The Slave's Secret

January 26, 2013
“I don’t… know!” I said through gritted teeth. He twisted my arm farther up my back stinging my eyes with tears. I felt his hot breath on the back of my neck making chills run up my spine.
“Give it to me boy. I know you were there. You know it’s not allowed to keep things from your master.” His voice was silky, mocking me. I couldn't let him find out! It would certain death for me and she would only be half alive by the time they were done.

“Let him go, Larry. Kid’s probably got fleas anyway.” Dan looked at me in disgust. “We can get it from our neighbors, they spy enough they probably saw.” Larry pushed me to the ground and spat on the back of my knee. Cradling my arm and trying not to show that he had caused me such pain I scrambled up and stood straight with my arm close to my body. Not able to verify my lie I wiped my face of all emotion.

“Go on black boy. Leave!” Larry screamed at me. I felt helpless; I wouldn't even be able to protect her. I turned and ran to the stables, I had my own little corner in there where I felt I could think without everyone able to see my thoughts. I held my arm close to by body, and checked it over. Deciding it wasn't broken, I leaned against the damp wooden wall to think.
Brooding over the mater wasn't going to change facts: they were going to find out no matter how strong I was. How sweet last night was, those seconds of complete freedom. Escaping the pain of the present my mind sent me back to the night before.
Around midnight I was carrying water to the cows in the barn. My name is Leo. No last name, that was illegal for slaves. I am 17 and enslaved in Nebraska, not the most unique place there is. Farm after farm that’s all there is to it.
I was about halfway to the barn when a shadow loomed out of the darkness. Scared I backed up a step sloshing half the water on myself.
“Oh I’m sorry.” A girl of 16 stepped out of the shadows staring at my now drenched shorts. She stepped tentatively towards me as if to help. I knew this girl; she was my master’s (Larry’s) daughter, Flo. She was about 5’4, 3 inches shorter than me, long black hair and big green eyes.
Head down I said, “It’s alright miss.” I meant to continue on my way but she blocked my path staring away into the distance. “Do you ever believe that there is more to life than just this?” Something in her tone made me hesitate to say my automatic answer; No miss, goodnight miss. She wanted the truth.
“Yes.” I said simply. Suddenly she started to cry, small barely audible sobs. I didn't know what to do, my first instinct would be to put my arm around her but it was forbidden. I took a deep breath and put my arm around her shoulders.
“It’s alright miss-“
“Stop that!” she said mindlessly. “Don’t call me miss. I hate that.” Taken aback I murmured trying to calm Flo down.
Finally she pulled away gulping down her sobs. “Thank you…”
“Leo. It’s Leo.” I said a little freaked out that I had actually touched her.
“Thank you Leo. It’s been awhile since anyone has been that kind to me.” We both stood there awkwardly. Suddenly I didn’t want her to leave. I longed to… no I couldn’t, it was downright stupid.
I slowly set down the bucket I was still holding. I was well aware that she was still quite close. “I do hope that this isn’t all there is.” She suddenly looked up into my eyes. Slowly my hand snaked down and around her neck. My eyes closed as my lips found hers. Flo’s arms wrapped around me and pulled me closer to her.
I wrenched my mind out of the past and groaned. Someone must have seen us, to the master kissing another slave is something to laugh about, but kissing blacks and whites kissing, that was a crime. From the sound of it, all the person who saw us could see was two people kissing, but they must have saw the contrast of our skin. However it happened, they knew a white and a black were kissing. If he found out that the black was kissing his daughter...
Both of us will be punished. Flo will be severely punished, hurt enough she will regret ever learning my name, but she'll live. I, however, am a different matter. Execution by fists is what I’ll get.
I sighed again resisting the goading voice in my head telling me to give up and die here. Abruptly I sat bolt upright at the sound of heavy footfalls.
“LEO! Leo help!” At the sound of Flo’s voice I rushed out of the barn. Flo was running straight towards me with Larry and Dan following. I seethed seeing Larry was carrying a crowbar, he was going beat out of her who kissed her.
“Flo! Down to the riverbed!” She changed her direction slightly sprinting to the riverbed, I sprinted up to her and we ran together.
“So it was you, ya brat!” Dan's heavy breath could be heard a mile away.
I indulged to my naturally sharp tongue, “Not one for orations are you? Right to the point.”
“Get back here black boy so I can twist your limbs off!” Larry’s face was probably a mask of murder right now. I didn't dare look back.
We were pulling ahead. We had about 50 yards between us now and 10 till the riverbed. We got to the riverbed and I rustled around in the underbrush. Finding a small canoe for one fill with emergency rations, I pulled it out and pushed into the water. It was for slaves who needed a quick escape. I should say slave, singular.
They were only 20 yards behind. I turned to Flo and put my hands on either side of her face and kissed her quickly. Keeping my hands where they were I told Flo, “Take this and go as far as you can.”
“I’m not leaving you-“
“You have to, go!” I physically picked her up and plopped her into the canoe. I pushed it out as far as I could go. The rapids did the rest.
“LEO!” Flo screamed tears streaming down her face, her hair blowing into her face from the wind. I watched her go with no regrets as I felt Larry’s arms wrap around me.

