Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Why Indie Musician Natalia Kills Is Inspired by Cleopatra by Maria Del Russo from PopSugar

Natalia Kills was interviewed by Maria Del Russo of PopSugar. Here is what she had to say.

If you don't know who Natalia Kills is, you absolutely should. Not only does the British songstress have a slew of catchy tunes, like "Trouble" and "Saturday Night," to name a few, but she's also got one of the coolest beauty looks in the industry thanks to her blunt bangs, winged eyeliner, and statement eyebrows. She recently performed at Julep's new pop-up shop in NYC, giving us the perfect opportunity to catch up about why Cleopatra is her beauty muse, the one hair mistake she'll never make again, and exactly what's hiding out in her makeup bag.

POPSUGAR: So you have a very distinct beauty look. How would you describe it?

Natalia Kills: I would probably say it's like if Cleopatra and Dionne from Clueless met in a glitter fight.

PS: That's a pretty on-point description! Building off of that, how do you even begin to think about how to do your hair and makeup for Fashion Week? You were a front-row staple this past season. 

NK: What's really interesting is, I had a wild night two weeks ago. I put all of my hair into a ponytail, and I was convinced I was Cleopatra. I had my friend cut my whole ponytail off so it would be like a short bob. But then I went to Leon, Spain, last week, and the humidity turned my hair curly. That's just a funny story about the way I decided how to look, and how to go about things. It's not just Fashion Week. It could be 5 a.m. and I'm overcome with this convincing thought to change. That's kind of my Fashion Week approach and all-around life approach.

PS: You've mentioned Cleopatra twice already. What is it about her that you find so inspirational?
NK: I like the version of her played in the movie by Elizabeth Taylor. I think if you can mix power with a sort of softness and femininity, it's really important. I think it's really important for women to play up their vulnerability. I know we live in a more feminist world full of equality and empowerment and independence, but I would like to have a sort of softness within all of that. That's why I love Cleopatra.
PS: You talk about the soft and approachable, but some of your looks are really bold! Do you feel like those big, bold beauty looks are more accessible and feminine?
NK: I think that I'm in a place now where I can evolve my style. I'm sort of known for eyeliner and very straight, fringe bangs. So I think that I can experiment with softness and silliness now in a way that I couldn't before because I branded myself in a way that I couldn't have been mistaken for anyone else. Now I can just add and subtract from the base of whatever I've already created.
PS: Speaking of adding and subtracting, if you were rushing out the door and you only had five minutes to do something beauty-wise, what would you go for?
NK: Eyes, definitely. The hair, you can just always wear a hat if you choose. But I think that the eyes are something you can't get away with not putting something of a personal touch into.
PS: Is there a skin care secret that you have to keep your skin looking so flawless, even though you wear a lot of makeup?

NK: Well, just don't put it on your face. I know that sounds crazy, and I know not everyone can get away with that, but I literally have on eyeliner and mascara. I know it looks like I'm wearing eye shadow in pictures, but generally I'm not, unless it's a photo shoot. And lipstick. And that's it. I don't put foundation or concealer on my actual skin because I think that's probably not what the skin wants.

PS: Are there any go-to products that you'll always have on you?

NK: Let me open my makeup bag up and see! I have a Maybelline Line Stiletto Precision Liquid Eyeliner ($7). I always use the blackest black of colors. I have MAC False Lashes Extreme Black Mascara ($21). And for the lips, it's tricky because I have almost 50 different colors and lip liners. I will never use a lipstick unless it has a liner with it. Ever.

PS: Do you have any beauty regrets?

NK: Yes, absolutely! For like a year and a half, somebody told me to change my style and to not wear bangs, because there were several other pop stars that had fringes at the time. And now, every single time I look back at a picture I can see my forehead and all of my curly, baby hair trying to stay finger waved down desperately and I'm just like "Oh, Natalia. Why did you do that?"

PS: I love your bangs! They fit your face perfectly.

NK: Thank you! I think I'll have them forever.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Visit

It's that time again to share a short story I wrote a few years back. It's been tweaked a little since I last put it out in the universe. I was going through a hard time when I wrote this. My mother had passed away. She had Cancer. I knew the only way I could put a resolution to my pain was to write a fictional story about it. I wanted to see her again. To hear her voice. It's hard not having your parents with you. Both of mine died young--within years of each other.
The context of this short is probably not explainable to an extend, because I mention a fight. It is something I am still coming to terms with and it really wasn't a fight--more of a denial that the truth was sitting on the edge of the bed between us.
But strength and moving forward were the last few things she said to me that night we got the news she would not be around much longer. My mother has pushed me ever since and even before then, with my writing. She saw my future and I haven't stopped.
This is open, like my heart, to share with you. Don't let my words block your criticisms of this short. You are entitled to your own feelings. My goal is for you to relate to something in the story. To be present with what is happening around you. To know that even when you desire to be around the ones you love, and loneliness has filled the spaces in-between, they are there. You have to look for them. Much love and please share and even comment.

