A/N: This is off of an assignment I did in my history class. After reading some incredible (and heartbreaking) stories, I decided to turn it into a piece of fiction. I really hope you guys enjoy it!
It is Friday, September 30, 1830. I have decided to pick up writing again. It seems to be the only thing to clear my head during the night. I wish I could tell someone about my abilities. To be an African woman who can write is unheard of! I know I will be punished for it if anyone finds out. I can still remember learning it. It was my previous owner's son, Edward Ball, who taught me. We had grown up together and were great friends for a little while. I guess as kids we could not tell how truly different we were. There was no black and white. My mom nursed both of us together. He taught me all sorts of things that he had learned in school, the only thing I still remember to do is write. As we grew older we were never allowed to be near each other and soon I was a piece of property to him as well. His father was one of the kinder slave owners, as I have heard. I wish I could say the same for his son. Edward soon was married and took me along with him. I was 14 at the time. For some reason after we were separated, he seemed to hate me. He was always punishing me and finding reasons to torment me. I have been on his plantation for a year now. One year of living in some wooden shack with some rags and straw for a bed. One year of working in the cotton fields from sunup to sundown. I do have one friend here though. His name is Callum. He is a very hard worker and very strong. He always takes care of me, sometimes even gives me some of his cotton when I don't have enough. He is 18 and I imagine if I was a free woman we would probably marry and have a great life together. He asked me to have a family with him, but I don't think I could drag a baby into this life.
It is Saturday, October 2, 1830. I woke up a little early today. Not that I usually get much sleep on that poor excuse of a bed. I found myself thinking of Mama. She worked in the house for Edward's dad, Elias Ball II. She would take care of us children and Master Ball's wife. She was sold when I was only 5 years old. I couldn't understand why she had to leave. She told me that I had to be strong for her and that I would see her again. When she left I took over a lot of her work. I would help babysit children and clean the house for our master. I thought that Mama would be very proud when she saw how good I was doing. After 2 years I knew she had been sold to a different plantation and was never coming back. As I grew older I was taught things by many of the older women there. I learned how to cook and sew a little. I wasn't taught very much because we worked all day and was usually too tired to do much of anything before bed. I miss the old plantation. Edward's wife had to leave because she was sick and he has become more and more grumpy. About a week ago, I and Callum were singing together in the fields. It was a song one of the other slaves passing by had taught us. Edward whipped Callum until his back was a bloody mess because he said that Callum was sassing him. Who was there to say he's wrong? All we could do was silently watch. I was able to help clean up his wounds afterwards. I got some fresh water and tore one of my dresses into strips so that I could clean him up and help him heal. It took him a couple days to get healed enough where he could work in the fields again. We haven't sung since.
It is Sunday, December 12, 1830. I am so mad, I could kill him! As if he wasn't already cruel enough! Today Edward called me inside. I feared I had done something wrong and he had such a queer look about him. I looked back at Callum and he had a hard look of hatred towards Edward's house. He looked at me and I could see the fear in his eyes. "Be careful, Aisha." He whispered. I tried to suppress the butterflies filling my stomach and the sense of dread that was creeping into my veins. I slowly walked into the house and down to the den where Edward always stayed. He said that since his wife wasn't there to perform her duties that it was my job to fill in for her. I tried to run. I don't know where I would run to; I just knew I had to get as far away from this man as possible. Before I even took two steps he grabbed my wrist. I started to fight him, kicking and screaming. I felt something hard hit my head; he had a cane in his hand. He used me until he was satisfied and I cried the entire time. After he was done he took my out back and had me whipped for trying to fight him. He said I was lucky that I was good during or it would be worse for me. I feel like a piece of pounded meat. Callum helped me like I did for him. I didn't tell him I was raped, but I know he knows. He tried to stay up with me and held me while I cried. I think he is madder than me at what happened. I can see nothing but anguish in his eyes. He fell asleep not too long ago. My head is killing me now. I'm not sure if it was from the beating I took earlier or from all the crying I have done today. Perhaps it's a mix of both.
