid to start over! Whether it be writing, school, a new career or whatever, sometimes starting over is a good thing, for me in several aspects of my life was a great thing! Thanks to breast cancer I got to do a total reset of my mindset! I learned how to be brave and live every day to the fullest. Speaking of bravery or lack thereof, let's check in on Nikki in Light Eyed Girl.
See you soon!
Natalie L. Gamble
Light Eyed Girl(Continued)
When it was time for me to go home it was even harder than usual because of Val.
We had spent the last two days hanging out and getting to know each other.
Knowing I didn’t know when my mom was going to let me spend the night at Marcy’s again I was so sad when my big brother Josh came to pick me up, I barely said two words the whole way home. When we pulled into the driveway I dragged my bag up the stairs room to my room I shared with my sister Rachel.
She was five years younger than me, my brother Josh was five years older.
“Hey, Rachel how was your winter break?” She was playing with her barbies in the middle of the floor.
“Hey Nik, how was Marcy’s house?”
I tossed my bag on my bed “It was fun and guess what?”
She sat her dolls down and looked at me “What?”
“Please don’t tell anyone but I have a boyfriend.”
Rachel’s face went from interest to boredom in the blink of an eye. “Neat.”
She picked her dolls backup went right on playing.
That's my little sister the world had turned on its ear and she didn’t even notice.
I grabbed my bag to start unpacking my stuff and had curled up on my bed when my mom called us all down for dinner.
After washing our hands we all walked into the kitchen where my mom was stirring a pot of greens.
“Well, well, well Miss Nicole Howell long time no see.” She was trying to look stern but her eyes were smiling and dancing.
“Hey, Mom how are you?” I grabbed my plate and started to dish up a serving of Fried Chicken, macaroni and cheese, greens and hot water cornbread.
Mom, Rachel and me were getting ready to sit down when Josh walked in talking to his flavor of the week, my brother and I didn’t get along he was a bullying nosy jerk who seemed to get a kick out of making me miserable he loved the heck out of Rachael though maybe it had something to do with us both being Leos.
“Josh hangs up the phone so you can eat with us.” My mom threw him the ‘I'm not playing’ look so he ended his call and flopped down in a chair across from me grabbing the hot sauce for his chicken.
“So Nikki how was Marcy’s house?” I raised my eyebrow and smirked.
“Fine Josh why?” He took a leisurely bite of his food chewed and looked at me like the cat that swallowed the canary.
“Because when I was on the phone with Melissa a boy named Valentino called for you.”
Busted!!! I heard my mom’s fork drop on her plate. “Who is Valentino Nikki?” My mom was narrowing her eyes at me when I looked over at her.
“Probably her boyfriend,” Rachel answered for me without thinking. She quickly looked at me and covered her mouth.
“Oops sorry Nik.” I sat back and started pushing my food around on my plate.
“Don't you think you’re a little young to have a boyfriend?” My mom had picked her fork up stabbing her food but had yet to take a bite. I could tell she was irritated because she blinks a lot when she's annoyed or worried.
“Mommy he's thirteen like me he’s friends with Marcy, Andrea and them.”
She shook her head. “I don't know Nikki, what did you do with this boy Nik?”
My face went up in flames. “Nothing Mom dang! We played two square, football stuff like we always do at Marcy’s that’s all.” I said defensively.
"Yeah, that better be all, you might want to tell Mr. Valentino he touch you we have a problem.” Josh threatened.
I dropped my fork “Shut up Josh! God, she's not even talking to you, just like you to start something just to be a jerk!”
He glared at me.“You go and give some random boy our phone number and think nothing's going to happen?”
I slapped my palm on the table “He's not random not like your flavors of the week!”
“Alright now, both of you quiet!” My mom stood up looking she was about to kill us both
“Josh don't threaten your sister’s friend leave the boy alone, Nikki you are not to be alone with that boy do you understand me? I need to meet him and I'm sure your father will want to too I will let him handle his own house and rules with this. No phone calls after 8 pm am I clear?”
She narrowed her eyes again.
“Yes ma'am but can you tell Josh he has to share the phone then? You know he’s going to staying on it all day just to be mean.”
