Tag Archives: short stories

SHE CHRONICLES: “Running to Be Free” a story by Jetta Dya Jones

It had been a scorching hot day with thick, humid air helping to carry the smell of cotton for miles.  Running through the plantation fields for the last time, eleven year old Ellen knew at sundown she would be separated from her mother possibly never seeing her again.  The mistress had become increasingly irritated that the young mulatto was always mistaken for one of her children and was a reminder of the master’s indiscretions.  She would be taken to Macon, Georgia, as a wedding gift for her half-sister.

It was in Macon that Ellen would meet her future husband, William Craft, also a slave.  And it was during this period that the talented seamstress decided no child she might eventually bear as a mother would be separated from her as was her case when her mother was suddenly gone.  Her bloodline would never live under the wretched system of American slavery and suffer that kind of agonizing pain.

Fortitude, a tenacious resolve, quick thinking, suspicion, terror, and a major victory – all would shadow the gallant escape from slavery of William and Ellen Craft.  It would be recorded as a thrilling tale of espionage, deception, and intrigue and one of the boldest, most brazen escapes from the institution of slavery ever.

Knowing slaveholders have the privilege of taking their slaves to any part of the country they think proper, it occurred to me that as my wife was nearly white, I might get her to disguise herself as an invalid gentleman, and assume to be my master, while I could attend as his slave, and that in this manner, we might affect our escape, wrote William, once they both finally learned to read and write.  They realized this plan could either succeed or fail which would mean freedom or death.

Instead of fleeing in the midnight hour with the North Star; mailing themselves in crates and hoping the bloodhounds wouldn’t pick up a human scent; or devising clever ways to stow away on ships and wagons, the Crafts traveled out in the open during the day mainly by train in first class accommodations while also making connections on ferry boats and steamers.  They dined with steamboat captains and stayed in the best hotels as they got closer to their destination of Philadelphia.

Yet, despite the luxury settings, the four day journey was fraught with narrow escapes and heart-in-the-mouth moments that could have led to their discovery and capture.  Beardless and unable to sign in at hotels because she had never learned to read or write, she cleverly covered her face with a poultice, placed her writing hand in a cast, and donned tinted eyeglasses.

With the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 threatening their impending freedom, the Crafts were moved around Boston and then ushered safely to Liverpool, England, thanks to the abolitionist work of the Committee of Safety and Vigilance.  After giving birth to five children, four born in England, the Crafts returned to the United States in 1868, opening an industrial/agricultural school near Savannah, Georgia, for freedmen’s children.

IMG_0427

Jetta Dya Jones (a.k.a.) is a retired educator (Nikki Skies was one of her former students),a former model, and now a freelance writer and motivational speaker. Her inspirational book, The Breakthrough (Life Chronicles Publishing), the first of multiple literary, film,and curriculum projects, is scheduled to be released by early fall 2017. The native Kansas Citian currently resides in Inglewood, CA where she is currently developing and working towards funding for Ethan’s Kids, dedicated to the empowerment and support of creative youth artists and in memory of a young man very important in her life.

Has It Really Been 10 Years? Ok, especially for today…

Ten years ago today I released my first book, “Mississippi Window Cracks”.  Wow!

Mississippi Window Crack

I literally drafted the book after spending a few days visiting a friend in Jackson, Mississippi.  From the energy of the historical places to the scent of the zesty magnolia trees to the delicious southern cuisine… I had a lot to write about!

“Mississippi Window Cracks” is a collection of six short stories and three prose pieces.  Here is a breakdown of the book:

The Untimely Flight – A story of two women with a chance meeting in the airport traveling to different locations.  One is on a business trip and the other reuniting with her family after abandoning them to follow her dreams some ten years prior.  Their meeting is purposeful yet brief. Just as life would have it.

The Auction – “For Mothers of wombs that drum life and dance the promise of tomorrow, I pour this libation.  For the victories of liberation and paths of freedom you laid before me, I walk today for you.”  As a child, one of Angel’s childhood stories told by her grandmother was that of Hathor and Tehuti.  An ancient Egyptian story told about the Goddess of beauty and the messenger of wisdom.  It has been whispered that the legendary Odu family in Mississippi carries the spirit of these deities, Angel and her brother Country.  She is here to persuade her brother to come home to his god-like self and maintain the balance in the world.

