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Fantasy Film Casting for 'Calliope of Atalan: The American Dream'
 

BY P. CURRY

 

Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs as Pan

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When I was conceiving the character of Pan, I thought back to every film I had ever seen with a character who was an abusive father and/or husband. I gravitated towards Jacobs’s portrayal of Joe Jackson in The Jacksons: An American Dream. In a lot of ways, their characters are very similar in the sense that they both are shady, sleazy businessmen who are loathed by their children. The biggest difference is that Pan is more neglectful than physically abusive, but both of them are monsters, no matter how it’s sliced or diced. If Calliope of Atalan had actually been released in the 90’s, Jacobs would have fit the role to a T.


Loretta Devine as Demeter

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For Demeter’s character development, one of the tropes I delved into was that of a woman scorned. In regards to classic 90’s films, what better choice would there have been in that department than Waiting to Exhale? With Devine’s character, Gloria, being the most matronly of the bunch, I closed in on her in particular. After deciding to base Demeter off of Devine’s image in Waiting to Exhale, I looked at some of her other roles as well. Devine’s character in Dirty Laundry was very similar to Gloria aside from being much meaner, so that definitely gave Demeter a kick in the pants as I found my initial characterization of her to be “too nice.”


Marcello Thedford as Julius

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In just about everything I’ve seen him in, Thedford’s always been the big guy in the back. His characters are usually gentle giants with a good sense of humor, an attribute that fits Julius’s character very well.


Brutus

Brutus is such a unique character that I really couldn’t pick an actor to play him. Omar Gooding’s character from Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper shares a number of similarities with him personality-wise, but even then he’s far too nice. Dominic Santana (All Eyez On Me) is VERY close to what I would imagine Brutus looking like. And yet, his only notable role is as Suge Knight, but not even insufferable, hyper-masculine and oftentimes-bigoted Brutus is THAT much of an asshole. It’s honestly way too difficult for me to choose.


Keisha Knight-Pulliam as Isis

When thinking of Isis’s character description, Rudy Huxtable during the later seasons of The Cosby Show fits her to a T, even though Isis is much quieter, nicer and more even-tempered than Rudy ever was. But Pulliam has shown herself to be a versatile actress time and time again, so I’m sure it wouldn’t have been a problem had this been a movie or television series back in the 90’s.


Orlando Brown as Atum

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Most people may know him as Eddie from That’s So Raven, but before that, he was 3J on Family Matters. 3J was always a little jokester, so Brown would have definitely been a good fit for Atum.


Tyrin Turner as Herc

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Caine doesn’t have that much in common with Herc personality-wise, but Turner comes pretty close to my idea of Herc’s appearance.


Countess Vaughn as Bolina

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Bolina is a very minor and inconsequential character in the grand scheme of things, but I do imagine her being short with loudly colored hair and a high-pitched, squeaky voice, so Kim Parker definitely fits the bill.


Big Boi as Perseus

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Slurring, Southern-style drawl? Check. Floppy hair? Check. Pothead? Check. Basic sense of dress? Check. Laid-back demeanor? Check. Rapper? Check. Yeah, 1990’s-era Big Boi has Perseus written all over him.


Erika Alexander as Urania

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Urania is another character on the minor side of things, but I do have big plans for her. Being a career-oriented woman, in a lot of ways, she’s based on the image of Maxine Shaw from Living Single. The biggest difference is that she’s much more pleasant to be around.


David Alan Grier as Leto

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This may seem like a bizarre choice, but Grier is actually a very versatile actor. So no, Antoine Merriweather from “Men on Film” wasn’t what I had in mind. Joe from The Carmichael Show on the other hand is perfect. I think Grier could play a stern, ornery and old-fashioned paternal figure very well.


Harry Lennix as Zeu-se

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Remember Mo’ Money? His character, Tom Dilton, is exactly the sort of pompous, snobby and condescending elite I have in mind for the character of Zeu-se, even if he’s the complete opposite of Zeu-se appearance-wise. Samuel L. Jackson was another actor I considered - not only is he closer to the appearance, but he’s played quite a few characters with ruthless motivations over the years.