It is Monday, December 13, 1830. I am back to picking cotton in the field. Edward's wife is back. Callum seems to be in his own world now, and much angrier than he used to be. He no longer says kind words, but biting remarks that would get him whipped if the master heard. He always has a blank look on his face, as if his thoughts were more important than anything here. I miss him dreadfully. We haven't had a real conversation since that night. I think he is secretly disgusted by me now. Maybe he sees me as damaged goods, or a tramp for letting him do that to me. I feel like that sometimes. Like maybe there was more I should have done to stop it. I see him with new people now. He is always around Adam, Peter, Evron, and Chiwa. Whenever I try to join them, Callum hives me a seething look and tells me this important business and I don't belong with him anymore. Yesterday he even told me that if I don't want to be hurt I better stay away from him from then on. I fear what he is up to. I find myself almost ready to act out on the anger I have built up in me. I know how dangerous it can be to let the rage fuel you. I know I just have to put up with whatever comes my way, it can't last forever. I am so sore from today's work. Hours of cotton picking takes its toll on you. My back is in the worst pain, my hands are cut up and numb from the thorns in those plants, and I can barely life my arms enough to write this. How I get by on so little sleep is a mystery to me.
It is Tuesday, January 4, 1831. Oh God! Words cannot describe the horror of today! Callum, Priscilla, Adam, and Peter have all died today. I guess Callum was overcome with hate and decided to rebel against the Master. Those four killed the overseer and tried to kill Edward's wife. Adam was shot. Peter was whipped until he died. Chiwa was put in a hogshead that had nails hammered inside and rolled down a hill. She was then branded by a hot iron. My poor Callum was hung. We were all gathered to see it. It was supposed to be an example to all of us if we tried anything. Everyone's faces were blank. There was no emotion in anyone's face. Callum looked straight at me the entire time. I could see the pain in his eyes. All his fears and insecurities playing out across his face, tears began to form in my eyes. Harriet, an older woman on the plantation, grabbed my hand and gave it a small squeeze. We both knew what would happen if I began to cry and make a display of myself. It would be a more painful death for him and a painful punishment for me. I tried to look beyond him and think of different thoughts. It worked until the sun went down. I can still see his body swinging and the way his eyes rolled into the back of his head. I will miss Callum dearly. I should have valued my time with him. Maybe we should have lived together and tried to be each other's family. He gave everything to revenge me and I gave nothing to him in return. This night will forever haunt me. The guilt I feel is crushing. I don't think I can ever forgive Edward.
It is Wednesday, March 16, 1831. I'm pregnant. There is only one person who could be the father. I have been taken off from working the fields so that I don't hurt the baby. Edward saw me throwing up and the growing bulge of my stomach. He asked if it was his. I told him it was and ever since he has treated me better. I hope he treats the child better than I was treated. I now work in the house. I clean and take care of his wife who was paralyzed from the waist down after Callum's rebellion. I have a secret joy at the fact that Callum was able to ruin their lives a little before he died. I do a good job at taking care of her and listen to her complain and whine about things beyond my control. She doesn't know I am carrying her husband's child and I will not be the one to tell her. She is just as malicious as her husband. I can now see why he married her. They never had children. She told me one day how she was unable to bear any children and how it had led to this bitter marriage that she has no escape from. I feel some pity for the woman. Not much, but some.