Return to Ruins – A prose piece in reference to the slave plantation called, The Windsor Ruins.

Summer Love – A steamy love story about a young woman working as an intern in Yazoo City, Mississippi.  She falls hard for a local radio DJ who spins more for her than the hottest tunes.

A Prose for Medgar and Myrlie – “Her bladder was full of miles like her mother’s.  She watered the ground with chocolate auburn.  The spices enticed the clouds to cry and capture the streets. She met him where the sun sat in the fire pit.  Her kissed her hand to summons a feather so she wouldn’t doubt his words.  His eyes were complete like the turn of an owl’s head.  Her fears poured from her spine like pureed apples.  The preacher announced their commitment where roads met corners with mirrors.  He hung their picture in a birdcage to catch time.  He told them not to be afraid.”

The Grass is Simply Green – Nia and LaDonna are best friends who have ventured lessons in life together.  Now, together they face reproductive injustice as one yearns to start a family.  Together they stand as long as one of them holds a secret from the other.

A Prose for Fannie Lou Hamer – “If you see her.  Tell her you remember.  Her protected skin that matched night.  Unafraid.  Sleep patterned to that of bats.  Called upon.  Like Nut and Shu.  To uphold the heavens.  Keep young mouths breathing.  When tempted to swallow swollen faith.  She followed the dust and escaped through vents.”

Southern Betrayal – The  story  of a woman scorned by love.  She travels to a voodoo/root shop to see if the potions really work as she seeks revenge on her ex-love.

When Chris Met Katrina – Hurricane Katrina devastated Louisiana and parts of Mississippi.  Like thousands of people who stayed to “wait this one out”, Chris does not evacuate his childhood home.  The storm passed as he suspected but the waters began to rise from the storm drains and flood the streets.  This is the day Chris met Katrina.

I suppose authors do something special when their books have anniversaries and what not :- /  so I am offering  autographed books  with FREE shipping of “Mississippi Window Cracks”. I only have a few sitting around my house.  I hope you enjoy it!

Re-Membering Katrina, “When Chris Met Katrina”- a short story

The boat whistled its’ way through the waters and soon the screams of the women faded. The air was now filled with the constant yells of families sitting on roofs screaming for help.  They approached Memorial Medical Center and Chris decided to seek refuge there.  As he got closer, he could see through the lobby window hundreds of people camped inside.  Every seat was occupied and people were sprawled out on the floor with blankets.  Police were patrolling the doors.  Chris knocked but the policemen just stood and shook their heads in the negative.  Chris trudged through the water to the other side of the hospital and policemen were standing heavy guard at those doors too.  He knew besides the sore bones and loose teeth, he had no serious injury and they were not going to let him in.

Chris double tied his bag of food and treaded through the water on his tippy toes.  He began to reminisce on the summers growing up in New Orleans.  His father worked as a mechanic in a neighborhood shop and in the summer Chris would help out by washing the cars once he was done.  Afterwards, instead of joining his cousins down at the local swimming pool, he hung out with the neighborhood knuckle heads and smoked weed.  Or they convinced one of the older drunks to buy them liquor.  He was all of nine years old.  With the water slapping up against his chest and occasionally splashing in his face, he wished he had taken those swimming lessons instead.

A few blocks from the hospital, Chris found himself pacing in the water side by side with a dog.  The dog was a dark brown cocker spaniel probably looking for a dry place to rest his feet.  From atop, the dog seemed to be relaxed.  But he knew underneath he was probably  paddling his legs wild as the devil!  Chris remembered how easy it was to tread the dog paddle when he was younger so he picked his feet up to give it a try.  He quickly dipped in the thick, murky waters and emerged panicked.  He struggled to get his stance stable but soon regained his pace and continued down the street with the other stranded people.

A little ways down, Chris spotted the small boat and whistled to get their attention.  They acknowledged him by waving.  Other people began to whistle and try and make their way to the boat too so Chris picked up his pace.  The eyes of the dog swimming nearby were showing signs of exhaustion.  There was no telling how long the dog had been in the water.  The dog let out a bark, then went under the water.  Within seconds, his head reappeared and he began to bark in desperation.  Chris was mindful to stay as far away from the dog as possible to avoid being bitten.  The small boat reeved it’s engine as they waited for him.  The dog’s bark now became aggressive as he continued to swim towards Chris.  The men on the boat splashed water towards the dog to slow him down and distract  his concentration on swimming.