Jill Marie Jones as Hera

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Even though she hasn’t made an official appearance just yet, I already have a very thorough image in mind for Hera. As the wife of Zeu-se and matriarch of The House of Peloponnesian, I imagine a ridiculously self-absorbed and materialistic woman who has a taste for nothing but the finest things in life, dressed head to toe in a number of designer labels with a very aloof demeanor, bougie attitude and classist mindset to boot. For those who remember the series Girlfriends, each of those descriptors fit Toni Childs like a glove.


Joseph Gannascoli as Romulus

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When I first started this thing, the image I had in mind for Romulus was a slightly more sinister Danny DeVito. Upon watching a random episode of The Sopranos, I closed in on Gannascoli’s character, Vito Spatafore, and he just fits. Not only is he close in appearance to Romulus, but he’s also close in personality with a proper balance between his comedic moments and his threatening ones.


Steve Schirripa as Cicero

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I was never really into The Sopranos, so I’m not all that astute on the characters. However, Schirripa’s character, Bobby Baccalieri, was probably the nicest guy there. While Cicero is far from a nice guy, he’s shown to have a conscience and a soft side on a number of occasions, especially when it comes to his daughter. Baccalieri is also a big guy, refrains from getting his hands too dirty in Mafia business and isn’t taken seriously by the other Mafiosos, which are other attributes he shares with Cicero.


Bianca Santos as Fortuna

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While this deviates from the theme of actors from the 90’s, I really struggled to find any actresses from that time frame that fit into the image I had in mind for Fortuna.


Sharon Stone as Tyche

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Going back to the mob movies, I remember Stone playing the character of Ginger in the film Casino. Like Tyche, she is an abrasive and nagging alpha bitch who was prone to manipulation and, likewise, made for a horrible mother.


Diahann Carroll as Syne

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For some reason, Syne strikes me as an older version of Claudine - at least in a vastly different universe.


Kirstie Alley as Hestia

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One defining attribute of Hestia’s character is her fashion sense. Back in the 90’s, Kirstie Alley was widely thought of as being one of the most fashionable women around.


Dianne Wiest as Themis

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One of my all-time favorite movies is Edward Scissorhands, and Wiest’s character in the film, Peg Boggs, was an absolute hoot. She was stuck in the 50’s, and so naïve and oblivious just like Themis.


Kirsten Dunst as Eris

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In her younger days, Kirsten Dunst looked very close to how I imagine Eris would look, even though I don’t recall Dunst ever playing a character with a similar personality.


Lauren Ambrose as Moirai

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I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something about her just strikes me as the type of girl whose nice face belies a mean, catty and judgmental personality underneath.


Omar Epps as Thespis

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Nia Long as Melpomene

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When it came to films with predominantly African-American casts in the 1990’s, I feel that they all pulled from a relatively small pool of talent. There were a number of actors who seemed to be in just about EVERY movie, Omar Epps and Nia Long being two examples. The whole idea I had for Thespis and Melpomene is to create a sort of running gag about that. There’s a scene where Calliope’s watching a movie which they star in, but all the details about said movie are so vague and generic, it creates the whole “another one of those movies” effect. While minor and inconsequential, I think the whole plot line surrounding nameless and faceless Thespis and Melpomene movies will make for a fun little easter egg in the background for those who get it. Not to shade Epps or Long at all, as I think both of them are wonderful actors, but due to appearing in so many of those “nameless and faceless” movies back then, they are woefully underappreciated, as are a number of other African-American actors regarded as relics of the 90’s.


Bumper Robinson as Troy

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Bumper Robinson is one of those actors who we’ve all seen in a number of films and shows, but we can never remember the guy’s name, if we ever even knew it in the first place (I had to do quite a bit of digging to find out what it was myself). Back in the 90’s, he was always that “dream guy” that girls took one look at and fell head over heels for. As Troy is a very suave young man who girls instantly feel smitten with, I think it’s a good fit.


Lester Speight as Pothos

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I was VERY close to picking Terry Crews for this role, but found that choice to be a bit too basic. When thinking about other actors who are large in build with intimidating, angry faces but are total goofballs in most of their roles and/or in real life, I thought back to Calvin from My Wife and Kids. Looking through Speight’s other roles, he’s usually playing a humorous character like Calvin or Terry Tate or some sort of security figure. All of it works really well for my idea of Pothos.


