Celebrating Freedom #WOW555

This week’s #WOW555 prompt was  write from the perspective of a character who is not free while others are celebrating their independence and, at the same time, they somehow become reunited with someone unexpected. Especially given the recent discussion on the Confederate Flag issue, my thoughts were drawn to the Confederacy. Let’s be honest: I grew up in the north. While not seeking to absolve the north of racism, because we had plenty of it, when I moved to the south and saw Confederate flags (before the internet mind you) they were usually on bumper stickers that said, “The South’s gonna do it again!” or some other such language. All I could think of was, “What? The South is gonna fight a losing war for a horrible idea again?” (To those who would argue the concept of “state’s rights” for this issue, let me refer you to this link.) The setting of the story is some southern plantation in March 1861 after the Constitution of the Confederacy was adopted.

That being said, I had a very difficult time with this story for many reasons; not the least of which was my use of language that I abhor. It was used because of an attempt to be as authentic as possible for the setting of the story.

“Oh Clyde, more wine. My guests’ glasses are almost empty and I’d like to make a special toast,” my master said.

I nodded demurely and quickly refilled the glasses. Years of self-preservation had taught me to avoid revealing my emotions, so the anger didn’t show. “Yes Marse Johnson,” I said.

He looked at me and sniffed contemptuously. “Gentlemen! This day will live in history. Today with the adoption of the Constitution, you will be able to tell your grandchildren that you were here at the birth of the Confederacy. To freedom!” He raised his glass and drank deeply. They all applauded.

I kept my feelings in check. Anything else could have brought me a severe whipping – or worse. James, who had held my job previously, got whipped because he didn’t look happy enough when he was serving Marse Johnson dinner one night. The next night, I had the job. I made sure that Marse Johnson thought I was happy.

I had missed some of what Marse Johnson had been saying. “…now take Clyde here…” he said.

“Yassir?” I asked.

Marse Johnson looked me, disgusted at first and then he laughed. “See what I mean? These niggers can’t understand how to get along in day to day living. If we freed them like the Yankees want they’d be in a sorry state without us. Ain’t that right, boy?” He stared at me, waiting for an answer.

“Yassir,” I said, glad that my skin hid the shame I was feeling. “Thank you for taking such good care of me, sir,” I added. I hoped they wouldn’t note my sarcasm.

Marse Johnson didn’t think I was capable of sarcasm. He smiled smugly. “That’s a good boy. I’ll take care of you, boy.” He looked at the others. “The cheapest way to get more niggers is to let them breed among themselves.” He turned back to me. “Clyde, I’ve bought you a wife.” He motioned towards the door as a frightened black girl less than half my age was shoved through.

I recognized her. I fought my emotions. Marse Johnson went over to her and pulled her head up roughly so that she had to look at me. “I’m gonna call you Tonya. Look at your new husband, Tonya. I want you to have lots of babies for me.” He laughed.

Her eyes widened as she recognized me. My look warned her to be quiet. She was so young that she hadn’t developed any defenses yet.

“Well, Clyde, what do you say? Shall we show your new bride off to my friends?”

I knew what he had in mind. “Sir, she’s new. I would hate for her to embarrass you. Please allow me to train,” I almost slipped, “uh… her so that you may present her properly.”

Marse Johnson smiled. “Good sense for a nigger, Clyde. Go ahead. My friends and I will talk so we don’t need you right now. Take your bride to your room and start the training.”

“Yassir,” I said, trying to avoid trembling. I walked away holding Tonya by the elbow. As soon as we were out of earshot I whispered to her, “Never tell anyone that I’m your father. I’ll figure something out!”

Of course, I don’t know of anything like this actually happening. That being said, the horrendous way families were broken up in the slave trade, I can imagine this being possible. I can even imagine that something like this could have happened without anyone recognizing it.

Hope – #WOW555

We all “know” that four leaf clovers are “lucky.” They are rare and finding one usually is a source of excitement. As we head towards St. Patrick’s Day, Wendy got us in the mood with this prompt: “For this week’s prompt, I want you to find a four-leaf clover, that extra leaf representing luck.” What if, really what if that luck was based on a power we didn’t know? What if there really was a basis for our superstition regarding four leaf clovers? Here’s my #WOW555 entry this week.

Hope

I think most of us welcomed them when they came. We didn’t expect anyone to fly hundreds of light years just to find some slaves. Were we wrong! They not only wanted slaves, they wanted the planet. It was total world domination in days. I was one of the lucky ones. I survived. Now this big alien led me around by the nose getting me to do his dirty work for him. These guys had far superior technology, but they were soft. Every thirty minutes, he took a ten minute rest break. I didn’t mind that since I was doing his hard work, but I realized that if we ever got out of this enslavement, I’d never complain about a government worker’s work ethic again.

“Hum-AN” He screeched through his universal translator. “Stop digging. I rest now.”

Lucky me. I got a break. I decided to wander around the area. It had been a field I played in before the photon bombs had ripped it up. I wanted to see what was left of it. Ali, did I tell you I called my master “Ali” instead of “big ugly Alien,” didn’t mind me wandering. All he had to do was snap his fingers and the nose device would call me back to him. The first time he did that, the pain lasted until the next break. I wouldn’t wander off and not come back.

There wasn’t much to see. Lots of bomb craters. Some green patches where bombs had missed. I was too old to play any kind of games now, but decided to play one anyway just to have some fun. My secret mission was to walk only on the green parts of the field and avoid the bombed out parts. Maybe I was trying to pretend that I would have been lucky enough to live through that bombardment. I jumped from strands of Johnson grass into a small area of clover and almost fell into a bomb crater. As I looked at the possible end of the game, I saw it.

There in the middle of the bomb crater were a couple of lucky four leaf clovers that had survived the bombs. Or maybe they had grown up after, who knows. All I knew was that I hadn’t seen one in years and I wanted one! I finished my game and jumped into the crater to pick up the lucky clover. I turned and ran back quickly before Ali decided to get nosy.

I rushed back and suddenly realized I was holding the clover where Ali could see it. I stopped and put it behind my back. Too late.

“Hum-AN! Whats do you gots?”

I had tried to lie once before. Never again. I showed him the clover. “This is a sign of good luck for my people.”

“Gives it to me, Hum-AN.”

I put it in his outstretched hand with a bit of a tear in my eye. His reaction was amazing.

“Its burn! Its burn!” He screeched out. Then, he toppled over.

I looked carefully and picked up the clover. It really had been lucky. It seemed to have a special glow to it. If other Alis responded to four leaf clovers like this, we had hope.

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