It is Thursday, September 8, 1831. I gave birth to my little girl a week ago. I was in labor for 20 hours. Edward never showed up for any of it, but Harriet stood with me the whole time and helped birth the child. Her name is Paloma. She is the cutest little baby and everyone agrees. Her name means dove and she has proved to be a sort of hope for everyone on the plantation. She is the first successful birth here and is being spoiled by all who work here. I love to hold her and sing her old African lullabies that my Mama sung to me. She gives me a reason to keep going on each day. I have been given a week off from work to recover and nurse the baby. Tomorrow I will be working in the house again. It is a job that requires me to be up at all hours of the day. I still don't know how I am going to raise a baby and care for my Master's wife. Edward has been much kinder to me in the past months. It is like he has finally become his father. I have caught him looking at Paloma with pride in his eyes. I don't know what I will do if he asks for her. She is so much a part of my now that it would kill me to give her up, and yet, if she goes with him she will have a much better life and maybe even an education! I wish I had someone to confide in and tell me what to do.
It is Friday, January 1, 1836. Paloma is 4. She is such a sweetheart! She can find joy in everything. She is already learning to cook and is learning at an incredible rate! She has to be the most adorable girl who has ever lived. Her skin is a lot lighter than mine but she still has all the African features. I have taught her how to write a little in secret and she has learned a few lullabies that she can sing back to me now. Her favorite is Imba wimbo. It means sing a song in English. It was my favorite when I was a little girl as well. She loves to sing while helping me clean and care for the Master's wife. She even performs a little for her. Everyone who sees her is charmed by her. She is the best thing that has happened to me. The only thing that upsets me is that I know what is in store for her. Her father wants to take her in and make her his personal slave. I have decided that it is probably best for her. I told Edward today that he can have her. At least I will still be able to watch her grow.
It is Saturday, February 6, 1836. I have been sold. Today will be my last day on the plantation, the last day with my baby girl. Some woman needed a slave to help nurse her children and Edward chose me. I guess they offered a good price. I always feared this day would come. The day I had to leave Paloma. I didn't imagine that it would hurt this much to say goodbye. She cried and I held her until she fell asleep in my arms. How do you explain to a four year old little girl that she will never see her mom again? I feel such emptiness that I have not felt since Callum died. Everything seems duller and not worth the energy. I feel like I am no longer living, that I am just going through the motions I usually do. My mind is on other things. Will Paloma be alright without me? Will she remember who I am? What happens if Edward treats her like he did to me? Who will teach her everything she needs to know? Thoughts of Paloma fill every thought, I see her all grown up and I am no where in the picture. For the first time since Callum died I cry. I let everything I've kept buried inside finally come out. I know my heard will hurt when morning comes.
It is Sunday, November 19, 1836. I am the new plantation with new masters. I am somewhere near Georgia, a couple hundred miles away from Paloma. I nurse three children. They are couple years older than my daughter and I find them to be rude and naughty most of the time. Mrs. McGregory has fallen in love with me. She says that she is so happy I came to help her and that we are such great friends. She told me I can tell her anything. I smile and nod politely. I don't think we can ever be friends. I do like her and she is a nice woman, but how can I be friends with a lady I must call master? She has given me better clothes, food, and housing. It is a place I would have dreamed about 5 years ago. I have not yet been whipped or beaten by anyone here which is a welcomed relief. I try not to think of my daughter so I will not be distracted from my work, but I am finding it a task that becomes more and more difficult with each day. Today I was caught thinking of her by Mrs. McGregory. She laughed and told me I could never raise her kids if I always have my heads in the clouds. I gave her a smile and apologize. I am very secretive here. No one knows my real name or anything about my past. They all call me Mama because I care for all the kids here. I cook and babysit. Everyday I hear the barking of dogs carrying over the hills. I think to myself, another one trying to escape. I wonder how many have actually made it up north. Enough that running, tempting death, would be worth it? I wonder if my daughter will be among those who try and run. She was always a feisty little thing! I wonder what would have happened if me and Callum, or me and Paloma, had tried to run. Would we have made it? Would I be living as a free woman right now? The odds are slim, but I can't help but wonder. I've noticed that the older I get, the more 'what-ifs' I've got keeping me up at night. With the dogs barking I know I won't get any sleep tonight. I'll be imagining things all night.