The is the last installment of my short story, "The Hardest Thing to Know." I hope you have enjoyed reading this piece as much as I have enjoyed sharing it with you. Please leave me your thoughts below.
“He can’t even protect you” the master whispered.
Now, he was behind her and inhaled her scent. She turned to flee, but he caught her arm. Her tribeswoman’s words played in her ears. He grabbed her around the waist and threw her to the ground. She scrambled up and lunged for the door again only to meet his arm around her waist again. This time he climbed on top of her. She scratched at his face and managed to kick him. She fought the woman’s words away as she fought with her master. He landed an intricate punch.
“I didn’t want to have to do this,” she heard him say as her eyes rolled and her body surrendered.
She awoke to the night. Her naked body felt the soft linens. Her eyes beheld fine furniture and soft candlelight. She saw her field clothes cleaned and neatly folded on a chair. Her hands caressed the cowrie shell necklace her Man had made her before the nets, ships, chains, and whips. Something was crawling around her shoulders. She jumped, then realized it was her own hair unbraided and in its full length and glory. She sat up in the bed and faced herself in a mirror, but she did not know herself. Her mind finally held the weight of all that had transpired and shoulders drooped. Now her mind was racing and her body was dressing itself, then was running full speed towards her Shack.
She found her Man lying on his stomach there, bloody. He had been fatally beaten, whipped, and there were gashes and bruises all over his body. He was supposed to die. He looked as if he were only sleeping. She began gathering materials to clean and wrap his wounds. She could barely hold any of the cleansers. Her dark, thin hands were shaking and boiling hot tears ran heat all over her face. She realized the wounds were already cleaned. He let out a heavy sigh and the wounds began scabbing before her eyes.
He was dreaming. He saw them together in their old village. She was pregnant and he was walking with a little boy with her eyes. He was telling them stories of his travels in other times. Then, he saw himself running to the mansion. He saw the four white men sitting on the porch descend the steps. He clenched her machete and waited for them to approach. He heard the gunshot and felt the pain in his neck. He charged towards them only to be met with more gunshots. He kept charging and felt the whips on his back. He cut the whips and a few of the white men with his machete. He felt the bullet enter his skull. Then, he saw an Elder standing over him in his Shack with a bloody bullet in her hand. Then, he saw darkness.
She raced from the Shack, and back around the field the wind was whipping through her dress and her hair. Her loneliness began to creep around her and slowed her run. She began sobbing as she walked toward the beach. She felt the cool water caress her toes and she walked toward the current. She was the last of the tribe in this hell and she was no longer pure. The tips of her hair kissed the salty water. Her Man had been tortured to the point of death. She had nothing else to offer anyone. Not herself or her Man. She was standing under the water. He would have a better life without her. She knew she would love him again in another time and place. As she inhaled deeply and gave up the ghost, the cowrie shell necklace floated towards the shore and rested in the sand.
A sharp pain raced up the Man’s back and he sat up abruptly. He could feel her spirit floating around him, but he had to be sure. He had no patience for running, so he flew to the beach. His heavy body thudded as he landed at the very spot her necklace laid. He did not need to see her body floating away from the shore to understand her decision. He picked up her lonely necklace, wrapped it around his thick wrist, then, turned toward the horizon and flew towards another time, so he could find her spirit’s next home. Maybe, in this new place, they could love again. Because the hardest thing to know is that in some times, love is not enough.