It was a warm bright day outside. A few joggers ran by and a man with his two dogs moved past my right. The park was active with all sorts of people that day. The bench I sat on looked out at the river, where I could see a few boats move around. The water in the river was a beautiful blue color as the sun reflected off its surface making the water sparkle as if there were diamonds floating around in its current. I was close enough to hear the water splash up against the stone walkway that separated me from the river. A small breeze moved off the river, brushing across me and cooled things. It was as if it was all a dream.

I took out my journal to write a few things down so I could remember the details a little better. I wanted the experience to stay with me forever, I suppose. I pulled my phone out to check the time, as I stopped writing. It was still early and soon I would be hungry for lunch. I wanted to wait a little longer for her to get here. I hadn’t seen her for a very long time and the thought of her coming all this way to see me made me anxious.

I searched my memory for the last time we actually talked and it had been a few years ago. It was sad how things ended between us, but it was good that we still communicated and she wanted to see me. Those were difficult times though and she understood. I memory came to me—our fight. I was angry. It was terrible what two people would say to each other in order to avoid the truth. But you learn to accept what happened. I understood why she had to leave, but I was glad she came back and wanted to see me.

I took another glance at my phone for the time and then looked back out over the river, as a tourist boat sailed by with people looking out over at the monuments that were behind me. A hand reached out to me and touched my shoulder. I glanced at it and saw its red painted fingernails, her signature color. Instantly I smiled with excitement that she had arrived. I looked up at her with a huge smile on my face, as she was smiling back at me. Her hair was still curled and she wore a light purple flowered dress, with a long necklace that only had a couple of beads at the end. She looked beautiful in the sunlight. Her face was glowing. I stood up, walking around the bench to give her a hug.

“Hi,” I said.

“Hi,” she said. We walked around the bench and took a seat. She leaned back and rocked her legs back and forth, like you would do if you were on a swing. She gazed out toward the river, watching it move in ripples. Her eyes moved around looking at everything, as if she hadn’t seen any of it before. She then settled into the bench and saw that I had my journal with me. “Are you still writing?”

“Yes,” I said. “I think I write in my journal more than anything.”

“There is nothing wrong with that,” she said. “You will make something of it eventually. Just stick with it, you’ll see.” She picked up the journal from my lap. She opened it and thumbed through it. I could see her eyes moving across the pages as she absorbed my words into her mind. She would make an expression here or there when she read something interesting. “I can tell you’ve come a long way.”

“Thank you,” I said. Her opinion was important to me. She encouraged me from day one to be myself. To work hard and do what I love. I sat there in silence watching her. I wanted to remember how she looked. The sound of her voice was soft spoken and happy. I could remember she smiled a lot and it was a relief that she still did. Nothing had damaged her from my memory and that was great. It was nice to see that time had been good to her.

I felt guilty as a memory of her flashed through my head. It was the fight we had years ago. It was the last time I actually saw her before she left me. I pushed back the memory, because I didn’t want to drag it out. I didn’t want to remember that time. Today was a better memory than then. I took a deep breath as she sat my journal down between us. She turned to me searching my face and then she realized what I had been thinking.

“It’s okay, you know,” she said.


“It’s okay for you to talk about it,” she said. It was strange how she knew but I felt compelled to let it all out.

“I’m sorry for that day,” I apologized. She smirked waving at me as if it was nothing.

“I’m not worried about it,” she said. “You were scared for me and didn’t want to hear what I had to say.”

“That’s true, but I should have listened,” I said. “In some ways I feel like I let you down.”

“Nonsense,” she said. “You didn’t let me down at all. We both knew that day was coming and when it did; neither of us was prepared for it.”

“I guess you’re right,” I said, looking out over the river. “I still feel bad, because I know you felt alone and what I said didn’t help you.”

“We were both alone that night.” She reached over taking my hand bringing my attention back to her. “I was happy that you were there and that you decided to help. You sacrificed a lot for me. You gave back when no one else would,” she said.

“You’re just saying that to me to make me feel better,” I said. My eyes watered from what she was saying. I wiped my eyes. Now wasn’t a good time for crying. I wanted to have fun and enjoy myself. I didn’t want to feel sad or regretful.

“I’m not just saying that.” She smiled, touching her hand to my face. “You can forget that other nonsense and let’s focus on this visit.” I agreed with her and hugged her again. She felt warm in my embrace. She picked up my journal handing it to me. “There are some good stories in here and some good poems too. It’s nice to know you haven’t stopped writing,” she said.

“Thank you,” I said. I looked into her hazel brown eyes; a little bit of green gleamed from them as the sun caught them just right. We had the same eye color. “So tell me what you’ve been up to lately?”

