Part 1 was last Sunday
… lightly, but firm enough to stay my hand against my own intent. I raised my eyes from the scissor blade, and glimpsed a knowing face, which had a finger to lips shaped the same as mine. That slender hand, covered in mud and ash, it seemed, belonged to a young boy with high cheekbones, almond eyes, skin almost as light as mine, and freckles.
Was it my imagination, or did I see a twinkle in his eyes?
We both ducked our heads again, keeping as low and as still as we could. No hair showed beneath the driving cap, which was pulled down tightly over his face. This must be the Conductor we were told to wait for, just out of sight around the side of the President’s House. He turned to lead me, still holding my hand, which still held my scissors, taking care not to make any noise.
The boy stepped over the stick he must have snapped underfoot earlier, deliberately, I now understood. Looking under the wagon the whole time, he waved me over and helped me up and quietly over the side, tucking my dress and me under a thick shield of dried tobacco leaves and green corn going to market.
“Keep still and stay down.”
That whisper was not the sound of a young boy, but of a girl!
“We do this right, we both get free.”
I thought it might take a miracle for us to get past those Constables. I could still hear poor Mary putting up such a racket that the entire Federal City must be able to hear her. The cart moved a little ways, and then slowed and picked up again, as the voice of an elderly sounding gentleman called out, telling the coachman to drive on. I thanked both of our guardian angels, who must have remembered to be on duty tonight. Even more, the work of those good souls at Mount Zion church, for arranging all this, at great personal hazard.
We drove for what seemed to be hours, not being stopped by anyone, I do not know why. I felt surely someone would have questioned us, by this time, but drive on we did, until I felt safe enough at last to breathe again. By the time my stomach began to growl, we slowed to a halt, and unshucked corn and dried tobacco began to part, freeing me to sit up and look around. And, of course, to thank my young benefactor. I’d not even had time to tend to my arm, but the bleeding had stopped long ago, as I lay still in the wagon. I smelled the fresh air of pine trees, and wondered just how far we had managed to come in the hours since leaving Washington City.
“Try to stay down,” the whisper came from just beside me, as a hand holding a cloth with some corn bread reached over the side of the wagon toward me.
“I have a travel pass, but we might have a hard time explaining why you are not a cob of corn.” The girl smiled, and I saw a flash of small white teeth, before we both ducked again, me to settle on the floor of the wagon, and her crouched down beside the wheel of our wagon. Our horse sounded like it was eating, too, and I was grateful for the calm. I wanted to at least thank this brave girl before we had to move on.
“Thank you for, you know…”
I didn’t know what to say. I’d clearly doubted that she would come as planned. I hoped she didn’t feel insulted by my lack of faith.
An apple appeared, held in that slender hand, reaching over the side of the wagon like an olive branch. Another whisper floated up to me from over the side of the wagon.
“My name is Anna. Anna Marie Weems. What do they call you, besides Fancy?”
“The white folks call me Ann, but every body else calls me Willow.”
“Willow, why’s that?”
I got that pain in my belly again, and had to clamp my mouth shut tight to be sure something unpleasant didn’t rush out. When Anna saw that I didn’t respond, she merely handed me a small ladle of water, dripping some of it on me as she reached over the side of the wagon. I was just starting to hope she’d forgotten her question, when I heard a sigh. I’ve hurt her, too, and she has just saved me. Must I harm everyone I know? I was searching for something to say, to smooth over my insult, when the sound of hooves reached my ears.
Someone was riding hard down the road.
This is the second scene in my new series Ann&Anna. I hope that this series will move you to learn more ways to help use our history to build new tools.
I look forward to your thoughts.
1.) What are your thoughts on using history, even painful history, to “build back better” as we say, now?
2.) Share them with us in the comments, here, please.
3.) Share your thoughts on how continuing empathy-building cooperation might help, or hinder, inclusive thinking.
4.) Write a story, post or tweet that uses those thoughts.
Dear Readers, ideas on learning, especially multiple #LanguageLearning, on-going education and empathy-building, to #EndPoverty, #EndHomelessness, #EndMoneyBail & achieve freedom for All HumanKind?
Support our key #PublicDomainInfrastructure & #StopSmoking at least for CCOVID-19:
2. #ProBono legal aid and Education,
3. #UniversalHealthCare, and
4. good #publictransport
-we can learn from the past Stayed on Freedom’s Call for free,
by Teaching and Learning (Lesson Plans offline) in the present, to
help build a kinder future: Baby Acres: a Vision of a Better World
Peace ! שָׁלוֹם
Shira Destinie A. Jones, MPhil, MAT, BSCS
the year, 2021 CE = year 12021 HE
(Online pdfs of 5 month GED lesson 5 of 67 plans…), and
Babylon 5 review posts, how story inspires learning…)
Stayed on Freedom’s Call
includes two ‘imagination-rich’ walking tours, with songs, of Washington, DC. New interviews and research are woven into stories of old struggles shared by both the Jewish and African-American communities in the capital city.
Shared histories are explored from a new perspective of cultural parallels and parallel institution-building which brought the two communities together culturally and historically.
Shira Destinie Jones is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.