Michael Douglas as Hadrian

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He fits the physical profile of Hadrian very well. Of course, a large amount of his roles have been as shady businessmen or morally dubious political figures, so if he was Hadrian, I’d imagine he’d totally own the role.


Julia Roberts as Theia

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Given her background as a mistress to wealthy businessmen, for research purposes, I looked to the classic 90’s rom-com, Pretty Woman. I’m aware it’s not exactly the same, seeing that Roberts’s character in the film, Vivian, is a sex worker who has a much kinder attitude and warmer demeanor then the cold and slightly rude mayor’s wife who sleeps with other men on the side that is Theia, but there are a number of parallels in their narratives, which is why it’s easy for me to see Roberts as Theia.


Narcissus

Like Brutus, the image and character of Narcissus is so strong, she’s taken a life of her own. In my mind, everything about her is so distinctive I struggle to imagine her as any actress I personally know of (although, I will admit that a few of Kathy Bates’ roles did serve as an influence, especially Annie Wilkes from Misery and her depiction of Delphine LaLaurie in American Horror Story: Coven).


Chazz Palminteri as Remus

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As the other brother of Romulus and Cicero, Remus was the cold, humorless and most straightforward one of the three. Palminteri usually plays the “straight man” in mob movies, so he would do an exceptional job pulling off such a character.


Jada Pinkett-Smith as Pandora

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Before marrying The Fresh Prince, Jada was one of Black Hollywood’s ‘it’ girls. She was sexy and alluring with an air of mystery surrounding her - qualities very much in line with Pandora.


Eartha Kitt as The Oracle

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There’s a few characters whom I unintentionally dream-casted the moment I began to develop them - The Oracle is one of those characters. Although she doesn’t make an official appearance until the second book of this series, I already imagine her as a refined, sophisticated woman who holds strong political and feminist views that she isn’t afraid to share with the class, speaking with a cat-like purr all the while. She has Miss Eartha written all over her.


Calliope

Suffice to say, with Calliope I suffered the same problem I did with Brutus and Narcissus. While I wouldn’t quite say she took a life of her own, the image I have in mind for her is very hard to pin down. I thought of Brandy, Aaliyah, Taral Hicks and even one of the Mowry twins, but alas, none of them really fit. In some ways, I guess that could be the beauty of it. The majority of the tale is told from a first-person perspective after all. When you think about it, that makes you, the reader, Calliope Thessaly. As you take the journey, you are tracing her footsteps. It is rare that you will ever know something she doesn’t know.


Calliope of Atalan: The American Dream will release on November 23.

Fantasy Film Casting for 'Summer Camp Is Cancelled'

BY: DARLENE CAMPOS

 

Belita Moreno as Grandma Raquel

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As a kid, I grew up watching George Lopez. I loved Belita’s character, even though she was actually much meaner than Grandma Raquel. Belita was always a sassy, no-nonsense person in her portrayal of George’s mother. But, she was also very harsh at times, so if she were to play Grandma Raquel, she’d have to turn down her harshness just a smidge.


Javier Bardem as Father González

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Who else could play Father González BUT Javier Bardem? Javier usually plays a villain and why wouldn’t he? He can speak death using only his eyes and face. He scared the hell out of me when he played Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men. Javier is 100% perfect to play Lyndon’s strict priest and I know he’d do a marvelous job.


Ardal O’Hanlon as Father O’Brien

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In the 90s, Hat Trick Productions made the show Father Ted, a hilarious comedy based in a fictional part of Ireland. The show surrounds the daily life of a Catholic priest, Father Ted, and his co-father, Father Dougal, who was played by Ardal. Ardal’s character was goofy, kind, and gentle, just like Father O’Brien. Since Ardal has experience portraying a funny priest, he would adapt to Father O’Brien’s role very easily.


Horatio Sanz as Uncle Manny

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I remember seeing Horatio on Saturday Night Live back when I was in junior high and thinking he was the funniest cast member of the lineup. He’s extremely talented at doing impersonations and exaggerating his facial features to get a laugh from his audience. If anyone can do an awesome job playing the most annoying character in SCIC, it’s definitely him.


