Love Born into Slavery

February 4th, 1822 – Columbia, South Carolina

“You doin’ an awful lot of grinnin’ tonight, Jeremiah.”

“And I’ma keep on grinnin’.” Jeremiah grabbed his new wife by the waist and brought her close to him. “We been married now for forty-one days. Now what you thank about that?”

Sarah laughed and rested in the crevice of his labor sculpted chest. “You still countin the days, I see. Well it’s been the best forty-one days of my twenty-three years. Let’s get some supper and get to bed; it’s like the sun been risin’ earlier every mornin’.”

The two sat and enjoyed supper at the table Jeremiah had made himself. They had been so deep in each other’s thoughts that the sudden banging on the door startled them both to embarrassment. The bad thing about knocking in this hour is that rarely does anything good come from it. Jeremiah stood from the table and made his way to the door. He cautiously opened it and did not like the sight that stood before him.

“Evenin’, Masta Jamison.”

“Evenin’, Jeremiah.”

Jeremiah opened the door a bit wider and stepped out onto the porch of his small shack of a home. He looked to the left and right of his home to see if any others were with the master. His mind raced as he thought if he had done anything that would have called for a late-night beating — no; not since last year.

“What brang you down from the big house at this late hour, Boss?” Jeremiah asked, nervous of the response.

Mr. Jamison sucked in a gulp of air and started, “I need Sarah up at the house for a few chores.” There was a pause. “You know, since the lady of the house is gone to visit her mother.”

Jeremiah’s stomach turned in knots. He knew what that meant, and he could smell the liquor coming off of Jamison. “You mean to tell me that Sarah ain’t been doin’ her duties during the day, Masta Jamison?” he asked. “Since it’s late and she gettin’ ready for bed, I can come on ova’ and do whateva you need.” The attempt to deter the situation was obviously going nowhere, but Jeremiah had to try. There might be some change in heart that would spare them from such disgrace.

“Now these here are lady duties, Jeremiah. Just send Sarah on out and she’ll be back in about an hour.” The pause was longer and quieter than the first. “Boy, am I gonna have any trouble out of you tonight? If so, you about to get you and that lil’ nigga wife of yours a real bad lashin’!”

Jeremiah turned and went into the house. His wife was staring at him with hopeful eyes, welling with tears. “Sarah, Masta gonna need you up at the house for just a few minutes,” he said as assuredly as possible.

“I ain’t goin’ up there, Jeremiah,” she whimpered. “You remember what he did to that girl last year? He gonna do that to me, Jeremiah!”

“No he ain’t,” he responded. “One thang for sho; if you don’t go he likely gone beat you real bad, and I don’t wanna see you hurt, Sarah. If you go, he just might need the bathrooms cleaned or somethin’ small like that. It’ll be alright.” He kissed her on the forehead and walked her to the door.

**********

Hours later, Sarah gently walked back into the house. Jeremiah was sitting in his dinner chair in the middle of the floor. His hands held his head up as he sat slumped over, staring at the floor. Sarah came and sat on the floor in front of him. Her face was bruised and clothes were torn. He stared at his wife, and she stared back at him. Jeremiah stood up over her and went to bed without saying a single word. She cried until she fell asleep; right there on the floor.

As Jeremiah lay in the bed, he thought about his wife laying there on the floor. He had never learned to deal with any problems without use of force. It was all he had ever known. The only two people that had ever calmed him or had been able to get him to talk, was his mother and his best friend from years back — Sarah. Those were the only people he had ever trusted since his father and siblings were all sold away. He knew in his mind, that none of what had happened was Sarah’s fault, but he felt as though it was his. He thought that if there was anything ever worth dying for, it should have been that. He hated himself for not doing more. He hated himself for the fear that he let lead him and his wife into this situation. He wanted to tell her. He knew that if he did tell her, that they could heal together. But his disdain for the white man who had defiled his wife, caused him to be disgusted by the sight of her. His emotions for her were spread in every direction that his heart could reach. So he did nothing; he said nothing.

Sarah knew Jeremiah. She knew how he thought and why he though it. So she did nothing; she said nothing. He needed time and space. After it was noticeable that she was pregnant, he said to her at supper, “I’m running away to Charleston. It’s a free man, named Denmark Vesey, talking about starting a revolt.”

