We drove through a blizzard,
all to see Mom's family. 
White dust floated around us,
hitting the windshield like tiny,
soft pellets, but became tightly packed
when they hit the ground, the tires
grasping to find any traction
at 40 mph on the freeway—
the nine hours crept to twelve,
and our van crept right along with them.
We stopped for coffee, like every
road trip, but Dad couldn't finish his,
claiming it was too bitter for some reason.

Snowmobiles waited for us at
Uncle Larry's, but I couldn't drive one
at twelve; the massive contraptions
required strength and weight, both things
I didn't have at the time. My sister drove
while I sat behind, both of us in
coats and gloves and balaclavas,
teasing the cold by only showing our eyes.
She drove while I tilted left and right and
left, depending on which way we veered.
I went right when she drove the opposite,
and I shot into the air, only for a second,
then a belly flop on the ice told me
that no number of coats could provide
enough padding. I don't know why I
don't remember the bruising. Later, 
I'd find it pained me to breathe, one of my ribs
jutting out, ever so slightly.

That night, Dad brought me to pick up Thai food,
and we waited in a booth under a fluorescent light. 
He asked my opinion about his complexion, 
and I agreed that the dull glow gave it a
yellowish tinge. My uncle said jaundiced skin
could be a symptom of something—
something to do with the liver, and it was
more than just the lights, even though I
wish it wasn't. Four months later and
my rib still juts out as evidence of that trip, 
and we found that the florescent lights
didn't lie that night. 

(Published in Oral Roberts University's literary journal: Promethia—2018-2019 edition)

Toronto Page.JPG

Reagan Fleming

The Red Couch

It's happening again.

I push my eyes open and force myself to sit up, although I do so a little too quickly. I sit up straighter for a moment and close my eyes, even though the room is completely dark anyway. I hear scraping against the wall of the hallway, which just so happens to be on the opposite side of my bedroom door. Two, maybe three men's voices are now audible, although I can't understand them with their medical jargon—they are emergency medical technicians, back again for the second time this month.

I open my eyes and gingerly swing my legs over the side of my bed. I propel myself into a standing position and walk over to the light switch next to my door—my now stinging eyes squint almost to a close in response to the sudden light. I reach into my drawer and pull out a pair of comfy jeans, then I open another drawer and grab a loose-fitting t-shirt. I think to myself, "My shoes are by the door. I'll get them after the EMT's leave." 

I wait, fully dressed, sitting on my bed. I know that my mom will come in at some point to alert me on what has happened. It's no use, because I already know.

He's on his way to the hospital again, that part I know; it could be because he stopped breathing, like last week. Or, it could be something totally different, I mean, I'm not a doctor. I don't know all the possible side effects of cancer. 

I hear a soft tap on my door, unlike the harsh scraping from a few minutes ago. Scraping, which I know from experience, is the sound of a stretcher carrying my father away to the emergency room.

The door opens without my giving the OK, and it's not my mom, but my neighbor. She looks surprised that the light is already on and I am already dressed. She informs me that my dad was having trouble breathing, so my mom went with the EMTs to take him to the emergency room to make sure everything was "all right." She asks if I want her to stay the night and sleep on the living room couch. That couch is red. Red and very comfortable, shaping to your body once you lie on it for an hour or two. Before my dad got sick, I would leave my bedroom door open at night. Four nights out of seven, I could hear him out there snoring on that couch, completely oblivious to what was playing on the TV screen at that point. He would later go back to their bedroom after waking up from a loud blast from the TV, signaling that it was time for a commercial break. But as I drifted off to sleep in my bed, hearing him snore just a few rooms away was when I felt to most safe. Although lately, he's been limited to one room in the house, a makeshift "hospital room away from the hospital." 

I don't know why I told my neighbor that she didn't have to stay—I'm 12 years old. I don't have a fear of the dark per se, but I sure as heck don't like it. As we all could have guessed, I couldn't go back to sleep after she left.

“Too late now,” I tell myself. Before my neighbor left, she told me that my mom would be back in a few hours to check in on me. A few hours could mean anything to an adult. Me? I think: two hours. That's a few. Just to be safe, I'll say that she'll be back in three. That's enough time to give her to sit with my dad in the cold and dingy and unnecessarily loud hospital waiting room. That's enough time to wait on the doctor, to have the doctor check him out, and then to come back with the right medicines to make him feel better. 

I have my pajamas on again, and I can't decide which movie to fall asleep to. I turn on the lamp by the couch, decide on my second movie option, and put it in the DVD player. The living room is well-lit. I am by myself. The red couch is comfy, like always.