Eva Longoria as Mrs. Donna Pérez

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Not only is Eva Longoria an excellent actress, but she’s also a huge philanthropist for children’s causes. Because of her generous history, I know she’d play a great mom to Lyndon. Additionally, she is also a Texan and since Summer Camp is Cancelled is rich in both Mexican and Texan culture, she would know exactly what to do for her role.


Jaime Camil as Mr. Edgar Pérez

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Jaime Camil has been in both Mexican and American productions. He was the voice actor for Miguel’s father in Coco and he’s also been on Jane the Virgin as well as other comedy shows. His background in making people laugh is perfect for playing Edgar.


Last, but not least – who would play Lyndon Baines Juan Pérez?

This is a hard question because I really don’t know! Lyndon is such a sweet boy and he has strong beliefs in friendship and how others should be treated. Whoever plays his character should have similar personal beliefs.


You can pre-order Summer Camp Is Cancelled by clicking here.

 
Love

BY: gsoell


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In every interation

of time

of each universe

I’m there with

you

in the midst of the nuclear

wars

in the tangle of

new chaos

in the green-blue

essence,

 

I’m always with you.

Yellow

BY: Q. VERGARA


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There's something about an overcast windy rainy day that completes me. The whites blending with the grays and blues. The smudged sky made my heart smile. The whistling of the wind in the palm trees as the voluptuous clouds lollygag by, pulls my mind to wander. I can't help but listen to Coldplay's first album on repeat. The cold air kisses my cheek through the window trying to lure me out.

 "I miss you," she whispers before building up her might and billowing a hard gust of her breath through the trees and she leaves. My eyes try to follow her long flowing invisible silhouette but I only catch the train of her gown and the damage left in her wake. Before long, the trees and plants fall back to their resting positions and sway as if they had never been touched. I can't be certain if it's her lulling them as her breathing swells or Coldplay's melodies and lyrics serenading the leafs.

 

And on and on from the moment I wake

To the moment I sleep

I'll be there by your side

Just you try and stop me

I'll be waiting in line

Just to see if you can

 

Coldplay's words always held a special meaning to me. The melodies felt like a familiar embrace, like a familiar scent on familiar clothes. I could close my eyes and feel your breath on my ear. It's been 15 years since I've touched you. Why do days like today remind me of you? The song ended leaving me a moment with the cold realization that I may never go back home. Coldplay spoke to me as the Wind teased me to come outside for a hug. Her breath was intoxicating. The moisture in the air teased a light rain fall.

 

I awake to find no peace of mind

I said how do you live as a fugitive

Down here where I cannot see so clear

I said, what do I know

 

I felt like a fugitive unable to relax until I made my way back to you. I was born with your soil and roots beneath my feet. We came from the same dust. But here where loyalties lie and citizenships brand, I wait and long for you through the cold murmurings of the wind. Sparks was one of my favorite songs on this album. I couldn't help but sing along in a wispy low voice. The sun reflected light off the clouds in a way to almost make them look like they were satin and glimmering--winking at me. My face broke into a gentle smile.

 

Look at the stars

Look how they shine for you

And everything you do

Yeah they were all yellow

 

Yellow. This was the epitome of my love for Coldplay and cold days like this. I was fixated looking out the window at the branches dancing to Chris Martin sing. I knew they were dancing for me. The California Hills laid at my feet in comfort of this moment, blowing kisses back to Saudi. Cold days like this have always been my favorite. I used to miss home in a way that pained my soul but now, I miss it on my favorite days.

When I met Saudi, without the American Narrative, I was in 7th grade. He stood misunderstood with a sparkling smile.

 

Your skin

Oh yeah, your skin and bones

Turn into something beautiful

You know, you know I love you so

You know I love you so

 

I fell in love with his traditions and ideas--the way he spoke and how he laughed from the middle of himself. He was eager to learn how I lived and how I didn't judge him for his hard consonants. He loved me beyond the way people talked. He loved me the way a child loves with every ounce and fiber of his being. Saudi loved me in a way that I longed for on these cold days. Saudi's love gave me warm pillows and heated fluffy blankets filled with memories and smiles. His love grew my virtues, and when America tried to teach me how to think, He reminded me to lead with love.

