The pitter-patter of rain was incessant. All day the sky had looked as if were about to fall and planned on taking the Earth with it. Clouds purple with moisture blocked out the weakening sun, who had long ago given up fighting the manic Louisiana weather. The drops cascaded downward, pounding the roofs of the main house and surrounding cottages on the Gibson plantation. Echo sat atop of her cot in the closest cottage to the main house, trying to wrap her head around what she had just heard. Master Gibson's son, Porter, was dead.
Echo's sister, Whisper, sat on a flimsy whicker chair in the far corner of the cottage, her knees pressed hard against her chest, crying feebly. Whisper's muted sobs did nothing to improve Echo's already melancholy mood, and she thought about telling her older sister to shut up, but she decided against it, preferring to sit on her cot and stew in her emotions. Echo felt wrung tight, like a piece of thread wound repeatedly around a spool. She felt that at any moment she'd snap and she didn't want it to be on one of the few people she could stand.
"Whisper? Whisper? You aight?" She asked. She knew it was a silly thing to ask, but she had never been outwardly loving to her sister, and she was trying very hard for once. Whisper could tell and decided to accept it. She looked up and nodded quickly. As the silvery light that only rain can give off hit the planes of Whisper's face, Echo realized how truly lovely her sister was.
Whisper's facial features were elfish and the rest of her body while tiny, was lithe and sinewy. Although her skin matched the color of the wineberries that grew in the gardens behind the main house, the Gibsons still allowed her to work as a house slave because she seemed too fragile for fieldwork. Sometimes Echo resented Whisper for that. She never Knew true hard work like the rest of the darker skinned slaves, but she reminded herself that Whisper was able to snatch extra food from the scraps left behind after each meal, so she was grateful.
"I can't b-be-believe Porter dead. Seem like he wuz jus here. Now he gone. Jus like dat. It ain't right. Porter wuz gud. He was so so gud tuh me." Whisper said. Her voice was congested.
"I know, I know," Echo responded, getting up and walking over to where Whisper was sitting.
What Whisper said was true. Porter was good to Whisper, but only her. To everyone other slave he was cruel. Making work a little harder for them here and there. Like the time Ma Rosetta had finished planting the wineberries in Missus Gibson's garden. They had grown dark, and rich, those purple berries were the sweetest they had ever been. Ma Rosetta was proud of herself, and Porter had gone and ruined it by stomping all over the plants, crushing the berries to indefinable marks on the ground. The only thing that remained was a fragrant smell. Porter was twelve, and Echo just ten, but what he would do after crushing those berries would prove far worse, however Echo would never tell Whisper that. Never.
" And fuh him tuh have such a death lik dat? Seemed like sumbody want'd tuh punish 'im. Punish 'im gud." By now, Whisper was angry, her light brown eye flashed with a rage that was seldom apparent.
" Tuh hav yo throat ripped outta yuh is…sumthing else den jus death. Its out an out murder. But it'll be aight Whisper. It'll be fine," said Echo. She stroked Whisper's thin flyaway hair comfortingly.
As that conversation took place in that ramshackle cottage, another just like it took place in the far more opulent main house. The conversation however is not important. The idle thrum of voices bares no new truth or information. The grief is no worse than that of Whisper's. The only difference is the wealth and how it permeates through the house, coating the walls with gold and silver, pretty things. But what is important is who stood outside of that house and what they wanted.