Confessions of a working woman. – #memoir #writing by Leona

It feels a lot longer than just a month since I’ve written. Days feel like months and weeks like years. Maybe if I die tomorrow they will become that. I have been holding back my writing because I am afraid. Always afraid. It’s a running theme with me. 

On a bright Tuesday morning, I sang a few songs as I drove into work. As I arrived I wondered if today would feel any different than the day before. Will I have an epiphany to leave it all behind and start a new life somewhere else? 

At this point in my life, I see all the strings that I have left about and how they weave in and out of people, places and things. The longer I stay, the more these strings tangle and stretch making it hard to leave and cut loose. I see how I have weaved these small threads around to where I am now and it seems hard to go. 

At work, the fluorescent light above me in the lunchroom flickers and makes reading almost impossible. I put down my book and decided to start small talk with my coworker. We talk about our favorite holidays and types of candy. I wonder if you can see on my face that I cried in the bathroom 2 hours earlier.

The stall is dark and smells too strongly of air freshener. The air freshener comes in blue pods that look like marbles and are sticky to touch. My hand covers my mouth as I stifle a small cry. The tears are hot against my cheeks. I know why I am sad and crying. It should help to let it all out but I feel even worse as I sit on the beige toilet and try to collect myself. 27 years old and I am crying on the toilet in my work bathroom. Maybe it’s a new low, maybe it’s a weird new high. I can only hope.

“I think we are going to need more yellow toner,” my coworker remarks from across the office. I stop listening to the music in my earbud and wonder if she wants me to respond.

“We are going to need more yellow toner?” I ask recreating each word back to make sure I heard her correctly. It’s something I do a lot; I double-check that people are telling me the things they wanted to say. I find that many people ask questions without formulating them as full thoughts before beginning their sentence. It makes it difficult to follow conversations.

I remember thinking that I must have missed something. I missed hidden words that others knew but I didn’t. It drove me crazy that other people seemed to be able to pick up this language with little to no problem. Even now, as an adult, I sometimes find myself asking lots of clarifying questions. People can assume I am dumb or not listening but its because many people don’t speak their minds. They jump to conclusions and half sentences. Statements with words hanging off. It’s not a bad thing but can become problematic as then I am left with interpretation from my own brain.

My dog runs up to me as I enter the house. He jumps up and tries to nip my fingers playfully. His energy becomes my own as I lean down to pet him. The soft fur and wriggling body are funny to me. I laugh. Somewhere in the apartment, I hear a soft meow from my sister’s cat. It seems like the world has risen and fallen since my morning cup of coffee.

Bus Ride- A Short Story by Leona

Giovani grabbed his hat and stuffed it into his pocket. Time to get to work. He grabbed the data card from the cartridge by his door and tucked it into his wrist piece. The screen on his wrist lit up and showed that it had a full battery. Messages and company ads started to appear on the screen. Giovani shut the screen off and plodded through the door. He looked back before closing the door and saluted his augmented reality dog, Pepper, who was laying on his couch. 

“See ya pal,” Giovani said. The dog blinked and stretched his paws. Giovani closed the door.

In the street, Giovani found people moving through the early morning bustle of the city. The City of Ashes was a mid tier outpost on the Southern continent. It was a major exporter of raw material such as natural gas and sugar. People had been farming the continent for centuries. When he was 13, Giovanni arrived with his family. His father had believed that the move from the capital would give his children a better life. It was up for debate whether or not this was true. Giovanni made his way to the crowded bus stop. Various people were milling around waiting for the bus to arrive. He noticed a fellow farm hand was at the station and shuffled through a group of older ladies.

“Scuse me, ma’am” he said. 

He had bumped the lady’s bag. She turned and hissed in a foriegn language. Giovani recognized it as a capital language. He couldn’t really remember much after moving to the Southern Continent. He said nothing and held up his hands. The older lady grabbed her bag and pulled it tightly against her chest. Her large Victorian skirt swirled and her pinched face soured. Capital tourists sometimes found their way to the south. Giovani never knew why they came, but every season always brought a hoard of gaping eyes. The capital tourists always wore archaic looking clothes and too many layers. The lady was sweating at her temples and forehead. She blinked and Giovaini moved past. It was better not to interact with the tourists. It was better to just pretend he didn’t understand.

“Mate!” called Giovani’s friend, Tire. He lightly punched his shoulder. 

“Making friends?” Tire asked.

“You know it.” Giovani said, “Everywhere I go.” He smirked. Seeing Tire always put him in a good mood. His wrist device buzzed.

“A lover calling?” Tire ogled. His eyebrows raised.