Bildungsroman

BY: gsoell


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I am the fool that

lost my fiberglass insulation and

grew so sad that I

decidedneeded to seek my fortune,

find the answers to questions

I didn’t want to ask.

I found a woodsman

that knew jackshit about the woods

and an enchanted shield

that wasn’t really enchanted at all but

I’m no longer the fool.

 

The golden hours are dimming.

Magic no longer happens here.

I am at the end of my journey,

the curve of the mobius in sight when

 

I am the fool that

lost my golden apples and

I am sad again.


gsoell is currently working on her first book of poetry, Small Nights Gospel.

Problems and good sex

BY: gsoell


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Is sometimes all we have.

Sometimes that’s enough

I romanticize the “bohemian” lifestyle

(actually, we’re broke as a fucking joke),

the bad times,

the hot rages,

the breakdowns.

 

We were taught to

walk off the scrapes,

laugh away the bruises,

to get over it.

But we’re tired of that bullshit,

have been for years.

 

We are aqueous.


gsoell is currently working on her first book of poetry, Small Nights Gospel.

Muse Musing

BY: T.J. LOVE


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i date a writer
and sometimes
i spawn ideas for their work
like unnecessary heartache
and the breaking of
our trust's femur
i cause ruptures in our ozone
just to let the sunlight in
they immortalize me
when i immolate them


T.J. Love is a poet and Vital Narrative author. You can support his work here.

Read the First Draft of "The Vow"

BY: GH



This is literally a first draft (at the time of posting, only one other person had read it), so all words, characters and themes are subject to change as I go through the editing process. I hope you enjoy and feel free to leave feedback.

Click here to download a PDF or scroll to read the text below. Cover images were created by Juanita Mulder and edited by me.


"The Vow"

by Garvey Hemisphere

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Wallace rushed towards the bay of elevators, pushing every button available as his forehead shone with perspiration. The anticipation rose inside his stomach as the car slowly crept its way along and the lighted numbers changed from floor to floor. He pressed the talk button on his phone for the sixth time in what seemed like as many seconds, but it continued to go straight to voicemail. He gave one final look over his shoulder as the elevator’s bell dinged and the doors slid open. He took a step to the side to allow a nurse and two men in street clothes off the car before stepping onto the elevator and tapping the L button and jabbing his forefinger into the CLOSE DOOR button a dozen times before the doors slid shut.

            He attempted more another set of phone calls from his iPhone, but it was useless – there was still no answer. As the elevator reached the lobby floor, he rushed towards the hospital entrance when he saw her marching through the double doors.

            “No, Kamryn!” he yelled. “Absolutely not! You cannot be here. Not today!”

            “How dare you try to tell me where I can and cannot be?” Kamryn returned with a snarl. “I am just as entitled to be here as you are!”

            “It’s not that simple. You don’t understand anything that’s going on.”

            “I understand well enough to know that she’s up there and you don’t want me to see her. Why is that, Wallace? Scared it might ruin that little delusion she has of you? Scared she might see you’re not perfect?”

            “Jesus Christ, Kam. How many times are you going to make a fool of yourself before you realize the only person who is constantly concerned with what other people think of them is you! For once, realize this has nothing to do with me. She’s just… she’s scared and she doesn’t understand how much is about to change.”

            “I don’t care, I’m not leaving here until I see her face! Do you think I’ll stop just because we’re in a hospital? You think I won’t speak my mind just because we’re in public?”
            “Kam, I’m very aware that you’re going to speak your mind no matter where you are,” he said with a roll of the eyes. “But I don’t need you going up there and scaring that poor girl.”

            “Excuse me?”

            He sighed. He knew she wasn’t going to leave until she had seen her face to face and said what she wanted to say. Kam had always been persistent that way.

            “Fine, Kamryn...”

            “No, don’t do that,” she interrupted with a wave of the finger. “You’re the one at fault here! Don’t be weak and make it seem like you’re doing me some kind of favor by letting me speak to her.”