“Come on man!  Dat dog look mad or summin’!,” one of the men said.

Chris turned his head to witness the dog go under again.  He started to run on his tip toes because he knew he would get sprayed with the dirty water when the dog came back up.  He reached the boat and threw his bag of food aboard.  He could feel the water spray on the back of his neck as the dog shook its’ head.  The men reached down and pulled Chris on the boat.

“They wasn’t lettin’ nobody in down at the hospital huh?,” Gunner asked.

“Naw,” Chris simply replied.

The boat pulled away and the dog continued to swim behind it.  His eyes were bulging as he barked pleas of help.  There was nothing in sight for the dog to take refuge on.  The dog’s shiny, brown coat disappeared under the water a third time, not to emerge again.

a snippet from the short story book, Mississippi Window Cracks.

Purchase your copy today

Mississippi Window Crack

Work retail? YOU need these tips on thieves from “Grace in Retail”

She has more tips for store managers in retail!  Have you gotten your copy?  Why not??  After all, you made it a TOP seller on Amazon’s short read list for humor & entertainment!

The Making of Mississippi Window Cracks

(the prologue to Mississippi Window Cracks written in 2006)

A few years ago I decided that after all the books and movies I had read and seen related to the civil rights struggles and the state called Mississippi, it was time to take a visit.  I arranged to spend a few days in Jackson, Mississippi, with a colleague of mine so I could walk the land that enveloped the energy of Medgar Evers, James Chaney, Margaret Walker, Fannie Lou Hamer, Emmett Till and the streets of the infamous “Freedom Summers”.  My time there was filled with meeting civil rights heroes that are still alive, pouring libation on slave plantations, visiting museums and other historic sites, relaxing on the porch fanning flies until the sunset, and of course the southern cuisine.

One morning, my friend declared she knew the best place in town for a good bowl of grits.  Upon arriving at the cozy, corner diner downtown, she turned the car off and told me to put a crack in the window.  I told her that living in Los Angeles, people really didn’t do that but I remember it from growing up in Kansas City, Mo. Effortlessly, she rolled a crack in the driver’s side window.  I followed hastily already tasting the buttery grits in my mouth.  She turned and looked at me then spoke with hesitance in her voice.

“What’s that?”, she asked.

“What’s what?”

“I thought you were going to put a crack in the window.”

“I did.”

“That’s a crack?,” she asked sarcastically.

Now feeling totally self conscious I affirmed, “Yeah, this is the kind of window crack I used to do in the summertime in Kansas City.”

“Well this ain’t Missouri, this is Mississippi!  You better put a bigger crack in that window as hott as it is out here!”

I gave the handle on the window a few more turns to open it up.

She encouraged me, “A little more.”

I carefully cranked it until I gained her nod of approval, “Like this?”

“Yeah!  Now that there is a Mississippi window crack!”

The funny part about this story is how serious it got!  It was almost a borderline argument.  But as we walked in the diner, we laughed and joked how that would be a good title for a poem and who was going to write it first.  Well, here is my book of short stories that chronicle the tales fed to me through the trees, music, and people I met during my time spend in Jackson.  Instead of vacationing in the Bahamas or Paris, take a visit down in the deep south to a part of history, your history, our history.  You ever heard the saying, “There’s the United States and then there’s Mississippi?”  It’s the truth!  Go feel it for yourself!

with love,

nikki skies

PS – The grits were delicious!

Mississippi Window Crack

Get your autographed copy here!

“When Chris Met Katrina” Snippets of a story from the book “Mississippi Window Cracks”

DSC00024

The boat whistled its’ way through the waters and soon the screams of the women faded. The air was now filled with the constant yells of families sitting on roofs screaming for help.  They approached Memorial Medical Center and Chris decided to seek refuge there.  As he got closer, he could see through the lobby window hundreds of people camped inside.  Every seat was occupied and people were sprawled out on the floor with blankets.  Police were patrolling the doors.  Chris knocked but the policemen just stood and shook their heads in the negative.  Chris trudged through the water to the other side of the hospital and policemen were standing heavy guard at those doors too.  He knew besides the sore bones and loose teeth, he had no serious injury and they were not going to let him in.

