Some dreams are best forgotten? Ann & Anna: Part 1

This morning’s dream did not turn out well, but at least in story, we can give a different, more hopeful ending, right? —

“There’s that fancy!  We got all three!”

           I froze.  Not again.

           Tremors and nausea struggled for dominance, as I wrapped my arms around my belly.  The stench from the canal didn’t help.  The familiar pain again, as I clamped all of my muscles tight.  I could hear feet running toward me in the gathering darkness, even as I stood stock still, knowing all was lost.

           My friends had already fled.   Dropped their baskets and foolishly run along the canal, passing right in front of the President’s House.  I could hear their short strides crossing the road, heavy booted feet pounding after them.  That’d be Mary screaming.  They told us to wait here, to stay together, just present our papers if we were stopped.  But who can blame her.  Mary never really wanted to run.  Just couldn’t be parted with us both.  So this is our fault.

My fault.

            I knew they would know.  Those Free Papers might do for a field hand, but never for a fancy.  The Senator would want his fancy back.  He would never let me go.  But Mary and Sal were going, and I had no future, anyway.  Little Sal was determined, and Mary would never let her go alone.  I couldn’t blame her.

            More screams, this time, the voice of little Sal.  They were closer, now, and the sound of more Constables, shouting, was joined by the rattling of a cart, moving fast enough to cover the sound of the horses hooves pulling our doom closer.  My bowels threatened to spill over, watery humiliation gurgling as I clamped down tighter, recalling what had happened the last time.

              Not to me, of course.  Never.  No marks could be made upon the Senator’s favorite fancy.  But others could suffer, and to punish me, to show me never to run again, others had been made to pay for my mistakes.  Even killed, to be sure that I would know, never leave again.  Mary had explained it, as I wept for them:

“You know why they make us wear these fine dresses.  Why they whip them, and not you.  These white men, they want us because we look like ladies.”

            I had shaken my head at her, not wanting to believe that I was part of the game.  A willing part, as long as I let him touch me.

“But Mary, we are still darkies.  We are not white, that much is clear.”

“Oh, it is clear, honey.  Our light skin lets them dress us up, lets them pretend that we are white women.  What they want, but what they cannot have, they take from us.”

               A twig snapped near me.  Someone was approaching, slowly, carefully.  They had orders, we knew, not to damage us.  It was our beauty that made us so prized on the auction block, often selling for more than a valuable field hand.  Selling that beauty which had no good use.  That beauty which had caused so much pain, and even death.

            I unlaced the top of my bodice.  My beauty would no longer be used for evil.

             This time, no one would die for my weakness.  I pulled my embroidery scissors out of my basket, opening the blades as I found the longest vein on my left arm, and glanced at my right.  For once, it was good to have such light skin.  I can see where the veins run from wrist to elbow.  I’ve looked so often I had them memorized.  No other slave will die because of me, be whipped to spare my flesh, to teach us all not to run.  Only my blood will flow, this time.  I pressed the open blade into my wrist, the other blade biting into my right hand fingers, drawing down along the tendon, welcoming the pain here, instead of down there.  This pain tells me, as I dig deeper, toward my elbow, that I have not submitted.  This pain will wash away my shame, at last.  And no one else will suffer for me.

Not again.

                 A thin stream of blood began to drip from my left arm.  Not enough.  I held up my right arm, letting the sewing basket slide down to my shoulder, and pressed the blade into my right wrist.  Now the open scissors bit into my left hand fingers, but I could almost not feel them, anymore.  By now, it was too dark to see any veins, so I’d just have to use the tendons as a guide, and pull that blade as hard as I could down toward my elbow, toward where my sewing basket hung on my shoulder, until I could dig no deeper.

                Before the open scissor blade could bite into my flesh, a slender dark hand wrapped itself around mine…

Ann & Anna, Part 2 (“Hope”)  continues here … Shira
Creative Commons License Shira Destinie Jones’ work  is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

81 thoughts on “Some dreams are best forgotten? Ann & Anna: Part 1

    1. Coolness, thank you, Quips. This was not exactly the dream, but fairly close. The issue of the Fancy Maids, or what was sometimes, up North, called White Slavery, turned on the sales of mostly women, able to pass for white, being sold to ‘gentlemen’ of wealth as status symbols. It was a large part of what helped the Abolitionist movement galvinize folks up north, with the facts of large numbers of kidnappings of Free People of Color being mixed with images of women like this, implying that eventually even white women from up north could be kidnapped and sold in New Orleans or the deep south as part of the Fancy Trade.
      But the real issue was the shame around miscegenation, and the fact that “very mistress of every planation knew who the father of the mulattoes on other plantataions were, but believed that those on her plantation fell from the sky” -a well-known, but useful fiction.
      Please excuse my typos, I’m very tired, but must get back to editing my 1st draft of “Do Better” (was Baby Acres…)
      Stay safe,

      Liked by 6 people

      1. Thanks for the extra info. From what I’ve read, Sally Hemmings and Jefferson’s wife, Martha were related because Martha’s father was also having relations with Sally Hemmings mother. Hard to keep things straight with who is having relations with who.

