Open the Box and Release the Gift

Fifteen years ago, I sat across from a principal who was interviewing me. He asked, “Where do you see yourself 15 years from now?” I didn’t hesitate at all when I answered that question. I knew the answer because it was the only one I had. I proudly stated, “I see myself right where I am today, in the classroom teaching.” That’s what I saw and that’s what I meant. I couldn’t see anything else for me other than what I saw growing up, so it made sense that that’s the life I would have too, right? WRONG!

Years later, something happened. I wish I could tell you exactly when it happened and what caused it to happen, but all I know is it happened and my life hasn’t been the same since. One day, the walls were removed and I was able to visualize a life for myself outside of the classroom. Maybe it was when I was promoted to Reading Coach. Maybe it was that move that showed me there’s more to my life than being in the classroom. It took me a while, but I soon discovered that the classroom was actually my clutch. It was my comfort zone. I wanted to stay there forever because that’s where I felt safe. The children didn’t judge or critique me. In their eyes, I knew everything. Whatever I gave that day was good enough for them, but once I stepped out I realized there was so much more I needed to learn, to do, to see, and experience, and I was ready for it all.

In 2009, I wrote my first novel, “Dirty Little Secrets.” It’s amazing how you start out doing one thing, and just when you think you finally know what God’s calling you to do, BAM something happens that takes you on a whole new turn. When I was in the classroom I thought, This is it. This is what I’m supposed to do for the rest of my life. Then I published Dirty Little Secrets and I thought, No the classroom wasn’t it. This is it. Writing novels is what I’m supposed to do for the rest of my life. So, at that moment I decided this is what I want to do. I want to spend my time writing and selling novels.

Well, that was all good for a while, but then something happened. God gave me the idea and the name to start this blog. Initially, if you ever feel like scrolling back to the beginning, you’ll see that it started off with general, motivational posts that then turned into a blog series. Secrets From the Bayou was supposed to be a weekly blog series. I thought I was supposed to write and publish these weekly posts and something amazing would happen from them. When I thought something amazing, I was really thinking more like, I’d gain more readers AMAZING, not I’m filming based on my blog AMAZING!

Some days it still doesn’t feel real. I can’t even begin to describe the feeling I get seeing others acting out the words I’d once held in my head. Very few people get to see their words come to life and I don’t take that for granted at all. 

I thought this is it! I want to write and produce films for the rest of my life. This is what I’m supposed to do, but then…. something happened again. I found myself coaching more and more people through writing their novels. I LOVED it! I love everything about teaching, motivating, and writing so I guess it made sense for me to love teaching writing. I invested in myself and signed up for a coaching program that would help start my own program. I had the teaching part down pat, Southern University and EBR Parish School System, prepared me for that part, but the business side was different. I needed help. I finally understood that if I wanted it, I had to be willing to sacrifice and pay the price. 

Today, I’m still filming, still writing, and now about to launch my coaching program. Throughout this journey I found myself doing the same thing I did all those years ago as I sat across from that principal. I was placing myself in a box. I thought novels was it, I thought filming was it, but then coaching came along and I realized I deserve to use all my skills. I’m not saying what’s it. I’m opening myself to whatever new adventure God brings my way. 

Where do I see myself in 15 years? Exactly where God needs me to be!


A Life Worth Living

There’s so much I could say about this lady… my friend… my writing partner… my Sissy! One week ago today, God held out his hand and she took hold and allowed Him to lead her back home. A place where she no longer has to suffer. She no longer has to worry about doctor visits or bad reports. She is free to live with her Master. The God who created her and the God she spent her life serving. If you know nothing else about Tanishia Pearson-Jones, you know that she was a faithful believer and there was nothing anyone could say that would cause her to doubt God’s love for her. When the pain increased, so did her faith.

I spoke to her the day after she’d taken the picture above. She said, “Sissy, I got my report and it doesn’t look good.” Before I could respond she continued. “The tumors are back and it’s inoperable. I was having a rough day, but I decided to go ahead with my photo shoot. My body was full of cancer, but I didn’t want to show it. I wanted people to see the God in me and the God in me don’t look like cancer.”

We hear people say all the time, “I’m so glad I don’t look like what I’ve BEEN through,” but it’s a lot different to say “I’m so glad I don’t look like what I’m GOING through.” The picture above is a true example of a child of God, who was deteremined not to look like the diagnosis she’d just received. She looked beautiful, flawless, peaceful, joyful… everything a child a God should look like. Tanishia was handed a death sentence. We all know that inoperable means there’s nothing more we can do to help you. How can someone who knows that death is a great possibility sooner than later, still get up, get dressed, pose in front of a camera and smile like nothing’s wrong? I know the answer to that million dollar question…GOD. 

You’d have to know God the way Tanishia knew God to be able to do that. The walk she walked, the trials she endured, the pain she suffered, wasn’t for the weak or the mild, it was only for the strong and I can tell you with great assurance that Tanishia Pearson-Jones was one of the strongest women I’d ever met. She was young, just turned 36 on October 19th, but she had an old soul. She reminded me so much of my grandmother who’d take in anyone in need. Tanishia gave birth to two children, but she was a mother to many. Someone posted that she made everyone feel as though they were her best friend and that’s so true. We’d only had a few conversations before she started calling me “sissy.” She knew that term would make me feel special like I played a major role in her life, I know she played a big role in mine. 


I believe there are two big lessons we can learn from Tanishia, way more than two actually, but for the sake of your time and the length of this blog, I’ll keep it at two:)

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1. Always trust God. No matter what. Trust His decisions and His timing. Trust that even when the answer is no, it’s still for your good.  As you can see from our inbox message, Tanishia made it clear she knew how to fight. She fought with prayer and the word of God. 

2.  Stop talking and start working. Tanishia worked hard at her house, in her church, in her community, and in the literary world. She was always doing something, but the one thing she really wanted was to write her own book. So many days we laughed about doing everything except what we should be doing…writing! She thought she had time. She was going to finish her book and start speaking about her journey. Those were her plans, but God’s plans were different. Thankfully, Tanishia did finish writing, and as she requested, Joyce and I will carry the torch to the finish line. You’ll get to read about her journey in her words. 


