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Evelyn C. Fortson

African American Author of Women's Fiction


Of all the cliches or stereotypes about us this one is truer than you know. Yes, we are strong black women because we have had to be to survive, not only for ourselves but for the very survival of our race. After, all America bred us like cattle to ensure that the labor force could survive the harsh elements of nature; and in so doing, we became stronger, in order, to survive nature and the brutality of racist people. We, strong black women worked alongside our male counterparts in the fields, but we were also expected to work the fields shortly after giving birth. We got even stronger when the children that we loved and nurtured were ripped from our embrace for the auction block.

Slavery is over, but the strength that was birthed from that institution is the same strength that allowed us to survive, Sharecropping, Jim Crow, the Ku Klux Klan, and Institutional Racism.

We are oftentimes, the sole or primary provider for our families. We are still working beside our black men in a hostile environment subjective to discrimination intended to break us and keep us “in our place.” Our children are still ripped from our embrace by gang violence, drug and alcohol abuse, depression, police brutality and imprisonment...

We are strong, because if we stopped praying, struggling, nurturing, loving, encouraging, we could not survive life in America.

Yes, we are strong black women, but we are also soft, and vulnerable. There are times that we feel like giving up. There are times that we need to be treated with care, nurtured, and lifted-up. Sometimes we need to be held and told that everything is going to be okay. Sometimes we need to rest when we are tired. We need to cry when we are distressed, and we need to pray always.

Come, closer my sister, let me hold you in my arms while I assure you that everything is going to be okay. Our children are going to be okay; our loved ones are going to be okay, and we are going to be okay.

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One definition of sisterhood is - The association of women with a common interest.

I recently spent a few days with two friends whom I developed a relationship with because of a common interest we share. It blew my mind when I realized that I have known one friend for over 30 years, and the other one for about 15 years.

Our association began because we loved to quilt, and that love for quilting helped us to become friends. As we quilted, we talked about work, our relationships with our spouses, children, siblings, and parents. We talked about everything and anything.

Soon one day of quilting together was not enough time, so we began to vacation together so we could quilt all day and night if we wanted to. Our last get together was only three days, and we shopped more than we quilted. I didn't even take my sewing machines out of the travel case, and we all went to bed early. We sat by the pool in the evening and had cocktails, we reminisced about out days working for Los Angeles Superior Court, and we shared how grateful we were to have made it to retirement.

The thing that brought us together is not the thing that keeps us together now. What keeps us together now is the fact that we were there for each other when parents and siblings died; and when a marriage ended. And because we were there for each other for the birthdays, births of grandkids, marriage, and death we are more than the association of women with a common interest, we are Sisters.

I hope you have women in your lives that are more than associates. I hope you have friends that have become Sisters who are there for you when the sun is shining on you, and when the day had turned into the darkest night.

Do you have friends that are your Sisters? How long have you known them?

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My debut novel, "Bittersweet" is available for purchase via ebooks only. The paperback book will be available 7/20/21. For, those of you that would prefer a physical book I have provided a smidget below to wet your appetite.

The ebook is available on Amazon, Nook by Barnes & Noble, eBooks by Rakuten kobo, hoopla, Gardners, OverDrive and BookBaby. I hope you find the book enjoyable and I would very much appreciate your honest review of the book.


“By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not.” —Song of Solomon 3:1 (KJ)

Chapter One

I had not thought about him for quite some time, but this morning I could not brush my teeth without my thoughts drifting back to the beginning when we first met. I wonder if things would have been different, if I had met Wes before Naomi, would we have survived the rest? I like to believe we would have, but that may be me looking at life through rose-colored lenses again. I was not looking for anything, I just wanted to finally lose my virginity. I was almost 21 years old, and most of the girls I knew had lost their virginity years ago. So, I set out that night to do just that, I had not thought it through any further than lose virginity. I was not ready for the emotional storm that followed. I did not know, then that most women could not separate their physical needs from their emotional ones. No one told me that lust had nothing to do with love. So that night what I thought would be a simple physical act, a lusty thing to be mounted and conquered, turned into something most tender and sweet. A thing to be nurtured and cherished. A thing that you brought home to your parents for them to examine and approve of.