A little less than three hours to go.

(Published in Oral Roberts University's literary journal: Promethia—2018-2019 edition)


Reagan Fleming

January 3 - April 11

Those four months, we catered to an unwelcome visitor
who took up residence, disrupting our home and
Dad's immune system.
Hearty meals exchanged for juices that
shrunk him down to size, like a lanky teenage boy,
bones sharp and jutting underneath loose layers,
his mouth now mute and
eyes wide with a childlike wonder
The carrots corrected his sight—
the ideal 20/20— 
but they didn't recognize me.

Those twelve years before, we had
breakfast and Nickelodeon on Saturday mornings,
basketball drills in the driveway, and you'd
come home right at 6pm, face beaming
when you looked at Mom.
You and I would play I Spy games while
perched in the big maple tree out front,
hidden behind green leaves turning to match the bark.
I'd cheat and choose a car that already passed,
but you'd let it slide and still guess incorrectly.
Now I wish I could choose
the good over the bad memories.

(Published in Oral Roberts University's literary journal: Promethia—2018-2019 edition)

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Reagan Fleming

The Death of the Patriarch

Like his hand, I try my own at all caps,
Los Lonely Boys singing on repeat.
The letters come out sloppily,
but the tunes have grown on me.

Sugar-cinnamon toast and surface-level chats,
topics about work, my school,
the only small talk my
introverted-self didn't dread. 

Music rekindles, it sparks my memory,
those 10 years, seemingly forgotten. 
But which one's which?
Which ones am I imagining? 

(Published in Oral Roberts University's literary journal: Promethia—2017-2018 edition)

Reagan Fleming

No Longer a Piggyback Religion

When I was around 6 years old, I had a dream – I was flailing away in the ocean, and someone reached out and saved me. Somehow, at that young age, I knew that it was God speaking to me through that dream, so when I woke up, I immediately accepted Jesus as my Savior. That was the start of my walk with God.

As the years went by and my 12th birthday came and went, my life was good: my family and I went to church every Sunday, my dad was my basketball coach, my oldest sister attended a Christian university, my other older sister went to a Christian high school, and I was homeschooled, where my mom was my teacher. I even discovered one of my passions at a young age: writing. My life was perfectly fine, until my dad was diagnosed with cancer.

It seemed as though time had stopped – my family immediately started praying and were believing for a miraculous and complete healing. I, little 12-year-old Reagan, followed suit. I figured that since Jesus died on the cross to take away all of our sins, sicknesses, and diseases (the first Bible story I was every told), that God certainly wouldn’t let my dad die from cancer. Believing this, I carried on with my life, thinking: He’ll get better one of these days. He’s not going to need a walker to get from point A to point B forever. God will heal him, and everything will go back to normal. Except, it didn’t. My dad died 4 months after his diagnosis.

I really struggled with my faith because of unanswered questions, like: “God, why did You let my dad die?” and “Where were You all this time?” There was a period of at least a year after my dad died, where I put God on the back burner. I was constantly thinking that if God was who He said He was – a healer and my protector – then why did everything happen the way that it did? And of all people, why did it have to be my dad? My dad was an amazing follower of Christ; he is someone that I really looked up to, not only because he was well over a foot taller than me, but because his love and trust in God never wavered, even when he was at his sickest.

Losing my dad was a wake-up call: I was forced to realize that I didn’t have a real relationship with God, I was just piggybacking on my parents’ religion. I finally decided for myself that I didn’t want to continue to live my life this way. I was extremely lucky that I had my friends and the rest of my family around me, but after my dad’s death, I was still left feeling hopeless, depressed, lonely, and extremely confused. I now know that I felt so lost because I didn’t have an actual relationship with God to begin with. I needed to find out who I was in Christ on my own; I couldn’t live vicariously through my parents’ relationships with God. 

Dealing with my father’s death made me realize two very important things: 

1. God doesn’t give us things that we can’t handle. When it feels like we’re being stretched too thin, God will always always be there for us (1 Corinthians 10:13). It felt like God ditched me after my dad died, but I realize now that He was always there, I just chose to ignore Him (Psalm 139:7-8).

2. God knows everything. God knows the day we were born and the day we will die (Psalm 139:16). It took me a very long time to understand that he didn’t die because we didn’t pray hard enough or we didn’t do this or that – my dad died when he did, because that was when his life was supposed to end.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die…”

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

It sounds scary, but God has our entire future in His hands. After my whole world got flipped around, God was still calm, cool, and had everything under control. He didn’t forget about the Fleming clan one day and poof, my dad got sick. God allows certain things to happen in this world that sometimes make no sense. And even though this may sound like an over-used mantra, it’s still true: everything happens for a reason.