Tanishia sent this to me. We had plans. But so did God. 

James 4:14-15 

14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.    
15 For that ye ought to sayIf the Lord will*, we shall liveand do this, or that. 



We thought we had time. I’m sure you’re thinking the same thing too. The truth is,  as the scripture clearly points out, none of us know.

Do what you can do while you can do it. 


When Did You Die?

For the record, no I haven’t lost my mind. No, I didn’t make a mistake. Yes, I meant to ask that question, and yes I really want an answer. Do you know when it happened? Was it all of a sudden or gradually? 

For me, I’d say it happened gradually over time. One day, I looked around and realized I wasn’t living, and as far as I know, the opposite of life is death. Now, of course, I don’t mean death in the physical sense but more in the mental sense. The fun died. The excitement died. Your life, like mine, felt like it was on constant rewind. Today felt the same as yesterday. 

I wake up, go to work, come home, cook, help with homework, go to bed and wake up again and do it all over. Sounds exciting right? Well, it wasn’t, but it was routine, and it was comfortable because I knew exactly, or at least had a close idea, of what the next day would bring. Some things, of course, I couldn’t predict, but what I could control remained the same. 

Do you know when I realized I’d died mentally? When I started writing my novel Dirty Little Secrets. This novel was about a schoolteacher, which I was then, but when I was planning the novel, the thought came that she had to have something going on in her life. Her life COULD NOT be like mine because, let’s face it, who wants to read about me teaching, cooking, and sleeping. I know I wouldn’t want to read that. However, just to be clear, I also don’t wish for the life of Holly James either, the main character in my book. She had more drama than this little country girl could handle LOL!

So, plotting the book showed me that my comfortable life was quite boring, but that wasn’t all. Writing that book gave me a new feeling. I was stepping into unfamiliar territory, and it was scary, yet very exciting. My mind was experiencing something new and different, and though there was some push back and hesitation in the beginning, that changed the more I wrote. Before I knew it, I’d finished the book and found myself agreeing to do book signings and speaking at different events. I went from no calendar at all to a full calendar of events for ME, not for my husband and not things I needed to do with the children, but something I enjoyed. 

Standing in front of a crowd of people was something else that was new for me. Up until then, my audience consisted of little people all under the age of 10. In their eyes I was smart, sometimes funny, most of the times mean, but they loved me anyway :). They were my comfort, but they weren’t the people I was talking to about Dirty Little Secrets. No, these were grown people…my peers. People who could judge me and talk about me if I messed up. I was sooooo scared, but again soooooo excited. 

I guess what I’m trying to say in this very long blog is that it’s time that you evaluate your life, and if you’re on constant rewind, then do something different. Something scary. Something exciting. Something that reminds you that you’re not dead. You’re very much ALIVE, so start LIVING!


Tired of the Lies!

I’m tired of the lies I’ve been feeding myself all these years! “I don’t have time” “I don’t have the money” “I don’t know enough” “People are going to question my ability.” ALL LIES! At least some of them are lies. People may question my ability but WHO CARES? As long as I believe in me.

This summer has been a summer of transformation for me. I’ve stretched myself in my business and personal life to uncover the lies I’ve told myself. I’ve worked through most of them, and still working through some of them, to reveal the me that God designed me to be. The new me understands the importance of pushing past the excuses to get the results I desire.

Let’s face it, there’s always going to be a million reasons why we shouldn’t step into something new. I now know that there’s a logical explanation to our thinking.  I’ve learned that the brain is trained to keep us in a comfortable place. Once we try something new, or think about trying something new, the brain says “Hold up! What’s this new thing you’re trying to get me to do? Oh no! We don’t have time for that!” (In my brain speaking voice).

It’s up to us to recognize that the brain is simply doing it’s job to keep us safe and comfortable. The only problem is that growth doesn’t happen during comfort. We have to push ourselves until the brain starts to work with us instead of against us. Have you heard of people who once hated working out, but they kept doing it anyway? Before long they found that what they once dreaded they now crave. That’s how the brain works. It realize that this new thing isn’t so bad after all.

Now, it’s your job to let go of the excuses and get to work. Even if you don’t feel like it…do it anyway! Push past the mental lies until your brain and your body are working together to get you where you deserve to be!


Update: Secrets From the Bayou

Heyyyyy Y’all!!!!! (don’t you just love that country twang 🙂 I know it’s been a minute, but believe me I think of you all every Tuesday. We’re bonded by the Bayou for life :)! My son told me I need to post something or you all may forget that I’m writing. You haven’t forgotten that I’m working on something big have you? I sure hope not, but being the great listener that I am, I decided to take heed to my child’s advice (he’s wise beyond his years) and tell you all what’s going on so far.

Well, we’ve finish casting all our roles for the Secrets From the Bayou web series, well not quite all but all the ones I need so far. I’m finding the plot continues to thicken the more I write, which means more roles to cast…but not right now. Anyway, back to my point, the actors/actresses are better than anything I could’ve expected or asked for. These people are talented beyond belief and I’m not just saying that, it’s the truth. Many of them aren’t new to film. They’ve been a part of some major drama series, and to know that they see something in my work that makes them want to be a part of it too, is simply amazing.

I have to say, when I dove into this journey I had no idea the amount of work (and I mean WORK) that goes on behind the scenes before production even begins. It’s a lot, but I’m enjoying every minute of this learning process. It’s hard to describe how it feels seeing your words and the images in your head, being displayed for all to see. Every day that I work on this series feels like a dream. I’ve prepared for this moment without really knowing. I’ve taken script writing workshops and studied scripts as I’ve watched the shows, but I did all of that to improve my writing as an author. Sure, I knew one day I wanted my books to be turned into movies (who wouldn’t?), but I figured someone else would be doing it. I thought my job was done after I wrote the books. I had no idea that was just a small piece of the puzzle God had planned for my life.

