Imani Wisdom's brainchild -- Pink Noire Publications -- has been known for her unpredictable style of storytelling. Now its founder is expanding the "pink and black" brand to shine on prolific artists. From the inspirationalist, Danica Worthy to bestselling author, Stacy Deanne, Pink Noire understand these talented individuals know how to express their craft through words, song, dance, and stroke of a brush.

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Imani's "How to" Moment: You're a Writer Dammit, Just Write!

typewriter Pictures, Images and Photos
Have you ever sat in front your computer, trying to figure what you’re going to write, but all you have in front of you is the dreaded blinking cursor?

Its six o’clock in the morning on a Friday, and my intentions for getting up this early is either two things: workout and writing—which the first one I’ve done successfully.

Since I’m facing with a case of writer’s block, I thought back earlier in the week when I was asked how do I solve a dry writing spell. I simply told these couple of people to freewrite, freewrite, and freewrite some more.

Since my ideas are dried up like a desert wind, I’m taking my chances to write anything that comes to mind. If my mind goes blank—I would type blank, blank, blank until an idea has sparked—and at this point, it has.

Perhaps this post should be titled, freewriting for all of you aspiring writers and/or authors. Everyone suffers from writer’s block…I mean everyone! It’s a normal part of being a writer. You want to convey your thoughts and your imagination onto paper but it goes blank immediately when type or write the first letter. Then it comes…but wait a minute…there it goes. You get frustrated as you stare at the annoying black slit they call a cursor—reminding you that your dry spell exist. Your mind tells you to relax and do other things like check your Facebook or Twitter pages—which are huge time wasters. And yes, I’m guilty of that too.

So now I’m typing for the Hell of it. Allowing my fingers to tap against keyboard as the rhythmic thud puts in me in a trance. It’s a beautiful sound, isn’t it? Once you feel the groove, then you start to feel productive. The smile comes back and all of your ideas begin to pour like a waterfall. And there after your frustration—and not to mention you started to feel a bit depressed—you’ve did it. Your freewriting had turned into a post. And maybe this particular post wasn’t much of a post—but nevertheless, I feel effin’ great!

My Imani’s “How to” Moment: When you feel as though as you’re stuck in the mud put your thought process into second gear and shift your mind in another direction. I’ve stayed up the night before brainstorming on what to write for this post and nothing, of course. Let this blog be an example for you writers out there. Freewrite your ideas without stopping or pressing the backspace button—let every word pour through your fingers. Imperfections will be perfected once the final draft has been finalized.

So stop stressin’, it’s all a part of being a writer.
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Imani's July Favorite: T.P. Miller's "Out for Blood"


My intentions for picking the inaugural “Imani’s Favorite Things” feature may seem bias since I do write Paranormal Fiction, but after reading why I chose this novel as my favorite you’ll understand why.

And yes, I said Paranormal Fiction. For many avid readers, some just don’t care for the genre. I can do without Vampires, said one comment from a reading group on Facebook. While another wrote, the genre just seems to be out of the ordinary. Well, duh. Paranormal, ordinarily, pushes the limits. And that what makes it so fun to write.

But let’s pretend T.P. Miller’s, Out for Blood, is just a novel about romance, family, and discovering who you are. The soul mates, Nef and Ram are the epitome of what true love is all about. They fell in love during their high school days, later married, and shared a beautiful daughter. It’s an all-American, nuclear family that people love to read.

But when there’s good, there’s an adversary lurking between the pages of the storyline—and the adversary does not have to be a person. It could be an issue(s) that have been gripping on to their soul, pressing firmly on their conscious until the unbearable feeling forces them to fight their troubles head on. With Nef, her adversary created havoc throughout her life which caused a ripple effect in her family. So she and her husband valiantly faced them together. The question is, however, will it strengthen or hurt their marriage?

Finally, discovering a purpose of life is what we all have asked ourselves. Some may have found it, while others are trying to search for the answers. Ram was one of the rare few who knew his purpose, but what about Nef? What’s her purpose? See, that’s what makes reading so fundamental. You have to read Miller’s book and find out. So now include ass-kicking, no-nonsense, and take-no-shit Vampires and you have an explosive novel.

All of the reasons for you to read Miller’s debut novel are the reasons why I chose her book as my “favorite” for the month of July. I’m a sucker for romance, love the camaraderie family storyline, and enjoy when a character overcomes perilous challenges. What’s more, I love a dark story with an unexpected twist. Even if you’re not a fan of Paranormal Fiction, this story will not disappoint you.

