Summer 1881- Jackson, Mississippi
The wind had got sucked outta me.
I had been in this strange place with this too soft bed, with the Master of this house looking a little too long, and a little to hard at me. I looked at out window of the old slave shack I was in and thought about how all had happened, happened to me.
I had been at Mr. Benjamin’s house for a week. I had overheard Miss Victoria tell him that my usefulness with her and Victoria was over. “I don’t like how she and my girl get on! She listens to her more than me!” I was in the hallways of this big, ole house, playing with this girl with the big eyes and brown hair. She kept calling my name, and telling me her name was Rebecca, just like in the Bible. She was pulling at me, and telling me all about some doll her Daddy give her. “Tally, and we are gonna have so much a time Tally!”
I stood there in that window, and was just thinking. I had been at this place a week. Seven days and thought about how else I could get back to Jackson. I had a room in the house right next to Rebecca’s. But the first time that Mr. Benjamin come in there on me? I had to make sure everyone was hard sleep before I could rest good. He just stood at the door, just looking at me. He looked at me, closing that big heavy white door after him. Standing there in his night clothes, gaze so hard that thought he’d set me on fire. I thought I saw him looking at me, and I squeezed my eyes shut. I hoped he was a dream, and would go as quick as he come.
Tonight, this night I had to sneak out and think. I had to get back to Ira. I had to tell Orpah what I knew she knew. I had to leave before Mr. Benjamin really tried to come in on me, and take what was never gon be his. I looked down at my hand, looking at the red rag in it. I thought about what had come to me, and what I was about to do. I knew that if I took what was in my hand, I wouldnt have but a day or so ride to Natchez where Ira was. Or else they’d try to bury me while I was still breathin. But it was too far to walk, and too dark to try. If I didn’t take this pinch of oleander and foxglove, I might as well be dead for real.
Once that baby in that ole house get to bein, lookin, just like Ira, I knew Miss Victoria had just enough evil in her to kill Ira just like she did my Daddy. The only thing keepin Ira, Tabitha and Orpah from the Good Lord was time. And I ain’t know how much more of it we had. I sucked in a big breath of wind, and walked back to the house. If I was gon do this right, I needed a snake to catch a bigger snake! Mr. Benjamin was the brother of the woman that killed my Daddy. He was gon be just what I needed to get back to Natchez.