I know this is from Him because all the help had to come from him. The doors that were opened had to be opened by him. People are willing, able, and oh so ready to do whatever it takes to help me get this show rolling and I know, without shadow of a doubt, that’s from HIM!

I could literally go on and on about this project and how much I’m loving it, but because you all have a life outside of reading this blog, I’ll go ahead and bring it to an end. Did I mention how much I miss you all? I really do. You made me laugh each week with your comments about the story lines and the characters. All I can say is if you like the blog, you’re going to LOVE the web series. Seriously! I’m not just saying that because I wrote it. It’s reallyyyyy good :).

Okay, I promised to end so here goes. (Read this part really fast so I can be true to my word…ending now 🙂 Thank you all for all your continued support! Don’t forget I do have a new book out, Double Down and Dirty by L.A. Lewis. Check it out if you hadn’t had a chance to read it. It’s available anywhere books are sold online.

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Blog Series

Blog #10: Back Down Memory Lane


I watched the woman I loved with everything in me, the same woman who made me forget who I was and where I’d come from. Nadia brought out a  part of me I never knew existed. Up until our reunion I was always known as the diffuser…the voice of reason… the one people flocked to for comfort and understanding. All those good qualities vanished when she re-entered my world. When we dated in high school, I understood my role very well. I was the filler. I knew that and I accepted it because even being the filler was fulfilling for me, at least for a while. Eventually, that got old. Being her go-to person when she had nothing better to do. Yeah, after a month of playing that role I wanted more. I’d planned to tell her everything the day she called me to the woods. I was going to pour my soul out to her and hoped she’d say she felt the same way, but when I arrived, and saw her lying in the dirt, all my words fell to the ground. I nearly fainted when I saw all the blood that covered her clothes. This is why she called me. She needed me. I picked her up,took her to my truck and drove like a bat out of hell to the hospital. She was very weak, but still able to talk. I hung onto each word and nearly crashed into the car in front of me when she told me what she did. My heart shattered and I didn’t know if I wanted to stop and push her out or keep driving and save her life. The girl  I loved was no longer the girl I knew. As soon as we made it to the hospital and I contacted her grandmother, I left. It took a while for forgiveness to set in, but eventually it did. 

When Nadia came to me over a year ago, professing her love and declaring how much she wanted to start a new life with me, I dropped everything to make sure that happened. I never told her how much I gave up for this union to happen. She didn’t know my life was on an upward path and I gave it all away just to be with her. If she’d known, maybe she’d understand the rage, but it’s too late now. She’d made it clear that her feelings were the only ones that mattered to her. I loved Nadia, but right now…in this moment…I loved me more.


“I better get going.”  I looked back expecting Karen to be standing at the door watching Tasha and me as she normally did.

“You sure you don’t wanna come in and eat?” Tasha offered. “You know it’s Thanksgiving around here.” She laughed.

“Ohhhh, it is isn’t it.”

For as long as I could remember, Tasha and her mom never celebrated holidays on the actual day. One, if not both, of them were always working so their tradition had been to celebrate as close to the holiday as possible.

“I’m sorry. I forgot. I didn’t mean to interrupt your time with your mom.”

Tasha’s eyes narrowed. “Really? You think interrupting my time with her is a bad thing?” She laughed again.

“Say what you want, but you love that woman.” I lightly pushed my body into hers.

Her smile vanished and was replaced with sadness.

“What’s wrong?” I leaned forward to get a better look at her face.

Tasha looked behind her. I’m sure it was for the same reason I’d looked just a moment before, to make sure Karen wasn’t there. She took a deep breath.

“Don’t tell me you have more bad news. I really can’t take anymore right now.” I warned her.

“No, not bad news. Not good news either.” She said softly.

“Then what is it?” I questioned again.

“I’m tired, Nadia. I’m tired of this life. I’m tired of living in this house and working this dead end job. I’m tired of being the responsible one, having to look after a woman who should be looking out for me. I’m ready for more.”

I crossed my arms over my chest and stared at her.

“What?” She asked with attitude.

She knew me well enough to know exactly what I was thinking behind my lifted brow and poked lips. I didn’t say a word.

“I know you’re tired of hearing this same ol’ story, but I’m for real this time. I want more.”

“Then do more. Stop whining and complaining about wanting something then settling back into this life. I’ve heard this too many times and until you’re ready to make a move, it’s just talk.”

Her facial features dropped and I knew I’d hurt her feelings, but I didn’t’t do pity parties and she knew that. She’d always known that.

Tasha stood and dusted the dirt from her pants. “You’re right. I should get back inside to Mama.”

“I’m right or you’re angry? Which one is it?”

She stared at her feet then locked her eyes on me. “I’m angry.”

“Why because I won’t tell you what you already knew?”

“No, because you don’t ever tell me what I need to hear. You know I wanted you to tell me that I should do it, I’m capable of moving away from here and living life on my own, but you never say it and I know why.” Her sad eyes turned angry.

“What are you talking about? I always tell you that. I’ve said it too much over the years. If you want to move, then move but stop talking about it and do it.”

“That’s easy for you to say.”

“And it’s easy for you to do.” I stopped before she could go into my life versus hers. She always went there.

“No it’s not. Not when I have someone depending on me to be here. I know it was easy for you to walk away and live your life but it’s not that simple for me.”

“Well, what the hell do you want me to say? No matter what, you’re not leaving Bayou. You’re never leaving Bayou so why do we keep having this conversation? It’s pointless.”

The moisture in her eyes made me regret telling the truth. I hadn’t learned that sometimes people don’t want to hear what you really think, even though they pretend to want your input.

“Throughout high school you talked nonstop about moving away and I always told you that you could do it. When your dad died you talked about it even more and I listened and continued to encourage you.”

“In high school, Tasha. High school. We’re thirty year-old grown women, not teenagers. We no longer have time to talk. Either do it or be content, but stop whining about it.”

