Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Pros and Cons (08/14/14)
- TITLE: Freedom
By Arlene Baker
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“This be my home, suh.”
“Home.” The soldier snorted. “Where are your parents?”
“Don’t know, suh. I ain’t seed them since Massa bought me…” He rubbed his chin. “Bout 15 year ago, I 'spect.”
“So you were ripped from your kinfolk?”
“And you’re still hanging around here like some dumb darkey? Don’t you realize you can go to your own people and no white man can stop you?”
“Don’t know where they be now, suh.”
“Well, go look.” The sergeant scowled.
“Miz Emily promised ta help me find ’em.”
“Miss Emily? Who is she?”
“She be my mistress.”
“Oh, you mean she owns you.” The scorn returned.
“Yessuh, since I be ’bout 7.”
“And you prefer to stay with people who bought you like a horse. Don’t you care about your own?”
“Yessuh. I thinks on ’em ev’ry day. Seein’ my mama’s face for de las’ time. Hurts here.” He laid an ebony hand on his chest.
“Then, go find them, boy.”
“Miz Emily be needin’ me.”
“For what? The white people started this crazy war. Let them taste the bitter defeat of their own doings. Let her help herself.”
“She be needin’ me ta watch after Johnny.”
“That be Johnny.” Joshua pointed at a man standing next to the railroad tracks and peering north while the Yankee sergeant’s men took up track, heated it and bent it into the infamous “Sherman neckties”.
“What’s he doing?”
“Waitin’ fo’ da train.”
The sergeant snorted. “Won’t be any more trains passing through here, boy. Doesn’t he realize that?”
“No suh. We done met ev’ry train da past fo’ years, unloadin’ de wounded and taking ’em to this here hospital. He gestured at the many buildings behind him. “Johnny’s got gentle han’s. Soljers love ’im.”
“What does he think my men are doing? How does he think a train will arrive without track?”
“He don’ understand, suh.”
“You mean he’s an idiot.” A short laugh burst from puffed lips.
Joshua pulled himself to his full 6-foot stature. “Not idiot,” he insisted. “Jest not growed up here.” He tapped a finger to his temple before shrinking back into his former servile posture.
“So Miss Emily bought you to babysit her son. How convenient. Quite the southern mother, I’m sure.”
“Miz Emily cain’t chop firewood or carry injured men from da train. That be man work. Johnny an’ me be doin’ da man work. Miz Emily cook fer da soljers. I allays stay by Johnny.”
“That’s her problem now. Don’t you understand you have the freedom to leave and find your own family, boy? Your real family. You can choose for yourself now.”
“I unnerstand, suh. I kin go and I kin stay. I chooses to stay. Suh.”
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