I am nearly 3,000 miles away from home. I get homesick and I have all these crazy stories about back home that pop in my head. Some are good, some are ridiculous, some are shareable. Those I want to share are ending up here in this book, “No Name.” Then I started reading a very powerful book about a 10 year old girl hooked on heroin named “Milk-Blood” by Mark Matthews, and it really hit me. I have a story like that, but it’s true and it’s mine and it’s time to tell it.
From the Beginning
It all started with the tornadoes back when I was in elementary school. I wrote a couple of stories here in my journal and then did some research. To my amazement, which is so difficult to come by in this day and age, the internet had an article about the tornado. From 1989. From the smallest town you’ve never heard of. No pictures, but words. Words always last the longest.
When I shared some research about the tornado that hit my elementary school, several other students from the school shared their stories about that tornado. A bunch of people still have trauma from it. Actual nightmares and getting PTSD symptoms from hearing tornado sirens type trauma.
That’s surprising and sad but awesome because maybe sharing more stories can help people talk about more traumas. Talking is good. You are using your words for good. And this is my way of sharing my own traumas so I can get them out of me.
Maybe I’m being selfish and tricking you into carrying them with me. But isn’t that what community is all about? About helping others when they need it?
But most of these stories are hell-arious to me and I think you might think so, too. If nothing else learn a little about life in the 90s for one kid growing up in the Georgia foster care system. With a drug addict mother who abandons you at four and a father who ends up in prison by the time you’re seven, leaving you to live in a Holiness house full of religion that scares the hell out of you for the next seven years.
Before I tell you about those characters, I’ve got to take a detour. Let me start by explaining something about choice and Good versus Evil. My book is a mix of stories good and evil, based on characters who were also good and evil. All people have both sides—you choose whether to be good or evil. But you have to be conscious in choosing.
Let’s be good, people.
“Ain’t” is made up of more than one of the aunts in my life. While I lived with my great-aunt in a foster care placement from age seven to 14, I also was partly raised by her sister who lived down the road, and I had many other aunts. Note that those other aunts are not part of Ain’t.
OK. Back up. Now, being the South and all, my aunts were now considered my cousins. My uncles who lived in the house before me were now my cousins, too, as well as my brothers. Yes, my actual uncles were my cousins/brothers. You got it. Then one great-aunt became Mama the other was just Aunt without the great because that sounds old. If you aren’t confused, then you grew up in my neck of the woods.
So to me, Ain’t fulfills a few names. I have my own no-name situation going on here with my aunts and with my grannies.
Also, about that good and evil.
My Ain’ts had their own traumas and mental illnesses that they dealt with. This in addition to raising children not their own. They were older and tired by the time me and my *sister came along, great-aunts remind you. *Yes, I have a sister, whose own story I’m not writing for her.
The Ain’ts were nice in their own way. From my perspective, as the “Second best,” I was just not accepted. It’s how it was. But at the same time, some of the stuff I went through was not ok as a child in that situation. So I am writing about my experiences in a semi-fictionalized manner—by covering events from both of these aunts.
I feel other children living in similar non-nuclear, foster care situations can use these stories to reflect and heal, as I, too, continue to work through traumatic events in my life by writing them out in this way. This is also why I’ve decided to call this what it is—my stories with fictional liberties taken from my perspective as a child.
“Granny” is good, you can see that clearly from Chapter One. And, yes, this character is also made up of more than one person. My Granny Yearwood was the most loving person in my life as a child. A true angel. However, I didn’t run that granny over with the lawnmower. That was another granny, my great-grandmother Winnie Bell Crump Kitchens. Real name. Granny Yearwood goes by Estelle Lonia Smith Yearwood. Granny Yearwood taught me the meaning of love. Granny Kitchens gave me the relief of comedy in her stories.
I lived down the road from Granny Kitchens so I saw her every day and have the most stories from her. Granny K, in her own hypochondriac, nervous Nancy manner. She actually physically shook so much she could make a margarita standing still. But she also grew up a poor white girl picking cotton in the South. So she could shake if she wanted to. And she also saw ghosts including her dead husband who would visit her at night. And she could laugh about all of this.
Now, there was another grandmother for those of you who know me. I do not refer to her as Granny at all. Ever. She will, if she is included at all, be noted in the Ain’t stories.
The demon bel is No Name or the Anonymous God, and that….where the hell did that thing come from? Great question! A figment of my imagination! And now he’s here in the story and his story fits perfectly with my story, which is the story’s way of saying He Was Here the Whole Time.
My dad is also discussed throughout this story. He passed from this earth when I was 15. Those stories are hard to write.
Then there is the narrator, which is me. Or is it? I could be pulling one of those tricky narrator stunts. It’s all up in the air at this point because I’m writing this along as I go.
What else can I tell you? Just start with Chapter One. Then you can catch up and follow along here on in.