It was on a visit to Bristol during the summer holidays that I was inspired to write this story, Joseph’s story. After reading the history of some slaves, who travelled from the West Indies and Africa etc. only to be enslaved by the “White Man” who separated them from their families and everything they loved, I felt so angered and saddened by the conditions they endured and hardships they faced that I had to write something about it. The idea for this story came to my mind again recently, after getting an assignment set by my English teacher about freedom. So, that night, I sat down by my laptop and just wrote and wrote and wrote until I’d finished with a story about a dead man, a will, a feud, a family secret, a recurring dream, a journey, a lonely black slave and the nature of freedom. Hope you enjoy it!


2. Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust

The death of a loved one is a peculiar thing. It is something that one cannot quite put into words, a strange sensation of almost falling through a dark hole from which you know you will not return and in most instances, scarcely care about that fact. Like a coil around your throat, which tightens with a tug every time a fading memory of the fallen flashes across your eyes or almost as if you are slowly being pulled down into a marsh and the more you try and break free the faster and deeper you will sink. Safe to say, it is not a pleasant feeling- it wouldn’t occur to you that the bottom of your world dropping out beneath you was a very nice thing, would you? And yet, Mr Albert Hodge felt nothing of the sort. He wondered why he didn’t cry more, or grieve, or do something following the death of his great-grandfather. He just didn’t. Granted, they hadn’t been very close and they seldom spoke or saw each other, but he was family. Although none of his family were particularly close, he was disgusted by the feeling of relief that he’d felt after learning the news. Mr Hodge felt more and more that he should feel something else, but simply couldn’t. As if he was hollow inside. However, considering it was his great-grandfather who had always made him feel that way in life, it felt fitting in death.

   Ashes to ashes, dust to dust... blah blah blah. Why were people so intent on dragging everything out in such a tedious way? No matter how many tears they wept for him, he would still be dead. Albert thought they ought to throw him in the ground before he started to rot, but, of course, everything had to be so sentimental and painful. It struck him as odd that no-one ever had anything bad to say about the dead. No, they were always saints and perfect human beings who couldn’t do a thing wrong. Mr Hodge didn’t seem to remember his great-grandfather in such a way. In fact, he recalled him being quite the opposite and not a very obliging man at all. This was why the great-grandson of the deceased cared less about the mourning as he did about the will the elusive man had left behind.

   Albert knew that his great-grandfather had been a wealthy man, given that he’d dedicated so much of his life to his career, of which Albert knew very little. Great-grandfather had never been forthcoming about what it was he did and all round he was a man of few words but it seemed that whenever the topic came up, the conversation was abruptly changed for some reason. Albert had often wondered why, but never worked up the courage to ask. Now it was too late. But at least, being one of his great-grandfather’s only remaining heirs, he would probably get his fair share of the fortune the man had left behind. Albert Hodge sat back in his chair in the solicitor’s office as the names of his siblings were called out one by one and each were, in turn, bequeathed some of the earthly possessions that the dead man had no more use for. One got his finest horse, Treasure; another got his stately manor house; all got their share. Until the solicitor stopped at Albert.

   “And to my great-grandson, a Mr Albert Hodge III, I leave the deeds to my business, in hope that he will find it useful in time to come…”

Mr Hodge’s jaw dropped. Never had he been expecting such a thing, one of the most precious possessions held by the man who had always seemed to be so cold and distant to him in life. His business! Now it was Albert’s business, despite the fact he had no clue as to what the enterprise was. In due time he would find out, but for that moment he felt the envy of his brothers and sisters radiated towards him and he felt guiltily satisfied that it was his. All his.

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