“Nothing much,” she said. “I’ve mostly been relaxing.”

“Relaxing? I figured you would be dancing a lot.” She laughed. “Why is that funny?”

“Because you’re the only person I ever told that to,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to be a dancer. I was very good at it. I had talent. I was better than any of the other girls that I knew.” She smiled, feeling proud. 

“I believe that,” I said. “I guess I got the talent from you.” We both laughed. She squeezed my hand in hers.

“I want to walk around,” she said. “Can we walk for a little?”

“Of course,” I said. We both got up from the bench hand in hand. We walked up on the grass and made our way through the park to where the trees made shady spots so we could sit.

“I have missed this.”

“Me too,” I said. “Although you shouldn’t tire yourself out.” I pointed to a tree that sat on a hill. The grass was very green. It was a good spot to stop and rest.

“Nah, that’s not possible anymore,” she said. We took a seat under the tree. She took off her shoes so she could place her feet on the soft grass. She leaned back letting her hands glide across the grass blades, until she was on her back. I lay down beside her and we stared up at the sky. “This all feels so good.”

“It’s been a long time for you, hasn’t it?” She nodded her head in acknowledgment.

“I think I’m over dressed for today,” she said.

“Nah, you look great.”

“You always say that.”

“Well it’s true.”

“Well I guess I should be use to over dressing by now,” she said smiling. “I don’t want this day to end.”

“I don’t want it to end either.” I took her hand. We both looked up at the sky as a plane flew over us. We both were always amazed at how we as human beings could accomplish such feats. We defy human limits every day, yet we limit ourselves with trivial things. Then again, there are things that take us away, things we have no control over. We looked at each other.

“I have to go,” she said. I knew it was coming. I didn’t want it to come. I held her hand tighter. I wanted to keep her with me. I didn’t know how I would continue without her in my life. I didn’t want us never being able to see other again. “I’m glad I got to spend this time with you.”

“I’m glad too. I missed you a lot, mom.”

“I missed you too.”

She got up from the ground and I followed. I quickly hugged her. It had been too long. I stared into her eyes and wished I could go with her. 

“I don’t want you to go.”

“I know you don’t and believe me, I don’t want to go either,” she said. “I will see you again.”

“Will you? It’s just that our time seems to be so limited.”

“I know, but that’s just how it is right now.”

“What can I do for you while you’re away?”

“Tell everyone I love them.”

“I will do that.”

“And most of all, don’t forget me,” she said.

“I will never forget you,” I said hugging her tight. “I love you.”

“I love you too.”

We continued to hug and then she was gone. Everything around me continued as usual, as if she were never there. I made my way back to the bench and sat back down looking out at the river. It’s water flowed unevenly across the breakers. I opened my journal and began to write down her visit. Today would never leave me. It was something I would share one day with others. I took a deep breath and sighed. For all those years, I felt lost and alone, yet she was still with me. I kept my promises to her and I knew she was with me, even at that moment I sat on the bench.

“This place is beautiful,” I said, as the wind blew past me. She agreed.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

THE FAR FLUNG STAR - official movie trailer www.DIKENGA.com

Stardom: A Review of Steve Balderson's The Far Flung Star by William Butler

A dimming star. A secret message written on a post card. The adventure that's just around the corner.

Diana Dunbar (Christa Engelbrecht) is falling out of the light of stardom. The recognition she desperately wants can only lie within reach--so she hopes. When her brother Ian shows up with some questionable characters on his tail, the adventure begins. Diana now has to help her brother figure out what the riddled message is that his dead boyfriend sent her, before they are captured and killed by their pursuers. 

The Far Flung Star is a comedy adventure that takes you from LA to Hong Kong. With amazing scenes and an equally amazing musical number, which reminds me of Marlene Dietrich. I couldn't stop laughing at the situations and banter between the characters. 

Steve Balderson has done it once more. He brings to life an adventure spy-comedy filled with amazing scenes and equally amazing actors. Garrett Swan plays Van--one of the many pursuing Christa Engelbrecht's character. He is dead-on with his comedic timing. 

The Far Flung Star will give you laughs. It will give you adventure. It will give you romance. And in the end, which I won't tell you, you have to ask will any of the characters get what they are seeking?

The Far Flung Star premieres September 30, 2013 at Raindance.

Get Tickets here:

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Homosexuality in Africa

Let's help make this happen!! Any amount will help. There are voices and problems in the world that need to be brought to light. It is insane that people have to live in fear of being themselves. Help make this project happen.


My name is Thabang Mnculwane the director of TC productions cc South Africa, Together with my patner Charles we are bringing you a documentary called Homosexuality in Africa. This will be our second film as writer/director. Our first feature, free yourself (2009), played in some great film festivals around the country.

Homosexuality in Africa, will take the nations by storm as it will be shot in six different countries in two months, We will start from south Africa going through to Kenya,Zimbabwe , Nigeria , Egypt and Chad.