Right after I became a Christian, I didn’t immediately jump into “missionary” mode, wanting to save everyone that I came in contact with, and I wasn’t “on fire for God.” For me, my relationship with God was and still is constantly evolving; it started when I was 6 when I made that conscious decision to follow Him, and ever since then – bumpy roads and all – He has been constantly guiding me and walking alongside me. Even during the period of time where I tried to completely shut Him out of my life, He never did the same to me.

"…neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Romans 8:39

Day by day, God has been showing me who He is, and I’ve been opening up more of my heart to Him. If God had answered my questions regarding my father’s death right after I asked them, I probably would have gone right back to the life that I was living, content with an explanation. But that’s the thing: the life I was living was not the life that God had for me. He wanted me to give up that piggybacked religion that I had held onto for so long, and figure out who I actually am in Christ. 

I had to ask (and still ask) God to give me a hunger and thirst for His Word and His love. It’s okay for you to do the same! Just because you’ve been a Christian for X amount of years or days doesn’t mean that you need to be at a certain place in your walk with God. God doesn’t base His love on our love for Him. Thank God!

I am now able to see that God was capable of pulling me through it all, like He did in my dream. Except now, instead of Him just pulling me out of the water, He pulled me out of so much more.

(Originally published here on on 8.9.16.)

Reagan Fleming

Waiting for Mr. Fleming

Over the years i learned
to swallow my pain.
Yet it always came
up, enveloped
in blame.
No one knew to react,
no one knew to care. 
i just wanted the one
no longer

It wasn't your choice, no one
could choose
The time to die, although
i wish i had a say in it.
Memories keep fading, 
yet i'm still
Waiting, waiting
for your six-foot frame
to reappear.  

(Published in Oral Roberts University's literary journal: Promethia - 2015-2016 edition)

Reagan Fleming

‘Nashville’ comes to Tulsa

ABC’s “Nashville” live in concert is an opportunity to see the characters perform original tracks from the TV show. The concert will be held at the Brady Theater Thursday, April 21.

The “Nashville” TV series premiered in 2012 and is still airing. This drama deals with the uncertainty of the country music scene. Actors Connie Britton from “Friday Night Lights” and Hayden Panettiere from “Heroes” entertain viewers with both their acting and singing capabilities.

Performing Thursday are: Clare Bowen (plays the role of Scarlett), Chris Carmack (plays the role of Will), Charles Esten (plays the role of Deacon), and Aubrey Peeples (plays the role of Layla).

The doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the concert starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are priced $29.50 to $59.50 depending on seat locations.

(Originally published 4.20.16 on The Oracle's website.)

Reagan Fleming

Spring outreach, all-school party share Saturday

The missions department is holding the annual Spring Outreach event, and the Student Association is throwing its annual SA All-School Party on the same Saturday, April 9.

Spring Outreach will be hosted at the South Tulsa Community House, the Tulsa Dream Center and the Boys and Girls Club. Each location will be open to students from 9:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m., and to the community from 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.

“The theme revolves around this challenge: ‘What Could Be’ in the next generation if we empowered the youth in the Tulsa community to fulfill their dreams,” said Jaci Pringle, the head outreach coordinator. “We want to challenge the youth and leaders in these communities to believe that they can follow their dreams, that they can see change.”

The outreach will consist of development work-shops, food, games, music and dance performances, in order to bring ORU students and the Tulsa community together.

The event has been held annually for the past 10 years, and Pringle and the missions team are happy to share the day with SA’s All-School Party just a few hours later.

“We love partnering with SA, and love their heart for wanting to serve the students,” said Pringle. “It’s an awesome event and we’re pumped for the All- School event this year.”

The party is Saturday, April 9 at 5 p.m. in the field behind Towers. The party will be equipped with food, for a picnic with a Partiestival feel.

Students can play bubble soccer, the men’s and women’s intramural champions will be crowned and the bands Space Pod for Two and Gibraltar will both perform live.

“The party is a revised spring picnic, transformed to be more open and get more people to attend,” said Tara Lau from the SA programs department. “Why not make it a big celebration and give the students another opportunity to hang out?”

Saga will be closed during the All-School Party, but students can exchange a Saga-swipe for a meal and a free T-Shirt.

“The All-School Party is a wonderful end-of-the-year celebration,” said Lau. “It’s gonna be a lot of fun hanging out with friends as kind of a last hurrah.”

(Originally published 4.8.16 on The Oracle's website.)

Reagan Fleming