I was completely loss in thought when I noticed the time on the microwave and quickly got up from the table, drinking the last dregs of my coffee, which helped to wash down the peanut butter covered bagel I was eating.

“Ruby, come on honey, lets’ go!” I shout, as I get her out of bed, and grab the clothes she will wear to school and her backpack. Every morning I vow to leave the house in enough time to drop Ruby off at Valeria’s house and drive to the train station without rushing and every morning I am praying that I will not miss the train. After I put Ruby’s clothes and backpack in the car, I remember that I left my cell phone on the charger I go back in the house grab my phone from the charger and run out the front door, locking it before I beep the car door open again. I look up at the early morning sky, which is blue black and dotted with twinkling stars, before getting into the car. Ten minutes later, Ruby jumps out of the car carrying her clothes and backpack. Valeria is used to our harried routine and is waiting at her front door, I wave at Valeria who is shaking her head, and speed off down the street.

The drive down the pass could either be a white-knuckle drive shrouded in thick fog or a relatively calm drive with bumper-to-bumper traffic. By the time I get to the pass the sun is coming up, so the sky is a hazy gray instead of black, the stars have disappeared, and only the faint outline of the moon remains. The mountains look like paper cutouts. The drive is bumper-to-bumper traffic and thankfully no fog. I spend my time in traffic in quiet retrospection. There is a poem, “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” As true as those words are, it is only after the passage of time that you can appreciate the sentiment. Life with Wes was filled with the sweetest pain, What, should have been a time of self-discovery, getting my education and trying to figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, became a time of fulfilling lustful desires, and later time spent trying to pick up the pieces of my life when my fairy tale dreams of happily ever after came crashing down when someone else was having his baby. Even though those years with Wes did not yield the results I wanted and sometimes they felt like wasted years, I am still glad I met him. I just wish it could have turned out differently.

I remember the first night we were together, twenty-seven years ago. It was at a friend’s birthday party. I was hoping he would ask me to dance because I knew his reputation, and my plan that night was to sleep with somebody, anybody. After all it was the 80s; one-night stands were the norm. The party was breaking up and the DJ announced the last song, which was a slow song, I had all but given up on losing my virginity when Wes walked up to me and held out his hand, I put my hand in his and he walked me to the dance floor. Even though I had on high heels I had to look up to see his brown face. I remembered wanting to kiss his lips because they looked so soft, I placed my hands on his broad shoulders, as he placed his hands on my back pressing and grinding our bodies together. I held on to Wes and closed my eyes enjoying the world where only we existed. When the song ended, and the party lights were turned up Wes took my hand and walked toward the exit along with everyone else. He did not ask me if I wanted to go with him, and I did not ask where we were going. When we stepped outside, I saw Gina leaning against a car talking to some guy. I tugged on Wes’s shirt and told him that I needed to let my girlfriend know that I was getting a ride home with him. Gina smiled as she looked over at where Wes was waiting for me. After I got into his car, Wes walked around got in the car, revved up the engine and pulled off in one fluid motion. I leaned back in the seat as the hot wind from the open window brushed against my face and ruffled my hair. Wes looked over at me when I began singing along with the song on the radio and smiled. I was smiling when he turned left on Imperial instead of right because that was not the way to my place. We ended up at his apartment, the living room was sparely furnished and what was there was either black or brown. The carpet was brown, the sofa was brown and coffee table and stereo unit were black. I sat on the couch as he turned the stereo on low and sat next to me, kissing me softly until his soft kisses became urgent and hungry. Wes took me by the hands, pulling me up from the couch, while kissing me he walked me backward into the bedroom. Just as he laid me down on the bed, I saw a baby crib out of my peripheral vision. I knew I should have stopped, but it was too late for that, I feebly said no, but my legs kept opening wider and wider, then I stopped saying no and closed my eyes. In the dark, there was only the two of us and it felt like that was the only thing that mattered. He was so gentle with me manipulating my body until my back arched, and my hips rocked in sync with his strokes. He began slowly like the ocean waves lightly lapping at the sand, then the rain came softly at first; slowly becoming a raging storm, tearing up everything in its path, after the storm broke, he began to access the damage.