We will travel across Africa bringing you stories of young old, open and closeted gay, lesbian and bi-sexuals individuals and couples,
We will interview the people, the community members and the leaders , ie the religious and political leaders of the above mentioned countries.

This will bring out the raw truth of how people feel about homosexuality and what can be done to prevent the killings, the brutality etc. etc. . . .

The production of Homosexuality in Africa is going to be the biggest in the history of African Television - a documentary you will be proud to be a part of. We will be using the state of the art equipment that we own, that includes our cameras lights and the software needed to complete the documentary.

Please help TC productions cc make this documentary a reality! We are both so grateful to have your support in everything and we have a strong feeling that Homosexuality in Africa will be a documentary that will touch and change people’s lives around the world forever.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Calm

I want to share with you a short story I wrote called The Calm. It's a disturbing and candid story about abuse, ignorance, acceptance, and much much more. When writing this I was experimenting with tension between characters and nature. Melodrama fuels the story until the end, but I think that's what creates the intense moments between the characters. 
The Calm is ruthless in its portrayal of the struggle for acceptance and freedom. It's also tragic and maybe redemptive. It's written to stir emotions and make you angry or upset. If you feel that then I succeeded at what I was trying to accomplish. You be the judge. Enjoy. 

The wind blew hard outside knocking open the screen door for the third time today. Jean ran over grabbing at the handle to pull it shut.  She closed the door, but not before she locked the screen door so it wouldn’t blow open again. The storm was coming and Jean didn’t know what to do other than continue to make dinner and iron clothes. The television was blaring the news telling her that she should prepare for the worse.
“What was that noise,” Linda asked from her bedroom.
“The damn screen door blew open again,” Jean said.  She wiped her hands on her apron and then walked back into the kitchen to stir the steaming pot of chicken.  She was going to make Kevin’s favorite meal tonight.  He loved chicken and dumplings and she wanted tonight to be special.
“The what,” Linda called again from her bedroom.
“The screen door,” Jean yelled, but stopped.  She walked into Linda’s bedroom as she wiped her hands again on the apron.  Linda moved from one end of her room to the next.  Jean watched her as she placed a few mementos into her bag.  “The screen door blew open again.”  Linda stopped long enough to look at her mother.
“Again…that’s the third time today,” she said.
“That’s what I said,” Jean said softly as she walked over to Linda’s bed picking up a picture of them two.  Jean stared at it for a moment.  She remembered the day they took that picture.  It was at Hollis Park during the fireworks for the Fourth of July.  They were so happy then, not like now.  “There’s someone missing from this picture.”
“And rightly so,” Linda said.  “I removed him from the picture.  He doesn’t deserve to be a part of that happy day.”
“Linda, you can’t just remove your father from a picture like that.”  Linda laughed as she pulled a shoebox from the top shelf of her closet.  “Sure I can.  It was easy to do, mom, I just took scissors and snipped him out of my life,” she said.
“Life isn’t like that dear, you can’t just snip him out of your life like you can the picture,” Jean said.  She smiled at the picture.  Linda fell onto the bed bouncing a few times before she settled.  She opened the shoebox and took the picture from her mother.
“But don’t you wish you could, momma?”  She slipped the picture into the box and closed the lid.  “Only if you could just snip away,” she said as she gestured her fingers like she was cutting paper.  “Snip…snip.”
“Oh, child, you are a mess,” Jean said feeling nervous suddenly.  She looked at her daughter who seemed very confident—happy. Linda sensed what her mother was thinking and reached over taking her hand into her own.  She then hugged her.
“It will be okay, mom.  I’m going to be just fine.” Linda pulled back and after rubbing her mother’s arms kissed her on the cheek.  “That is after I get out of here.”  She stood up from the bed and went over the inventory in her head of what she was going to take with her.  The wind blew hard outside making the house creek a little. Linda stopped running over things in her head turning her attention to her window.  Her face changed showing her concern. “I hope this calms down long enough for me to go.”
“I don’t see any reason why you should leave today or ever for that fact,” Jean said folding her hands together in her lap.  Linda turned to her mother.
“Are you kidding me,” she said.  “I can’t believe you said that to me.”
“Well it’s true, Linda, you don’t have a real reason to leave this house…leave me,” she said.
“Is that what this is about?”
“No…yes,” Jean said.  “I love you and I don’t want you to leave.”
“But, mother, I have to leave,” Linda said.  “I have to go or I will end up doing something terrible…”
“Stop talking like that, child,” Jean said feeling shaken.  Her eyes watered at the thought of Linda even… “I will not sit here and have you say such sinful things.”  