Order you copy or download T.P. Miller’s, Out for Blood today!


Nef is plagued by nightmares from her past. With her family murdered, and her daughter stolen from her crib in the middle of the night, she seeks revenge on the monster responsible. After more than a century, her world revolves around finding the individual that caused her so much pain.

With new information leading her closer to the answers she seeks and new revelations coming to light about her past and her rightful place in a dark society, she begins a journey where there’s no looking back.

An evil vampire has a plan for the one he left and is dead set on keeping her from taking her place as the Chosen One. She doesn't know what powers she has and he'll do anything to get her right where he wants her. With him.

Driven by vengeance and fighting until the end, she's out for blood and taking no prisoners.


Find Miller on these sites:
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The Mission


The warmness of the water doused me like torrential rain with every droplet relieving my sore muscles. I was in my own world, ignoring the insignificance that surrounded me. There were muffled voices beyond my shower curtain and I didn’t care. The water felt awfully good after a long day of running, jumping, and getting my ass thrashed on the football field.
I glanced at my heavily wrapped ankle and it looked as if it were mummified.
“Shit, it hurts!” I grimaced as I thought back at that hit made by a Pittsburgh defensive lineman.  That bastard’s hit put me out for the rest of season, and now I’m uncertain if I have future with the team I’ve been with for five years.
“Hey, Billings,” said one of my teammates. “Wanna  go out with a few of us to the new strip club downtown?”
“Naw man, I’m good,” I yelled over the tepidness water of the shower.
“You sure?”
“Yeah… I’ll see y’all next practice.”
I wasn’t in any mood to see the same naked women grinding on my dick like they were hoping to fuck me. Being number thirty-four with a two time world championship team wasn’t easy. Wherever I went women clamored for my attention. It was as if I was a walking Powerball ticket and my dick was the jackpot. I saw it all the time with my old college teammates as well as a couple of my professional pro ball teammates. Those women sprung their pussy traps, told them a lie that they were on birth control, and got knocked up. I will say that I had a couple of close calls, but I quickly wised up. Some of the fellas who were trapped still hadn’t learned.
I’m not saying I’m a perfect man; rather I’m an imperfect man with mistakes longer than a football field. I blew my money on dumb shit, screwed groupies, and partied every night. That was my life before I met an incredible woman named Sophia Turner.
She and I hit it off really well. We didn’t meet at a club or party. Out of all places we met at church. I happened to have been visiting with another teammate at one of the largest churches in the city, and after the choir sang their hearts out I noticed a glorious vision of exquisiteness. Her smile was radiant and that was coupled with her soft, curly hair that hung near her shoulders. I was more than fascinated with her. My heart told me that someday she was going to be my wife, and six months later we got engaged.
The locker room was empty as I dried off my damp body near my locker. The television was left on ESPN and one of the know-it-all analysts was dogging my coach out for our team’s loss. I got tired of listening to that, grabbed the remote, and turned to BET. Those assholes didn’t know what we did on or off the field. I could see if he played the game, or hell, if he even played in high school I could tolerate his opinion a little bit. Crazy thing was that motherfucker never played in his life. He just wrote about it. Bullshit!
Then my fiancé called my cell phone. I knew it was her from the Nicky Minaj ringtone that was sounding from the speaker.
“Hey baby,” I answered.
“Don’t forget about my parents’ dinner party tonight.”
“I haven’t, baby. I’ll meet you there by seven.”
“Alright then. I love you.”
“I love you too, Sofie,” I softly responded.
The sweet sounds of Sophia. Her voice was just as smooth and beautiful as her gorgeous face. I haven’t fallen this hard in love in my life. There were other women since I started my career as a pro-football player, but none of them compared to her. As I said earlier, those women thought my dick was a jackpot hoping they’d get pregnant so they could live off the child support for the next eighteen or twenty something years. Fuck that! On the other hand for Sophia it took a couple of weeks before she even spoke to me. “I don’t date pro athletes,” she would say. I didn’t blame her. We tended to create our own bad reputations and the Media didn’t help with the hype they blew on it either. After convincing her I wasn’t bad a person we went on our first date, and from there we were inseparable.
Suddenly, I received another call but it wasn’t my fiancé. It was from my doctor’s office. Strange, I thought. Maybe he’s letting me know all went well with a series of blood tests, especially the one that’s required by the state before Sophie and I get married.