“Don’t go, Jeremiah,” she said as tears ran down her face. “I’m pregnant and I’m scared.” With those words, Jeremiah saw that he still had a duty to serve as a man and as her husband. He had not been degraded to uselessness, though he had felt as such the whole time. He got up and rushed to Sarah and hugged her like he had wanted to on the night she returned from the big house.

**********

On day three-hundred and two of their marriage, Sarah gave birth to a beautiful chocolate baby girl. Their relief was immeasurable to say the least. Jeremiah thanked his wife for asking him to stay. If he had fled, he would have surely been caught and killed, and he would have missed out on seeing this little girl. Sarah thanked him for being the man that he was, making things work for them, and not just him.

They both thanked God for what they had, and for keeping them from worse; and prayed that one day their baby would see better days.

Week 13 Recap

It’s nearing Christmas… Excited, right?

I am too.

I will be working extremely hard to make sure I get out a decent number of weekly posts. I think in week 11 I only did one and last week, I only did two. I had an idea to write predated material and post when I didn’t have the time to actually write, but for some reason that doesn’t work for me. By the time I get to use something in a stockpile, I rarely find something that fits what I’m feeling like at the time and would rather just write something completely new. Even so, going forward, I’m going to get it back to at least three per week; even through the holidays. If I worked 40 hours a week doing this though, you guys would be tired of me. 🙂

So on Tuesday, December 9th, I wrote complications of writing despite your emotions and what you may feel like… writing against the grain. I’m sure it is a common occurrence for 99% of writers, but for me, it is so common that I have different methods around the barricades of sentiment based on the degree of the oppression. The first and easiest is to sidetrack to some poetry just to release and put in on the paper. My biggest thing these days is all about productivity, so I try not to let any emotion block any production. I will settle for a different product, but something will be created. No time for down time. If I’m working a story, I will fast forward to a part to write something that fits what I’m feeling. Now that method is a bit tricky and can result in a lot of wasted time. So which is why I tend to end up writing a short short story of some sort. This is my favorite because with less than a thousand words, I instantly change how I feel and my outlook on whatever it is that I’m facing. With poetry, you tend to submerse yourself into the situation. In a short short story though, you can fantastically create something, read it, and tell yourself, “Oh yeah, I’m a writer! It’s all good!”

On Friday, December 12th, I wrote about my selfish ways of traveling alone. It’s not a bad selfish though; if a good selfish even exists. It’s more of the fact that I would rather do things alone, rather than do things with groups sometimes. I’m one of those people who like for everything to go as planned. Even when the unexpected happens, if things are properly planned, we can still continue on the trip without it being a major disaster. But I cannot tolerate having to stop 45 minutes into the trip because the gas light just came on. That will leave me quietly doing breathing exercises to calm whatever ulcers that might try to develop on what is sure to be an aggravating drive into Crazyville. Just the thought of it now gives me the heebee jeebees. So when I want to get up and go somewhere, I just do. I can go to the same place and do the same thing with family and friends and still have the same fun; but not if it prohibits me from enjoying what we went to do or see. Geesh!

So with that being said, enjoy your week ahead. I hope that at any level, you gain a new perspective from reading and I always look forward to the feedback; whether it be negative or positive. You can’t go through life always thinking you’re right. Someone will eventually disagree and you will eventually have to be corrected. The best thing to do is it take it and grow from it. Perspective is key to learning and growth and we should all welcome and embrace it.

P.S. – I believe you’ll be hearing from me tonight. This feels like a two post kind of day.

Moody Writer?

Unless you are writing poetry, emotions will often betray the point of whatever it is that you are writing. It is a problem that writers often go through during the creative process. One minute you could be in an upbeat mood and pressing your story through a cheery line of events. If for whatever reason your mood changes though, it can be difficult to keep that story on the same pace. So what do you do when you don’t feel what it is that you want to portray?

Personally, if my mood takes a dive for whatever reason, I use that energy to practice poetry. However, while in such a mood, editing and rewording is not a priority! So if there is any display of skill that is presented as “above average”, it is simply luck, or raw talent; either way, I am still not interested enough to invest my good moods in honing the craft.

Hypocritically of me, I am not a fan of sad poetry. I do enjoy heartbroken verses from time to time though; as long as though they stay within the bounds of staying alive. (Say no to suicide!) With an art as diverse and boundless as poetry, it is hard to legitimately critique a poem. But if your poems can provoke an internal fear of being alone, I will probably avoid reading it. It was years ago when I first read Langston Hughes’ “Suicide’s Note”:

The calm,

Cool face of the river

Asked me for a kiss.