“Well it’s true!”
“Stop talking about it,” Jean yelled, the tears falling from her eyes.
“Why so you can deal with things a little better?  Face the facts, mom, I was going to runaway or kill myself.  It was one or the other and you knew it.”
“Stop please stop,” Jean pleaded.  “I don’t want to think that you would have ever considered committing such an act.”  Linda settled back onto the bed next to her mother.
“I’m sorry for even letting you know.  I just had it with everything…with him,” Linda said.  “I just couldn’t take another day living with that abusive pig.”
“Linda, that’s your father you’re talking about,” Jean said.
“Oh there you go…defending him.  Why do you do that?”  Linda slid off the bed with disgust.  “You defend him too much and one day I hope you finally see him for the monster he is,” she said.  “It’s only a matter of time, I tell you.  You’re going to wake up one day and ask yourself where has everyone gone.” Linda pointed her finger at her mother as she talked to her.  “You’re going to regret letting your life get away…your youth.”
“My youth,” Jean said with a huff.  “I still have my youth.”
“No you don’t.”  Jean looked at Linda like she was angry at what she said.  Insulting her like that.
“I do…”
“No…you don’t,” Linda said.  “You gave that up when you married him.  He bled you dry like he was trying to do to me.  But I’m not going to let him.” Jean looked down at the bed.  It was hard for her to hear what was coming from her daughter’s mouth.
“You forget how much he has done for us,” Jean said.
“He hasn’t done a damn thing for me,” Linda said.  “But you have…you have helped me out a lot.  And I’m grateful for that.”  She walked over to her mother and hugged her again.  Jean stood up from the bed and continued to embrace her daughter.  Tears pouring from her eyes.
“It’s the least I could do,” she said as a beeping noise came from Linda’s pocket.  They pulled apart long enough for Linda to pull her cell phone from her pocket.  She checked the text message and smiled.  “Is that her?”
“Yes,” Linda said smiling.  When she said it, she even sounded happy.  “Oh, momma, do you have to worry so much.”
“Linda, I want the best for you, but I don’t know about this,” Jean said.
“It will be okay.  I’m happy and I thought that was what you wanted.”
“I…I do my child.  I do want you happy.”  They hugged again.  The wind blew a hard gush against the house as something slammed hard against the screen door making both women jump.  The bang came again accompanied by a man yelling.
“Jean open the door and let me in,” the man yelled.  
They both looked at each other.
“He wasn’t supposed to be home before I left,” Linda said worried.  
“I know…I know,” Jean said holding her daughter’s arms.
“What should we do?”
“Jean damn it let me in this house,” he screamed banging on the door.
“Honey text Beth and let her know you’re going to be late.  Your father is home.  They must have let them go early from the plant because of the weather,” she said.
Linda wiped under her eyes erasing the tears her and her mother shared.  She then picked her bag up off the bed and slid it under it to hide it from her father.  Jean walked up to the door and opened it as Kevin slammed his fist down onto the screen door again.
“Let me in now, woman,” he screamed.
“Hold on I’m here,” she said and unlatched the screen door.  The wind blew it open hitting Kevin in the head.  Jean snickered a little, but suddenly dropped it when Kevin pulled at the door and kicked it until it broke off its hinges.  He threw it onto the porch, letting the wind carry it out into the yard.  Kevin walked into the house and slammed the door hard, which made it echo in the house.
“You think that’s funny?”  Kevin stared at Jean, which made her move away from him.  “The damn boss let me go early due to the storm coming.  You know what that means…,” he said not really expecting Jean to answer.  “It means that my paycheck will be small. Damn weather!”
“I’m sorry about that,” Jean said.  “But it’s a good thing that you are home and not in this mess.”
“Shut up Jean,” he said sneering at her.  Kevin walked in glancing at Linda who stood in the doorway of her bedroom.  He pulled off his shoes and coat throwing them on the floor. She watched him as he moved through the house finally settling in his chair.  Jean picked up his coat and slid his shoes by the door.  She folded the coat and motioned for Linda to come over.
“Go put your bag by the window and I will pass it out to you,” she said, winking at her daughter.  Linda smiled pulling out her phone to send a text to Beth.  She walked into her bedroom and pulled her bag out from under it placing it by the window.  She peeked outside.  Her phone beeped and she checked the message.  She sent another text and looked out the window again.  A car that was parked a few houses down flashed its lights two times.  Linda sent another text, smiling.  Linda left the room walking back into the living room where her parents were.  Jean stirred the chicken and added the dumplings to the mix. It wasn’t much longer and the food would be done.  Jean looked over at her daughter who seemed to be cautious as she moved through the room.  “Linda could you please run over to Mrs. Beamer’s house and see if they would like to come over here to wait the storm out with us?”
“Oh, that’s a good idea mom.  Jerry is out of town and she shouldn’t be over there by herself anyways.”