“Ah!” said Giovani. “Just another stupid ad.” He swiped the advertisement and shrugged. “They love me I guess.”

“You know,” said Tire “one day you’re gonna win the lottery and never know cause all you do is swipe away those ads” 

“Ha! You bozo. Nothing like that will ever happen.” Giovani said

“You never know my friend. Luck is a mysterious mistress.” Tire smiled. “Looks like the bus has arrived.”

The huge commuter bus pulled up to the stop. It was a sleek black monstrosity that had the words “City of Ashes” painted in white across the side. The letters had faded and some of the paint had peeled. With the help of some graffiti, the bus now read “Shitty of Asses”. But the bus driver, Gregor, thought it was the funniest thing ever and so he never got the company to repaint it. The bus came to a stop and the doors swung open. The driver’s loud voice welcomed them.

“Good Moooorning Asses!” Gregor shouted into the com device. “Time to make money!”

Giovani and Tire piled onto the bus with all the other commuters. He made special care to avoid the tourist lady and found his way to the second story of the bus. He made sure to buckle his seat and Tire slipped in next to him.

“Still think you’ll never win the lottery?” Tire said while buckling up.

“You bet.” Giovani said and closed his eyes. He braced himself for the bus ride. The seat smelled of oil and sickly sweet. He could hear people scrambling to buckle before the launch. The speaker blared with Gregor’s voice.

“Are you folks ready for the ride of your liiiiife?” His baritone voice scooped with each vowel. The bus rattled. Giovani felt his seat rumble and his body suddenly braced against the seat. The bus surged forward. He felt a pressure build in his chest as they moved at a breakneck speed to the next stop.

Gregor’s voice sounded above the roar of the bus, “Keep your asses in your seat!!”

I had a lot of fun with this piece. Its always fun to write short little vignettes. Let me know what you think. Short stroy writing is still something I am experimenting with and trying to get better at, so I’d love to hear your feeback!

Madame B. – A Short Story by Leona

So, let me tell you straight. In my neighborhood, there is this lady, you see. Her name is Madame Bevere. No one knows why we all call her ‘Madame”. We just do. It seems to be like some code or honor. Not really sure. But that’s besides the point. I want to tell you more about her. 

Madame Bevere had these crazy stories that she started telling me when I was a kid. When mom would go do some errands, she would leave me with Madame B. I would play in her backyard which had a pond and trees. A real nice garden and all, but a bit overgrown. Honestly though, it was perfect to play in. Stuff that you remember when you’re older cause at the time it felt so magical. Anyway, one day while I was out playing and I lifted a rock to find a salamander. But this lizard was odd colored with light skin, like, almost white. So, I ran and told Madame B. You know what she said?

She started off on this crazy story about how she and her then boyfriend had defeated a gigantic white lizard. It was so crazy that I had to listen. Like, a story that you want to believe in. Then Madame told me all about her adventure. Being lost in the woods, going into a cave to then stumbling upon the white lizard’s lair. She said what tamed the beast was her excellent rodeo skills. Apparently back in the day, Madame competed at the rodeo and won high trophies for her success. So all she had to do was pretend that the snake was a bull. And that was that. Finito.

Now whenever I see a lizard at the zoo or some weird snake, I think of Madame B. She seemed to have a story for every occasion and every situation. Made you wonder if it was all real or not. But, you know, I like to believe she had some truths to her stories. Cause what’s life without a little magic, right?

This story was inspired by a pictore from Visual Verse. I would highly recommend for any writers to check out this online journal. It is a great way to kickstart your creativity. For this piece, I wanted to have a very colloquial tone, almost as if it was a conversation transcribed. I love that idea of hearing a character’s voice in your head, as if you are sitting down with them at a coffee shop.

Earthseed- A Free Verse Poem by Leona

Calming waters bring to mind

The changing seasons

Time to move

Time to harvest

Time to move

Time to rest

Replacing vowels and consonants

With singing melodies

To the future generations

As it were

Move to time

Harvest to move

Move to Time

Rest to Move

I painted with the birch tree

Sapling branches

Leaving memories and names

Of the way the world shifts

Between our feet

Time to move

Time to harvest

Time to move

Time to rest

Reaching down to cover the earth

With your body

Laying down prayers and whispers

Of ancient spells

For the tomorrow people

Will not have forgotten

our names

pra babcia – a Free Verse Poem by Leona

You ran across the ocean

Feet stepping on

Cresting waves

To arrive to another shore

They did not know you

They did not see you

You brought your hat,

Shoes, glass rosary

Praying to the Holy Mary

Clasping hands and smelling salts

They did not know you

They did not see you

Make way for the new faces

Washing sheets and sewing skirts

You found love on the stairway

Waving your hands in glee

They did not know you

They did not see you

You lived across the ocean

You never visited your homeland

Cresting waves

Falling times

I did not know you

I did not see you

This poem is inspired by my Polish great Grandmother. She immigrated to the US when she was just 20 and lived the rest of her life in this country. I love hearing about my great grandmother’s story and how she lived her life. I wish I could ask her about why she left and came to a country far away. Lots of questions, lots of wondering and trying to think about my own desire to leave my homeland and live far away.

