From space, the Place seemed peaceful. Serene. The emerald fields of sugar cane leaves swayed carelessly in the last of the night air. Mosquitoes hummed their vampire song. The crude brown shacks slept as the white mansion snored. From up here, the scene appeared serene, peaceful. But the Sun knew better, so it peaked over the horizon before it showed its entire face reluctant to begin another day of pain. There was no real rest here because there was no peace for the soul or mind. The sleep was artificial like the smiles We plastered on Our faces to live. Everyone would devour this “rest” like greedy pigs although We all knew it would not be enough. The heat rays snuck into the cracks of a shack like coolness thieves. A single ray of light hit a fragment of a strategically placed mirror and that light beamed right into the Woman’s face.
Her eyes opened. She turned from the beam and looked at her Man. She touched his newest gash. It was an accident. She cut him deeply with her machete while working in the cane fields yesterday. She winced at the image of the abysmal laceration and crimson blood running from his arm. She had fussed over it all night, but it had already scabbed over. She was both relieved and grieved. He healed too quickly from the severest of injuries. Once, while in the old country, he tried to explain to her why. He told her how he had lived in Rome, Spain, and Egypt. How he came to West Africa to find a quiet, peaceful existence. He found his peace in her. Nothing good can stay. Presently, she looked around the Shack. Everything was brown and earthen. The wooden walls and roof, dirt floors, even their folded work clothes were dingy and beige. The only glimpse of bright was the bunch of bananas in the corner. She looked over at the large,ebony heap that was her Man.
His health allowed them to survive the nightmarish Middle Passage to into this hell. So many people died on those vessels and many dying here. Often, she wished they had died too. She feared they would be here for their whole lives and that was tragic. The other sad thought, if they were here, who was looking over things in the village she wondered. She had heard that much of her village was scattered about in this new land. That thought killed her insides every time and she became infuriated before the Sun was over the horizon. If our generation is lost in this hell, who will teach the next? They will be lost because we have been stolen. A hot tear ran down her sable cheek and her full lips trembled with rage.
He kissed the cheek. Her full, dark lips revealed spacey, white teeth. Without him, she would have been killed moons ago. Her anger blurs her sense sometimes. She buried her head into his neck and breathed in his heat. It revived her spirit. His hand wandered between her legs and she giggled. There is no time for love now, she told him in the old language. There is only time for work she said as she rose. Her glorious dark body was already beaded with sweat that ran a crooked path down her back along deep gashes from the whips. Souvenirs for not working hard enough. Fast enough. Long enough. She slipped on a work dress and began wrapping her long kinky braids in cloth. He stood. His own body was flawless as if he’d never endured a lash or gash. His body told a lie that only his soul could relay truthfully. He dressed in rough trousers and a torn shirt. As he secured his pants, kissed her neck, and held her in his black, muscled arms. His round, boyish eyes looked deep into her slanted, piercing ones. Dong! Dong! Dong! No time for love.
They worked together in the fields. She chopped swiftly and he gathered what she chopped. He also chopped down the stalks she missed in her haste. He was watching the back of her dress dance and missed the stalks he swung for. Shhwick! She turned just in time to see the whip lick his back and blood run from His shirt. The white man screamed something in his tongue while shaking the whip at her Man. Unaffected, he chopped the stalks and gathered the rest. She was still staring at the white man and the other slaves moved past. Her fury returned. The white man screamed at Her and walked toward Her with his whip in hand. Her Man grabbed her machete. The white man stopped when he did that. Welding both machetes, He chopped down four stalks in one violent stroke and told her, in the old language: Gather. She obeyed and They advanced. Indolently, the white man returned to his post.