Chris double tied his bag of food and treaded through the water on his tippy toes.  He began to reminisce on the summers growing up in New Orleans.  His father worked as a mechanic in a neighborhood shop and in the summer Chris would help out by washing the cars once he was done.  Afterwards, instead of joining his cousins down at the local swimming pool, he hung out with the neighborhood knuckle heads and smoked weed.  Or they convinced one of the older drunks to buy them liquor.  He was all of nine years old.  With the water slapping up against his chest and occasionally splashing in his face, he wished he had taken those swimming lessons instead.

A few blocks from the hospital, Chris found himself pacing in the water side by side with a dog.  The dog was a dark brown cocker spaniel probably looking for a dry place to rest his feet.  From atop, the dog seemed to be relaxed.  But he knew underneath he was probably  paddling his legs wild as the devil!  Chris remembered how easy it was to tread the dog paddle when he was younger so he picked his feet up to give it a try.  He quickly dipped in the thick, murky waters and emerged panicked.  He struggled to get his stance stable but soon regained his pace and continued down the street with the other stranded people.

Continue reading “When Chris Met Katrina” Snippets of a story from the book “Mississippi Window Cracks”

Another Literary Snippet from “Mississippi Window Cracks”

Hello All,

A few more days to take advantage of the literary promotion I have in remembrance of Hurricane Katrina.  I went to college in Louisiana, Grambling State University, and the devastation touched me through friends it effected directly.  I wrote a short story book, Mississippi Window Cracks, that linked characters traveling through Mississippi and Louisiana. (New Orleans in particular)

Through August 29th if you buy an autographed copy of my new novel, The Town Dance, and post a review on Amazon or Goodreads by September 19th, I will GIFT you with a copy of Mississippi Window Cracks.  (Hey, as indie artists we have to stay creative on how to promote!)

Enjoy an excerpt from the short story, Southern Betrayal, from the book Mississippi Window Cracks.

The store was smaller than I imagined it would be.  All of the walls were red, with one of them adorning a large American flag that had two black heads on top.  The two heads were smiling and holding rods with snakes wrapped around them.  Another wall that led towards the hall way, had a shirt incased in a wooden box.  I later learned this was a spell for trapping someone or to capture certain types of spirits when they walked in the store.

Since the curtain was open, I walked in the room.  There was a strong smell of lavender incense flowing and white candles were lite everywhere.  The furniture was arranged so the room gave a circular appearance.  After giving the room a quick glance, I figured the person giving the readings was only available by appointment so I turned to walk out.

“Chu been travelin?,” someone asked from within the room. 
Continue reading Another Literary Snippet from “Mississippi Window Cracks”

**Support Indie Artists!** Add These Titles to Your Bookshelf

Hello fellow writers/artists/speakers/art lovers/teachers (and everyone else),

As indie artists, we have to change things up to get our works out there, right?  So, my short story book, Mississippi Window Cracks has a story about Hurricane Katrina.  Being that Saturday the 29th is the 10 year anniversary of the devastation, I have a book offer for you:

When you buy an autographed copy of my new novel, The Town Dance, and leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads, I will send you a copy of Mississippi Window Cracks FREE!  If you enjoy my poetry/prose, you will enjoy the characters in my books 🙂  And here is an excerpt from Mississippi Window Cracks, “When Chris Met Katrina“:

Chris wobbled up the walkway to his parents’ home.  It was Sunday afternoon so his mother was playing her gospel music loudly.  He grew up in a large, white two story house with a wraparound porch that had been passed down through his family for two generations.  City builders had been trying for years to get his parents and their neighbors to sell.  But they knew their homes were in a historic area and worth almost a quarter of a million dollars each.  As Chris walked his aching body up the creaking wood porch steps, he was startled by his mother as she threw the screen door open to put another piece of luggage on the porch.  His mother, a short, robust woman with a head full of proud gray hair, grabbed at her chest at the sight of her son.  Chris knew he must have looked a wretched mess so he lowered his head in embarrassment.

“I don’t even know why I’m surprised.  I truly thought you wanted to turn your life around,” she said sharply.