“I know, and poor little Peggy will be crying for sure if the power went out,” Jean said nodding at her daughter as if to say goodbye.  Jean looked as if she were about to cry as Linda slowly made her way over to the door.
“No one is going anywhere,” Kevin said.  He stood up from his chair.
“Why not?”  Linda couldn’t believe any of this was happening.
“Because you idiot there is a storm going on outside.  You shouldn’t be crossing the street.  Besides I don’t give two-shits about that damn woman,” he said.
“Kevin,” Jean said.
“Well it’s true.  She is one annoying woman…next to you two that is.”
“But dad we really should check on them…just in case…”
“What the hell did I just say,” he yelled.  “No one is going anywhere.  Now you get away from that door before I come over there and…”
“And what…” Linda asked, ready to fight.
“I will hit you girl.  You’re not too old for me to hit you,” he said shaking his fist at her.
“I would like to…”
“Now Linda, let’s not start this today,” Jean said, her voice scared.  Linda backed off from saying anything and Kevin sat back down in his chair.  He turned the television up letting the reporter’s voice fill the room with his report on the coming storm.  As he spoke, it began to rain hard.  Linda sent a text to Beth as both Jean and her walked over to the window to see if the rain was coming down as hard as it sounded.  It was—it was pouring down hard from the sky.  Jean could barely see anything outside.  The two women looked at each other.  “Just be patient, dear, the time will come.”
“What are you two women up to?”
Jean and Linda pulled themselves from the window startled by Kevin’s sudden intrusion.  They didn’t know what to say to him as he looked at them with an eyebrow cocked on one side.  
“We’re up to nothing silly man,” Jean teased him.
“Well you two stop acting all ‘silly’ and get dinner ready.  The weather man says that a tornado may hit and I don’t want to be squatting in a bathtub on an empty stomach,” he said.  Linda rolled her eyes as her phone beeped.  She pulled the phone from her pocket and looked at the message Beth sent her.  She looked up at her father who was looking at her and the phone.  Linda slipped the phone into her pocket.  She walked over to the cabinet and pulled out plates as she started to set the table.  Kevin took his seat at his chair waiting for them to finish.  He then turned the television toward the kitchen table as he walked over to take a seat at it.  He didn’t want to miss a single thing the reporter had to say when it came to the storm.  He wanted to make sure he didn’t need to run and take cover.  
The wind and rain hit hard against the house making it creek and groan.  Jean thought for a moment that the walls were going to cave in on them, but the house held tight.  She scooped out the chicken and dumplings from the pot and placed a portion of the meal in each of their plates.  Kevin didn’t hesitate as he dug into his meal with the bread he snatched up from the breadbasket that Linda sat on the table.  He didn’t even wait for her to sit the basket down before he started taking from it.  Linda hated him.  She hated everything he was and wanted desperately to leave the house.  Why couldn’t she just get up and walk out?  What stopped her from doing that—him? Her phone beeped and she pulled it from her pocket.
“Put that damn phone away right now,” Kevin demanded.
“It’s not hurting anyone,” Linda said.  “I’m not a kid anymore dad, you can’t tell me I can’t have my phone out.”
“What did you just say to me, girl?”
“I said I am an adult and I can have my phone out if I want to have it out,” Linda said.
“Now, Linda…” Jean started to say.
“You stop right there! Don’t you try to stop this piece of shit from saying what’s on her mind,” Kevin yelled, food spitting from his mouth as he talked.
“Shut your mouth woman and let the abomination speak!”
“Abomination! I’m the abomination!”
“You heard me,” he said, slamming his fist down onto the table.  “Your kind, are a waste in this world.”
“I am not going to listen to this.”
“I knew I should have given you up the day you were born…the day you came up to us and told us about…”
“Kevin, please stop this!”
“Shut your mouth, Jean! This is my house and I will say what I damn well please and you or… HER… will not tell me differently,” he screamed.  His voice roared almost as loud as the storm raging outside.
“Please let’s not do this today…please,” Jean cried.
“You’re dead to me girl.  In fact I do believe I never had a child.”
“Jean I said shut up,” Kevin screamed and threw his plate across the room.  The plate shattered and landed all over the kitchen.  He then slammed his fist into the table again as he stood up from his chair. “Every time I start saying something true you have to jump in and try to stop me.”
“I’m…I’m sorry, Kevin. I just don’t want you to say anything that you will regret.”
“Damn you woman,” he yelled and held his hand up ready to slap her.
“Stop right there! Don’t you hit her!” Linda stood up running around the table to be between her parents as the power went out.  Everything went dark which startled Linda for a moment.  She could barely see her father’s rage in the dark, but she heard her mother whimper behind her.  Jean ran off from the room and into her own room. Kevin mumbled something hateful under his breath as he punched the table again.  He walked over to his chair in the living room and sat down in the darkness.  Linda stood there in the darkness—in the silence.  “You’re a hateful old man.  You don’t deserve her.  You don’t deserve anyone.”
