Friday, April 3, 2020

Tiny Truth by: Aaron D. Able

Here is a short memoir / micro essay I submitted to the Creative Nonfiction Network during their online "Tiny Truth" essay competition. The goal was to tell a true story using 280 characters or less and to my surprise, my submission was selected, published, and featured on Creative Nonfiction Network's Twitter account! Enjoy!

Tiny Truth by: Aaron D. Able

17 and in love lying in bed watching TV with my boyfriend.
Front door opens.
Quietly panicking as footsteps of high heels get closer to my room.
Knuckles collide against the door.
I open it to greet mom and she asks, "Why is your window open?"
But the coast is clear.

"Earl Johnson Jr." by: Aaron D. Able

Published in the 2019-2020 Limestone College Candelabra, here is a research essay I did based on my then, college roommate! Amazing and touching story!

“Earl Johnson Jr.”

by: Aaron D. Able


Some people like to believe that everything happens for a reason. It’s not every day that someone gets caught up in talking to their college roommate if it’s not about the next big party happening on campus. Especially if their roommate is anything like me; an introvert in their final year of college who rarely tries to make new friends but, one day I decided to test this notion. I was sitting on my side of the room and my roommate, Antonio Williams, was sitting on his.  Before I got to know him, Tony was just a twenty-year-old college student who loved playing video games. He was a tall, skinny cross-country runner who didn’t talk much until he was sitting in front of a T.V. screen yelling at his online friends in a game of Fortnite. I had never talked to him about anything serious, but I inquired about this person that I would be cohabitating with for an entire school year. So, one day we began to have a casual conversation about how we both ended up at the same school. We talked about our past years in high school and about all the sports and activities we participated in. He mentioned that he was from Missouri and I proceeded to ask him, “how in the world did you end up at Limestone in little ole’ South Carolina?” He explained to me how he was offered a full scholarship and how his parents wanted him to go to school to continue to better his life. Then the conversation took a turn to the left – we began talking about his childhood and an unexpected life story began to surface. Tony began telling me about this crazy life that sounded like it belonged in a movie. In the midst of him taking me through the intense timeline, I stopped him.  He immediately felt vulnerable enough to share his story with me; I felt so moved that I stopped listening to what he was saying, and while his words became a blur, my heart became heavy. I began to think about how I could translate his story to paper so I told him that we would reconvene at a later date. I needed time to mentally and emotionally prepare myself just to write a miniscule version of the life he actually had to live.


            By the time Tony was fifteen, he was living his life in fear, especially when moving to a new home because he never knew what could happen next. He suffered from bullying within the homes, depression, and even child abuse. He talked about having to go to the hospital because a group of kids at one of the homes jumped him. When his guardians at the time came home to see what had happened, he blamed it on himself by saying he fell down the staircase. I thought this was the worst of it but the more Tony dove into his story, the harder it became to bare.

Tony moved around a few more times until he was at his eighth foster home. At this new home he finally felt he could live a life of comfort. He enjoyed life just as an average kid and participated in all of the activities he could only dream of doing before. He never thought it would happen but, he loved his new parents he was blessed with. His mother, Dr. Campbell, was also the principal at the school he attended, making him even more motivated to do well in school. Still with this family, he is finally at peace with his life and feels nothing but unending love from them. At the time, he was unknowingly on his last chance; risking the fact that he could’ve been stuck being raised by the system until he turned eighteen – barely slipping by the cracks of being amongst the twelve percent of children who are forced to turn the members of a group home into their family. Two months of living at his new home, he found out he had to go to court to testify against his previous family in Fort Linardwood, Missouri. He began to explain to me how it was complete hell living with this family that destroyed him the most. It was a married couple that had never had a foster child until Tony. They tormented and abused him during the time he spent there and on his way to the courthouse he began having flashbacks of what those people did to him. Flashbacks of him being beaten with a wooden two-by-four and being locked inside of a room without food for hours. He had nothing but his wondering mind and the four walls that barricaded him. There were times when his guardians would leave him at home for extensive periods of time, just to come back and beat him some more and make him do military workouts without any reason at all as to why they were treating him with such hatred. They would send him to school, hungry, with barely anything to eat in his lunch bag. Because Tony walked to school every day, he would pass by the community center to get food that, of course, he had no money to pay for. Every day he would sneak to the vending machines just to steal enough food to suffice for the day. He had gotten away with it countless of times until one day the building janitor caught him on camera squeezing his arm up the opening of the machines, grabbing whatever he could that was in arms reach. The next morning, Tony went to fulfill his daily routine and what happened next, I feel, was the best thing in his life that could’ve ever happened to him.

 The janitor was awaiting him, ready to call the police. The police arrived and put Tony through a series of questions and eventually asked about his parents – he was calm until that moment. When they asked about his parents he began to cry hysterically, screaming to the officers that his parents were going to beat him if they told them what he had done. He started showing them the scars and bruises he had covering his body, giving validation that he was telling the truth. Because of the severity of the marks, the police immediately took him to the station and took photos of his body. They took Tony to his home and started an investigation, collecting evidence to match everything that he told them. He remembers the police finding the pistol belt that matched the welts on his body, but they couldn’t find the two-by-four until weeks after, finding out that his guardians threw it in the woods behind the house when they noticed the police pulling up in the driveway. That’s when Tony was transferred to Dr. Campbell’s home. He had always felt that everything was continuously being taken from him but this time, he didn’t mind.