It still creeps me out. I mean, it’s cool. I guess it’s good. I just don’t like the feeling that I got after I read it. I remember thinking, “He must have been in a really bad mood.”

Another method that I try when when my mood isn’t up to par is skipping forward in the story that I’m working on. I will fast forward to where I think the story could go, and write a whole scene or chapter based solely on how I feel at the time. Then when I am back to myself, I will start back writing at the original stopping point and hope that the two sections will connect. If you are a writer, you know that everything is subject to change; so either the part written preemptively can be a checkpoint or it will be scrapped and that will be time wasted. So I try not to practice that route and use that energy editing — if I must work on the same project.

What I often turn to though, is the short story. I may write something that reflects solitude. In Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea”, I felt a sense of loneliness in his writing. I’m not saying that this is the case, but it is definitely the vibe that I picked up from it. As I got older and began to read more about Hemingway as a man rather than just an author, I can just about be sure that he was not a very “happy” man when he wrote that. Writing in a wishful state of desire can also be method of cheering myself up. So it may be rather difficult to distinguish what was being felt by the author when he or she wrote it. The feeling of my reader takes precedence over my own when writing. If I think too much emotional is bleeding into the work and could possibly deter what I want the read to get, I will scrap it altogether; or journal it.

I’m sure the methodologies for moody writing are infinite, but those are the three that I use. Whatever method you use is just fine as long as you push through and produce something. Writer’s block can only beat you if you let it. 🙂

Week 12 Recap

So we have come to the close of the twelfth week. I was only able to publish one post this week. Time was scare. My mind was a so occupied with the social occurrences rippling through the United States that every time I sat down to type, it was all I could think about. So my apologies for the absence. However, I did get a chance to read a bit, which was much needed. Te reading produced a backlog of topics that I would like to cover, so next week will be back to normal.

On Tuesday, December 2, I wrote about the lack of gear that writer’s have to show off. I also stated that the lack thereof may be the part of the relevance behind the typewriter in present day  writing. After posting, a reader sent me a screenshot of this cool Weapons of Mass Creation t-shirt from Pinterest; I will be wearing one soon.

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I also had a chance to write a couple short short stories this week that I may share. They are completely fiction and I believe they were prompted by the stress that has been going on around me, the stresses of the nation and the fact that I think I may be coming down with a cold. Writing is what gives a temporary way of escape to a perfect world that you create; but hopefully every writer knows their fantasy limit. 🙂

With that being said, I will write to you all next week. Hopefully it will grant another perspective for some of you, inspire some of you, and encourage some of you. Remember keep an open perspective and to show compassion wherever you can. Laugh a little and smile a lot and spread positivity and encouragement everywhere you go (if possible; I know how it is sometimes).

I’m going to find the NyQuil. 🙂

Daniel and the Toddler (Part 2)

Daniel sat tiredly on the tube, drifting in and out of sleep. It was almost 7AM. His flight did not leave back to the states until nine, so he was making great timing. Even though he enjoyed his much needed vacation with his best friend, there was still something weighing on him. He had slept late, saw sights, ate well and had what should have been some of the best times of his life. Now, however, he felt as though it might have been a waste of time and money.

As I looked at the young man, it occurred to me that maybe he wasn’t as young as he used to be. He wasn’t old, but he definitely wasn’t as young. It seemed as though he was coming to the realization that the single party life was starting to run out. The fact that he had to travel all the way to London to visit his last single friend should have been obvious proof of that. As a matter of fact, even his last single friend was not-so-single.

Daniel rubbed his eyes together his eyes as the train pulled to a stop at the next station. Not wanting to make eye contact with anyone, he checked his phone until everyone had settled and the train was moving again. Across from him, a mother sat with a little boy that was staring directly at him. As soon as Daniel met the gaze of the toddler, the little boy looked up at his mom and asked:

“Mommy, is that man going to work?

He has a tie like daddy… And a blue shirt?”

Something about the way the child’s curiosity was peaked by Daniel’s blue shirt and tie woke him to full awareness. Daniel scrambled around in his pocket for something to give the boy. Pulling what he had learned to call a “fiver” from his pocket, he asked the mother, “Do you mind?”

“Not at all.”

The wide-eyed boy shyly accepted the money, but continued talking to Daniel.