“Mr. Billings,” said the Nurse. “Could you stop by the office? Dr. McLauren needs to speak with you about your test results.”
“Is it serious,” I asked.
“You and the doctor need to sit down and speak Mr. Billings.”
I ended the call feeling like a sudden mystery was cast on my life. Is it my ankle? Is it an old injury to my hamstring? Or worse, do I have my family curse, diabetes? As I kept trying to figure out the mystery I looked at the mirror and put the last touches on my two-piece gray suit ensemble, brushed my fade, and then slipped on my sunglasses. My six foot six physique would be ready for dinner regardless of what my doctor told me.
Minutes later I was riding in my white Denali listening to the sounds of Drake booming from my surround sound speakers. Tapping my fingers on the steering wheel, I bounced my head along with the lyrics. The phone call still wasn’t fazing me. I was riding on the highest cloud in the sky and looking forward to spending the evening with my future in-laws and Sofie. I felt nothing could topple my joy, and I meant nothing.
 I pulled up to the stoplight and saw my picture on a city bus posing in the end zone after I scored a sixty-five yard touchdown. I usually got depressed seeing myself in my glory days before my ankle injury, but not this time! I was feeling too good to let anyone or anything take me down.
 I arrived at my doctor’s office pretty quickly. I believed any human hated to step foot in a doctor’s office, clinic, or hospital. I even hated when the team’s doctor had to examine my injuries. There was something about the weird antiseptic smell or how the over friendly nurses and their cold hands made you feel. Whatever it was I just wanted them to tell me I have this diabetes thing and give me my insulin so I could get to dinner. Time was wasting.
As for the diabetes, I was sure I had it because it ran deep in my family. My mother had it, my father had it, their parents’ both had it, and a brother had it. Plus, as a kid I was told I had pre-diabetes so I knew it would’ve been inevitable for me to get it in my mid-twenties.
“Mr. Billings,” said the tall, blonde nurse. “Dr. McLauren is ready to see it you.”
I followed the nurse down the long hallway to the doctor’s office while she tried to engage me in some small talk. “Nice weather we’re having, isn’t it?” she asked. I responded to her with “uhm hum while wishing she would shut up. I checked my Rolex for the time. “Here you go you, Mr. Billings,” she politely said as she led me inside his office. It was a spacious office that was big enough to hold a couch, a couple of chairs, and coffee table. He also had a few of his degrees and a plasma television hanging on the wall.
Five minutes and then twenty minutes passed as I continued to sit impatiently for this man. ‘What is he doing,’ I wondered. ‘He was the one that one called me!’ While I waited I gazed out the window daydreaming about how in two Saturdays from now it would be our wedding. I was anticipating my future wife walking down the aisle in a breathtaking dress. I pictured my family sitting on one side of the aisle and her family sitting on the other side brandishing smiles while sharing our young wedded bliss. Imagining Sofie dressed like a princess only made me realize I was doing the right thing by marrying her. Next to my career I’d never been so sure about anything in my life.
“Mr. Billings,” said Dr. McLauren as he came in the door holding what appeared to be my chart. “How are you feeling?”
“Okay, let’s get down to why I called you in.”
“Well, I know its diabetes because I was diagnosed with having pre-diabetes when I was twelve. So it is Type I or Type II?”
“Excuse me,” he frowned. “Mr. Billings, you don’t diabetes.”
Then I got nervous. If it isn’t sugar then what could it be? Sitting with my hands firmly clasped to my thighs I felt my heart rate increase by the second. “Doctor, what are my injuries,” I asked him.
“Mr. Billings, your blood test came back positive. You have the Human Immunodeficiency Virus.”
“What? Human Immunodeficiency…,” I gasped while being unable to finish. “Are you telling me I have AIDS?”
“No, I’m telling you have HIV.”
“This has to be a mistake,” I demanded.
“I double and triple checked the results, Mr. Billings. I’m sorry.”
“But my career… Sofie… my life… this has to be some mistake,” I still demanded.
Dr. McLauren pulled from his desk a small tablet to write prescriptions. “I’m going to prescribe you this drug for the HIV, and it’s been proven to work very well.” Tearing off the script and pushing it toward me his face had a mildly compassionate expression.
I angrily looked at it and then at him. I refused to accept I was HIV positive. There was no way! For years before I met Sofie I tried to be careful with those gold digging women by wearing condoms and pulling it out before I busted a nut. There was no way in hell I could have HIV, no way! I quickly leaped from my seat without taking his prescription and left without saying a word.