Magnolia Blossoms – a Short Story by Leona

Maybe it was the way he always laughed. Or the open eyed smile that made my heart rush. I would blink thinking that he would disappear but there Abisani stood, tall and steady. 

Abisani arrived in March. Through the refugee office, he and his family were given a house next to my family home. His family came from Eritrea. He said they ran and ran until it led them to my small hometown in the US. Abisani arrived after my mother died. A cold dark November evening.

Maybe it was the way he waited for me to talk. Or the way his hand rested on my shoulder, never asking for me to be anything else.

I had dark days and long nights before Abisani and his family arrived. The sky seemed to change without me noticing. Day after day. My father said I should ask for help. I just didn’t care. My mother’s things still lined the bedroom and her books were still in the library. 

“Kayla, are you ready for our walk?” Abisani asked, breaking me from my thoughts. I noticed the cuff of his blue jacket was slightly upturned. 

I fixed it and said, “Yes, I want to see the blossoms.”

“You know it might be too early for them. Sometimes they don’t happen until later.” He took my hand and led me outside.

I had forgotten how wonderful the sunshine felt in the spring. My skin was cooled by the air and simultaneously warmed by the sun’s rays. I wanted to laugh, it felt so lovely. 

“You know,” I said to Abisani.  “I think there will be a blossom just from me.”

He squeezed my hand. “I hope so too.”

“My mom loved the spring flowers. She would-” my voice cracked. It was all too soon. Too fast and too slow. I wished that time would stop but then ramp up to lightning speed all at once. Then I wouldn’t have to remember. I could fast forward or pause. But the sun kept rising and setting at its pace. 

“What colors were her favorites?” Abisani asked.

“Purple.” I said, “She loved anything purple, lilacs, tulips, and irises”.

I remember the small flowers on her bed sheets. They were so small. And yet, that’s all I could remember. I stared at those flowers for hours unwilling to look my mother in the eye. I blinked.

“Oh! Here they are.” Abisani said. 

We had walked to the end of the block on our street. The trees that lined the way were still clinging to the buds unwilling to let us see their beauty. As we turned the corner, we saw the magnolia tree at the entrance to the park. Like a herald of good news, the tree stood with a few blossoms on the lower branches. Soft creamy petals with pinks and magentas. I didn’t mind that there were only a handful of flowers. They made me happy. 

“Let’s go over and see if they smell good.” I said marching toward the tree. Abisani filed next to me. He had a magical way of always matching my steps. He had a mysterious way of always knowing when to grab my hand. 

“You know my mother says petals bring good luck. I don’t think it’s true.” Abisani said. He started to reach out to one of the blossoms.

“Wait!” I said and grabbed his hand. It was slightly chilled in the April morning air. He looked at me and paused.

Maybe it was the way he always listened to me and intuitively knew what I was trying to say. Maybe it was his warm skin, deep brown eyes and slightly crooked smile.

“Close your eyes,” I said. I closed my eyes and hoped Abisani had followed me. 

“Now take a deep breath.” I said. I breathed in and tried to take in all the different smells. The cold spring air, slightly damp. The sweet smell of the magnolia blossom.  Honey almost. The sun flooded my eyes and I blinked them open.

Abisani was still standing, eyes closed taking it all in. 

Maybe it was the way Abisani understood loss. He has lost his homeland and I lost my mother. But we found each other. Maybe it was the way he didn’t let sadness consume him. He said that it washed him and washing was good for the soul. Maybe that was why we loved being close.

“Open your eyes,” I said. Abisani blinked and said nothing for we were content to watch the blossoms sway in the slight breeze.

The Antonym December Flash Fiction Contest Finalist- Halka Hata by Leona Cicone

I am excited to share a short story of mine that has been chosen as a finalist for a flash fiction contest!

Read the story here:

A side note, in the same week this story was accepted another was declined. It has given me a certain perspective on the perseverance of the artist. I share these pieces because I am proud of them but also because I hope you can feel inspired to create your own art and feel emboldened to share it with the world. You don’t need to be “the chosen one” to be creative. You don’t need to make money from your art to call yourself an artist/writer/poet/musician. Instead you can create and enjoy your craft for the sake that it’s wholly and solely yours.