            “I said ‘fine,’ goddamit! What more do you want from me?!”
            “Don’t you take that tone-!”

            “Okay look… just… just look. I’m sorry, okay? I apologize.” Wallace attempted to calm himself as their volume was causing several looks from people grieving inside the emergency room as well as the various hospital workers. “It’s already been a long day and like I said she’s on edge, I’m on edge. We’re all dealing with this the best way we can. All I’m asking is that you don’t go up there and make things worse. She will explain everything once we’re upstairs. I just don’t know if it’s my place.”

            “Not your place? You’re her –”

            “I still haven’t pressed this button yet, Kam. Do you want to go up or not? Because if you keep it up…”

            She opened her mouth to speak, but reconsidered and cleared her throat before nodding. Wallace gave her a hard look and she readjusted her brown leather purse against her shoulder and straightened the front of her skirt. He gave a pained sigh, pushed the button and the elevator’s bell instantly dinged. They stepped inside and rode the car up to the tenth floor in silence.

            Once there, they stepped off and made a left heading out of the bay of elevators, towards the nurses’ station. After a few feet, they made a right, where Kamryn noticed various cousins, nieces and nephews she hadn’t seen in years. They all looked overcome with grief, but also somewhat comforted at the sight of her. All except her aunt Carol who was sobbing alone in a chair just as they made the final left and arrived at room 2223.

            “She’s still a bit in shock, Kam. Don’t try to rush her. Just let her tell you what’s going on.”

            She nodded her head and readjusted her purse once again before Wallace pushed the door open. He walked in and she followed behind cautiously, her legs suddenly feeling heavier than they had before. The beeps of various machines and the hum of a small television in the corner filled the hospital room as silent expressions of five other family members acknowledged Kamryn’s presence before returning their eyes to the floor. Fighting off the overwhelm, Kam focused her attention on the small, teenage girl laying in the hospital bed with her back turned. She looked even smaller than Kamryn remembered and the hospital gown barely clung to the tops of her shoulders.

            “Hey baby,” Kamryn said, her voice cracking under the weight of those words.

            “Mommy?” the girl asked weakly, uncertain if she was hearing things. She turned over and met eyes with Kamryn whose face flooded with tears at the sight of seeing her fifteen-year-old daughter, who sobbed uncontrollably and everyone in the room leapt to their feet on instinct. Wallace waved them off and allowed Kamryn the chance to console her.

            Unclear of what to do, Kamryn’s eyes met Wallace’s as he mouthed instructions to embrace her. Finally, the light bulb went off and she wrapped her arms around the young girl’s shoulders. For several moments, the two whimpered together and hugged as the others in the room emptied out except for Wallace, who planted himself in a chair in the corner.

            “I’m sorry I wasn’t here for you, babygirl. I’m sorry that… that I’ve been gone,” she said.

            “It’s okay. It’s…”

            “I know, baby. I know. Just tell me what happened.”

            “It all happened so fast. I saw her though, Mama. I saw her face even I told them I didn’t want to. I told them a thousand times. But as soon as I saw her, I didn’t want to let her go. They told me I had to… but I just couldn’t. It’s not fair, Mommy. I already loved her and they won’t let me see her or hold her or anything. They won’t even tell me if she’s okay. She’s already…” The girl’s thoughts trailed off and she began to sob again.

            Kamryn rubbed her shoulders and held her hand as Wallace moved his chair closer.

            “Tell me, babygirl. Tell me what’s going on.”

            “She’s already gone.”

            “Gone?”

            “She’s not mine. Not anymore. I’ll never get to see her again.”

            The room grew quiet again, when Kamryn suddenly stood up from her seat and rushed towards the door. The air seemed more viscous and it became hard for her to move and harder for her to breathe. She dropped her purse before swinging the door open and walking towards a large window at the end of the hall. She reached the window, but still struggled to catch her breath when Wallace’s hand ran across her back. Seeing the greying beard forming along his jawline and the sincerity in his eyes made her break down again as she felt the guilt rush over her. Wallace had done everything he could, but she could tell the weight of it all was beginning to engulf him.

