I stood quietly in the cotton field drenched in blood. I had not noticed before, but it was all over me, in my hair, on my face, and my clothes. All of a sudden, a blood curling scream came from the depths of my being, and I could not be silenced.
“Chile, it’s alright chile. Please stop screamin’ or Massa Jones gonna come over here an git ya. Please chile don’t make it worse fo yoself,” Old Miss Janie pleaded with me.
There would be no peace today. Not after he just killed my family. I stopped my screaming and started laughing. Old Miss Janie started backing away from me. She told the other slaves, “I seen this before. She done gone mad.”
All of the other slaves in the field followed Miss Janie and backed away from me while mumbling to their selves. I was mad, but not the insane kind. My anger had crossed over into my being and everything I would do from this point on would be my revenge on the Jones Plantation.
I closed my eyes and remembered the last words my mama said to me “Remember who you are Hope, and never let them kill you. Be strong and honor your ancestors.”
When I opened my eyes, I could see my ancestors standing before me along with my parents. They told me I was the last in our bloodline and I must survive. I would have their protection, as I navigated through life. Right now, I was being instructed to exact revenge for my parents’ murders. I must use my brain and outsmart them, because they would be looking for me to become violent. I listened to their instructions, and remembered them exactly. I allowed the wisdom of the ancestors to guide me.
“You must act like you are sick from grief. The lady of the house will take pity on you, and invite you back into the house to work. Once you have re-established yourself as a house servant, you must be on your best behavior. At the dawning of the full moon, you will go into the woods, where your papa took you to pray. Under the big tree with the markings, you will find an herb growing. Gather the herb, but mind you do not let it touch your skin. Use a cloth to gather it. Chop the herb up and put it in the white people’s food. It will paralyze them. Once you are sure they can’t move, you must chop each one of their heads off and hang them on the front porch, covering yourself with their blood. Do not swallow their blood or it will taint you! Nobody will harm you because we will be there to protect you. You will be taken to a hospital and once you are released, you will have your freedom!”
© Lisa W. Tetting, 2015
I hope you enjoyed reading this excerpt from Mind of Hope as much as I enjoyed writing it. Please check out my accompanying Pinterest page for a photo scrapbook of the story.