“You are nothing to me and we never wanted you.  You were a mistake,” he said.  Linda walked out of the room.  She knocked on her mother’s bedroom door.  She pushed it open walking in.  Her mother laid on the bed with her face buried into the pillow.
Jean felt like a little girl again.  She was crying because her daddy was punishing her for doing something wrong.  It was funny how she ended up marrying a man that was just like her own father.  Jean for a moment tried to remember what it was like when she first met Kevin.  What was it that attracted her to him?  She couldn’t remember and actually, she didn’t care anymore.  The words of her own daughter echoed in her head about wondering where everyone went.  She didn’t want to live like that.
“Are you okay?”  Linda lay down next to her mom putting an arm around her.
“I will be fine,” she said.  They whispered softly to each other.
“You know you can always come with me,” she said.
“I would be a third wheel,” Jean said smiling.
“No, you would be free and you could meet someone who will treat you better than that asshole,” she said.  Jean laughed quietly.
“I couldn’t leave.  I’m not as strong as you,” she said.
“I think you will surprise yourself at how strong you really are,” Linda said. “I don’t want to leave and have to think that you will be trapped here with him. I couldn’t bear the thought.”
“Then don’t go,” Jean pleaded.
“I have to go.  I can’t spend another day in this house with him and his ignorance.”
“I was ignorant like him too,” Jean said.
“No…not like him.  You accepted me for who I am and I love you for that,” she said.  “Beth and I are going to be happy because of you.  But you can be happy too, mom.  You don’t have to live this way.”
“I know, dear, I know.  I just wouldn’t know what to do…I wouldn’t know how to live.”
“That’s the great thing about starting over.  You can make it however you want, good or bad.  Besides you will have me and Beth to support you.”  Jean smiled at her daughter.  She bit her finger and shook her head up and down. “Is that a yes?”
“Yes,” she said feeling good inside.  It was a feeling that she had never felt before—or at least in a very long time.  A creek sounded from outside the door of the room and the two women paused in the silence.  They looked at each other.
“Do you think…”
“I’m not sure,” Jean said.  She took a hold of Linda’s hand and shook it.
“What are we going to do?”
“We have to get out of the house.  That’s the first thing we need to do.  Is Beth waiting for you?”
“Yes, she is a few houses down.  If this storm wasn’t going on, we would have been out of here already.  It would be too risky for us to drive away in this weather anyways…even if we get out of the house,” she said.
“But still we would have made it that far,” Jean said feeling confident.
“Then I say we go.  He can’t stop us both if we leave together.”
“Yes, I agree,” Jean said.  Both the women rose up from the bed making their way into the living room.  They looked around for Kevin, but didn’t see him.  They walked over to the door and Jean unlocked it.  Just then, a beep came from Linda’s cell phone.  Both of the women froze.  Out of habit, Linda searched her pocket for her phone, but it wasn’t there.  A light flicked on from the corner of the living room.  It was the light from Linda’s phone.  The blue light that came from the phone illuminated Kevin’s face.
“So she’s here,” he said in a low growl.  “You were planning on running out on me and your mom.”  Linda took a deep breath gulping air into her throat.  Her mouth was dry.
“Yes,” she said. “I want out of this place.  I want to be away from anything and everything that has to do with you.”
“Really,” he said. Linda didn’t answer him.  The silence was his answer.  “Where do you think you’re going?”  Jean fumbled with the door handle as she tried not to even look at Kevin.  She didn’t want to answer him.  The wind howled outside and beat the rain against the house. “Well!?”
“I…I’m going to leave with Linda,” she said finally.
“Yes,” she said.  
“You think you can do that? You think I will let you just walk out of this house with this piece of shit!”  Kevin walked up to them both.  He threw Linda’s cell phone across the room.  She heard it slam against the wall.  It sounded like the phone broke, but Linda didn’t care—it was a small price to pay for freedom.  “You’re not going anywhere!”  Kevin shoved Jean away from the door.  She fell backwards and onto the floor.  
“I told you to leave her alone,” Linda yelled and slapped her father.  Kevin looked at Linda with a fury.  His face turned red and his eyes watered with what she described in her head as hate.  Kevin slapped Linda in the head and then slapped her again.  Her face stung from the hit, which made her cry from the pain, but it didn’t stop her from yelling. “You can hit me all you want asshole.  Mom, run! Go! Leave now,” she screamed.  Kevin wrapped his hand around Linda’s throat as he balled up a fist, punching her.  She screamed as he pushed her backwards into her room.  Linda’s bedroom door slammed shut preventing her from leaving.  
Jean ran up to the door banging on it.
“Stop this! Stop this, Kevin!  Let me in!”  She pounded her fists into the door as she heard her daughter scream in pain as Kevin’s fists pounded into her.  Jean could hear the hits as his fists made contact with her body.
