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Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Staff (01/31/13)

TITLE: Homecoming
By Arlene Showalter
~4th Place


My hands shake as I smooth my aproned skirt. My breath comes in bunches as I hear a rumble on the stairs. My heart beats a steady tattoo to the clump, clump, clump announcing a nearing crowd.

My mind flits back twenty years — the last time I stood in this room, on this very platform. I shiver in the cloying heat.

“Good teeth.” The towering man with tall hat remarked.

“Appears strong,” his companion said, picking up my hand and turning me around.

“Mrs. Lewis will be pleased, I’m sure,” Tall Hat said, turning my face from side to side.

An unwelcome tear formed in my one eye. I blinked and blinked but it escaped, rolling down my cheek. Tall Hat’s companion scowled.

“Sure ’bout this-un, Mr. Lewis? She seem a bit puny lookin’.”

“We’ll bid,” Tall Hat replied.

Merciful God blessed me that day, putting me in the Lewis family. Mistress ignored the law. She taught me to read. And write.

“Remember, Susie,” she’d say, “It’s our secret.” Her forehead frowned, but her eyes smiled.

Tucked away in the safety of Mistress’ bedchamber, I devoured every book in Master Lewis’ extensive library. Geography, History, Literature. I tasted and thirst for more.

Years passed. War came. Men died. War departed. Devastation remained.

Victory declared me free. My people milled about, searching for a future. Poverty equalized master and slave.

I made my way to the Central of Georgia bank building, headquarters of General Geary.

“What can I do for you?” A member of his staff asked.

“I come to see the general,” I said.

“May I inquire after the nature of your business?”

“I hear the general is setting up a freedman school for children.”

“That is correct,” he said, “Third floor of Bryan’s Slave Mart.”

I drew myself tall — tall as Mr. Lewis’ top hat from 20 years back. “I know the building well,” I said. “I’ve come to ask the general for a teaching position.”

General Geary appeared from the other room. “And so you shall.” His face and eyes smiled.

My hands shake as I smooth the freshly starched apron over my skirt, deep ebony against stark white. Grinning faces burst through the door. I square my shoulders and smile.

Accept Jesus as Your Savior Right Now and be Certain of Eternal Life.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Barbara Lynn Culler02/11/13
Poignant story.
Not sure where it fits into this week's topic.
Love the ending!
Jan Ackerson 02/12/13
Lovely. I appreciate that you didn't make the MC a caricature, as is often done with similar characters.

So minor--toward the end, you used '20' when it would have been better with the word spelled out.

I could relate to this woman, and the final paragraph was luminous.
CD (Camille) Swanson 02/13/13
Such an entertaining read. I really enjoyed this.
God bless~
Bea Edwards 02/14/13
Uniquely and well written from a POV prayerfully none of us reading this will ever have to endure. Although since human trafficking abounds....
Pam Ford Davis 02/14/13
Keep Winging His Words...
Vince Martella02/16/13
A very different and very original submission. I liked the dialogue, the time period and the ending. Very nice work.
Pastor Curtis J. Johnson, Jr. M.Div.03/03/13
While I did enjoy the read, I wonder how this would have won seeing that it has not as much as mentioned the word staff. I would appreciate an explanation, if anyone would be so inclined..