As big as I was I let my warm tears fall and saturate my dark skin. I was scared out of my mind, and it wasn’t a fear of dying or my career. It was a fear of losing my fiancé. My hands were steadfast on the steering wheel and I was zipping in and out of rush hour traffic. I wasn’t sure where I was going because my mind just wasn’t there. My house was the last place I wanted to go. I could’ve caught that bullshit in the comforts of my own bed during my promiscuous days, at one of my teammates’ houses, or shit in the backseat of my SUV. It seemed wherever I went the reminders stayed with me, and if this HIV thing was true it’d be a part of me like hair on my head and the skin on my body.
I walked inside the only destination I could think of during the moment. It was more than appropriate, but a necessity. The only sound I could hear was my wingtip shoes tapping on the linoleum floor and the echoing with each step. With light shining through the stained glass windows I felt as though the man of this house had come during my worst tribulation. I wanted to feel at ease but I couldn’t. It hurt deeper than a son of a you know what! Most of all, I was scared of what the future might bring.
Strangely, I’d never been in this church. I drove past this place on my way to the stadium and always thought the architecture was amazing, but for some reason on my way to sulk I was drawn to come here.
“Hello stranger,” said the Priest.
 I answered somberly, “Hi…”
“You look like you lost a friend,” said the Priest. The red headed man wearing his traditional attire sat beside me on the pew as if he knew my heart was heavy with misery. “Are you okay,” he asked.
With more tears falling down my face I slowly shook my head. “I don’t think you can pray this one away,” I whimpered.
“Really,” he asked. “Prayer goes a long way.”
“I wish it could, but this…”
“Try me,” he said as he interrupted my sentence.
I usually never confided with strangers because of my celebrity, but since I was in the house of God and Priests have to keep tight lips on confessions I decided to pour my heart out. “Father?,” I questioned.
“Father O’Loughin,” he said, as he extended his hand to shake my mine. “What can I do for you my son?”
“I just found out some horrible news.”
“Is it serious?”
“Yes, I was just told thirty minutes ago that I have HIV.”
Father O’Loughin exhaled the same shock as I did back at the doctor’s office. Like it had done to me the news took his breath away leaving him momentarily speechless. He stared at the huge cross on the floor behind the pulpit and softly sighed again. “Wow,” he said.
“Is that all,” I huffed. “Wow?”
“I’m sorry. I don’t mean to sound insensitive, but after helping people with HIV and AIDS I’ve grown accustom to it.”
“How do you help them? Pray all day,” I sarcastically answered him.
He nervously chuckled as the freckles on his cheeks flared with his smile. “Oh no,” he replied. “If they don’t have a place to live I give them shelter. If they’re hungry I feed them. If they’re in need of a place to worship I offer them a place here. If they’re in need of a friend I become the friend they never had. Most importantly, if their need is that one simple thing like prayer I’ll get on my knees with them and pray hard as I can.”
I said my own wow as he continued to explain his mission. Men and women of the cloth tend to help the less fortunate and only few do it for the cameras. Father O’Loughin’s heart was bigger than just his Priestly robes, the church, or himself in that matter. He was genuine. Listening to him speak about the men, women, and children coming in and out of his shelter at all hours of the day and night was compelling. I was impressed. Telling me different stories of these people made me forget about my own HIV.
After the Father finished explaining his experience he looked at me with his greenish-blue eyes and said, “Now, tell me why I get the feeling there is more about the news you received.”
I was sitting on the pew timidly clenching my hands with sweat forming around my hairline. Anyone could sense I was in an overwhelming state of fear. That was why it wasn’t surprising that this stranger I met twenty minutes earlier could feel my agony. The abundance of my anxiety had to have been felt throughout his church.
To answer his question I glanced at him using my lingering tears to explain my dilemma. Besides losing Sofie it was also about losing my career, the team, the fans, and the media. My life would turn into a circus. Every move I made would be scrutinized by the cameras, and worse my HIV would become the talk of analysts, talk radio, and bloggers. “Another professional athlete screws up once again,” they would say. I would become a part of the fallen pro ballers who society blamed for everything wrong with world. I was more worried about what all of this would do to Sophie. My tears said it all for me to the point where all I had to say was, “So you see Father it’s not just the HIV, but the repercussions thereafter.”
“I see… You are in a dilemma,” said Father O’Loughin. “Let me ask you this. What’s more important to you, your love for Sofie or your career?”