“Bye Nadia. Enjoy the rest of your stay.”

She was behind the door before I could blink. I looked around before walking to my car. Every since I’d arrived I had a strange feeling. Not sure what it was, but I didn’t like it. Normally when I have this feeling it’s followed by something bad. I had this very feeling the night my dad died. It had occurred a couple more times throughout the years and it was always on point. I didn’t know what it was or who it was for, but something bad was about to happen in Bayou and I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was very close to home.


Written by: L.A. Lewis

Edited by: Gina Phillips Johnson

A note from Nadia: Thank you for allowing me to share a piece of my overly dramatic life with you every week. Since you’ve enjoyed reading about me, I have no doubt you’ll love watching my very eventful life play out on film. As you can imagine writing the blogs and working on the scripts can sometimes get a bit confusing for L.A. Lewis. Because of this, she’s made the executive decision to discontinue the weekly blogs and pour all her energy into the scripts. Don’t worry, we won’t leave you hanging. You’ll get to see, up close and personal, as ALL the Bayou secrets are exposed :). 

Blog Series

Blog #9: Hidden Agenda



I sat at the table across from my mother yet another Thanksgiving. Just the two of us. The way it had been ever since my grandmother passed last year. I really wanted to call Nadia and check on her, but hearing from me may have only made matters worse. I couldn’t believe my best friend was finally home for a holiday and I wouldn’t be able to spend it with her. This day sucked like no other.

“What’s that look about?” My mother was looking at me like I was crazy. Here I was being blinded by her bright orange pants, and the big rhinestone turkey on her sweater, and she had the nerve to look at me like I’d lost it.

“Nothing.” I pushed the food around on my plate. I loved holiday food and my mother’s a really good cook, but I couldn’t enjoy it today. I couldn’t stop thinking about Nadia. About my plan to move to Atlanta with her. She’d been trying to get me to come for years, and just when I was ready to kiss this dead end town goodbye, my mother had to go and open her big mouth. I’d just lost the only real friend I’d ever had and my chance to escape this place.

“You need to eat if we gone make it to the store in time. You know Black Friday starts earlier now.”

Yipeeee Black Friday. A time to go and spend money I don’t have on things I don’t need.

“I got my plan all mapped out. When you’re done I’ll tell you so you can be ready. I don’t need you slowing me down.”

“I won’t slow you down because I’m not going.”

Her eyes looked like they were ready to pop out of the sockets. “Not going! What da’ you mean you not going?”

I hate when she asks what do I mean about obvious statements. Isn’t “I’m not going” self-explanatory?

“You have to go. I can’t pull this off without you,” she continued.

“Mama, you and Sheila are gonna have to battle it out alone this year.”

Every year, my mother and her coworker Shelia Johnson always compete to see who can get the best items during Black Friday. It’s ridiculous if you ask me.

“Ohhhhh, I know what this is about.” She leaned back in her chair. “You mad because I told Nadia, huh?”

I broke off a piece of my roll and stuck it in my mouth, all while looking at my mother,the one who ruins everything. Always had and now that I was stuck here, she always would.

“Look, I done told you that girl needed to know. Her mama and grandma should be ashamed keeping her in the dark this long. Shoot, everybody should be thanking me.”

“Thanking you? Did you really just say that?”

“I shole in the hell did. Now that it’s out, we can all start living the truth. Ain’t you tired of hiding? Tired of pretending we don’t belong? Hell, we’re just as much a Freeman as the rest of them and it’s time for everyone to know.”

“Why now? You told me years ago and said not to say a word and I didn’t. You told me it would hurt Nadia if she knew, and yet, you told her. Just tell me why you did it?”

“Because I have nothing to lose. I was quiet and I told you to stay quiet because that’s what Mama wanted. People in this town had finally started showing her some respect. For as long as I can remember, she hated to leave the house because everyone would stare at us and whisper behind our backs. Mama’s life was hell here, but she couldn’t afford to leave. My daddy couldn’t be a father in the open, but he was in private and he took good care of us. Truth is, Mama wouldn’t have left even if she could. She loved that man, even if she could only have a piece of him. She wanted that piece.”

My mom stared as if she’d gone back to those days in her mind. Sometimes I wished I could see what she saw. Maybe that would help me understand her better. She always had a need to be seen. She said things to hurt people and she didn’t care. She was nothing like my grandmother who worked overtime to be accepted by people in this community.

“Well, she’s gone now and I’m tired of living like this.” She waved her hands around. “While they’re up there in that big house that should be ours.”

My mother has officially lost her mind.

“Just because you’re his child doesn’t mean you automatically get what he left behind. You  should know that better than anyone.”

“What the hell that’s supposed to mean?”

Why did she always have to play the naive role. That drives me insane!

“When Grandma died what did Aunt Kate get?”

I knew that would pinch a nerve, but it was the truth.

“What did Aunt Kate get? Hell, what does Aunt Kate need? What does she do for us? What did she do for your grandmother when she was alive? She barely made it home before she died.”

My aunt is Katherine Matthews…The Katherine Matthews, but she’s Aunt Kate to me. Aunt Kate left Bayou many years ago to pursue her acting and modeling career. She was determined to be a success and her determination paid off big time. She lived all over the world. She now called Paris home. In my mother’s eyes, Aunt Kate’s success was a constant reminder of her own failure. My mom once had dreams too, but unlike Aunt Kate, she never acted on them. Instead, she stayed behind with my grandmother, much like I’m doing now. My grandmother robbed my mother of the life she could’ve had, and my mother was robbing me of mine. Guess it’s a family curse that skipped Aunt Kate and landed on me.

The knock on the door was a welcomed distraction.

“I’ll get it.” I was up and out of the kitchen in no time.

When I opened the door and saw Nadia on the other side, my heart came alive. I had no idea why she was there, but even if it was just to argue, at least she was here.

“Can I talk to you?” Nadia stayed on the porch.

“Sure, you wanna come in?” I opened the door wider.