If you would like to read the other finialists, look here:

Time Together- A Short Story by Leona

My lips feel chapped against the grain of my multi-colored scarf. You had given it to me so long ago, I forgot if it was for my birthday or for Christmas. I muddle through the crowded street and pushed my way to our apartment.

Stamping my feet and shaking off the snow, I enter our warm home. Your cat sits on the chair in the corner and I say. 

“Hello Arnold”

I always wondered why you named your cat Arnold. It reminds me of that character from that one tv show we both watched as kids. I don’t remember the title any more. Was it really just called “Hey Arnold”?

I hang my coat in the coat closet where it belongs and pick up the mail that you left in the entryway. You never want to look at all the junk mail so you make me do it. For some reason, you always feel the necessity to open up every letter even when it is clearly just junk mail. I remember coming home once to find scattered papers everywhere with you sitting in the middle carefully reading a credit card promotion. It was this way with you sometimes. You would get so fixated as if you didn’t mind that you distracted yourself with something really tedious. I smile at the memory.

“Kerry?” I hear you call. “Is that you?”

“Hey babe” I say as I walk to the kitchen. I see you are by the stove cooking a delicious smelling dish. It always surprises me how much you like to cook. I mean, I love cooking but in my experience I hadn’t met someone who loved it more than me. Well, that is to say before I met you. You turn to face me and smile. 

“My sweet.” You say as you catch me in your arms. I am still surprised at being able to hug you so freely and being near you so often. I squeeze back and enjoy your warm embrace. My arms start to pull away but you tighten your grip. 

“Gotta catch’em all” you say in my ear. It’s so ridiculous I just laugh. My body is buzzing against your chest. We stand still for a few moments and I hear the hissing of water boiling on the stove.

“The pasta!” You suddenly pull away. I am still smiling.

“Can’t let the pasta boil over, Chef Tegan.” I peek around you to see the water has indeed started to boil over the pot. I grab a checkered towel from the counter and start to wipe around the pot.

“No no!”, You shoo me away. “Back, back. Milady does not need to assist the poor peasant boy in the kitchen.”

“But what if I want to help my farm boy?” I say, slightly pouting. 

Your eyes twinkle and you wink at me. I think it’s both charming and hilarious how you wink at me even when we are alone in the house. As if there is some ghost that might be listening and we need them not to catch our inside joke. 

“Ahh but even the farm boy must do as you wish and this morning you wished for delicious pasta primavera. I must continue for milady.” You say.

“Then I bid you A-Dieu” I say and turn to leave the kitchen. Picking up the mail, I put all of it in the trash and I grab a cup of water. I turn to leave.

“No parting kiss for your farm boy?” You say while stirring the pasta on the stove. You are so funny, it’s one of the many reasons we are in love.

“As you wish,” I lean into your expecting lips. “You are ridiculous and it’s everything I love about you” I whisper into your ear. As I pull back, I see the blush on your cheeks. It makes my heart jump. How you manage to make me feel so alive is still a mystery to me. But it’s a mystery I don’t mind never solving, as long as you are by my side.

Earth and Me

I sing again

It was the first morning of my 27th day

And I believed that I found

The fire

The soul

Can you relate to me the words

That fill my heart?

I dreamed in technicolor rays

The ancient smoke of tribes gone by

Where I pilfer their lands

Do I do justice to this earth

Her wavy arms extending

The ancestors prayed for peace and fair


I long to rest

East in the moments of the in between

And I remember the names

Of all those who have died

I sit

Tied to the chair

As I repeat the thousand and one


To ease their weary souls

The drumming and calling

Becomes and echo in my chest

Reverberating through


I don’t believe in

My body longs to


Hands still need mud and bread

To feed the 

Earthly children

Voices of the past remind me

To live with truth in my eyes

And to sing until my

Lungs are gone

How the mother cared for us

In this world

How we need to protect her

How she died for us

It wasn’t an easy


To remember your own 

Date of birth

As the form required

But I spit with 

Blue and red flaming tongues

Of fire to burn away

All the weariness

Of my soul

Wasn’t Afraid – A Free Verse Poem by Leona

I think that I dreamed of another world last night

It tasted like ice cream and yellow

Lights danced in greens and blues

I looked outside to see the sky was red

But I wasn’t afraid

This other land gave me shivers

And I felt hollow

Without you

The air I breathed didn’t hurt

Or give me a sickness in my lungs

I looked to find the seagulls lived

Rather on the treetops

But I wasn’t afraid