“What kind of question is that man? Both, of course!”
“But what if you have to choose?”
“If I lose Sofie I have nothing. If I lose my career I’m nothing. Father, excuse my language, but I’m screwed if I lose either.”
“Are you sure about that? You never know until you try, Bryan.”
Then Father O’Loughin left my side and shook my hand. “Good luck,” he said. As he walked down the aisle he abruptly turned back to me with a peaceful smile. “You know the shelter sure could use someone like you to maybe help run it.”
“Are you serious?,” I exclaimed with a shake of my head.
“Why not? I think you’re perfect for the job!”
I shrugged my shoulders unsure of what to think of his offer. It would be great to help out the community, but I would be admitting to the public that I had HIV and I didn’t know if I could do that. I would be staring at reality in the faces of men, women, and children affected with the devastating virus. I preferred to crawl under a huge rock and hide from the world before I told anyone I was HIV positive. So to the Father’s offer most likely the answer would be no, yet I conveyed a friendly smile at him since his presence did soothe a hurt soul. “I’ll think on it,” I told him.
“Please do Bryan. I really think you’re the right man for the job because sooner or later I have to move on.”
“Don’t you have anyone other than me?”
“Yes, but I’m not happy with how it’s being run,” he answered. “Just think about it.”
Before I could reply to his statement the Priest quickly left out the side door of the church leaving the sound of the steel door closing with a strong thud. I was left alone wondering if I should go to the dinner with Sofie and her parents. My mood would be transparent and everyone in that room would know something was wrong. At that moment as I stared at the cross I felt at peace as if a voice inside of my heart said, it’s going to be okay.
 I later decided to attend the dinner and drove to the location on the other side of town. It was a quaint restaurant with only a few patrons. Sofie made sure of it. She reserved an outdoor private area that sat on the roof of the building and overlooked the view of the city’s skyline. The food and décor was all of her doing and it looked stunning.
I walked inside to an amazing floral display on the tables, a strand of lights wrapped around inanimate objects on the patio, and appetizers that sat meticulously on a buffet table.  Sofie looked remarkably breathtaking in her sage, wrapped dress and her hair straightened smooth to her collarbone.
“Baby,” she shouted as she waved from a distance.
My fiancé’s thick figure ran to me and laid one of the sweetest kisses on my lips. The warmth sent blood rushing to places that would be deemed inappropriate for the occasion. Her lips felt soft and juicy which made my news even harder to take.
“Mom and Dad,” she said as she called for her parents to join us.
The more her parents queried my future with their daughter the more I felt worthless. I could provide for her and give her a good life, but my what-ifs had begun to swiftly kick in. If the HIV turned into full blown AIDS yes she would be well provided, but I feared she would have to take care of me in an inevitable feeble condition.
I cut the conversation with her parents short by asking Sofie if we could be alone. By the reaction of her mother and father I felt their suspicion. Her father raised his eyebrow while her mother showed concern. Sofie nodded and followed me inside to a private room across the hall.
“What is it?” she asked.
“Before I tell you this I just want you know how much I love you…”
“What? Did you cheat me on me or something?”
“No, it’s nothing like that!”
“Well, what is it then, Bryan,” she asked. “You’re scaring me.”
As I looked into her beautiful brown eyes I realized once I told her about the HIV there was no turning back, but the Priest was right. I had to be honest with the woman I loved even if I were to lose her. At least my conscious would be clear of the lies. I was looking at her remembering the day we met at that mega church six months ago. I’ve never been at a loss for words but there she was taking my breath away. Then[S5]  tears ran down my cheeks as I tried to collect the right words to tell her.
 “Baby, now you’re really scaring me,” she said. “What’s going on?”
“Sofie, I got the test results from my doctor.”
“What results?”
I lowered my head to avoid eye contact while I firmly held her hands. Then I sighed to strum the courage to pour the rest of the truth out of my lips. “Sofie, the test results weren’t good,” I cried.
“You mean the HIV test,” she cautiously asked.
“Yes, baby.”
“Are you saying you’re HIV positive?”
Nodding my head was all I could do. The words ‘yes I’m HIV positive’ wouldn’t come out and I guess my demeanor showed her the truth. The world I wanted to give her was fading into darkness. While holding her hands I could feel her shaking as she lowered her head.
“Oh my God,” she gasped in shock. “You do realize we had sex a few times without condoms?”
