My life started locked in chains, and I hope it doesn't end that way. Every night i prayed for one thing; being free. My master went by the name Charles. And I go by the name Joshua. That's what I remember my folks calling me before we were forever separated. Charles called me, “The boy.” It’s better than the things his wife,Anna, called me.
I stretched my overworked arms and got up from the hay I rest on. Leaving the slave quarter, I heard Charles yelling for me. My shoeless feet ran through the grass and into the kitchen. “Boy, what is it that took you so bloody long? You deserve a slash for every second you are late.” Charles spit in my face. I noticed the vein popping out from his pale forehead. “ I’m sorry sir.” I lied. He seemed very aggravated today. Anna wasn't with him either. Perhaps they got in an argument. “Sorry isn't going to cut it this time boy” He yelled. I felt my leg go numb and then everything went black.
I woke up the next morning with horrible pain in my leg. To add to the pain, I heard charles’ disgusting voice calling me. I dragged myself up, trying not to fall. After a few minutes of struggling, I made my way to the kitchen. “Joshua, you will be leaving me today.” Charles said ,sipping from his cup. Is he drunk? Why did he say my name? Am I finally free? I couldn't comprehend this situation. “What do you mean sir?” I asked, trying to contain my excitement. “I have enlisted you into the war.” He explained. My happiness suddenly melted into melancholy and anxiety.“What time do I leave? Who am I fighting for? What do I wear?” I babbled, stressfully. “The army will answer those questions but you are leaving now.”
And that was the last I saw of Charles. The war he placed me in was horrible. Men were dropping like raindrops in April from injury, starvation, and illness. I remember some of my last battles. There was Bunkerhill, Saratoga, and But my most vivid battle, was the battle of Yorktown. It changed our country's life, and mine.
It was the last day of the war. A cool October day, the army and I were standing in line getting ready to shoot. “Joshua, watch out!” A voice called behind me. I looked behind me confused. And then it hit me. Literally. I fell to the ground feeling a familiar pain in my right leg. I looked down at my leg in hazy vision. All I could remember is the day I was enlisted in the war, and the pain Charles struck on me with the whip. But this wasn't a whip, it was a bullet. Or was it? All I saw on my leg was blood seeping through my breeches, that were now torn in some places. Possibly a grape shot?My mind was filled with questions and stress. I passed out.
The next day or so, I remember waking up to the sun beating in my eyes. I tried to get up, but my leg was in so much pain. Observing closer, I noticed the lack of skin on some spots of my leg. It looked like a grazed my leg. I ripped off the sleeve of my shirt and tied it around my leg.
A few hours later I could finally get up. I was surrounded by dead men and concluded that the army left and assumed I was dead as well. I wondered how long I had been asleep. Perhaps if I ran fast enough I could of caught up with the army. But my leg being in the critical condition that it was, I wasn't going to risk it.
I removed my broken compass from my haversack . The cracked glass cut my right pinkie finger. Now I was wounded, hungry, lost, and alone. I had to make a plan. I could head home North to Philadelphia, but then I would be a slave again. Okay, i need to be smart. What do i need to survive? Food, water, shelter, and weapons. I investigated the rest of the items in my haversack. Now where do I go?
I decided to head to South Carolina.I started walking South at sundown. My leg ached but I had to be strong. I made the most out of the hike. I saw all sorts of plants and creatures I never had time to realize while being in the army. My eyes started to feel heavy after a while, so I decided to make shelter in a mossy tree hole. I fell asleep to the sound of crickets and my stomach rumbling.
The next day I woke up elated. I was determined to hunt and get water. But that happiness shortly ended when I tripped on a tree stump. My right ankle was twisted and scraped a little. How will I hunt now? I looked around for a stick to support me. I found the perfect branch, and lifted myself up. A ladybug crawled from the branch and onto my right arm.
I made little distance and success. The only meat I obtained was a squirrel besides a bird egg I ripped from a nest. I cooked them as well as I could and ate. It wasn't as bad as I thought. I ended my day by exercising my leg and collecting different types of rocks and flowers.
My slumber was short. I was woken up from an odd feeling on my face. I opened my eyes and tried to focus on what was occurring. It was a dog and he was licking my face! I tried to push it away so I could get out of my moss fort. “Heal boy.” I said to the dog He sat down with obedience. The dog had big brown eyes with brown and black fur. He didn't seem hostile so I rubbed his head. What could I call him? He nudged my right leg and I winced in pain. That's what I'll call him! “Hey Right.” I called to him. He turned his head sideways, but continued to wag his tail.
Me and Right became great partners. He was skilled at digging, finding foot, and listening for potential enemies. Together we traveled all the way to Charleston. Finding work was hard, I lived in constant fear of being put into slavery again.
One evening, I gave up. I threw a stick and watched Right chase it as my bottled up emotions starting to spill out. “Pardon me, but are you okay?” Questioned a voice behind me. I turned around and met eyes with girl. “No, I cannot find work. I am afraid I will be put into slavery again.” I answered. She looked at me with understanding eyes. “You don't have freedom papers?” She inquiried. “No, I was placed in the war by my master, and was left behind with a wounded leg. I hiked here with my dog, Right.” I told her. “So you're a runaway then? Don't worry, I am too. My mama told me how to read and write as a child, so I used that knowledge and wrote myself papers of freedom!” She said with a grin. She pulled a quill, ink, and papers out of her bag and handed me one. I looked at the papers she placed on the ground. I couldn't read what they said. “What's your name? I need to write it down. “ she said, fiddling with the quill. “Joshua, and yours?” I said. “I'm Rose Smith. What's your last name?” Rose responded. Her name suited her. I reached into my haversack and pulled out a rose from my flower collection. I held it in my hands pondering if I should give her it or not. “I don't have a last name that I know of..” I mumbled, feeling embarrassed. “That's okay! Just think of one.” She reassured me. I continued to play with the rose in my hand. I bit my lip while I thought.
All of a sudden, Right started barking out of nowhere and jumping around. Me and Rose jumped up and ran over to him. “What is it boy?” I shouted while looking around expecting him to have noticed a squirrel or skunk. “Rebecca, run faster!” Rose yelled. I glanced over to her direction and saw a little girl running away from an angry goose. Get ‘em Right!” I called over. Right ran over to the goose and chased it away. Rebecca thanked him with a pat on the head, and the two came over to Rose and I. “Thank you for saving me from that big sheep!” Rebecca exclaimed. Rose corrected her and we all walked to Rose’s house.
Rebecca fell asleep on Right while me and Rose talked all night. We both learned so much about each other that night. We became great friends. Rose was kind enough to let Right and I stay at her home. I'm glad I met her.
A few weeks later, I found work. “Joshua Smith huh.” Mr.Hobbs, the head fisherman, stated. “Okay you're hired.” He said with a slight grin.
My life did not end up in chains. Rose and I got married and had a child. I had a job. Everything ended up alright.