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The Slave's Secret
“I don’t… know!” I said through gritted teeth. He twisted my arm farther up my back stinging my eyes with tears. I felt his hot breath on the back of my neck making chills run up my spine.
“Give it to me boy. I know you were there. You know it’s not allowed to keep things from your master.” His voice was silky, mocking me. I couldn't let him find out! It would certain death for me and she would only be half alive by the time they were done.
“Let him go, Larry. Kid’s probably got fleas anyway.” Dan looked at me in disgust. “We can get it from our neighbors, they spy enough they probably saw.” Larry pushed me to the ground and spat on the back of my knee. Cradling my arm and trying not to show that he had caused me such pain I scrambled up and stood straight with my arm close to my body. Not able to verify my lie I wiped my face of all emotion.
“Go on black boy. Leave!” Larry screamed at me. I felt helpless; I wouldn't even be able to protect her. I turned and ran to the stables, I had my own little corner in there where I felt I could think without everyone able to see my thoughts. I held my arm close to by body, and checked it over. Deciding it wasn't broken, I leaned against the damp wooden wall to think.
Brooding over the mater wasn't going to change facts: they were going to find out no matter how strong I was. How sweet last night was, those seconds of complete freedom. Escaping the pain of the present my mind sent me back to the night before.
Around midnight I was carrying water to the cows in the barn. My name is Leo. No last name, that was illegal for slaves. I am 17 and enslaved in Nebraska, not the most unique place there is. Farm after farm that’s all there is to it.
I was about halfway to the barn when a shadow loomed out of the darkness. Scared I backed up a step sloshing half the water on myself.
“Oh I’m sorry.” A girl of 16 stepped out of the shadows staring at my now drenched shorts. She stepped tentatively towards me as if to help. I knew this girl; she was my master’s (Larry’s) daughter, Flo. She was about 5’4, 3 inches shorter than me, long black hair and big green eyes.
Head down I said, “It’s alright miss.” I meant to continue on my way but she blocked my path staring away into the distance. “Do you ever believe that there is more to life than just this?” Something in her tone made me hesitate to say my automatic answer; No miss, goodnight miss. She wanted the truth.
“Yes.” I said simply. Suddenly she started to cry, small barely audible sobs. I didn't know what to do, my first instinct would be to put my arm around her but it was forbidden. I took a deep breath and put my arm around her shoulders.
“It’s alright miss-“
“Stop that!” she said mindlessly. “Don’t call me miss. I hate that.” Taken aback I murmured trying to calm Flo down.
Finally she pulled away gulping down her sobs. “Thank you…”
“Leo. It’s Leo.” I said a little freaked out that I had actually touched her.
“Thank you Leo. It’s been awhile since anyone has been that kind to me.” We both stood there awkwardly. Suddenly I didn’t want her to leave. I longed to… no I couldn’t, it was downright stupid.
I slowly set down the bucket I was still holding. I was well aware that she was still quite close. “I do hope that this isn’t all there is.” She suddenly looked up into my eyes. Slowly my hand snaked down and around her neck. My eyes closed as my lips found hers. Flo’s arms wrapped around me and pulled me closer to her.
I wrenched my mind out of the past and groaned. Someone must have seen us, to the master kissing another slave is something to laugh about, but kissing blacks and whites kissing, that was a crime. From the sound of it, all the person who saw us could see was two people kissing, but they must have saw the contrast of our skin. However it happened, they knew a white and a black were kissing. If he found out that the black was kissing his daughter...
Both of us will be punished. Flo will be severely punished, hurt enough she will regret ever learning my name, but she'll live. I, however, am a different matter. Execution by fists is what I’ll get.
I sighed again resisting the goading voice in my head telling me to give up and die here. Abruptly I sat bolt upright at the sound of heavy footfalls.
“LEO! Leo help!” At the sound of Flo’s voice I rushed out of the barn. Flo was running straight towards me with Larry and Dan following. I seethed seeing Larry was carrying a crowbar, he was going beat out of her who kissed her.
“Flo! Down to the riverbed!” She changed her direction slightly sprinting to the riverbed, I sprinted up to her and we ran together.
“So it was you, ya brat!” Dan's heavy breath could be heard a mile away.
I indulged to my naturally sharp tongue, “Not one for orations are you? Right to the point.”
“Get back here black boy so I can twist your limbs off!” Larry’s face was probably a mask of murder right now. I didn't dare look back.
We were pulling ahead. We had about 50 yards between us now and 10 till the riverbed. We got to the riverbed and I rustled around in the underbrush. Finding a small canoe for one fill with emergency rations, I pulled it out and pushed into the water. It was for slaves who needed a quick escape. I should say slave, singular.
They were only 20 yards behind. I turned to Flo and put my hands on either side of her face and kissed her quickly. Keeping my hands where they were I told Flo, “Take this and go as far as you can.”
“I’m not leaving you-“
“You have to, go!” I physically picked her up and plopped her into the canoe. I pushed it out as far as I could go. The rapids did the rest.
“LEO!” Flo screamed tears streaming down her face, her hair blowing into her face from the wind. I watched her go with no regrets as I felt Larry’s arms wrap around me.