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Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Blue (10/08/09)

TITLE: Color O' Freedom
By Yvonne Blake
~10th Place


If I lean my head back and tip it to da right…jus so…I can see a tiny speck o’ blue. It ain’t da blue of a robin’s egg, nor my workin’ pants. It da color of Miss Lila’s eyes.

I ain’t neva s’pose to be lookin’ at no white girl’s eyes, but she was lookin’ straight at me when I brung her a shade fer her head. I ain’t never seen eyes like Miss Lila’s—da prettiest blue dis side o’ heaven.

I shoulda looked ‘way quick, but I didn’t. Massa got mighty angry wid me an’ whooped me good. He was aimin’ to sell me down da river next chance he got. Dat was da las time I seen Miss Lila, but ain’t never gonna ferget her blue eyes.

When I heerd o’ some other slaves runnin’ north to freedom, I up and left Ol’ Massa and da whole plantation. I wished I coulda seen Miss Lila one mo’ time, but dey was leavin’ in da night. I had t’ go. I ain’t neva goin’ to be sold down da river!

I ain’t seen da blue sky since dat day. We traveled in da night from one place to da other. Sometimes there be people who let us sleep in da barn or da celler hole. We be mighty ‘bliged to’em. If dem slave hunters knowed dey was helpin’ us, dey would be in big trouble.

My stomach is hurtin’ mighty bad right now. I ain’t eaten since yeste’day mo’ning. My back is hurtin’ too on ‘a cause we have to be all tucked up in dis little hole. I knows we in some kinda boat. It keeps movin’ up an’ down and makin’ me feel like if I did eat some food, it ain’t stayin’ where it belong.

I lean my head back an’ keep lookin’ up at da blue. When I be a free man, I can look at da whole wide blue sky all day. I ain’t goin’ to be runnin’ from no one no more. I ain’t goin’ to be workin’ for Massa no more. I’m goin’ to be free.

It’s mighty hot in dis here hole—hard t’ breathe. There ain’t ‘nough room for all o’ us. One mama got a little pic’ninny. She best keep it from cryin’ or we all be beat good and sent down river. I ain’t goin’ to be catched. I don’ knows how t’ swim, but I aim t’get off this ‘ere boat if dat baby gets t’cryin’.

We’s been ridin’ a long time today. I can’t see da blue sky no more. It’s lookin’ grayer—not dark ‘nough yet to get out. Ever’body’s getting’ restless. Da baby is whimperin’ and da mama tries nursin’ it. Ever’body is scared. Ever’body is listenin’.

I look up to da hole an’ I don’ see no light t’all. It be almost time to get out. Then I hear something dat makes my heart stop. Dogs! Ever’body else is hearin’ dem too. We be prayin’ and cryin’, “Lord, ‘a mercy!” Da bayin’ and barkin’ of da dogs is getting’ closer. We hear da men shoutin’. We hear boots on top o’ us. Nobody moves, but we cryin’ inside, “Lord ‘a mercy!”

There be arguin’ and da dogs be barkin’ and snufflin’ around. I want to get out. I can’t move! There ain’t no place t’ go. I ain’t goin’ down da river. I ain’t goin’ back. I got to be getting’ out o’ here!

Da boards be lifted an’ da light be bright in our eyes. Ever’body is movin’ back in da shadows—but not me. I yell an’ run an’ push past da men an’ jump! I ain’t goin’ down da river. I ain’t goin’ back!

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Member Comments
Member Date
Cherry Bieber 10/15/09
A heart-breaking, but very important reminder. Thank you! This is very well written.
Verna Cole Mitchell 10/18/09
Sad the reminder of an even sadder time, but the writing shines. I so wanted him to make it to freedom!
Charla Diehl 10/19/09
Riveting account of a sad and unjust time in history. The dialogue was authentic, the mood of panic towards the end had my heart racing, and I was hoping that freedom would come to these desperate people. Excellent writing!
Deborah Engle 10/19/09
My eyes are moist, and ny heart is sad. It's a shame that this kind of situation ever happened, and I hope that the lessons learned will never die. Good job.
Laury Hubrich 10/20/09
Wow. Your dialect was great. It was very realistic and so sad.
Jan Ackerson 10/21/09
Heartbreaking story, from a heartbreaking time in our history. You made your MC very real and sympathetic.

I had a tiny problem with the accent, which almost bordered on stereotype. I wonder if scaling it back just a tad would be both more realistic and easier on your readers.

Love your use of blue in both eyes and sky...quite lovely.
Betty Castleberry10/21/09
This held my attention throughout. It was bold and truthful. I like your MC's determination. Thumbs up.
Kate Oliver Webb 10/21/09
You brought us a strong memory of a sorrowful time with realism and grace. The somewhat stereotypical dialog did bring more of that awful time to life, I think. A brave story.
Shilo Goodson10/21/09
This was a wonderfully touching story. I found myself really hoping that he escapes safely.
Verna Cole Mitchell 10/22/09
Woo Hoo! Look at you, sitting pretty in EC with this excellent story!
Helen Dowd10/30/09
Wow! This deserves a win. I have read some "Freedom" stories, and this is just as good and suspensful as any stories that made it into a published book. Very good, Yvonne...Write more of this kind of story. Write more!...Helen