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I can hear the gunshots still ringing in the air, disturbing the silent night we shared; the blasts brought me back to reality, but it was too late. “Illusions commend themselves to us because they save us pain and allow us to enjoy pleasure instead,”(Sigmund Freud) but illusions can only last for so long. It has been years since everything in my life was destroyed. How did we let it go that far? “A sweet possibility that never quite matured”; a love that could never be. Why didn’t we see the consequences? Unforgivable hatred. The hatred I have held in my heart all these years, the hatred for the malicious men whose eyes only chose to see the color of his skin has led to my own demise. My hatred is a poison dearer than Dashonte’s lingering kiss; it creeps through my veins and seeps into my soul, tainting it with darkness and whispers of retribution. I know I must accept the consequences of illusion and pleasure without complaint, but I can’t help imagining what could have been. If only the world was colorblind, only seeing greys, maybe my heart would still be whole rather than shattered into a million despairing shards that have no hope of being put back together.

It was 1866, during the time of the Mississippi Black Codes, when I first saw him; I didn’t even notice the color of his skin. Captivating grey eyes. My momma always said, “Eyes can lead you straight to someone’s soul.” I desired to get lost in the depth of his eyes, know his secrets, know his past; so that’s what I did. I melted into his captivating, mysterious eyes, and sure enough, momma was right all these years; they led me straight to his soul. On Sundays I would wait inconspicuously outside his little black church in front of the market for him to return bright eyed and full of faith. Hymns of jubilant praise would fill the air as I listened from across the street. Oh how I wanted to go in his church. I hated my white church in town because my preacher defended slavery in his sermons. I know within my own heart from reading the Bible that God has blessed us all "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be bound or free” (Corinthians 12:13). My daddy, an elite, white Southern political leader, noticed I had taken a liking to Dashonte and warned me to stay away, but I couldn’t resist. People say I come from a family with beautiful eyes, lips, and poise, but they are wrong. “For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and [those with] poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone” (Audrey Hepburn). Those who make this accusation about my family are wrong; my father spits vile words out of his “Christian” mouth. My father, and the rest of my family, are blind to the righteousness I see in Dashonte’s heart.

Etched into my memory is the devastation of the most blissful moment in my life. One day after church, I had secretly gone to Dashonte’s home. Dashonte was a sharecropper and very proud of the cotton he had grown; for him it was an empowering symbol of change in society that might eventually lead to his deserved freedom. He wrapped his arms around me and led me to the center of the cotton field, his pride and joy. Right there, in the midst of the cotton, he spun me around, we danced like fools, and he whispered in my ear, “I love you. You lift me up when I am week. You’re all that I need. Your love carries me, so I’m letting go of my fear of what laws and white men can do to me. I am abandoning what is prudent for our love to grow together.” Within seconds my world went black, disappearing from existence. White men I recognized as my fathers’ friends from different councils were rushing at us and shouting. Their faces were a blur and their mouths were moving wildly; they had come to destroy our happiness. My mind was swirling as though I was watching everything from a distance rather than standing dead center in the middle of Hade’s war zone. With their strong arms they attempted to pull me away from his crumpled body. They had shot Dashonte in the chest, but had not killed him. Instead they made him kneel before them as if he were worth nothing; they repeated section two of the Mississippi Black Codes“it shall not be lawful for any freedman, free negro, or mulatto to intermarry with any white person; nor for any white person to intermarry with any freedman, free negro, or mulatto”. As the malicious white men read off the law, Dashonte looked imploringly at me with his captivating grey eyes. Although he was bleeding and being dehumanized, his gaze held mine as he mouthed the words, “I love you” before my father’s murderous hands grabbed him by his face and forced him to look into his eyes as he took his life. The leader of the assault, my father, looked at me and told me I would be forgiven and because of who he was, I would not face any punishment. I looked at him and told him, “You are no father of mine.” That was the last time I ever saw him. I kneeled beside Dashonte’s distorted body, sheltering him from any intrusion, promising him I would never forget how his love was like a golden splendor in the darkest days of man.





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siobhan said...
Feb. 29, 2012 at 9:18 am
This was such a great read! So glad to have gotten the chance to enjoy this!
 
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