            “I’m sorry.”

            “Why didn’t you tell me? Why didn’t you tell me that so I’d be prepared? Why didn’t you tell me so that I could help?!”

            “Because we’re not just things you pick up and dust off whenever you’re ready to play with them. I can’t just brief you about everything like they do for you at work! I’m not your fucking assistant! Your daughter… she’s is in there hurting because she’s fifteen, some people she’s never met just took her baby away and she doesn’t know why!”

            “And what am I supposed to do about that? I can’t help that The Program took her child. That’s exactly what The Program is for!”

            “So, you’re just going to let her fester here in all this mental anguish and do nothing to about it? I thought you said you wanted to help her? Isn’t that what we should do? Isn’t that what we should have done with Abraham?”

            A white-hot flash flared inside Kamryn’s chest at the mention of Abraham’s name and she let out a deep sigh. She cleared her throat and wiped the tears from her eyes. She straightened the front of her skirt once again and walked back towards the hospital room. Her daughter laid there quietly, trying her best to ignore the evening news flickering across the small black-and-white.

            She cleared her throat and looked her daughter square in the eye. “You’re telling me you took one look at that baby and fell in love with her? Just like that?”

            “Yes, it’s hard to describe it. I made peace with everything from Day One – I knew what was going to happen. But as soon as I saw her, I didn’t want to let her go. It felt like part of my soul was being ripped from inside of me.”

            Kamryn walked to the side table and poured water from the hospital’s carafe into a paper cup of water. She took a few slow sips and checked the time on her watch, before crushing the cup between her hands and tossing it into the waste basket before returning to her daughter’s side.

            “Listen to me. We’re going to get your baby back. But we’ve gotta move and we’ve gotta move right now. Wallace, round up the family out there because we’re going to need them. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover.”

            “Ground to cover? What are you talking about? She can’t move. She just gave birth!”

            “She’s not going anywhere – we are.”

            “What?”

            “Just go out there and get everyone ready. We have to go.”

            “Go? Go where?”

            Kamryn grabbed her purse from the floor and returned the contents to the inside. She checked her watch again and cleared her throat for the final time.

            “To North Carolina. If we don’t, she’s going to lose her baby forever.”

            “North Carolina? No. Absolutely not. That’s not what I meant when I said helping her. We almost died the last time we were there and we spent all we had just to get away from there.”

            “Wallace, look at her. Putting our daughter back together again isn’t worth dying over?”

            Wallace looked at his daughter’s face and sighed, but relented. He knew Kamryn was right.

            “So, what’s the move?” he asked with a focused look in his eye.

            “We need to call Daddy first and let him know we’re on the way. Then, we drive all night and don’t stop until we reach his compound. Go rally the family. They’re coming with us.”

            “We’re just going to leave her by herself? She can’t go anywhere for the next 72 hours.”

            “She’ll be fine. I’ll call Grandma and she can take care of her until we get back. Now go!”

            Wallace exited the room without debate, leaving Kamryn and her daughter to speak.

            “Baby, listen to me. It’s been a long three years, but I’m here now and I’m never going to abandon you again. I’m sorry for everything that’s happened in the past, but I want to make amends. Your father and I have to go to North Carolina for a few days to get your baby back.”

            “Kamaye.”

            “What?”

            “Her name is Kamaye.”

            A smile crept across Cheryl’s face. “We’re going to get Kamaye and we’re going to put her right in your arms, okay? I promise.”

            “Mommy?”

            “Yes, baby?”

            “Can you sing the song? From when I fell and hurt my knee and had to get stitches? Just one time?”

            “I’ll sing it as soon as I get back. Get your rest, okay? Grandma will be here soon.” She placed a soft kiss on her forehead and walked towards the door. She pulled her iPhone from her purse and looked down the list of contacts until she saw ‘Daddy’ flash across the screen. She hit the call button and she saw that Wallace had gathered each family member and they were waiting on her at the end of the hall.

Finally, the line stopped tilling and a gruff voice answered the phone. “Daddy,” she said sternly. “Daddy, it’s me. I’m on the way and I have a few people with me. There’s about twelve of us. I already know what you’re about to say, but we don’t have time. We’re going to make that motherfucker pay. Do you hear me? Gather everything. Peace time is over.”