He looked at me opened his mouth then closed it grinning. “Alright Nik I will let you talk to him, but I'm talking to him first.” He started eating.
“Mom! You can't let him do that!” I cried horrified, glaring at Josh.
She had gone back to eating too. “Josh stop messing with that girl, Nikki eat your food.”
She noticed I'd pushed my plate away. Rachel had never stopped eating through the whole exchange.
“I'm not hungry anymore can I be excused?” I asked pouting a little, Josh got on my damn nerves!
My mom shook her head. “Whatever you want to do Nikki wrap your plate up so you can eat it after school tomorrow and know it’s a long time until breakfast.”
I grabbed my plate and left the table “Yes ma'am and I know.” I trudged up to my room after putting my food away.
“Nikki you have dishes tonight!” Josh called after me.
“I know Josh! Don't I always when I get back from Marcy's?” I flopped on my bed. “God they haven't met Val yet and I'm getting grief.”
I grabbed my book and started reading to get my mind off the disaster of dinner.
The next morning I was feeling a little better, Rachel felt really bad for telling my secret I reassured her it wasn't her that sent dinner into a tailspin it was Josh.
Going back to school after break was always bittersweet for me but at least I rode the bus to school with my cousin Raunda she was a month younger than me and our mutual friend Renay, They were next-door neighbors and I lived one block over from them.
I was humming when I walked up to them. “Hey Raunie, Nay.” They were both bundled up against the cold January morning whispering to each other.
“Nikki I'm so glad you’re home you should have stayed home this break I'm telling you we met twins girl they are so fine!”
I hugged my cousin and ReNay. “Hey Raunie I missed you guys but I had a good time at Marcy’s too and I-”
Raunda cut me off, “No, so listen the twins Cory and Tory I’m with Tory and Nay is with Cory anyway they have a friend and he’s cute as heck too his name is Brent and he wants to meet you!”
She was talking a mile a minute digging her bus card out of her purse.
“He wants to meet me? No Raunda list-” She fanned away my words and climbed up on the bus.
She rushed to a seat and slid by the window I slid in next to her and Nay sat next to me.
“Nikki come on! I know you're shy but you're a pretty girl and he wants to meet you he even said you’re pretty.” Nay argued.
I frowned. “How does he know what I look like Raunie ?” She shrugged and pulled off her gloves so she could put on another layer of lip gloss.
“I showed him your picture.” Then she started up talking a mile a minute again so I decided to tell them about Val later.
“Nikki!” I was thinking about my kissing lesson when Raunda elbowed me, “Huh? I'm sorry what did you say?” I asked pulling out my own lipstick.
She stared for a minute she hated to be ignored. “I said we are going to meet them at the mall this weekend, So ask Aunt Brenda if you can spend the night at my house.” She huffed out orders about what clothes I should wear.
“I can't Raunie it’s my dad's weekend.” She moaned. “Dang it! I will think of something and let you know because you're meeting Brent!”
I looked over at Renay aka Nay for help. She shrugged and her and Raunda talked my ear off all the way to school so I never got a chance to talk to them about Val until lunch.
“So I was thinking I will give your number to Brent so you can talk on the phone until you meet him, just think we can go on triple dates this is so great!” I sighed shaking my head, this girl seriously had a one-track mind!
“Raunda I can't meet Brent I'm sorry,” I said looking over at her waiting to see if she heard me.
She stopped putting her sandwich together. “Nikki please don't do this I-”
I grabbed her hands. “Raunie I can't meet Brent because I already have a boyfriend,” I stated taking a bite out of my sandwich.
Her eyes grew to the size of saucers “Are you serious why didn't you tell me?” She was squeaking, bouncing up and down in her chair.
“I tried to tell you but well you were excited about the twins,” I explained shrugging.
She grabbed me by the arm and dragged me out of the lunchroom to the courtyard. I had snatched Nay as she was walking towards our table.
“Raunda, Nikki what the-?” She almost spilled her lunch.