Nadia shook her head. “I’d rather talk out here if you don’t mind.” She peeped around me and into the house.

I opened the closet and grabbed my sweater. I joined Nadia on the front porch.

“You okay?” I stepped around to face her.

Nadia stared at me with eyes that showed no emotion at all.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, putting my hand on her shoulder.

“I probably shouldn’t be here, but you’re the only person I can talk to.”

“You can always come to me. You know that.”

Nadia took a deep breath. “Rachel’s here.”

“Oh no. Did you talk?”

Nadia sat on the first step of the porch and replied, “We did.”

I joined her on the first step, and tried to read an expression that just wouldn’t come. Nadia was good at not showing her true feelings. You never really knew how she felt unless she told you, or on those rare occasions when she’d break the wall and let it all out.


“And nothing. She came. We talked. And that’s that.”

“Okay.” I knew when to stop asking questions. Pressuring her for answers only caused her to run away.

“But that’s not why I’m here.”

I swallowed hard and waited for her to tell me why she was here. I waited to hear her say that we couldn’t be friends any longer. That now that she knew the truth, she had to side with her family. I braced myself for the impact of her words.

“Robert’s here too.” She announced.

“Robert? Here in Bayou?”

She nodded her head.

“Nadia, I promise I didn’t say a word about you being here.”

“I know you didn’t. His grandmother told him.”

“I can’t imagine that went well at all.”

She looked at me. This time I detected a hint of sadness in her eyes.

“Oh no.” I placed my hand over my chest. “Does he know why you left?”

She was silent. I hated silence.

“No, but he’s refusing to let me go. I told him why I went back to him. I almost told him everything, but he blew up as he always does when things don’t go his way.”

“When you say everything does that include…” I didn’t want to say it out loud just in case my nosey mother was lurking behind the door.

“I thought about it. I really did. Being here these last few days has shown me that secrets never stay buried long. If he finds out what I did he may follow through on his til death do us part threat.”

“So, what are you gonna do?” I asked.

“Nothing. I’m going to stay here with Grandma Hazel a while longer, then I’ll figure out where I’m going next.”

“You’re not going back to Atlanta?” I was kind of disappointed in a selfish kinda way. My best friend had a problem and I was thinking about myself.

“I can’t go back there. I need a fresh start and the only way to get it is to move.”

“He’s going to find you again you know. He’ll never stop looking for you.”

“Then I’ll keep running. Robert wants what I’m not capable of giving. I’ve run out of love and as bad as I wish I could love him the way he deserves… I just can’t.”


Stalking had never been my ideal hobby, but when it came to my wife I had no choice. Three months ago, Nadia fled in the middle of the night, leaving nothing but questions behind. I knew she was hiding something from me and I would find out what it is. Judging from the intensity on her face as she was talking with Tasha, I’m guessing whatever she’d done was pretty serious. I’d find out what it was. She knows I don’t give up until I get what I want. No matter who I have to use to get it.

Written By: L.A. Lewis

Edited By: Gina Phillips Johnson

Blog Series

Blog #8: What’s Done in the Dark


“So that’s your plan?” I stepped closer to Robert. “Threaten to tell my family what I did all those years ago? Go ahead. Be my guest.” I swung my hand towards the front door. “But don’t forget to tell them your role.”

His eyes narrowed. “What do you mean my role? I had nothing to do with what you did.”

“I almost died that day and you knew why, yet you didn’t say a word to my family. How do you think they’re gonna feel when they know that?” I crossed my arms.

“But I saved your life, Robert said, frowning.

“Not in the version I’m telling.”

Robert shook his head slowly. “Why did you come back? After all these years, why did you come to me if you weren’t serious about us?”

“I had to right my wrong. I’m sorry I hurt you. That was never my intention.”

Robert flung his arms out and asked,”What the hell does that mean?”

“I thought I was doing what I had to do to make things right again. I made the choice to play God that day in the woods. That has haunted me all these years and the only way I knew how to fix it was…” I took a deep breath. I was finally ready to tell him everything.

“Was what?” His brows furrowed. “Making me believe you loved me, marrying me, all that was to right some wrong and I’m supposed to believe you had no idea I’d get hurt in the process? You can’t really be that stupid,” He said, clenching his jaws.

Once again, he said too much and shutting down was my go to emotion. I leaned against the wall and exercised my right to be silent.

“Oh, so you’re done?”

He knew the silent treatment well. He’d seen it often this past year. Once my plan was complete, I no longer needed to pretend I could really play the wifey type. A part of me believed I could. In the beginning of our reunion, I’d convinced myself that I was like every normal woman who desired to have the husband, the job, the children and be perfectly content. Shortly after our nuptials, I knew I’d made a huge mistake, but leaving wasn’t an option. I had to make up for the sin I’d committed. That was the only way God would forgive me and release me from whatever curse was placed on my life. I needed a normal life. I was starting to realize that maybe this was my normal. A life void of true emotions other than for my grandma and dad. A life where one man could never hold my interest longer than a couple months. Maybe I was my kind of normal and maybe I should’ve just been okay with that.

“If you think I’m just gonna let you walk out my life like I never mattered then you really don’t know me as well as you thought you did.” Robert stood within inches of my face. “You’re my wife dammit and this,” he wagged his finger between the two of us, “is til death do us part.” He quickly kissed my lips then turned around and left.


“I’ll call you later.” I snatched my purse from the sofa and leaned down to kiss Mother before I left.

“You had to know you’d get this reaction. Nadia’s stubborn like someone else I know.” Mother looked at me with a raised brow.

“She’s past stubborn. After all this time she still blames me for what happened that night. How did all of this fall on me?” My throat tightened from the pain I’d carried all these years. “Getting rid of Wesley wasn’t my idea.” I stared at her and hoped she could feel the anger I had to conceal and endure because of her plan.

“You’re right. It wasn’t and I think it’s time we tell Nadia what really happened.”

“You do?” I couldn’t believe what she was saying. Telling the truth meant risking her freedom. I wanted a relationship with my daughter, but I didn’t want to lose my mother in the process.

