Over the course of my life I have been nominated for and received a number of awards. Whether it was for music, speeches or work related. I was happy to be nominated for those awards and on those occasions when I actually won, I was both honored and humbled.
Well, I took a leap of faith a few years ago and decided to turn my life completely upside down. I left my job and my established career to be a stay at home single mom and to write. It has been both challenging and exhilarating, hard pressed and well worth every heartache, every struggle and every sleepless night. Not everyone close to me has been a fan of my brilliant idea to change things up. But a small still voice that had been locked deep inside me let me know that it was time to move and so I did.
I was notified about a month ago that my novel, Woman at the Top of the Stairs had been nominated for a Black Book Award for Excellence. To say I was shocked is an understatement. I couldn't believe what I was reading and that my work had been acknowledged in that way. The final decision regarding the winners will be made in a few days but for me, it doesn't really matter if I win the award. What matters to me is that someone thought enough of my work to nominate me. It's kind of interesting (this is my own little author sidenote) that out of all the projects I've published, this story has gotten very little attention from a lot of readers. It's been on the hot new release list but has never topped any best selling categories. What I learned from that is it doesn't really matter if everybody doesn't read it. What matters is that some have and because of that, this book was nominated.
I am humbled, honored, grateful, renewed, excited and overwhelmed by the nomination. I am grateful for Lisa Borders Muhammad who I know was instrumental in this process. Lisa, I know I have said it before but I have to say it again. Thank you so much for your support. It really has lifted me on days when I felt low and continues to remind me that the choice I made was not in vain.
For those who have not had the opportunity to read Woman at the Top of the Stairs, I thought I would put up an extended excerpt -
He’s been moaning and groaning since he came in. Man he is such a baby when he’s sick. You would think instead of me standing over a hot stove trying to fix him something to make him feel better, the situation would be reversed. I’m the one still bleeding and bruised; bleeding more cause he just had to have some last night. I’m the one he beat half to death, and then lost my baby. I’m the one! But no, he didn’t care about any of that. All he can think about is himself. I feel so stupid. I’ve wasted all this time not recognizing that Percy never cared about anyone other than himself. I changed to accommodate him. I’m the one who compromised my hopes and dreams. I compromised my entire life to please a man who has shown me over and over again that he could give less than a damn about me.
But that is changing today. This soup I’m making for him is going to be just enough. He wanted something to eat so I’m giving it to him. Knowing this will be the last meal I ever fix for his ass makes standing over this stove in pain all worth it.
“Okay Percy, here you go.”
“What the hell? Zee, I need something to eat, not no motherfuckin’ soup! Damn, you can’t get shit right! All I ask is for somethin’ to eat and this the crap you bring me? Ain’t nothin’ to go with it?”
“Percy didn’t you say you don’t feel well?”
“Yeah, but damn Zee…”
“Look, when you was little and didn’t feel good what did your momma give you to eat? Soup! She didn’t bring you steak and potatoes. She brought you soup. So if you want to eat, then get the spoon and eat it. Once we see how you do with that, then and only then will you get something else…and not a minute before. You feel me?”
Percy’s eyes were so big when I was speaking. I don’t know that I have ever talked to him that way. Whatever it was, he did just what I told him. He picked up that spoon and started sipping. Humph! Maybe I should have stood my ground with his ass sooner. Maybe he wouldn’t be such a fuck up now. Oh, well! Better late than never...
Out of nowhere I hear banging and rumbling coming from the bedroom. Then I hear, “Zee!” It sounded like my name got stuck in his throat. I know why…my little gift…
I took my time getting to him. There was no need to rush. I knew what to expect – he didn’t. I smelled him before I saw him. There he was - his pants barely down pass his thighs sitting on the toilet with the trash can in front of him. Percy was groaning even louder as he bent over the trash can throwing his guts up. Shit was literally coming out of both ends. The smell coming out of the bathroom was so foul I had to hold my nose. What did he think I was going to do? I wasn’t going into that war zone. I’m just glad he made it to the bathroom. It would have been a bitch to have to clean up after his ass. That would come soon enough. No sense in rushing it.