“I'm sorry Nay but Nik is holding out!” She dragged me to bench, Nay sat down next to me unwrapping her sandwich, my stomach yelled out to remind me no dinner, a small bowl of cereal for breakfast I was starving and my lunch was on the table in the lunchroom and once you left the lunchroom to go outside you were out of luck.
“So tell us, Nikki.” Raunda was bouncing up and down to ward off the chill. Thank God we knew to take our coats, Raunda was a regular snow bunny and if the sun was shining we were going outside just wish I had been able to grab my sandwich!
“Tell us what?” ReNay was still confused.
“I have a boyfriend Nay, his name is Val he’s thirteen like us, he goes to Colt middle school, he's light-skinned with this wild curly hair, he’s mixed, has the cutest smile and dimples, and he loves to sing.”
Both Raunda and ReNay grabbed me a big hug. “Yay that is so great we’re so happy for you!”
I laughed. “Guess what else guys?”
They both looked up at me “Yeah?”
“Val is giving me kissing lessons.” I kind of whispered it because I didn't want anyone to hear.
“Kissing lessons?!” They both exclaimed. Their voices echoed in the courtyard.
“Shhh, you guys I don't want anyone to hear us.” Too late, Melvin Mitchell was on his way over to us. Melvin was a lot like Tommy he loved to torment me and had since I moved to the Bellevue neighborhood five years ago.
I was at my wits end with the boy when he asked me for my phone number I told him ‘no’ I wasn't interested in talking to boys on the phone and ever since then he was even more of a pest.
It didn’t help that I had him in five of my classes and shared a table with him and his friends in one and we rode the same bus!
“Who over here needs kissing lessons you Raunda?” She folded her arms and glared at him.
“Is it you ReNay?” She just glared at him too.
“I know it can't be our ‘Darling Nikki’ she's going to remain forever pure.” He clasped his hands and batted his eyelashes.
“Ugh shut up Melvin and don't call me that!” I grabbed the girls their sleeves and dragged them away we walked over by the elective entrance to finish talking.
“I can't stand that boy he makes me sick!” Raunda waved my words away.
“Never mind him tell us about your kissing lessons.” I was getting ready to say something when Melvin and two of his friends walked by singing ‘Darling Nikki’.
“I’ll tell you guys on the bus.” We killed the rest of the lunch period telling with me telling the girls about my adventures at Marcy’s house.
“So when do we get to meet him?” We were walking to our elective classes, Raunda had art, I had woodshop and ReNay had creative writing.
They were all in the same part of the school so we walked down the main hall together.
“I will let you know Raunie you know he lives on the south side, so I need to see when he can come over this way,” I called over my shoulder as I turned down towards my classroom and rushed up so I wouldn't be late.
Melvin was standing by the door blocking the entrance.
“Move Melvin I don't want to be late.” He reached out and hooked his finger around the ring Val had given me on my last day at Marcy’s I had it hanging on a chain around my neck, He looked from the ring to me,
“Hmph, maybe our Darling Nikki isn't so pure after all.” He opened the door and strolled into class just as the bell rang.
“Melvin, Nikki perhaps if you stopped conversing so much you could get to class on time.” Our teacher snapped over at us. I glared at Melvin’s back.
“Yes, Ms. Thompson it won't happen again,”
I put my books on the shop table and went to grab my smock and project out of my locker along with my sandpaper. I was imagining it was Melvin's face as I sanded the wood.
Him and his friends starting humming Darling Nikki. Why me? That's all I want to know.
I flopped on the bus after school and waited for Raunda and ReNay, I had homework in Math, Science, and Social Studies, we were starting a play in English and I ended up assigned to the same group as Melvin and one of his flunkies this day officially sucks!!!
“Hey girl why are you looking so evil?” ReNay asked me when her and Raunda got on the bus.
“Two words Melvin Mitchell.” They both laughed
“Ignore him I told you he likes you!” I glared at Raunda.
“Whatever he’s still the biggest pain in butt besides Tommy! I swear they are related and compare notes or something and I'm so sick of them and that damn song!”
Right on cue, they boarded the bus sat right behind us. I grabbed my new book out of my backpack pulled on my hood and slid down low in the seat. As soon as the bus started moving so did the singing. I really really hate that song!