“Sit.” She nodded towards the chair next to her. “There’s something I wanna tell ya. I wanted to wait until after Thanksgiving, but you need to know now.”

I did as I was told. I watched as my mother’s mouth moved and the words that came out felt like arrows aimed directly at my heart. I sat until the pain was too unbearable to take anymore. The next thing I remembered was running out the house, past Nadia, who was standing alone on the front porch, and to my car. I opened my purse and removed my emergency travel bottle of wine. I finished it as soon as I left the driveway.  I don’t remember the drive to the house, but somehow I made it.

“Hey. Where’ve you been?” My husband asked.

“I went to see Nadia.” I sat at the kitchen table and the floodgates opened. All the tears I’d held poured out.

“I knew this wasn’t a good idea.” He sat next to me.

“I don’t wanna hear it,” I said,looking up at him and wiping my eyes.

An instant scowl rested on his face. “Have you been drinking?” He grabbed my purse from my hand and looked inside. He pulled out three empty bottles.

“You promised you’d stop.” He pushed the purse back towards me. “This is your idea of taking care of yourself? Taking care of my unborn child.” He screamed holding the bottles in his hand.

“Don’t start with me today, John. I’m not in the mood.”

“You think you’re the only one going through something, Rachel? Well, guess what, you’re not. I stood right in front of my daughter at the foot of the grave of a man I killed for you,” he jabbed his finger towards me, “and for her… and I couldn’t say a word. She tried to attack me because she still thinks I killed her father. I went through all that without taking one drink.” He stood. “This baby is our second chance. We screwed things up with Nadia, but now we have an opportunity to get it right.” He motioned towards my stomach.

“We or I? I screwed things up. That’s what you mean, right? You were the hero that swooped in and saved us.”

“In my daughter’s eyes I’m the enemy,” he reminded me.

“Well, you’ll be happy to know my mother wants us to tell her the truth.”

John’s eyes widened. “What? The hell we are. We’re going to get through to her some way, but telling her or anyone else the truth is out of the question.” He shook his head. “I’m meeting with the attorney to sign the paperwork and things will be finalized with my dad’s estate. After that, we’re going back to Texas. We’ll figure this out together. The two of us.” He eyed the bottles then looked at me.

I was ready for this nightmare to be over. I didn’t want it to happen this way, but if John didn’t think of something my only choice would be honesty. I may lose my mother and my husband, but I’ll have the one person I’ve wanted all these years…my daughter….my Nadia.

Written By: L.A. Lewis

Edited By: Gina Johnson Phillips

Blog Series

Blog #7: If These Trees Could Talk

I stared at Rachel until I couldn’t stare any longer. My anger was at an all-time high.

“I’m outta here.” I’d almost made my escape before she spoke again.

“You need to hear this.” Rachel remained in her spot. Arms folded looking at me like she had some top-secret information that she was itching to share.

“I don’t know what information you have, but you can keep it.” I stepped back in the room so she could clearly hear what I had to say. “You don’t have the right to say his name. You don’t even have the right to utter the initials of his name.” I smelled the scent of her expensive perfume flowing through my nostrils.

“Then why’d you turn around?” Rachel questioned.

“To remind you to keep my father’s name off your lips. Using him to lure me back in your life won’t work.”

“First of all, I never mentioned your father’s name. Second, luring you back in my life was never my intention. Do I want a relationship with my daughter, yes…of course I do, but not like this.” She wagged her finger between the two of us. “I want you when you want to be back.”

“That’ll never happen. You had the chance to be a mother and you blew it.”

Rachel’s eyes watered. “If you only knew the truth. If you only knew the lengths I went to in order to protect you. I’m not the enemy. The man you’ve spent your life grieving over is.”

I don’t know what happened. I don’t remember lifting my arm, opening my hand, and connecting with her face, but the sting of my palm indicated that I’d done just that. I slapped my mother.

Rachel’s hand flew to her left cheek. Her wide eyes and opened mouth were aimed in my direction.

“That made you feel better? Doing what you’ve been wanting to do all these years?”

I thought it would. I’d dreamed of the day I could inflict pain on her. I wanted her to feel what I felt all those years ago, but surprisingly I didn’t feel good at all. I didn’t feel anything actually. The hurt was still there. Guess there’s no passing it on to someone else no matter how hard you try.

“I hope you do because that’s your one and only pass. The next time you strike me I will strike back.” Her red eyes showed she meant business.

“You don’t scare me. I’m not the same little girl you used to lock in the room for hours at a time and dare me to make a sound or else. She’s long gone.” I assured her.

Rachel tilted her head to the side and glared at me. “You think you know so much about what went on back then, but you don’t. You have no idea the hell I went through living in that house. Yes, I locked you in the room and dared you to make a sound because I wanted to protect you from his wrath. I knew when it was going to be one of those days and I didn’t want you to get pulled in. When Wesley had an episode, no one was safe.”

“You’re talking about him like he was some kind of animal? He was nothing like that and you know it!” I felt the tightness of my fist. I wanted to show respect, because after all she is my mother, but I couldn’t help what I was feeling on the inside. She’d pushed every button to get me riled up. This is the very reason I’ve stayed away all these years. Grandma Hazel preached over and over again how I’d cut my life short by dishonoring my parents, mainly my mother being that my dad was no longer here. Though life was rough, I still wanted to live it for as long as I could. I was doing good until this very moment.

“You were blessed to see him at his best. I shielded you from seeing the true Wesley. I risked my life for yours and the thanks I got was disrespect. I could’ve been trifling and allowed him to do the same to you. Let him use you as a punching bag when he was drunk or had lost all his money gambling.”

“If things were that bad why’d you stay? You seemed to be really happy when he was buying you clothes and jewelry and cars. Was he a monster then?” I asked waiting for her to admit that he was good to her.