        Liked by 4 people

        1. Yes, they were half sisters but no one ever acknowledged it openly. The Jefferson family fought for many years to prevent the relationship with Sally hemings coming out publicly even though it had been public knowledge at the time that he was president.

          Liked by 4 people

            1. This is a bit like writing and getting feedback immediately on a first draft novel: this is something that I’d move in closer, given your feedback, or actually, I’d move the thought to before she loosens her bodice, seeing your feedback, if this were a novel draft.

              Part of why winging it scares me so much every time I sit down to write another section!

              But it’s fun, too!
              Definitely a nice switch from editing Do Better!!

              Liked by 3 people

            2. From my side I fervently hope you realise my feedback is meant sincerely, from the pov of a reader and not a writer. If I had to go through the process of a first draft – that’s why I haven’t yet! Too frightened! Smiles Shira.

              Liked by 2 people

            3. Thank you! (and to them, if the group is still around? I know they tried to raise awareness, as well, of a few things, during The Troubles…)

              Sorry today’s has been so late.

              Liked by 2 people

  1. Wow! This is really well-written. Definitely not going to be a feel-good story, but clearly an important one. You’re already capturing the voices of the characters in a real and authentic way.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you! It seems that my fiction has taken more than 10 years to become readable!
      The story is evolving before my eyes, or mind mind’s eyes, rather, so it may yet turn out to be feel-good, who knows??

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Kudos! I’ve never managed to write fiction. Poetry, sure. General blog post prose, sure. Fiction, I’ve not yet managed. And good point, I should not be so quick to jump to conclusions!

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Hey, I started with poetry, and when I was published by a small press whose editors suggested that I turn a couple of those poems into stories, I was terrified: the poems were moving, yes, and one of them even hit readers as I wanted it to (the other hit readers in such a different way than I’d imagined that I stopped submitting my poetry). But the idea of writing stories seemed almost a waste of time, to me, as an academic. The poetry came out because it refused to leave me alone, and I wrote almost as a defense mechanism, because verses kept at me until I wrote them down. I still have that happen sometimes, but I’m now in the habit of keeping my notebook handy so that I can just write it, and keep going with what I was trying to get done. So it’s only recently that I began to understand the impact that fiction can have (ok, or sometimes narrative non-fiction), where a report, article, or succinct list of Action Items based on research just seems not to motivate or move people the way narrative does.

          Liked by 3 people

    2. I’ve sort of been avoiding things related to what I used to hear when I was growing up, but I guess this is why we have the #ownVoices (or is it #OwnVoice) movement: what we heard growing up, and have spent so many years trying to forget, is precisely what society needs to hear from us, I suppose.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I don’t follow hashtags (and I have mixed opinions about the use of them, to be honest, but appreciate their utility for some things), but if it were up to me, I think it should be #OwnVoices – the key being “voices” plural. It’s a mistake to assume that everyone within a particular demographic has the same opinion/voice.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I made time this afternoon to find and read Ann & Anna, Part 1. Wow! you have me hooked! You are a wonderful writer. I realized I was sitting on the edge of my chair with my hand over my mouth while reading this. I was right there with her. Now, I can’t wait to read the other parts to this gripping story.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you very kindly, Ms. Janet!

      I am very glad that you are enjoying this series. I’m still working to hone parts of my craft, and it is so helpful to hear that the work is entertaining, because I know that it is not an easy thing to read, this sort of writing.

      Very warmest regards,

      Liked by 4 people

    1. Hi, Petru!
      I miss this story, too, but for the moment, I’ve been trying to focus on clearing out all of the bits of paper in my room, which are all either Who By Fire or Do Better. Also trying to find at least one more Beta Reader for Do Better, which is holding up all the rest of the works.

      Thank you, on behalf of Willow, for the nudge!


      Liked by 1 person

Please Share your Thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s