Chris finally made it to the top step and leaned against the post to rest, “Mama, I’m not in the streets like that no more.  I was only playing pool…”

“They re-arrange folks face like that from playing pool?,” she asked.  Before he had a chance to respond, the phone rang and his mother walked back in the house.

She yelled at him, “They saying on the news we need to get out of here and pack like we going camping.  Chris you should get some things together to go with us.”

Chris finally made it inside the house and stood at the front door rubbing at this left thigh.  It had a knot in it the size of a gold ball.

“That was Joseph.  He got caught in a lil’ traffic but’ll be here any second to bring us to the superdome.  Him and the girls are heading up to Lafayette.  They say this one is going to be something else!  Katrina, is what they calling her,” his mother proclaimed.

“Well, Imma’ be here to meet Katrina just like I met Hannah, Irene and that category two we had the other week,”  Chris went to sit down but his mother stopped him in mid motion.

“Oh no!  Don’t get your dirty behind on my couch! Grab some of that newspaper over there and wrap up my pictures on the mantel.  Your father never got around to fixing that side window and I now that wind is gonna’ whip through here and knock over all my picture frames!”

Chris held on to his lower back as he bent down to pick up the newspaper.  One of the first photographs he saw was that of his younger sister, Crystal, in her airline stewardess uniform.  She had just died in a plane crash a few months earlier in Mississippi.  Her plane was struck by lightning while they were still ascending.  His mother took her death really hard and was even hospitalized for two weeks from severe depression.  This was another reason he decided to move back home.   Besides, the only other family he had in Mississippi was Crystals’ estranged husband Joseph and their two daughters.  But they moved back to New Orleans after her death too.

His father came through the door wearing his favorite pair of faded black jean overalls.  Older age had not slumped his height as he still stood slightly over six foot.  He always kept a clean shaven face and like his wife, he let his hair turn it’s natural course of gray.  He stopped in his tracks when he saw Chris’s face.

“Good Lawd!”  Boy what’s wrong with chu’?,” he asked disappointed.

His mother yelled from the kitchen, “He look like Halloween in August don’t he?”

“It ain’t nothing…”, Chris tried to explain.

“It ain’t nothing?  Have you seen yo’ face?,” his father asked.  “You better not bring no mess around my house!  I don’t want nobody coming around here for nothing!”

His father walked in to the kitchen mumbling.  A car horn blows outside.

“Chris, see if that’s Joe and the girls!,” his mother asked.

Chris walked to the front door and looked out.  Outside sat a silver suburban SUV with tinted windows rolled up.  The truck reminded him of his truck club days back in Mississippi.  He smiled to himself.

“Yea, dis them,” Chris replied to his mother.

“Well, don’t you let them girls see you looking like that!  Let me put these sandwiches in a bag and I’m ready,” she said.

His father walked back in to the front room, “I’ll start bringing the bags to the car.”  He looked at Chris, “You staying?  They say she whipping across that water with a lot of force.”

“Yeah, I’m cool.  Ain’t nuttin’ but another hurricane that’s all.”

“Ok, well look after my house.  I got the rifle loaded out back on the service porch,” his father walked out the front door and took the luggage to the car.

His mother came from the kitchen with another small bag.  “If you leave, make sure you lock everything up and take you some food.”  She walked up to Chris and turned her head sideways for him to kiss her on the cheek.   Chris walked her to the front door.

“See ya’ll in a few days,” Chris said.

He locked the screen door as he watched his parent get into the truck and drive down the street.  Chris slowly sat down on the couch groaning the whole time.  He tried to reach and pull his shoes off but his bones were too sore and stiff.  He piled the throw pillows up in the corner of the couch and went to sleep.

A loud slamming noise came from outside the front window.  This startled Chris and his body jolted up.  He grimaced in pain as his head and stomach still ached.  He could feel that both of his jaws were swollen and a few of his side teeth were loose.  One was so loose, he could actually wiggle it with his tongue.   He managed to pull himself up from the couch and walk over to the door.  The storm poured buckets of rain onto the city streets.  It looked like regular hurricane storm weather.  Strong winds and heavy rain.  He positioned his sore bones back on the couch so he could sleep through the rest of the storm.

Click Here to Purchase Your Autographed Copy of THE TOWN DANCE

TDcoveronly

Mississippi Window Crack