“Yes he was. Those things didn’t mean nothing to me. What I wanted more than anything was out of that house. Out of his life, but I was stuck. There was no way out until…”

“Until John shot him. Is that why you refused to testify against him? You were happy he was dead. Did John kill my dad for you?” My heart raced and no amount of deep breathing would calm it down.

“You sound foolish. I don’t rejoice over someone’s death, not even someone who treated me like trash.”

I didn’t believe one word she spoke. She had plenty of time to cook up these lies to win me over, but I wasn’t as gullible as she must’ve thought.

“Was it your idea for John to go there that night? Did you set him up?” I wasn’t sure if I wanted to know the answer, but I needed to know. I had to know the truth.

“What? Hell no! Why would I do something like that?”

“People go to great lengths for freedom. Listening to you just now put a whole new spin on this mystery I’ve been trying to solve all these years. I know my dad wasn’t the most liked man in Bayou, but I’d never heard anyone hate him enough to want him dead… until now.”

“You sound ridiculous.” She laughed nervously.

“Do I? For the first time since his death I think I’m finally getting the answers I needed.” I stepped within inches of her face. “I know you had something to do with this and you better believe I won’t stop until I get to the truth.”

Rachel took a deep breath. “Go ahead. Get to the bottom, but be prepared for what you discover once you get there. I’m telling you I had nothing to do with what happened that night.”

“Y’all ironed out all ya differences yet?” Grandma Hazel walked past us and sat in her recliner.

“If only it were that easy.” Rachel spoke barely above a whisper.

“Doll, someone’s at the door for ya.” Grandma Hazel announced with a smirk.

I happily made my escape from Rachel. I couldn’t stand hearing her defame my father’s name another minute. The man I knew and loved, the man I still love, was nothing like the person she’d described. My dad gave me the world, even when Rachel protested that I didn’t need anything else. He made it his business to keep a smile on my face and after his death she successfully wiped it away.

I opened the door hoping to see Tasha or Tony standing on the other side, but Grandma Haze’s pleasant look told me it wasn’t.

“Surprise!” Robert wrapped his arms around me as soon as I walked onto the porch.              “My grandmother told me you were in town so I decided to stop by and see ya.” He stepped back and licked his lips as he scanned every curve of my body.

I moved away from his embrace. “What do you want Robert?”

“Ah, baby girl. What kind of greeting is that for the man you love.” One side of his mouth lifted into a sly smile.

“I would hardly call it love.” I leaned against the wall and crossed my arms.

“Really, because I have papers that proves otherwise.” He closed the space that I’d intentionally placed between us.

“You need to go.” I pointed to his car..

“You need to grow the hell up and stop playing these childish games. How long did you think it would be before I found you?”

“I wasn’t hiding.”

“So, you changed your number and left in the middle of the night because you wanted me to find you?” He questioned. “I’ve searched for months. Wondering if you were okay. If you’d come home, but you never did. Thank God my grandmother talks a lot, otherwise I’d never known you were back here. Honestly, this was the last place I thought to look. You vowed you’d never step foot in this town again.”

“Which shows how much you really know about me. I may not like Bayou, but I love my grandmother and it’ll take more than some bad memories to keep me away from her.”

I heard a noise and looked behind me to make sure no one was listening. There was no sign of Rachel or Grandma Hazel. I needed to get Robert away from here. What I didn’t need right now was advice about my life from Grandma Hazel.

“Still haven’t told your family.” He shook his head.

“Neither have you. If you had I’m sure your grandmother would’ve been ready to share it.”

“I was allowing you to take the lead, but since I see your leading gets us nowhere, I guess it’s time for me to take over. You can join me or I can do it alone, but before I leave here your family will know the truth about what happened in the woods and everything else you’ve excluded them from.”