“Momma, run,” Linda cried from the room.
“Kevin, stop doing this,” Jean cried as tears poured from her eyes.  Jean slowly fell to her knees as the screams and hits slowly came to a stop.  “Stop…please…stop,” she said softly through her tears.  The door to Linda’s room opened.  Kevin stood in the doorway for a moment and then brushed past Jean, who was still kneeling on the floor.  She heard the faucet to the kitchen sink come on.  He was washing his hands.  Jean looked into the room.  She shook as she crawled into the darkness.  The room ransacked.  Her fingers fumbled across the floor as her eyes settled onto Linda’s hand hanging over the edge of the bed.  She didn’t move.  Jean wiped her nose and eyes. “Baby…” she called softly. No answer. “My baby…Linda…” she called to her.  Jean reached up with her fingers and lightly touched Linda’s fingers with her own.  The touch was just enough for Jean to know that her daughter was dead.  “No! No…no…no…no,” she cried. “You killed her!”  Jean bent over holding her stomach as she felt the pain of losing her beloved daughter.  Linda’s lifeless hand reaching out to her.  She sacrificed her freedom so Jean could run away.  So she could be free.  Jean lay on the floor for a moment.  
“Woman, get in here and fix me another plate of food…I’m still hungry,” he called from in the living room.  Jean didn’t move…her body was limp and she didn’t want to feed the asshole.  She didn’t care anymore.  “Jean don’t make me come in there and drag your ass from that room.”  Just then, the lights came back on and Jean opened her eyes.  A few inches in front of her was the picture of her and Linda at Hollis Park.  Jean reached over and picked it up.  “About time the lights came back on.  That means the storm is almost over. Jean, get in here…now!”
“Coming,” she said softly.  Jean pulled herself off the floor and walked back into the living room.
“About damn time,” he said.  “Now fix me another plate.”
“Yes,” she said in a daze.  “I will do that for you.”  Jean walked into the kitchen slipping the picture into her pocket.  She grabbed a plate and the pot of chicken and dumplings.  Kevin turned the television to a comedy show.  Laughter came out of the television as Jean walked over and laid the plate in front of him.  She scooped the meal from the pot and filled his plate up.
“Damn woman this is so good today,” he said.  She couldn’t believe he was acting like he didn’t just kill their daughter.  Jean watched him as he laughed with the television show.  She held the pot in her hand looking through the steam, which came from the pot, at him.  He caught her looking at him. “Damn it woman go find something to do.”
“Okay,” she said softly.  Jean flung the hot steaming meal at Kevin’s face.  He screamed in pain as the hot liquid burned his skin.  Kevin stood up wiping at his face with his hands.  
“You bitch,” he screamed.  Kevin narrowed his eyes at Jean, his face red from the liquid burns.  Jean slammed the pot into Kevin’s face making him fall backwards.  Before he could recover, she slammed his head again, this time making him fall to the floor.  As if she wasn’t herself, Jean straddled Kevin and brought the pot down onto his head repeatedly.  The television laughed as she laughed.  They laughed together.  The sound of the pot hitting Kevin’s face was like meat hitting a table before the butcher would cut it up.  After awhile, though, it began to sound mushy and that was when Jean finally stopped hitting him.
A knock came to the door.
“Jean,” a woman called.  Jean stood up off her husband’s dead body.  She noticed that the storm had stopped.  Jean walked over to the door as a knock came to the door again.
“Jean,” a man called.  She opened the door and stared at the three people looking at her.
“Oh, Jean, we were so worried.  I saw your screen door laying in the yard and I thought something bad had happened to you,” the older woman said.  She looked at Jean with an odd expression.  “Honey, are you alright? Jean?”
“Jean,” the man said.
“I…I killed my husband,” she said quietly.  The old woman looked at Jean as if she wasn’t sure if she heard her correctly.
“You what?”
“I killed Kevin,” she said.  The old man walked past Jean and into the house.
“Dear God,” he cried.  “Quickly we need to call 9-1-1.” The old woman ran past Jean to see what he was yelling about.  The other person walked up to Jean.  She was unaware of what was happening in the house.
“Mrs. Battle, I’m Beth…Linda’s…” Jean looked at the young woman standing in front of her.  Jean smiled.
“Beth,” she said. “It’s nice to meet you.”
“Mrs. Battle, is Linda okay?”
“Linda…” Jean said as her mind moved off to the picture in her pocket.  Jean reached into her pocket and pulled it out.  It was a little wrinkled but it was okay.  Beth walked past Jean and into the house.  There was a scream from inside the house as Jean walked out onto the porch.  She took in a deep breath and watched as the sides of the house dripped.  In the distance, the sound of sirens rang out.  Jean walked out on to the steps of the house looking up to the sky.  The sun peeked through the clouds brightening everything.  She walked away from the house and started down the road—not even noticing the ambulance and police vehicles speed past her.  She stared at the picture of her and Linda as she walked down the road to her freedom.