Amazing Kids! Magazine

Freedom

By Inikki Mitchell, Age 12, Ohio

The blare of the bugle woke me up at dawn. I groaned softly and rolled over to stuff my head into the hard, lumpy hay mattress. I heard Mama, Papa, and the rest of the family wake and get dressed. Just as I was drifting back off to sleep, I felt something hard and sharp prodding my shoulder. My eyes instantly flew open and I shot upright, my eyes darted around the room to see if anyone had noticed the dark brown object sticking out of my bedding but no one even noticed that I was up. I quickly covered the object with more hay. Heart pounding, I crawled out of bed and got dressed and rushed outside.

When I stepped outside the usual morning sights and sounds greeted me. I saw the adult and children field-hands clustered around the feeding trough. Everyone was trying to eat as much as they could before the bugle sounded again calling them to the field. I eagerly went over to the feeding trough and began eating my share. A few minutes before the horn sounded again I pumped myself some water to wash my hands. Looking down into the wash basin, I saw a girl with midnight black eyes that held a spark that she just couldn’t seem to hide. The girl had smooth ebony skin, a large nose that was accompanied by strong African features. The girl had fluffy black hair that was tightly braided. I stared at my reflection searching for something, but I don’t know what, maybe a sign or something to show how much I’ve changed in the last few days.

My sign searching was brought to an abrupt end by another call of the bugle. The other field-hands and I slowly shuffled to the store house where we were given our cotton sacks and were shackled together in pairs. I was shackled to old Celia; we slowly made our way to the cotton field. Soon the merciless Georgia sun began to beat down on us and the two big shackles began to chafe at my exposed ankles causing them to bleed. Dust from the nearby road rose up and choked us.

My sack was about half way full when I straightened and stretched my aching arms over my head. I looked around; the fluffy white heads of cotton slowly swayed in the mid-morning breeze as reddish brown dust lazily swirled over them. The stooped figures of fellow slaves dotted the cotton field, their sweat-slicked skin glistened in the mid-morning light. The overseer looked my way and I quickly ducked back down and continued working. Suddenly Celia began coughing; the coughs came from deep within her chest. The force of her coughing drove Celia to her knees. Without a word I picked up Celia’s sack and began filling it with cotton. For Celia’s sake, I prayed that we would get water soon.

It was about midday when we were able to get water. I heard the overseer’s horse ride up my row, my heart instantly started pounding like every time he had come to check our work. Dread filled my heart as the thunder of horse hooves came closer and closer. The overseer stopped right behind me, my hands stilled for a fraction of a second and my body tensed with fear, then I began to pick again as if nothing was wrong. Without turning my head, I glanced up at the overseer and shuddered; this particular overseer hated me and my family with a passion, because Mama taught us how to speak properly like Master and Mistress. Today there wasn’t only hatred in his eyes but also satisfaction and excitement.

“You go get some water!” the overseer barked as he pointed to Celia.

With a soft sigh of relief Celia straightened and began hobbling away. I shuffled after her but a sharp jerk on the back of my dress stopped me.

“Oh, no you don’t. You’re going to the big house!” the overseer sneered, his eyes sparkling with glee.

He dismounted from the horse and unshackled me; the overseer gave me a sharp shove, I stumbled forward. I slowly made my way towards the big house where Master and Mistress lived. Thoughts and questions buzzed around in my head like a swarm of angry honey bees. Dear Lord, please protect me. Dear Lord, they must have found out! But how did they find out? Who told them? When I finally entered the house, the house slaves informed me that Master and Mistress wanted to see me and that they were in the study waiting. I slowly made my way up the stairs that led to the study. My chest felt constricted, I couldn’t breathe, my heart thundered in my chest and I felt dizzy.

When I finally made it to the study, I stood in front of the closed door. I struggled to marshal my facial features into a blank mask. When I was sure that my face showed no fear, I hesitantly knocked on the study door.

“Enter!” a rough voice barked from inside the study.

I slowly pushed the door open and walked to the center of the room. I stood in front of Master’s massive oak wood desk with my eyes downcast and my head meekly bowed. I glanced up through my lashes. Master was sitting behind his desk and in the plush armchair next the desk sat Mistress, they both intently studied me. Panic made my senses go into overdrive and I was hyper aware of everything. I could see the books that lined the study in great detail. I could feel the sun that streamed from the window next to me warm my skin. I was so absorbed in processing all the details around me that I nearly jumped out of my skin when Master spoke slowly, “Some things have been stolen from this study and I believe you know who took it Nama.”

Dear Lord, they do know! I broke out in a cold sweat and my hands began to shake. Stealing is a capital offense and the punishment was severe. If they think I’m the thief…. not even God could help me then. I took a few deep breaths before answering.

“W-w-w-what w-was st-stolen, M-m-Master?”

I was stuttering so much that I was surprised that he actually understood me.

“What was taken is none of your concern,” Master replied sharply. “If you see anyone with any suspicious items, tell me immediately,” he commanded.

I nodded, by now my whole body was shaking uncontrollably. “And if we find out that you know who the thief is and didn’t tell us, then you will receive the same punishment as the thief,” Mistress stated coldly. Her voice was high and reedy and it grated against my ears.

“You are dismissed,” she sniffed.

I quickly scuttled out of the room. When I got out of the room and shut the door, I ran out of the house and burst outside. I pressed my back against the wall of the house and slid down it until I was sitting on the ground. I shook as relief coursed through me. They don’t know. Thank God, they don’t know. I picked myself up and cheerfully headed back to the field to continue working. The field-hands were finally called out of the field when it became too dark to see. I was physically and emotionally exhausted but I somehow managed to drag myself to my home and into my hard, lumpy bed.

The moon was just reaching its zenith when I silently crawled out of my bed. With great care, I crawled over the sleeping bodies of my other family members towards the only window in the small cabin. When I finally got to the window, I sat in the puddle of moonlight the window allowed to stream in. I slowly began unwrapping the densely padded objects.

Someone shifted behind me and I jumped and clutched the objects to my chest. I glanced over my shoulder wide eyed, I was sure that I was about to be caught but the person just tossed around for a bit before settling back down. I watched the still figure until I was sure it was asleep. I quickly finished unwrapping. I held the object out in front of me, a beautiful leather- bound book that looked ghostly pale in the moonlight. I set the book on my lap and finished unwrapping the ink pot and quill, and cautiously dipped the quill into the ink. Concentrating, I slowly and carefully printed these words on a blank page of the leather book.

I’m going to be free one day.

3 comments

  1. Diane Raymond /

    All I can say is wow!! What a wonderfully written short story! Congratulations Inikki! Im sure I will read books written by you some day! You are a talented writer!!

  2. Sherryl Ollie /

    Awesome story! Much insight. One would think that she had actually experienced slavery. I can hear her dad’s voice in this story. Congratulations Iniki. Keep writing and one day the world will be reading your stories.

  3. Maria /

    congrats Inikki 🙂