Because Of Me

This is a historical fiction about slavery. Warning: there is dark and brutal things in this story. It teaches about the horror that was black slavery.

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6. Lullaby

Eight months later, I sit with sweat glistening on my forehead, holding my newborn baby.

“It’s a girl.” I say, flat toned.

Andre doesn’t answer, for tears of joy threaten to spill down his face. Unlike me, he has emotion. Since my meltdown with Katrine, I have avoided feelings of any kind. I want to let them in, but Katrine said that if I wanted to live then I couldn’t have feelings. I retorted that I didn’t want to live. People have been watching me ever since. I reluctantly agreed, and have stripped myself of any and all emotion. Andre suspects a lot. I never told him about what I did back in Africa, and I don’t plan to.

I know that Katrine didn’t mean for me to go this far with the no-feelings thing, but if she doesn’t want me to feel like I’m being buried alive, then I have to go this far.

“What do you want to call her?” Andre asks.

A week later, I hold my baby in my arms, back in my slave cabin. She is refusing to go to sleep, and since I’m not going to be able to anyways, I might as well wait.

I sit for a few more minutes before thinking, what if I sing her a lullaby? I don’t know any, but I guess I could make one up. I think for a few more minutes, than start singing.

 

Go to sleep now

Go to sleep now

Your sleep may be restless

But I will hold you in my arms

 

Go to sleep now

Go to sleep now

For when your eyes open

Your fears will be gone

 

Go to sleep now

Go to sleep now

Your heart is pure

And your mind innocent

 

I stop there. No matter what I try, nothing sounds good for an ending. And the part where I left off doesn’t seem like a good ending. I decide to leave it like that for now.

I sit alone in my cabin. I was singing the unfinished lullaby to my baby when I fell asleep myself. I had a nightmare in which Katrine was sold away, and I never saw her again. It was because she was talking back to the overseer again, and after he whipped her, she called him a not-so-nice word. In real life, this happens all the time. And in the dream, the owner of our plantation got mad at her and said that he was done with her, and sent her on a wagon to an auction that was going to happen tomorrow. I woke up before it could get worse, and now I sit hunched up.

“What do you want from me?” I ask, looking at the sky.

“WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?” I scream, tears slipping down my face.“PLEASE! PLEASE FORGIVE ME! I’M SORRY! PLEASE- I’M SORRY!”

“I’m sorry.” I whisper, and all goes black.

I wake up in the morning in a pool of sweat. I had a nightmare of course, but I also realized what I have to do for forgiveness.

I have to die.

I sit thinking about how to do this, when Abigail runs into the room.

“Gemma! Katrine just got sold away!”

My heart sinks.

“What happened?” I ask. Somehow I had a dream that is coming true, but I don’t want it to be.

She tells me what happens, and it matches my dream exactly. I say nothing, but my brain repeats the same sentence over and over. I can’t take this anymore.

The Revolutionary War has been going on for years now. I don’t like to think about it, but I will have to now that I’m a nurse in it. That is my plan. It isn’t to get myself killed of course. But I’m going to sacrifice myself to save the colonists in the war. I got myself put in as a nurse. It took a while, but I am now standing in a tent, tying a tourniquet around a soldier’s bleeding leg. It’s not a big wound, so he’ll be okay. Another nurse helps him back to his tent as I sit down. I am barely in my seat when a general walks right into the infirmary tent.

“Women, I need you here now.”

All of us run into a straight line in front of him. He walks past all of us, surveying all of us until he stops right in front of me.

“Now, how the hell did a negroe woman get into here?”

I am affronted by his response to me, but I don’t say anything that will get me slapped.

“I worked hard, sir.”

“Alright.” He says, moving on to the next woman.

After he finishes, he moves back to his original spot and starts talking about self-sacrifice. I try to listen, but it’s like his voice is hardwired to make people fall asleep. I only tune in when it gets important

“What my point is, women, is that I have to send some of you into the front lines. There are a lot of wounded men out there that you have to help.”

Some of us gasp. Most of us looked shocked at the extremely oncommon decision he has made. But I realise that this is my chance.

“Now, I need volunteers.” He says, specifically not looking at me. But he is going to be surprised.

“I will. I’ll do it.” I say, and everyone looks at me, astounded that I’m not a low-life, selfish coward. Well, I am, but that’s beside the point. The general is the most surprised though.

“You?” he asks.

“Yes, sir. Me.”

“Alrighty then.” He says, and he waits for more people to volunteer.

Slowly, every other nurse volunteers. And as they all volunteer to something that could mean their end, I realise the enormity of what I’ve done.

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