“Were you a virgin?”

I nodded yes. He just looked at me and smiled; that is when I noticed that he had dimples, and his smile caused me to smile.

Every time I thought we were done, he would slowly start up again, and my body complied. At one point there was a knock on the front door, but neither one of us acknowledged that we heard it.

When the early morning light filtered through the curtains into the room and the baby’s crib could no longer be ignored, I looked around the room. I could tell that a woman had decorated this room. The pillows on the floor matched the crumpled comforter at the end of the bed. There was a picture of a woman holding a baby, and a picture of Wes with the woman and baby. Just as I was wondering how I was going to get home Wes, asked if I wanted him to run a bath for me. Wes running a bath for me felt like a continuation of his love making. As he ran the bath water, I got out of bed and picked up my clothes. While I was soaking in the bath, I thought okay fine, I finally lost my virginity. I remembered thinking it was not the horror story that so many girls told, about their first time.

Remembering Wes that morning almost made me miss my train. I caught the train just before it pulled out of the station. The Conductor must have been in a good mood because he did not close the beeping door in my face as he has done on other occasions, instead he stood looking at me from the next car waiting for me to board the train. I made it to my courtroom before the Bailiff opened the doors for the attorneys and the public to come in. The Judge had not made it in yet, so being his Judicial Assistant I opened chamber’s door and turned on the light making it look like he was in the building, as I was walking out of chambers my Courtroom Assistant came half running, half walking down the hallway.

“He’s not in yet,” I told her so she could slow down.

“Good. Sorry I woke up late.” Said Frances.

I opened the private door to the courtroom for Frances to enter. Twenty minutes later the Judge buzzed me from chambers to let me know he was in, I told him that we were ready to get started. A few seconds later the Judge enters the courtroom, the Bailiff announce that court is in session and orders everyone to stand to be sworn. I swear in the audience and instruct them to be seated, and the morning calendars begins only stopping for the mandatory court reporter’s break and to allow the audience for the next calendar to enter the courtroom and be sworn. After lunch we continue with the trial in progress that looks like it will last more days then, counsel estimated. Between swearing in witnesses and marking exhibits I continue to work on the minute orders from the morning calendar. At 4:30 p.m. court is recessed the Bailiff watches counsel as they pack wherever they were taking with them, the Courtroom Assistant stores the exhibit books in the file cabinet and set up the courtroom for the next day as I grab my purse, phone, travel pillow, my lunch bag and power walk down the back hallway connected to the Judge’s chambers and began the walk to the subway station. At Union Station I join the cattle stampede of people trying not to miss their connections from the subway to the train disembarking when I get to my depot. Three hours later, I was sitting in my family room sipping my cinnamon whiskey on the rocks. Why was the past pushing its way into my thoughts today? It began this morning and was only interrupted by work, on the long train ride I was able to escape the memories because my train buddy and I talked all the way to my stop. On the drive home I called Nate and told him about my day, and he told me about his. I was almost at Valeria’s house by the time we got off the phone. It was not until after dinner was prepared, consumed and Ruby was in her room on the phone with Danisha that thoughts of Wes came flooding back to me. If Nate, was at home instead of on the road maybe they could have been dismissed, like so many times before, but I knew I would have to deal with the memories that pursued me all day. I sat in the family room, sipping my whiskey resigning myself to the inevitable reliving of the past.

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