“Hey Rach, did you finish your homework?”
We were latchkey kids, we knew to come straight home do your homework, have a snack, and do our chores before Mom got home, she worked until 5 pm got home at about 5:30 unless it was snowing then around 5:45.
We had it down to an exact science because my Mom didn't play. Rachel was sitting in the living room munching on chips watching cartoons. She nodded and kept chewing.
“Good how was your first day back?” She gave me a thumbs up she was still crunching away.
“Did anybody call?” She shook her head ‘No,’ I went up the stairs to start my own homework.
“Always a pleasure to speaking to you Rach.” I chuckled at my sister and went to hit the books.
I was struggling with my last few math problems when Rachel walked in a couple of hours later.
“Nikki phone, it's Valentino.” Rachael handed me the phone with a smirk.
“Hello?” “Hey, baby how was school?”
I was immediately wearing a face splitting grin. “ Hey Val, it was ok just the usual a lot of homework though. How was school for you?” I asked putting my pencil down on my notebook.
He sighed “It was okay.”
I frowned “Val what's wrong with you?” “Nothing much I just wish we went to the same school, I got used to seeing you every day so I missed you today.”
I smiled again,
“Aww Val I missed you today too, We will see each other soon enough.”
“Yeah, but when? Are you going back to Marcy's anytime soon?”
I shrugged, “I don't know, maybe I can go in a few weeks?”
He sounded so sad, Val was always upbeat and happy I could see this might not have been the best idea with us living so far apart.
“I have to go to my Dad’s this weekend maybe he will let me walk to your house with my sisters or something(yeah right!).”
He sighed “I have a game Friday night and Saturday afternoon maybe I can come over there after my Saturday game where does your dad live?”
“He lives across the street from St. Thomas,” I answered
I heard him gasp “Nikki girl are you playing with me?”
“No, we go over there sometime to play bumper pool why?” I asked laying back on my bed.
“How is it never seen you there? That's where I play basketball!” He said excitedly.
I gripped the receiver tighter. “Really?! That is so cool I can see you this weekend I just have to ask my Dad can I go to the rec center!”
He instantly perked up. “Good I get to see my girl this weekend and every weekend you go to your Dad’s.”
I had a fleeting thought maybe, maybe not my Dad was very overprotective of his daughters.
My father had remarried a woman that had a daughter who was a year younger than Rachel her name was Alicia, then came my other sisters Mirage and Safa and my youngest brother and the baby of the family Taheed.
So now I had four sisters and two brothers the words half or step did not exist in our family.
I was the oldest of Dad’s kids, so it could be a bit of a pain because I was so much older than Rachel and Alicia so whatever they did wrong I got in trouble for it too because I was supposed to be watching them or setting an example.
Besides that, I was the built-in babysitter for all of them so I spent a lot of my time at my Father's house watching my siblings.
I was excited I would be able to see Val but I was sure it wouldn't nearly as frequently as he thought.
“Well let me talk to my Dad Val and I'm sure he will want to meet you and so does my Mom are you okay with that?”
“Sure as long as the end result is you're still my girl and I get to see you.”
My stomach flip-flopped with happiness.
“Ok Val let me talk to them and I will tell you when alright?”
He grinned, I could hear it.“Cool, so hey I need to hang up and get my homework done can I call you back in a little bit?”
“I know the feeling, so yeah I will wait for you to call me because I don't know how much you have to do. I'm almost finished just a few more math problems but I have to cook dinner tonight too.”
I really wanted to talk more but if his parents were anything like mine not much set them off like messing up in school.
“You can cook?” He asked surprised.
“Some things Mom and Dad have been teaching me for a couple of years now I still have problems with frying stuff I either burn the oil or it comes out still raw!”
He started laughing. “Well alright, Nikki Baby I will call you back in a little bit..”
“ Ok, Val talk to you later.”
“Alright and Nikki?”
“Yeah?” I asked. Music was coming out of his end of the conversation he sang along with the baritone singer and hung up when the song ended. I hung up grinning like an idiot until a thought crossed my mind that terrified me just how the heck was I supposed to tell my Dad he was no longer the number one man in my life?