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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2. My Village Burns With My People

What I see is a massacre. Our village is up in flames, and my people lay on the ground still, and gone from this world. Pale men run around with death sticks, pointing them at others until the child or elder falls to the ground with a loud, evil popping noise, signaling their death.

Other pale people have scary looking sticks, with big circles attached to them, putting the circles onto the living’s necks. Wait a second! I think. Every dead villager I see is-I mean, was either a child or an elder! And that probably means that I’m gonna be on one of those torture chain things. So that’s the “right age” thing those men were talking about! But, my mama isn’t the “right age!” She won’t be alive! Where is she? I have to protect her from the evil sticks filled with voodoo.

I look around, and there she is, in the middle of it all, running around, trying to help as many people as possible. She is a healer, so it is in her blood. She has taught me many of her herbs and salves’ meanings and uses. But I’ve never been good at helping others with their medical issues.  She has tried to get me into it, but I hate looking at injuries. They scare me. But with my mom, it’s different. Anyone under her care couldn’t have died if they tried. I remember one time, when I was seven years old, my mom was trying to save one of the hunters in our village. He had been bitten by a snake and there was pus oozing out of it, running everywhere. I ran to the woods to pick fruit so that I could get away from the horror. Around two hours later, my mom came and found me. I asked if he was okay, and she said he had made it and was back with his family, resting. She then asked if I wanted to make a flower crown for her. I asked if we could make one for each other. We did, and the whole thing ended with not only flower crowns but grass weaved scarves and dresses, necklaces and bracelets that somehow had Raisin Bush berries strung through Elephant Grass, and finally, flower crowns made out of Kigelia Africana. And to top it all off, we were both rolling around on the grass laughing so hard that after we had finally calmed down I accidentally sucked some of the flower petals up my nose from breathing so heavily. And doing that had just made us laugh harder.

I look away for a second to savor the memory and as I do, I hear a gunshot. There had been multiple of those evil popping noises in the past few seconds, but this one is different. I look back and my mother is standing on a dirt pathway, red liquid dripping out of her chest. All of a sudden, the world slows, and I watch my mother slowly fall to the ground, gone like the others. And it’s all my fault.

Why? Why would someone do this to a village that didn’t even do anything? Why would someone do this to her? My innocent mother, who loved papayas and Baobab trees. She didn’t even do anything wrong. But I did. I killed her.

I can’t face any of this, so I decide to run. The problem is, the evil men are faster, and have way more on their side. They catch me with ease, and even though I bite and kick and hit, I am soon shackled into the torture chains. They are extremely uncomfortable, and I can’t even turn my head because of the stick that is around my neck. I don’t know how anyone could stand these things. But I don’t have a choice. None of us do.

We all just stand there, not able to sit, not able to run, and whenever one of us pleads or even cries then we are all slapped with a long piece of rope connected to a handle. It hurts so much that after the first time, everyone gives up. No one says a word, and we all fight back tears.

We wait, watching as our village turned from a beautiful place full of flowers and love to a place that could only be described as Hell. Dead bodies lay on the pathways, blood splattered all over the village bonfire circle’s benches, and the few houses that are still on fire slowly burn out to nothingness.

Once every house has burnt out, all is silent. We stand and listen to the quiet. It is the first time ever any one of us has ever heard nothing. Even in the forest there is always noise. Whether it’s the birds chirping or the wind making plants whistle, something is always making noise. In the village, during the day, my people, the people whose blood is on my hands, would talk with each other all day long. The children would play together, and the women would gossip. Even at night crickets chirp. But now there are no birds, no crickets, no people, not even a small current of wind to disturb the silence. It’s almost as if the forest is mourning our village. And I hate it.

The silence is making my insides hurt. The forest may be giving its respects, but it is making me want to tear out my own heart just to stop the pain, and the guilt from reaching my soul. But the problem is, it already has.

Once the fires burn out, the men go to look inside our houses. I guess it’s to check if there are any survivors. They look through every house but one. And as they go to come back to us, one of them calls out to the others. He puts his hand up in front of him, and then yanks out a child.

It’s Delado! He is a child in our village. He is my mother’s friend’s son. I realize that they are going to kill him. But they can’t! He is just a little boy, he hasn’t done anything wrong! One of the other men takes a death stick, points it at the Delado, and he falls to the ground with a BANG! I make a noise like a fusion of a gasp and a moan. A little boy just died because of me, I think with guilt.

The men come back to us, and kick us forward. They direct us toward the road.

We have to walk through many of the bodies, and as I walk, I look at all of them. I killed you. I think. And you. And also you.

When we finally submerge into the forest, I give a sigh of relief. I just couldn’t stand to be around any of them. I can’t take the guilt.

As I walk, I notice that there is a mona monkey running in front of me. It’s almost as if it’s leading the way. After a few minutes, it disappears into the trees. I see it again, with its friends coming out of the trees, and playing with each other. They’re so free, so happy, while I’m stuck walking and slicing my feet open as I stumble along the dirt road that is covered in rocks.

We walk for weeks. They barely feed us, and two days in, we’re all covered in dirt. When we do stop, it’s only for a short amount of time. We’re all exhausted, and because of that, half of us don’t make it. One of us, Quasi, tries to fight back. After seeing his sister die, he loses it. But one of the men just shoots him like it’s nothing. And to them, it probably isn’t.

Some of us die from starvation and exaustion. But I think that they just gave up.  

After a long, the men start talking a lot. I hear certain words get repeated a lot. Some of them I think are “price,” “slave” and something called “cape coast”. I don’t know what they mean, and I’m afraid to find out.

I finally figure out why they are so excited as we are emerging from the forest. In the near distance, there is a giant white box, with boxes coming out of it, and more men standing everywhere, guarding the place for some reason. Obviously, this is where we are going.

And as we walk towards what the pale men are calling “Cape Coast Castle”, I realize:

I’m going to give up too.

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