Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Write in the HISTORICAL genre (05/03/07)
- TITLE: Standing on the Promises
By Marilee Alvey
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“Mamma, I’m scared!”
Her mamma knelt down, cradling her dark brown cheeks in her hands.
“Imogene, mamma love you. Ain’t nothin’ ta fear. Jesus wid us.”
Imogene looked into her mamma’s face, trustingly. The smell of sweat and grime surrounded her as the heat of the day rose up from the southern soil, searing the bottoms of her calloused bare feet. She heard raucous laughter as she was jostled by the crowd that pressed ever closer to where she and her mamma stood.
She looked up on the wooden platform fashioned hastily out of crude boards. A young mother stood there with two young children, a boy and a girl. A big barrel of a man stood over her, yelling.
“This one’s proved her ability to bear young. Let’s start the bidding at four dollars.” The crowd gasped. “Now, gentlemen, keep in mind that this African wench is very young and can come with two good workers, three for one. This young niggra’s strappin’ and can work his way past sunset in a couple years.”
“I’m buyin’ fer Mr. Ainsworth. I’ll give ya two dollars, but I don’t want no half wits to feed….and that’s dependin’ on my examination ….”
“Well, step on up here, then, and let’s be about it.”
Imogene gazed at his hands. They were sun leathered and dirty.
Going up on the platform, he ran his grimy hands up and down her body, finishing by putting his filthy fingers inside her mouth to examine her teeth.
“I reckon she’s good for a good day’s work, but, like I said, Mr. Ainsworth ain’t buyin’ no young niggras. Reckon they’ll eat more than a day’s wages on cornbread.”
“Sold! Now, get those young niggras off. We’ll move ‘em later today.” It took four sturdy men and a whip to rip the children from their mother’s grasp. Imogene pressed her hands over her ears to keep from hearing their anguished cries which rose in an unearthly symphony of despair.
Leaning down and speaking more urgently now, her mamma got on her knees and peered into Imogene’s terrified eyes.
“Imogene. Listen to me. Imogene, mamma loves you…but you has to grow up…right now. Stop cryin’ and listen to what I’m sayin’. You and me is gonna go our diffrent ways, but Jesus always gwine be wid you. Look here, Imogene. Sees that spot on yer leg? It was there when you was birthed. Ain’t gwina be washed off, neither. Our Jesus is like dat. He’s everywhere, jes like Master MacMillan, ‘cept, wid Jesus, we don’t wanna be gwine nowhere, neither. He’s a good master. He sees that we got victuals and a place ta lay our head. He don’t whip us none, ‘cause he loves us and he think we special. He rich, too. Got cattle on thousand hills, so don’t you fret none. Can’t see him, but he’s there, long as yer leg spot is der. He gwine protect you and me, too, no matter what goes. Say it, ‘Jesus is my truly master. Jesus is my truly master.” Imogene’s mother gave a quick sanction of Jesus, wisely passing on the word of trust, fully knowing that, at whatever plantation Imogene ended up in, the slaves there would complete the message of His love. Imogene’s mother began to slap at her thighs, saying the phrase in rhythm, urging Imogene to repeat it.
“Pick yer head up, Imogene,” she said as she took her hand for the ascent. “Jesus be watchin’.”
With that, the two were shoved onto the platform. It seemed like the end that day, but it wasn’t. Marching right past the history books, they were captured in the passed down tales told to and through their descendants. Imogene’s mother sewed a seed….and God watered it. Like Moses, Imogene would never see the Promise Land: Imogene was to be free… in her heart only. However, just as with Abraham, God gave her countless descendants, and, thanks to Imogene, her mamma, and their God who stood on His promises, they flourished. Not in a million years could your mind wrap around where her line ended up….but then, that’s another story.
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