Blog Series

Blog #6: A Family Affair

       I watched as Tasha fumbled with her fingers, waiting to hear me say that I won’t hate her once she tells me whatever news she had to share.
       “Well?” Her eyes met mine. “Tell me you won’t hate me after I tell you this.”
       I stood next to Tasha. “Sit down.” I pointed to the step.
       We sat, and for a moment we were both silent. I took my friend’s hand in mine. “I could never hate you. Whatever you have to tell me can’t be that bad.” After the day I’d had, I needed it not to be that bad.
       Her eyes watered.
       It was that bad. I braced myself.
       “I’ve wanted to tell you this ever since I found out, but I couldn’t. Mom made it clear that we weren’t to say a word to anyone until the right time. I guess it’s time.” Tasha shrugged her shoulders.
       “Then tell me.” I urged her.
       “You remember a few years ago when my mom was sick a lot?” Tasha asked.
       I nodded. I remembered it well because Tasha called every day worried that she would lose her mother.
       “Well, when we were told she had breast cancer, she immediately thought the worse.    She felt like she was going to die and wanted me to know the truth about our family.”
        The screen door creaked open behind us.
        “You told her yet?” Karen questioned right before she downed whatever clear liquid she had in her glass. Most likely vodka. Her drink of choice.
        “I’m trying to tell her now.” Tasha slightly turned in Karen’s direction. She kept that position for a second before rolling her eyes and facing me again. If the situation weren’t so frustrating, I’d probably laugh at the antics between Tasha and Ms. Karen. That woman has worked Tasha’s nerves ever since I could remember and probably before that. I’d never understand why Tasha chose to stay here in Bayou and deal with Karen for the rest of her life.
        “It don’t take that damn long to tell somebody y’all cousins. Hell just say it. Nadia, ya’ll cousins. See how easy that was?” Karen turned the empty glass to her mouth. “I need a drink.” She walked back inside leaving Tasha and me sitting there in a stunned silence.     Mine was from shock and Tasha’s was probably from being pissed that once again, Karen had to take over and do things her way.
       “Cousins?” I scooted away from Tasha so I could really see her face as she explained her mother’s words.
        Tasha took a deep breath. “When she was sick and thought she was dying she..”
        “Can you skip all that and just tell me what she meant?” My level of frustration and aggravation was at an all time high. I no longer had the time or desire for this rollercoaster conversation Tasha was taking me on.
         “We’re first cousins. My mother and your mother are sisters,” Tasha explained.
         I absorbed her words and no matter how I tried, I still couldn’t get them to make sense in my head. “What do you mean they’re sisters? What are you saying my grandparents gave your mother up or something?”
         Tasha shook her head. “Not exactly.”
        “Then what exactly?” I stood up and folded my arms. I needed answers and Tasha’s meek and mild attitude wasn’t helping.
        Tasha stood too. “We have the same grandfather. Your grandfather had an affair with my grandmother and my mother and Aunt Faye were the products of that affair.”
        Immediately the name entered my mind. “The children across the street. The children across the street were your mom and aunt. The children across the street were my grandfather’s children?”
        Tasha nodded.
        Now it all made sense. Now I understood why the hate was so thick between my grandmother and the children across the street. Of course she hated them. Who wouldn’t?
        “I know this is a lot to take in.” Tasha talked and I barely listened. I was still imagining what it was like for my grandmother to walk out of her house everyday knowing the children playing in the yard right across the street belonged to her husband.
        “I have to go.” I was in my car and pulling off before Tasha could say another word.   The short drive to my grandmother’s felt like an eternity. I wanted to go to her and hug her and tell her how sorry I was for all her pain. I know I didn’t cause it, but I still felt the need to comfort her.
        “Grandma Hazel!” I called for her as soon as I walked through the door. “Grandma Hazel!” I called again when she didn’t answer. I walked in the living room where I’d left her relaxing in her chair. She was still there with her arms folded over her stomach.
        “Grandma Hazel.”
        She didn’t move. My heart stopped beating as I watched her closely. I couldn’t see her chest rise and fall. I panicked.
        “Grandma Hazel!” I shouted as I shook her forcefully.
        Her eyes popped open. “What the hell! What’s wrong with you? You trying to give me a heart attack!” Her wide eyes stared at me.
        Relief flooded my body. “I thought you were dead.” I was still trying to calm my breathing.
        “Dead? Hell I’m sleep, but I’m half dead now.” She held her hand over her chest.
        “Don’t ever do that to me again.” I leaned down and hugged her.
        “You feeling better? You rushed out of here like the house was on fire,” She asked when I finally let her go and sat on the stool next to her chair.
        “Why’d you stay?” I asked the questioned I’d wondered ever since I was able to fully process the news I’d just received.
        “I couldn’t run behind you. I’m not as fast as I used to be.” Grandma Hazel laughed.
         I shook my head. “That’s not what I mean. Why’d you stay with Grandpa Will?”
         Grandma Hazel’s eyes narrowed. I understood the look of confusion very well. “What kind of question is that? You wanna know why I stayed with my husband?”
        “I want to know why you stayed after he cheated on you. After he had children with another woman.”
        She tilted her head and her eyebrows squished together. It was apparent she never intended for me to find out. “Who told you?”
        “A better question is why didn’t you? You hated those people and now I get it. Why couldn’t you tell me that?”
        Grandma Hazel looked away. “Your Grandfather was a good man.” She looked at me.          “He was a good provider and a good father. He made his mistakes and I forgave him for it. There was nothing left to say about it.” She raised her brows and gave me a quick nod. Her nod was her period, final,no more questions to be asked or answered.
        “That’s your story and you’re sticking to it right?” A voice came from the entryway.
         I looked up and into the face of the last person in this world I wanted to see today… or ever for that matter.
         I stood. “What are you doing here?”
        “I heard you were here. I wanted to see you.” Rachel walked into the living room and sat her designer purse on the sofa. She wore a fitted dress and heels, her signature look.   Nadia could never remember a time her mother didn’t wear a dress and heels.
        “Hey Mother.” Rachel leaned down and kissed Grandma Hazel’s cheek.
        “Hey.” Grandma Hazel was unusually quiet. Intuition said she’d set this up. I should’ve known there was a reason she kept mentioning Rachel yesterday.
        “You look beautiful.” Rachel’s watery eyes scanned my body.
         She stepped closer to me.
         I stepped back.
         She looked hurt, but it didn’t matter.
         “I couldn’t help but overhear the conversation when I walked in. I’m guessing your grandmother finally told you the truth.” Rachel looked at me for answers.
         I remained silent. I had no words for her.
         “She ain’t hear nothing from me.” Grandma Hazel suddenly found her ability to speak again. “I don’t talk about it and I don’t want to hear about it.”
         Rachel laughed. “I should’ve known it didn’t come from you. No, it couldn’t have come from you because if it had you’d tell it all. Isn’t that right?” Rachel looked at       Grandma Hazel who’d become a mute once again.
         “Right Mother?” Rachel folded her arms. “You wouldn’t have your granddaughter running around here with a half truth would you?”
         Grandma Hazel stood and walked in front of Rachel. “I called you here to fix things between you and your daughter. My life is none of y’all’s concern. I don’t wanna hear about this ever again do I make myself clear?” She looked back and forth between Rachel and me.
         “Very clear.” Rachel’s narrowed eyes showed she wasn’t done, but I was… for now.
I tried to hold it in, but I couldn’t remain silent a minute longer. “I’m so sick of all the secrets in this family. I’ve been here two days and everywhere I turn there’s another secret to be discovered. Why can’t we all be honest for once? This is why I don’t come home. I always leave more confused and with more questions than before I came.”
         Grandma Hazel looked at me. “You’re right, there are more secrets to be discovered, but the only ones you should be concerned with are the ones your mother’s carrying around, not mine.” Grandma Hazel walked to the entryway then stopped. She turned back to Rachel and me. “You walked in here so anxious to share the truth. Why don’t you start by telling your daughter the truth about her father.”
        With those words, she was gone. Rachel and I were left alone, smothered by the silence that wrapped around us. More questions. More secrets. More lies. The life I had when I arrived in Bayou two days ago felt like a distant memory. Who are these people? Hell, who am I?

Written by: L.A. Lewis

Edited by: Gina Phillips Johnson