All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
Mrs. Mildred Flinn picked the ripened lemons off of the tree. She grabbed them with a firm grip, tugged and stood holding a lemon in her left hand and a basket in the other.When the basket was filled, she began to walk to the kitchen, past the dogs, the cotton field, the slaves working in the field and her young son, William, who watched over them as they worked. Mildred realized William was wearing a loose fitting shirt that once belonged to his older brother, Jackson. She smiled at him and felt a deep feeling of guilt in her heart.
She entered the kitchen and began slicing the lemons in half. While cutting she gazed out the window and lost herself in thoughts of her childhood home. Mrs. Flinn thought of her slaveless Canadian upbringing, helping Mama in the kitchen, watching her older brothers cut firewood and running through the snow. Mrs. Flinn longed for snow. She missed the pure white blanket that would cover the Earth. Although these memories are vivid and joyful in Canada was full of hunger and cold. Her father was a farmer and the weather in their region was unpredictable, some days it would be bright and shinning, others it would be dark and pouring rain.
Suddenly, Mrs. Flinn felt a sharp pain in her thumb. She looked down and saw a stream of scarlet coloured blood drip from her thumb. She looked down at the pile of lemons she had cut, all in perfect halves, ready to be squeezed and made into lemonade. Mrs. Flinn squeezed them and added the sugar, cup by cup, stirring slowly with little attention. She gazed out the window, lost in her memories.
“Missus, you should not do that!” said Matilda, one of the house slaves. Mrs. Flinn turned her head towards the young girl and smiled.
“And why not?” she asked as she wiped the sticky juice from her hands on her apron.
“That is my job, my job! Missus should not be doing work. No, no work for Missus!” exclaimed Matilda as she put down the broom she had been carrying and tried to grab the lemonade from her Missus’ hands.
“Matilda, I can do what I want, please, find something else to do. The master bedroom needs dusting, could you do that?” she suggested. Matilda nodded and went up stairs to dust the bedroom.
The lemonade was done and Mrs. Flinn started to walk to the porch, she just managed to walk to the front door when she heard it.
“MILDRED, MILDRED, GET ME WATER.” yelled the voice of her ill husband from his bed. She stopped. She held two glasses and a pitcher of lemonade. Why should she get him water? What was the point? That man deserved nothing. He had stolen her, taken her from her family. He kept slaves like cattle. Whipping them, calling them such filthy names. The things he had done to her were unbearable. He made their son go to war. He refused to let her take them to a safe place. Refused, just stood there looking at her like she was some futile, trivial woman.
Mrs. Flinn looked at her rough,wrinkled hands. She never once in her long life had stood up to her monster of a husband. For the first time she would. She would just yell, “no” and walk away. She opened her mouth and was about to scream “no” when she thought, what if he got up? What if he stormed down the stairs and yelled at her? What if he came down and grabbed the jug from her hands and smashed it?
“No.” was all she said. There was silence for what felt like hours, but was only seconds. A loud crash, Matilda had dropped something upstairs. Her husband was silent . He most likely was in a state of shock.
She felt satisfied and pleased with her sudden burst of bravery. She walked out onto the porch and sat down on the white wicker chair. She poured a glass of cool, yellow lemonade and sipped it. She looked out at the long lines of cotton where the slaves were picking. She watched each slave bend over, pick the cotton and place it into their large baskets. An old woman, a young boy, middle aged woman, man, woman, child, all picking in the fields on that boiling fiery day. One person in particular caught her eye. A boy, perhaps 16 or 17, with a dark brown hair. He looked so much like her son. The son she lost. The son that died. The son that could have been saved.
Mrs. Flinn could have saved her son, Jackson. Her father had died of a heart disease and he left their small property in Quebec to her. It was tiny, but for Mildred it was filled with great memories. Her family could have packed up their things and moved to that cozy, inviting cottage in Canada, avoiding the blasted war that has caused so much grief for her and her family. Her husband refused to move, he said, no he yelled to her.
“We can’t leave the plantation, my family’s work would be ruined, we would starve you stupid woman!”
They didn’t go. Their son was called into war. Their son died in the war. The slaves still remain Flinn property and life went on. They ignored tragedy and pretended nothing had ever happened, as if they weren’t stripped of their oldest son, only to have him shot.
Mildred slammed her fist down on the table, spilling her glass of lemonade. The slaves were coming in from the fields when they heard the intense outburst and many of their heads turned. The young slave boy, the one so similar to Jackson, started to walk towards her with his bare, bleeding feet. He stepped up onto the porch with caution, slowly bending down as he got closer.
Mildred did not notice the boy coming closer to her, she was too busy mopping up with her dusty, threadbare apron and holding back the giant tears of frustration and grief that she had kept in for so very long. She looked up and stared. Without any words the boy took a piece of cloth from his overall pocket and wiped mess off the wooden floor.
Mildred admired the details on the boy’s face. His deep twilight blue eyes, the shinning brown hair that almost glowed, his long and lanky limbs. She felt joyful, she felt like her son had come back. It stopped. It stopped suddenly. There were scars on his back. Deep scars, some old,
some new. They were whip scars. The leather whip that her husband and son, William used so often.
The mess was gone and the only thing left on the ground was a sticky residue.
“Thank-you” Mrs. Flinn said as she turned around and picked up the unused glass and the jug of lemonade. Slowly, she poured. The boy’s eyes were following the stream of liquid pouring from jug to glass. She handed the young boy the glass of lemonade. She made a gesture with her head as if she was saying, “drink”.
“Thank-you.” whispered the boy. He placed the glass to his lips and began to drink the sweet beverage. He finished in a matter of seconds. A wide grin was plastered on his face.
“ I’m sorry, for everything.” said Mrs. Flinn. The boy smiled and gently touched her hand. It was surreal she felt an electric shock. A feeling of hope and reassurance. There was silence. The other slaves watching this encounter began to leave.
“I know.” said the boy, almost as if he was speaking for all the slaves the Flinn family owned.
She, Mrs. Flinn, Mildred stood there in a state of shock. They didn’t hate her. They didn’t, they felt for her. The sympathized for her. She smiled. The boy started to walk away towards the small barracks where the slaves lived.
Mrs. Flinn started to walk into the house with a glass in one hand and the jug in the other. She strolled slowly down the hallway and into the kitchen, leaning against the kitchen counter. She poured another glass of lemonade. She took a sip. She hoped that soon, life would be as simple as her childhood memories were.. No more slaves or war. One day, there will be life and love, not death and despair. Mrs. Flinn waited for that day.