            There were over 500,000 children waiting to be adopted in the year 2006. What Tony didn’t know is that he was soon to be an addition to that statistic. When he was a little boy, his roller coaster life had already begun. He lived in Rolla, Missouri with his parents and three older siblings, but had no idea about the true life he was living. At the age of five, his dad was very sick. He was too young to know what was wrong with him, but he remembers his parents being separated; causing his dad to move in with his sister, Tony’s “Aunt Mi Mi”. His aunt cared for her brother until he eventually became too sick to endure life any longer. By this time, the life of Tony’s mother was consumed by drugs and the death of his father made it even worse. Tony and his siblings eventually moved in with his Aunt Mi Mi and stayed there for the next two years. After he turned seven, his Aunt that became a mother to him passed away from a sudden death. Tony was then taken away and put into foster care while his two older siblings got to stay home and live with family members – a decision he still questions today.

            Once he was in the system for about a year, he got moved to a temporary foster home. He remembers being taken in by a white, single mother who already had a set of adopted sisters. She was very loving and made him feel comfortable in this home, but when he turned ten things changed for him. He found out his biological mother was trying to reconnect with him. She had supposedly been clean from drugs for the past few years and was trying to regain custody of her children. There was a case worker that came to talk to him at his home, asking if he wanted to live with his real mom again. Of course, he said yes so, they let him visit her for a week. Four years had gone by and he finally got to see his mom. He felt nothing but joy and excitement being able to hug her and finally be in the presence of the woman who birthed him.

When Tony was at his mother’s house, he noticed that a man would come over as if he were trying to act in secrecy. His mom would be paranoid and make the man park his car behind the house so that it couldn’t be seen from the roads view. Eventually, a week had passed and it was time for Tony to go back to his foster home. On the last day, he remembers his mother acting weird, coaching him through what he could and could not talk about while he spent time with her. She made him vow that if anyone asked if he had seen a man over her house, he would say no and he promised her he would keep his word.  

            Tony got back to the foster home where the foster mother and case worker were awaiting him. They acted as if they were excited to see him again and welcomed him in with open arms. They were happy he was home but knew they had work to do. The case worker brought Tony into an empty room in the house, shut the door, and locked it behind her. That’s when the interrogation began. She began with a series of generic questions, asking him to explain his week’s experience. They got to the end and she asked the question that was haunting him the entire time. Tony didn’t know how to respond and sat there in silence, timid and afraid. He finally parted his lips to deny what he had seen with his mom but, the caseworker wasn’t taking no for an answer.  She antagonized him until she felt he was being honest with her. He finally gave in, bursting out with aggravation, he told her yes, he had seen the guy over his mother’s house. Tony didn’t know at the time that the guy was his mother’s drug supplier and once he gave in and broke his mother’s promise, he immediately felt a sense of remorse. That was the last time he would ever see her before she died six years later.

July 24, 1998.

Answering question after question, we eventually came to an end of this journey. Captivated in that moment, I carried a feeling of despondency until he began to smile and nod his head; giving me the assurance that he’s not defined by what he’s been through. Because I was simply curious to know, I asked him one last question: “Have you ever had another name besides Tony?” In a calming tone, he replied, “Yes. I was born named after my biological father, Earl… Earl Johnson.”
















Able, Aaron D, and Antonio N Williams. “Interview with Tony.”


“Adoption & Foster Care Statistics.” Children's Bureau | ACF,



“Foster Care.” Children's Rights, 2018 Children's Rights,


Lee, Mary. “Six Things You Should Know About Growing up in Foster Care.” The Huffington

Post,, 17 June 2016,


“This New Federal Law Will Change Foster Care As We Know It.” The Pew Charitable Trusts,


Monday, May 6, 2019


Here's a video I made for the Limestone College Track Team during my internship!


A motivational video I made for my team heading into Nationals!

Friday, March 15, 2019

30 Year Article Reflection [CM412]
After reading the article there are a few things that I agree with, and some that I disagree with. The main thing that I agree with is that as a digital community, we have to ensure that we are utilizing the internet in a positive, and productive manner. Doing this will help end harsh things such as cyberbullying. What I did not agree with is that I do not believe that we should completely be rid the use of some of our traditional ways.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Tips and Techniques to Conducting an interview.

1. Do your homework:
- Know who you're talking to and if you can, call and do a pre-interview. 

2. Come correct, do NOT try to "wing it." Be prepared! RESEARCH!

3. Think like a journalist. Ask open ended questions, not "Yes or No" questions. 

4. Make your subject talk to you, not the camera lens. 
- Sit offset of the camera so that your guest feels comfortable and not awkward. 

Things to keep in mind:

- Head space
- Make sure the eyes are around 1/3 from the top of the frame. 
- If your guest uses hand gestures when they speak, be sure the hands are not rapidly moving in and out of the frame. 
- Keep in mind the background and surrounding areas.
- Lighting! [Good to use the three-point lighting system] - Key Light (Top Left when looking at the guest), Fill Light (Opposite to Key Light but set lower directly beside the guest on right side), and Back or Hair Light (to separate the guest from the background).

Tiny Truth by: Aaron D. Able

Here is a short memoir / micro essay I submitted to the Creative Nonfiction Network during their online "Tiny Truth" essay competi...