Snippet: The Mourning Cry (Part 8)

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Late Spring-Early Summer 1881-Natchez, Mississippi

 

Laudanum.

I had gotten it from the peddler that had come around Mr. Benjamin’s house more than I would like. He was sellin lye, needle and thread and buttons and tallow. I was determined to get outta Mr. Benjamin’s house as fast as God would let me.

In the sermons that  old man with hair white as cotton my Mama had to pick said, “Sometimes the Good Lord gives us all the tools we need for our freedom. Sometimes those tools come from the most unlikely sources.”

They sure do, Reverend Hunter. They sure do.

I walked around with that powder in my apron pocket for more than a week. I held in my pocket with this doll-like child asked me for something. When I had to hide from her father. When I went outside to hang wash. I kept it, I kept it. I don’t know if I was unsure or scared. I knew what would happen if I gave the girl who thought I was a Christmas toy this.  I knew what would happen if I gave all of it to her father that watched me sleep from the door.

But the day, I ran from that house? I ain’t ever felt as free!

I don’t know how I decided I was going to give to either one. But I knew something had to happen when I woke to feel his hand on my rear end. I sat up, looking at him stock straight. If I had a pistol, he was far enough away from me that I knew I could hit it. And kill him. I had to leave. When he left the room, I felt my breath caught deep in my chest. I closed my eyes, feeling the tears come out my eyes. I covered my eyes and tried to sleep.

Mr. Benjamin took tea when he went to bed. He always wanted me to brang it to him. I knew that if I gave him enough