I wanted you to know I had nothing to do with this week's post!
This is a scheme that Taylor and Adam cooked up between them.
See, Taylor's started a new story, but it's really nebulous right at the moment. In flux, you might say. Incomplete.
Rather than not post anything, she and Adam are going to post the raw chapter. All Adam did was clean up some spelling and grammar.
And then next week, they want me to post up the improved version, so you can see what a good writer/editor team can do.
So here you go. Dive into the raw!
A Servant's Prayer
Please do not judge me by the rope about my wrists. I am not violent nor malicious.
I am only silent.
Please do not underestimate me.
My scarred palms reflect a life of loyal servitude. The scars upon my back do not reflect a life of disobedience, but a fate of being chosen by masters who've used their cruelty freely.
I promise you this,
I will be good.
A Servant's Prayer
A tall man in a brown suit is walking through our front gate, leading a younger man by a rope. I see Papa come out of the house from where I sit on my tire swing. Mama comes out too, in her pretty blue dress, and walks towards me.
"Come inside, dear." she says, hurriedly.
I pause, considering my question carefully. If I make it too long, I might not get it out. I take a deep breath.
"Why?" I ask, jumping from the swing.
She pauses, as if considering her next words. As she does. I look to Papa, who is speaking with the men. The one with the rope around his wrists stays silent. He stares at the ground like I do when I get blocked on a sound or a word. I watch them. I listen closely.
"How much is he?" asks Papa in his stern tone.
"Fifty dollars." says the man holding the rope.
"Hmm," Papa grumbles. "Don't look like there's much to him."
"Oh he is very strong, I assure you. He will be the most loyal servant you will ever own."
I never knew you could buy a person. Mama takes me by the hand and begins to lead me across the yard. My eyes aren't on the flower beds that line the house or the big maple tree that sits in the center of the yard. They are on the thin man, no, the boy just a few years older than me, that Papa is eyeing up and down. There's a change in Mama's walk. Her pace slows and she squeezes my hand.
"That's our new servant, my love," she says in her gentle manner.
I smile up at her. She'd known the question that was sitting in my mind. She knew that I waa afraid to say, "Who is that, Mama?" In fear I'd get caught on one of the words. I swallow. My next words escape in a single breath, making my chest tighten.
"Yes," Mama says, looking away. "Yes, my sweets. He's just like Bah."
But he isn't. Bah had fair skin and light eyes, long hair and flabby elbows. This man, our newest servant, is dreadfully skinny with a shaved head and skin that reminds me of the caramel candies that Mama brings me when I'm having a bad day. Ba's eyes were crossed and her right leg was twisted and crippled by polio. But this man, this boy, has no deformity that I can see.
Mama stops long enough for her and I both to look at the servant. He risks a glance, his dark eyes darting from Mama and me to the wood chips at his feet. Mama walks to the house so fast that I struggle to keep up with her. She takes me inside and closes the door, then quickly moves to the windows, closing the curtains. As she moves about the room, I look into large doorway that leads to the kitchen, the room where Bah spent most of her time. I smile at the memories of her singing as she cooked, me sitting on the counter waiting to taste whatever she made and offer my opinion. Unlike Papa, she never pressured me to talk. She never told me to slow down when I was in the middle of a sentence the way Mama always does. Bah listened quietly no matter how long it took to get my words out. She paid no mind to my stutter, just as I paid no mind to her crossed eyes, her twisted leg and her slowness of mind. She was a good servant with a good heart, which made it harder for me to understand why Papa screamed at her so much.
"Doudi," Mama says, disturbing the memory. "Why don't you go up to your room and play for a while, hmm?"
I nod. She walks over to me from where she stands by the fireplace and runs her fingers through my long dark curls. As soon as her lips touch my head, I dash up the stairs to my bedroom.
There's a tall dresser below my window. I open the middle drawer and climb onto it to look out into the front yard. My eyes find Papa, the well dressed man and the servant at once. Carefully, I open the window just a bit and strain my ears to hear what they are saying.
"He's a quiet one," says the suited man. "But the quiet ones are the best, wouldn't you say? Won't need to fret about talking back now, will you?"
The servant stands as still as stone, his eyes still on his feet.
"I suppose not." Papa says, staring at the servant's downcast face.
Papa then goes on to inspect the young man, looking at his teeth and gums, lifting each leg, examining his saddled feet, and even peering into the boy's ears. I'd seen Papa do this sort of thorough inspection before with our horses.
"Seems healthy enough." Papa says, removing a coil of whip from his belt. "But is he obedient?"
He uses the butt of the whip to lift the servant's chin so that their eyes meet. The servant nods in a quick, panicked sort of way. The same way I nod when Papa asks me something in his harsh tone.
"Oh yes, he'll do anything you want him to do and more, eh boy?" says the suited man
He gives the servant's chest a backhanded slap, smiling brightly. Papa stays quiet for a long time, so long that I'm convinced they're all frozen, then he says, "Very well, I'll take him."
Money is exchanged. As soon as servant's wrists are untied, the seller leaves with a tip of his hat. Papa puts his hand to the servant's back, leading him to the back of the house where the horses are kept. The servant flinches and follows Papa's lead, silent and submissive.