I didn’t know what else to say but to apologize. The mess I created was my own doing. I thought I was extra careful when I had casual sex with those women, but there were times I got lazy and didn’t wear a rubber. I thought pulling it out before I nutted was enough to keep them from getting pregnant, and I may have succeeded with it but I caught a Sexually Transmitted Disease that I have to live with for the rest of my life and put the woman I love in jeopardy. Honestly, I understood if she didn’t want me back. I messed everything up with my career, my future, and my life with Sofie.
“Is sorry all you can say to me,” she screamed. “I might be carrying HIV and all you can say is sorry?” She then angrily bolted through the doors to the patio yelling, “Get away from me, Bryan!”
I tried my best to catch up with her and pleaded for her to give us another chance. “Baby, I love you! Please don’t end what we have,” I cried.
“Because of your nasty ways I might be carrying a death sentence,” she screamed.
I kept weeping like a kid and apologizing for my irresponsible actions. I didn’t care if lingering patrons in the restaurants had their eyes on our spat, our guests were feeling uncomfortable, or her father’s body shielded me from getting close to his daughter. All I wanted for her to know was how much I was sorry.
Immediately her parents and family whisked Sofie from the patio screaming for me to get away. “You’ve caused enough damage,” yelled her mother while her cousins pushed me from my fiancé.
I continued crying and yelling as loudly as I could, “Sofie, I love you! Please know that!”
Before I could say another word her family rushed her downstairs and away from my sight. In an instant I was left alone on the rooftop quietly and uncontrollably sobbing. “Oh God, what have I done?” It was then that I realized I’d lost her forever.
Later that night I finally made it my four bedroom condo. It was large in size but not roomy enough for me at the time because the air was thick. I was lying on my bed recounting the day’s events and wishing everything that happened could just be rewound. The HIV was real and becoming a life changing experience. I went from flying on cloud nine to rock bottom in one day.
Looking at my old football jerseys neatly displayed on my wall, I could not help but to think of the hard work I put in to make it to the pros. I thought about my high school and collegiate careers where I broke records year after year and my pro career as a twice awarded MVP. It was hard to let that all go. The fame and fortune was mundane compared to those accolades.
 Just then an epiphany came to me. I remembered the Priest asked me what was more important. ‘Is it better to keep a lie safe from harm or suffer with the truth?’ After sifting through Father O’Loughin’s words I knew suffering was temporary and a lie may be able to keep you safe, but it expanded into a lifetime of pain. I was tired of hurting.
I was clinching my cell phone wondering if I should make a life changing phone call. I even looked through the rolodex of numbers gazing for this particular person. ‘If I do this,’ I wondered, ‘that’s it!’ This call could alter everything I worked for. While sighing loudly I dialed his number. “Hello Mike,” I said to my agent. “Yeah, we need to talk.”
Almost twenty-four hours passed after I spoke to my agent. I told him the news of my HIV status and that he needed to arrange a press conference for the following day. The silence on his end of the phone was grim. Then after trying to convince me there were other ways of going about my idea instead of calling the press, I firmly said to him that was what I wanted. I also called an emergency meeting with the team’s owner, the coaches, and my teammates. It was hard talking to them for an hour and explaining how I found out about the HIV. Surprisingly, they were all supportive and understood what had to be done. Along with my agent, my parents, and the whole team I stood strong during the press conference.
Later I sat on the steps outside of the same church I was at the night before. Dressed simply in jeans and a t-shirt I sat with my hands together resting on my legs and looked to the emptiness of the night sky that had only a partial moon staring back at me. ‘God what am I going to do now,’ I wondered. While watching the bumper to bumper traffic I wondered why I returned here. I’m not a Catholic or a religious person. I was just a simple man that made mistakes and tried his best to learn from them. Before I discovered the HIV I prayed when it was convenient for me. Since the last twenty-four hour’s I was scared to pray. It felt as though I was undeserving to speak to God. He may have blessed me with things but I showed a lack of gratitude to what he did to get me to where I am today. I just didn’t know what I was going to do.
Bryan,” said a woman’s voice from a distance. I turned to see Sofie standing a few feet away from the church’s stairs. She was wearing her favorite black, velour sweat suit with her hair tied back in ponytail. She approached me as she held her purse on her shoulder. “Bryan, I saw you on the news,” she said. “Why?”
