To Be A Slave
Author's note: This was actually a school project, a five page paper, that turned into so much more.
On the Road to Slavery, It is Still 1786If there is a Hell I know the devil you's gonna meet there. His only name is Slave Trader John, he has no other and he wants no other. He ain't just a mean man, like my Daddy. Daddy only beat you down and left you to cry. This man, this brutal, corrupt, malevolent man, he beats you down and helps you up, only to strike you down again.
Them stars ran from the sun's full light, scatterin' in the mornin' sky by the time I wake. Already I can hear the groans of the soon-to-be slaves as they try to rise only to realize they's still bound, and not only in the ropes 'round they wrists, but by the scars on they backs and the wounds on they head. They are chained by their knowledge that they are to become slaves, and from then on nothin' more. Not a man, not a girl, not a human. Just a slave.
Aunt Jenny's still next to me when I open my bleary eyes. “Morning, child.” I mumble out somethin' she can't make out. I turn to my right, lookin' for the boy. He ain't movin'.
“Jenny?” I breathe. My voice hasn't come out too strong lately. “Is he...” I trail off. That sentence don't need to be finished. Jenny's eyes cloud over. They's darker than my Mama's but still quite pretty. I’m findin’ I like those eyes. I like ‘em very much.
She don't answer my question direct like. All see says is “Look away when they come for him. That's a sight no young soul needs.” I don't ask her what she means. I don't want to know.
They come 'round soon enough. They's carryin' a burlap sack big enough to hold a child or two. The man with the stick prods the slaves in they sides, walkin’ on if they move or squeal. The men make their way down the line stoppin’ at the boy. When they poke him he don’t move. He don’t scream or cry out. He just lays there, almost peaceful. Would have been peaceful if dried blood hadn’t been caked to his cheeks in ugly brown rivers. Jenny kicks me and I squeeze my eyes shut. I don’t open them for a long while.
* * *
I only do open my eyes ‘cause the rope ‘round my neck is bein’ pulled upward and it’s stranglin’ me. We’s all getting’ up now. Guess it’s time to march. A large round man steps up in front of us. He’s the leader of the slave coffle. Dear Jesus! I’ve seen smaller churches! He is round as the moon and with a complexion of anything but. A wicked lookin’ scar sits on long sunburned cheeks. I ain’t never seen eyes like his. Like a crow’s they are, black and beady and flickerin’ from side to side every few seconds. His thin line of a mouth curves down in a perpetual frown.
“Listen up, you worthless niggers,” he right near screeches at us. I shudder when he speaks. That man has the voice of a corpse. You better make sure he ain’t the one to collect you when you die, ‘cause if he is I know exactly where you’s goin’. “My name is John. Not like you need to know. I just like getting’ acquainted with my flock before you’re all gone away.” His voice turns icy, if that’s even possible. “But you’re not anythin’ better than my mule now. Not one bit better. You’re lucky you’re alive. Now if you take one step outa line,” he pauses, his skeletal lips twistin’ into an ugly grimace of a smirk. “Well then I guess one less n***** won’t matter much will it?” He laughs himself hoarse at this, showin’ off his lovely arrangement off twisted gray teeth. His laugh dies in his throat and he’s solemn as a stone. “Let’s move.”
Whip in hand he jostles his way over to his horse. It takes him a couple tries to get his fat behind up on that there saddle. I think my favorite part is when his foot slips on the stirrup and his whole motley body comes crashin’ down on his self. I smile for the first time since those men opened our door.