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: https://www.theantonymmag.com/halka-hata-leona-cicone/

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: https://www.theantonymmag.com/the-antonym-december-flash-fiction-contest-announcement/

Time Together

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.

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

The One of Many Songs – A free Verse Poem by Leona

My makeup made my mouth

Pucker into a poised position

It was the ritual and the rhyme

That gave way to meaning 

And song

Repeating motions and movements

Alarm rings at seven

Moisturize my melting memories

Again and again

Singing songs of early morning sanctuary

My mouth moving minutely

With avid recollection

That I have been here before

Mirror, mirror made to marvel

How does your garden grow?

Brushing my hair and realizing that

It’s time to leave

I remember the light laughs of love

That were yesterday’s song

What once was, has been

And I return to the many songs

Time turning in a ticular triangle

For I have been here before

Haibun Challenge – A Haibun by Leona

Feelings of cheer and hope fill my heart. It has been busy. I keep spending time in the car with my hands on the wheel. I turn this way and that to arrive to say hello. Life has been going fast. In between moments, I am at the mall with crowds of other faces picking out chocolates. I want two mocha truffles and four caramel filled candies. In the mornings, my routine doesn’t change as I walk around with my dog and look at the sky clouds. Will it snow this year? My cheeks are cold from the air and a bit sore from smiling. The soreness isn’t bad as I hug my friend from church and wish her a “Merry Christmas”. It has been a hard year but a good year, filled with many magical memories. Finally, I set up my Charlie Brown Christmas tree and wrap the last present with brown paper and string. I wonder about the waiting and anticipating. How we prepare and prepare for this season to come. Gingerbread and ham sit on the stove in my mother’s apartment. She has set up twinkling lights on her balcony. It is a special time of year.

It wasn’t always this way

Different traditions now

Merry Christmas, love


This haibun was inspired by the Haibun Wednesday Challenge at the Go Dog Go Cafe!

Muse of romance – A Free Verse Poem by Leona

The blushing bells and

Scented hues

Of your smile

As if to say

“Will you dance with me

Tonight?”

May this outstretched

And hungry 

Hand

Caress and condone

Your shy spirit

To a land of dreams

My pastel lavender

Love

I spoke about you

Before I knew your name

And now I know you now

Be my angel

Starling 

Kiss

To hold dear

My tattered hands and

Aching arms

“Will you dance with me

tonight?”


“The one with the beautiful voice”- A Free Verse Poem by Leona

Soft whisper touches begin

And I hear the melody

All of earth tilts

Halts

As you bring to life your song

Harmony harbors hope in my heart

And I listen to the lulling

All of me melts

Moves

As you sing again a new tune

.

Oh if only 

I could

Live

Under the 

The beautiful

Spell

Of your

Voice 

Until

Eternity

Ends

My Calliope


I have decided to write poems inspired by the Greek Muses! This is something I will work on when I have time and in between other challenges and fiction writing. I am just trying to continue to grow and stretch.

Haibun Wednesday – A Go Dog Go Cafe Challenge

In the early morning hours, I heard the pattering feet from the kittens running in my neighbors apartment. I smell roses as I wash my face. The cool water warming to my routine. Then I notice the clouded skies and hear the crow caw. The kids are being picked up by the school bus, it’s yellow color heralding the morning. The grays and browns of the trees seem subtle and welcoming as I walk my dog. There is a small frost on the grass and I notice a speckled sparrow by the lonely evergreen.

Charming clouds that cover

Warm and cool moments are calm

And I see a bird


This haibun is inspired by Haibun wednesday at the Go Dog Go Cafe!

Audio Book – A Short Story by Leona

The whirl of the cassette player was a comforting sound. Elena had let the player spin even though she needed to flip the cassette. It was such a hassle to get up. Lifting her body and then moving her legs. She liked the sound of the twirling mechanical pieces. She had just finished the second part of her favorite story, Pride and Prejudice. She played the cassette because it was her favorite audio version of the story. Her daughter was always telling her to buy a new CD player and “modernize”. It was always that way with her kids. Elena lifted her body to get up from the chair. Her doorbell rang.

“Coming!” Elena called. One, two, three! She pushed herself up. The doorbell rang again. Hmpf! Elena called again.

“Coming!” she said. “You bastard,” she said under her breath. If it was her daughter, she would have let herself in. So it must be someone new. Someone Elena didn’t know. She always disliked new people at her door. She shuffled over and stopped the cassette then went to address the doorbell. 

“Hallo?” She cracked the door slightly. A pink bunny. That’s what she saw. No, there was more too.

“Hello! Are you Mrs. Thomas?” a woman said from behind the giant pink bunny stuffed animal. “This is a delivery for you. I just need you to sign.” The pink monstrosity got closer. 

“I didn’t order anything like that.” Elena said. But the pink was too much so she backed up and let the girl inside. The delivery girl put down the giant bunny and held out a clipboard. 

“Sign here.” she said.

“Who is this from?” Elena asked. Who in their right mind sent her this stupid bunny? It was egregious. 

“Hmm, it says it’s from Mr. Darcy. Does that name sound familiar?” the girl asked.

Elene blinked. Mr. Darcy? She smiled and started to laugh. Clearly someone was playing a joke on her. But only someone who knew her well. The girl didn’t even realize Mr. Darcy was fictional.

“Oh, yes.: Elena said. “That name sounds familiar. I guess I will have to find a place for this terrible thing.”

The girl tipped her hat and closed the door. Elena and the bunny stood in the entryway. It was too big for her to lift. How did that girl carry it in here? Elena dragged the bunny to the living room. She put the next tape into the cassette and sat down.

“There is also one other person in the party,” he continued after a pause, “who more particularly wishes to know you.”


I like to listen to audio books each day. This sotry was, in part, ispired by my personal hobby. I was also trying out a situational story and tried to imagine how the character would react. It was a fun short story to write. Now I’m back to try and finish a different short story. Wish me luck!