“How did you know I’d be here,” I asked her.
“I saw you sitting here on my way back home and I had this feeling that I needed to turn around,” she answered. “But again Bryan, why?”
“I had to, Sofie.”
“But retiring from football?”
“There was no other way.”
She graced me with her presence by sitting next to me on the concrete steps. I wanted so badly to feel her skin on mine but understood it might to be too soon to show affection. “I got my results this afternoon,” she said.
“Well…,” I asked.
“I’m negative,” she said as she smiled.
The relief of her uttering those two words lifted a colossal burden from my conscious. I deserved to walk my living days with HIV, but not Sofie because she was innocent. For six months she had been good to me, even at times I was not worthy of it. That was why I loved her so much. She wasn’t like any woman I’d ever dated. Sofie had a one of a kind soul. Her thoughtfulness, caring nature, and strong mindedness were the biggest reasons why I fell in love with her. Everything else was just an added bonus.
Then she leaned her head on my shoulder and told me she wasn’t out of the woods because she had to go back in a few months and get tested again.
“Look Bryan,” she said. “I can’t marry you right now but that doesn’t mean I can stop loving you.”
“You mean it baby,” I said as my voice began to break.
“Yes, I do love you. And I’ll always be here for you.”
“What about your family?”
“If they love me they’ll come around,” she said.
She took my hand, squeezed it gently, and the smile that I wondered would ever return came back. “What are you doing here anyway,” she continued, “I didn’t know you’re Catholic.”
“I’m not,” I answered. “But this is the place where I’m starting a new career.”
“New career?”
“Come on,” I said as I grabbed her hand and led her inside the church. “I hope he’s here.”
“You hope who’s here?”
“Father O’Loughin.”
The church’s sanctuary was still empty like it was yesterday. I glanced around the surroundings to find the red headed Priest and tell him I wanted to take him up on his offer. My life was beginning to feel complete with wholeness beyond riches or fame. Even though I had this virus I felt it brought out the purpose of what I was meant to do. I wanted to help those who weren’t fortunate enough to have money for healthcare to treat their HIV, didn’t have a place to live, or just needed a friend. For those twenty-four hours I felt what lonely really was and I didn’t want anyone to feel like that. I meant no one.
While I looked around for Father O’Loughin a nun walked past us wearing her traditional attire. “Excuse me Sister, I’m trying to find a Priest I met here last night,” I said. “He’s average height with red hair and freckles.”
 The Nun looked at me like I offended her with my question and frowned. “Is this some kind of joke?” she asked.
“Uh, no,” I cautiously answered. “I’m referring to Father O’Loughin.”
“Father O’Loughin?” she questioned. The Nun asked us if we could follow her around the corner to a hallway where large photos hung of all of the Priests who worked for the church. “You’re not referring to this person are you?” she asked as she pointed at Father O’Loughin’s picture.
“Yes, that’s him,” I happily exclaimed. “Do you know where I can find him?”
Then she suddenly looked at me again as if I lost my mind. “My child, Father was killed several years ago by a homeless person who came to his shelter,” she explained. “The man wasn’t a stranger because he too had AIDS. Father O’Loughin did everything he could for him. Then one day Father caught him stealing from the shelter, and just like that he senselessly stabbed Father to death.”
The nun sighed and continued, “But the shelter hasn’t been the same since. It’s been hard to keep an honest and brave person to run it. I pray for that person to come someday.” After she explained the mystery of Father O’Loughin she excused herself and went back to her business in the church.
Sofie and I gazed at one another in astonishment. “Who was the person I spoke to for an hour in this church,’ I wondered. “It had to have been Father O’Loughin. Was it possible that man’s spirit brought me here and chose me to finish his mission? When he spoke to me it seemed as though he knew I was going to make a life changing decision. All he was doing was waiting for me to take a step forward.’
“Baby, are you okay,” asked Sofie as I held her to my side.
I looked down at her grinning and then looked at the Father’s photograph. “Don’t worry Father O’Loughin, I’ll run the mission for you,” I said.
Regardless of the HIV I feel positively reassured for the future. Sometimes we can’t understand why things happen to us, and maybe it’s meant for us not to understand but to learn from it to help others. Also after learning I have HIV it actually didn’t cast a dark shadow on my once ostentatious life. Instead, it shed a new awakening for my concrete intention on this earth. Sofie isn’t kidding when she tells me all the time ‘God works in mysterious ways’ and you know he certainly does.

 ©2011, Imani Wisdom

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