            She hit the end button and joined the rest of the family at the end of the hallway, embracing Wallace in a tight hug.

            “It’s good to be home,” she said, before leading them back towards the bay of elevators.

5 Writers Who Started From The Bottom

BY: DARLENE CAMPOS

 

Writing, like many careers, has its risks. There is no guarantee a writer will be a bestseller or have their story made into a movie. However, many writers did not go into this field for fame and money – they write because it is their passion. While writing carries its risks, it is not impossible to become a successful writer over time. Here are five writers who started from humbled beginnings.


Sandra Cisneros

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You may know Cisneros from her novel The House on Mango Street. In addition to this novel, Cisneros is the author of many books as well as a past winner of the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship and the Texas Medal of Arts. Cisneros’ childhood was not an easy one. She grew up in poverty, constantly relocated, and with six brothers, she often felt isolated in her own home. It was this isolation that led Cisneros to writing and she composed her first poem at just ten years old. When one of her high school teachers encouraged her to keep writing, Cisneros took the advice and was later admitted into the Iowa Writers Workshop. It was at this workshop that Cisneros discovered her writing voice. She is now considered one of the most influential writers of this generation.


Stephen King

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Best known for his horror stories, Stephen King’s works have become synonymous with terror and fright. He is known for several novels including Carrie, It, and The Shining. Before King became the writer he is today, he had a difficult childhood. His father left the family when King was only two years old, making King’s mother the sole provider for him and his brother David. When King grew up, he was barely able to support himself and his wife Tabitha due to unemployment. He made some income by selling short stories to magazines, but it was not enough. It was around this time that King began drafting Carrie. He became so frustrated with the novel that he initially threw it away in the garbage, but Tabitha encouraged him to finish it. Carrie proved to be King’s big break, thanks to his wife!


Gabriel García Márquez

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García Márquez is best known for his novels One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera. However, like many writers, García Márquez’s past was a struggle. Before he started writing One Hundred Years of Solitude, García Márquez had the idea for the novel, but he was unsure of how to write it down. One day, García Márquez was driving his wife and children to Acapulco for vacation, the first line popped into his head and he immediately turned the car around to head home and write the first draft. To make ends meet, García Márquez sold the family car and his wife Mercedes persuaded the local butcher, baker, and their landlord to grant them a line of credit until García Márquez finished his latest book. When One Hundred Years of Solitude was finally released, it became an international success and García Márquez officially became a respected voice in literature.


Toni Morrison

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Morrison is a former winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction. She is famous for her novel Song of Solomon. As a child, Morrison grew up in a difficult time. When she was around two years old, her family’s landlord set fire to their home since they had been unable to pay the rent, leaving them with nothing. Morrison’s father worked several odd jobs to support the family. Later in life, Morrison married and had two sons, but divorced soon after, leaving her to care for her two young sons all by herself. When she began writing her first novel, The Bluest Eye, she woke up each morning at 4 AM to write as her sons slept. It was Song of Solomon that gave Morrison her biggest acclaim, and with this, her writing career kicked off to a supreme start.


Octavia E. Butler

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Butler is best known for her science fiction Patternist series and the Xenogenesis series. Before she became a writer, she too came from humbled beginnings. Her father died when she was only seven years old and she was raised by her mother and grandmother in a very strict household. Butler’s mother was a maid and sometimes she accompanied her to work where they witnessed and experienced racial segregation. Butler was also extremely shy and was diagnosed with dyslexia and often bullied at school. She took comfort in reading books and when she was ten years old, she begged her mother to buy her a typewriter so she could begin writing her own books. As an adult, Butler worked several jobs to support herself and woke up every morning at 2 AM to write before a long day of work. Butler would later win the MacArthur Fellowship, becoming the first science fiction writer in history to hold this award. She would go on to win many more awards for her influential science fiction works.


Yes, writing has its risks, but sometimes risks are worth taking. To writers who are just getting started, remember that you are just getting started and the future holds completed dreams. These five writers got their breakthroughs despite the odds and you can, too!