“I’m going home with my daddy.

He gives me money too.

I came here with my mommy

But only to ride the tube.”

As I watched Daniel, a smile spread grew on him, that seemed too big for his face. He picked the boy up and sat him in the seat next to him. “What’s your name, Big Guy?” The boy looked at his mom as if to asked if it was okay to answer. She nodded and said, “Tell him your name.”

“My name is David Lucas, Jr.

Just like my daddy.

Except his name is David Lucas, Sr.

It’s almost the same… So I’m still happy.”

He fondled the bill in his hands folding it over and over while smiling at every thought of his father. “Well my name is Daniel, but you can call me Dan.”

He smile at the intro and said, “Hi Mr. Dan.

When I see my dad I will say hello for you.

I’m going to tell him you were a nice man,

And you gave me five pounds and your shirt was blue.”

The little boy’s smile now matched Daniel’s. His short legs kicked from the edge of his seat seeming to be in direct correlation with his happiness. Maybe this is what Daniel had been missing.

The train pulled to the next stop where the mother gathered her child, thanked Daniel and exited the train. The doors closed as the little boy waved back at Daniel with the bill flopping about in he hand. Daniel also waved as the feeling of tiredness crept back — but this time accompanied with a feeling of loneliness. The train pulled off and left the boy and his mother in the past.

I watched Daniel fidget back and forth between phone and books until the train finally arrived at his stop. He seemed so detached from everyone and everything; as if he were completely oblivious to the reality of anything. The doors opened and I stood to the side as he eased by me and off the train. “Excuse me,” he said. It was surprising to hear him say anything after watching his mood flatten. He made his way up solemnly up the escalators as the doors closed between he and I.

“Daniel, Daniel, Daniel,” I murmured. “You have to open up to yourself.”

Daniel and The Romantic (Part 1)

“So, if you don’t mind me asking, what exactly did you learn from all of this?” The stubble-faced man had his eyes intently trained on his colleague as he awaited an answer. The two had been sitting here for a while; one obviously going through relationship problems, and the other just lending an ear. I was being entertained by their randomness and mood changes. They were two decent fellows, both kind of reserved but comically witty – even in their state of melancholy.

“What do you mean, Daniel?” He knew exactly what his colleague meant. He just wasn’t prepared to answer such a question. He also seemed to be a bit offended by the question and the look he gave him as he asked it. I had to admit though, he had a right to ask; he had been listening to him vent, ramble, and gripe for the last hour at least.

“I mean, like… None of this really means anything if you didn’t learn anything,” the guy named Daniel said. He seemed to be very reasonable and was making it his business to make sense of everything. “Like, you’re a really smart guy, and confusion doesn’t suit you well.”

“Hmm… What did I learn from it?” The romantic pondered on this question for a few seconds. Then he smiled and started with…

“I learned that night can be as bright as the day.” 

He then sipped from his glass and gave his friend a crooked smile.  Daniel grimaced at the romantic’s poetic tenderness. “Please just stop! Forget I asked!” Nonetheless, the romantic continued on.

“I learned that great pain is only a loss of great gain.

I learned that simply holding hands can change lifelong plans. 

Shadows only lie where her smile doesn’t shine,

And sleep is merely to be with her in another place and time.

I learned that love travels on the winds that carry her scent,

And that there is much more love than time to be spent.” 

I laughed a bit as the love-sick patron annoyed his friend. He then put his arm around the shoulder of his buddy and asked, “You know the feeling, right?” and laughed at his discomfort.

“C’mon, just stop! Go and tell her! Just get off of me!” He threw the arm off of him as he jumped from his stool. “I don’t even want my last wings.” His friendly time of lending an ear had come to an end. His trust in the Guy Code had failed him as he was forced to listen to free versed poetry from who I could now tell was his best friend; and that’s why he wouldn’t leave him. They were close, and one was in need of the other right now.

“I learned that arguing doesn’t fix as well as a kiss,

and apologies are necessities when hearts are at risk.”

As Daniel turned and walked toward the exit, the poetic reject burst into laughter and followed after him. They grabbed their coats from the hangers and continued out into the night.

“The first time I saw her, I knew love was at hand…”

I cleared the tables where they were sitting and wiped the area clean. As I poured the liquid from their abandoned glasses, it occurred to me that they had only drank soda. I said a prayer for their continued sobriety, and went on to wait the next table.