Title: Yes, Miss Caroline
Chapter: 01 - Introductions
Chapter Rating: PG
Caroline entered her bedroom all set and ready to play. She had it all planned out. First they would play hide-and-seek, then piano lessons on the veranda, then they would climb some trees, then go swimming in the creek, then lunchtime, then maybe tag out in the field. It was a wonderful plan, and she had shared it with the eldest of the Michaels' sons, her brother Abraham.
"It's going to be so much fun!" she exclaimed, placing her tiny hands on the handle of her bedroom door, and allowing her brother to pull it open for her.
Abraham said nothing. At twenty years of age, he knew slaves like the back of his hand; his father had made sure of that. If there was one thing he had learned when he was young, it was that they were not playmates. He felt bad, however, seeing as his poor baby sister never had anyone interesting to play with and it would break her heart the day the boy was taken away from her to help out in the fields. As much as their father insisted her was hers, hers and only hers, Abraham knew better. He would be put to work as soon as he was able.
Caroline squealed with excitement as she laid her eyes upon the other male in the room and immediately bounded over to him, throwing her arms around his neck. "We're going to be best friends!"
Abraham remained silent. He would not be the one to ruin her happiness. She was only six, and at that age, it's alright not to have secure thoughts about those lower than you, and he accepted that. It had been a long time since he had seen a smile like that on her face.
Already she was pulling on his wrist, trying to get him to play. "C'mon John! Let's go get you some real clothes! You're almost naked!" Giggling feverishly, she turned away. "I've never seen a naked boy before."
"And you won't." Abraham decided it was about time he cut in before Caroline did or said something stupid. "We'll get him some clothes, don't worry."
Once dressed in simple trousers and a white shirt borrowed from other slaves, John was more frightened than ever. Where was he? Who was this girl jabbering away at everything that moved? What was he wearing?
Caroline, however, scowled. "He ain't got no shoes," she pointed out.
"Excuse me?" the elder of them asked, not liking her grammar.
She sighed agitatedly. "He hasn't got any shoes!"
"Well?" she asked impatiently, "Why hasn't he got shoes?"
"None of the others do," he reminded her.
"Well, he's mine, so I want him to have shoes." she stated, crossing her arms over her chest, trying to look intimidating. John stood there, afraid that the two of them would blow up at each other and cause a scene. Then, he knew, he would get beaten.
"Fine, fine Caroline. He'll have shoes."
"Yay! You hear that John? You get shoes!"
The boy was silent and the tiny girl's shoulders slumped. "Aren't you excited, John? You get to wear shoes when everyone else doesn't."
Nothing. Caroline was about to cry.
"I think he's broken…" she whispered to her brother.
"No, he isn't broken," he reassured her, "He doesn't know how to speak English is all."
The brunette was taken aback. She had never heard of such a thing. Everyone knew how to speak English, didn't they?
"So…can he go to school?"
"Can he have a tutor? Like I do?"
A smile graced Abraham's lips. Maybe the playmate thing…could be excused…just this once. "Sort of."
Caroline licked her lips in thought. Who could tutor him? Surely not any of the boys. Maybe her mother? "Mother?" she asked, hoping she was right.
"Then who?" she questioned, turning her hands palm-side up and shrugging her shoulders.
Her eyes widened. "Me? But I can't. I'm six!" she exclaimed. Of course she couldn't be a teacher. Teachers were old.
"Well, you know," he began, looking around at nothing in particular, "He is…yours, after all. You have full responsibility for him now. Everything his does depends on you. Which also means that you are in charge of teaching him English."
He crouched down to her level, turning her around to face her dark counterpart. "First lesson…tell him your name, then tell him his. Keep telling him until he repeats you and understands."
"That's hard…" she said, upset that she had to do this by herself. If he didn't speak English, he would never get it. Then taking a deep breath, she pointed to herself. "Caroline." No response. She repeated herself; again, no response. Then she thought she might be talking too fast, so she broke it down slowly, and loud. "CA-ROW-LINE." She waited a few seconds, and then he started to speak.
"Ca-ca-" he struggled with the unfamiliar sounds, so she kept repeating her name over and over as he sputtered out foreign syllables. "Caar…line. Caar…line…Ca'line. Ca'line. Ca'line!" he finished enthusiastically. He was missing a whole syllable, but it was close enough, so she moved on to his name, easy enough being only one beat. He recited that easy enough and the girl soon began to think that it might have been a mistake to teach him because as she pulled him after her to show him around, he bounced excitedly all the way repeating "Ca'line" the whole way. She wondered if she should show him the meaning of quiet, but soon decided against it.
Abraham stood by himself in the hall they had been conversing in and shook his head. He had a chance to show her what John was really for and he hadn't taken it. Why? Why hadn't he taught her the ways of the Michaels boys? It wasn't that she was a girl; that made no difference. No. He didn't want her to become one with the racist monsters that their father had created. She wasn't causing any trouble with being friendly towards them and he wasn't about to be responsible for a racial war within the household. No way. If Father wanted her to become a beast, then good luck to him, but it was all him. Abraham would have no part in it.
Authors Notes: Sorry for the wait, been busy with school, midterms are next week. Oh boy. So yeah. Hope you like it so far, and I know I don't get a chance to write this one much, so I hope you're all patient with me while I gather my head together :D