Join the Discussion

This article has 13 comments. Post your own now!

Kestrel135This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 16, 2014 at 11:31 am
This was a great piece of work. The way you enticed the reader from the start was truly admirable, and  this story stood out. There were a few grammatical errors, but nothing major that took away from the piece. The story itself was bittersweet; the romance that turned into a murder story (sort of). Ending it righ there with Flo on the boat and Leo trapped in Larry's arms, the reader knowing exactly what is going to happen next but not wanting it to, was perfect. Since you had previousl... (more »)
guardianofthestars This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Sept. 18, 2013 at 9:59 pm
This was a very good peice.  You are a very talented writer. You captured my interest at the start! :)
vegangirl0725 said...
Jul. 24, 2013 at 9:00 pm
 This is a really great story, but there were some parts I got a little bored with it. The beginning was great!!
skibeast said...
Jun. 23, 2013 at 11:11 pm
Amazing, i loved it. The ending was ecspecially good. I loved how you let the readers imagination finish the story. Everyone had a unigue ending. 
kmeep said...
Mar. 15, 2013 at 7:42 am
That was really good! :)
redhairCat This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 23, 2013 at 5:59 pm
I liked it a lot! Good job! Period pieces aren't that easy to do, but you pulled it off well. :)  
AthenaMarisaDeterminedbyFate This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Mar. 11, 2013 at 7:42 pm
It was a beautifully sad story, and it really does fit with the time period that you wrote it for. There were some grammar errors, but the writing itself was incredible! I love how deep this story goes, as short as it is. 
jetta.ckThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 11, 2013 at 10:25 pm
Lots of grammatical errors, but those can be easily fixed. You've got incredible word choice in here, and the story was well-developed. At the end, it seemed a little bit like Romeo and Juliet. Two lovers who are technically forbidden to love each other do so anyway, despite what position they may put themselves in at the end.
WhenItRains21 said...
Feb. 6, 2013 at 11:16 pm
Interesting. I like the way it's set up, how it wraps around. There were some grammar issues in there, but as a whole it's well written, especially the characters. 
KatieK said...
Feb. 6, 2013 at 7:32 pm
Amazing... romeo and juilet  just no death :)
Bookish said...
Feb. 6, 2013 at 5:17 pm
I enjoyed the storyline and the ending very much. I also thought it was neat how you started the story immediately in the action, with the reader not knowing what was going on, and then went back and explained things. That was a very effective method and was better than telling it chronologically. There are some grammatical and structural errors in your writing, but those will improve as you gain more experience. One phrase that popped out to me was "freaked out," that maybe wasn'... (more »)
EnnaGirl said...
Jan. 30, 2013 at 9:27 pm
That was really good! i loved the emotion you put into your characters! keep writing! i thoought it was amazing
kate12345me said...
Jan. 30, 2013 at 6:24 pm
Bittersweet, painfully beautiful. Loved it and...what can I say...I am impressed! It was so heartfelt and gut-wrenching. I'm so inspired by Leo - that's how real the characters felt. And Flo...I keep wondering if she'll look back years from this and think warmly of him. I really, really enjoyed this! Please continue writing, and great work!
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