He noticed I was standing near the doorway. His eyes were bloodshot from the strain of defecating and vomiting. His lips were trembling. He tried to say something to me, but his body convulsed. He heaved again; his bowels eliminating at the same time. I completely covered my nose and my mouth at this point; the beginnings of a smile starting to spread across my face. It was cruel, but his ass deserved it.
The phone rang - once, a pause and then it rang again. Instead of answering it in the bedroom I made my way to the front of the house.
“Where you go-“, once again Percy was overcome.
“Be back in a minute, hun.” I couldn’t help but snicker now that he couldn’t hear me over the eruption in the bathroom.
“Hey, girl.” I knew who it was without having to look at the Caller ID. Gina and I had developed that little calling system just in case. I could still hear Percy calling out to me between rounds.
“Hey Zee, how’s everything? What’s so funny? And what’s all that noise in the background?”
“Oh, that’s Percy…he’s a little indisposed right now…”At this point I was laughing out loud; still covering my mouth just in case he heard me.
“What in the world?”
“Gina I know I shouldn’t have, but girl I couldn’t help it!”
“Zee, what did you do?”
“Well, I know we talked about the first part of the set-up. That went well. Tre’ really came through for me like he said he would. I started feeling some kind of way after what that bastard did to me last night, so I put a little concoction together to thank him for destroying my life.” My tone was a lot more serious as I thought about everything that happened.
“You know those pain pills Doc prescribed for me?”
“Well, I started with that. I figured the pills would just make him sleepy, so I decided to give him a little something extra.”
“Which was? Girl, tell me! He sounds awful. Is he crying and shit?”
“Well with the amount of milk of magnesia I mixed in his soup, let’s just say he crying and shittin’!”
“Ewwww Zee, you are awful!”
“I know, girl…I know…you should see him looking all pitiful like a wounded puppy.”
“Naw, I’ll pass right now. I’ll see his trifling ass soon enough.”
“All right Gina, let me get back in there and see about him. I’ll call the code if you need to come down earlier.”
“All right girl…talk to you later.”
I know this was an awful way to do Percy, but he deserved every bit of it. I hope his ass is sore and his throat hurts so bad he’ll never be able to call me out my name again. I can’t wait to tell him what made him so sick.
I can hear him all the way in here whining and moaning, but those moans ain’t from pleasure are they Percy?
“Zee, I ain’t never been this sick. I dunno what’s wrong with me…”
Gawd he stinks and looks worse than he smells.
Holding my nose to try and drown out the smell wasn’t gone cut it. I had to grab the air freshener just to be able to breathe. I kept my hand over my nose and mouth and responded to him through my fingers.
“Aww honey, I’m sorry you feel so bad.” It was a lie, but one I was willing to tell as long as it worked to my advantage.
Percy tried to stand up and fell back down clumsily onto the toilet. He squealed loudly from banging his naked ass against the porcelain. It took everything in me to keep from bursting out laughing at how stupid and pitiful he looked. He tried again; this time using the sink basin to help hoist himself up. His pants slid further down his legs and he had to bend over to retrieve them; wincing and groaning as he did. Thankfully after the toilet flushed the first time, he turned around and poured the contents of the trashcan in and flushed the toilet again. I hoped it wouldn’t overflow and flood the bathroom. That would be too much to bear.
He righted himself, sat the trashcan back on the floor and stumbled into the bedroom.
“I gotta’ lay down…for real.”
I helped him into bed. It was the least I could do. I needed him to be as weak as humanly possible so the next phase of the plan would go smoothly. I tucked him in and went into the bathroom and put the trashcan in the tub to clean it out. It reeked! I hurried so I wouldn’t get sick myself. I found the bleach under the sink and rinsed the can with hot water. Percy continued to grimace and groan. He seemed to struggle to get comfortable. After everything in the bathroom was cleaned up, I went over to him and kissed him on the forehead. I told him I would check on him in a little while. He was too weak to answer. I left the trashcan by the bed just in case he got sick again - the least amount of mess to clean up the better.