Author One Scene One
The newspaper is thick and crunches heavily in my hand as I wad it into a tight ball, and squeeze it in my tired overworked fingers. The outhouse is dark and the smell makes me nauseous. Everything makes me nauseous. I’m guessing myself to be a couple months along, but it’s hard to tell. There are only three things I know with absolute in my life right now. One, there’s is definitely a baby growing in my sixteen year old belly. I feel it move and I’m even starting to show. Two, it’ll never be accepted. Even less so than myself, if that’s possible. And three, I’ll have to take Jesse up on his offer to take me far away from this place… eventually.
“Adsila!” My mother shouts.
I yell back at her before I use the thick newspaper to wipe. Then I stand to adjust my knickers under my layered green striped dress.
“Adsila. I’ve been looking all over for you.”
Momma’s speed walk carries her in my direction, chickens scattering at her feet.
“We’ve got a lot of work ta’ do today, that corn ain’t gonna pick itself.”
As I step out of the outhouse, a different rancid smell consumes my nostrils. I’m downwind from the beef and we just had a massive rainstorm. It’s not as bad as the smell inside, but the switch from one bad scent to another hits me like a twister, nearly causing me to either faint or throw up. My body can’t decide which need is the stronger. Instinctively I hold out a steadying hand and lean against the old cracked wood of the outhouse door, to aid in holding myself upright. I look up at mama with pleading eyes, willing her to cut me some slack from the chores.
“Adsila, my blossom, are you okay? You look sick.”
My momma is a very beautiful woman in her late forties. She’s muscular and her once smooth pale skin has leathered by the sun, but she’s pretty nonetheless. Blossom is the meaning of my Cherokee name, and every time my momma says it I can see the love and reassurance in that concerned wrinkle between her eyes. She told me once that she named me Adsila as a sign of hope for us, because the most beautiful flowers blossom in the hardest ground. They’re tough, and so are we. Momma is white and was engaged once to a confederate soldier. After riding four weeks to meet up with him, she wound up raped and beaten within an inch of her life in the middle of an unexpected battle.
To her fiance, it didn’t matter what she’d been through, or that it was an attempt to visit him that brought her there in the first place. The man saw her as ruined. She was dirtied by an Indian, so he left her behind on the battlefield to rot. She’d been taken in by an elderly Cherokee woman. She picked up bits and pieces of the language, and grew to love the people.
Momma quickly learned that the man who’d raped her was an outcast in the tribe, and the only one of their men who would do such a thing to a woman. Rape was deeply frowned upon by the elders, and no one grieved for the man when he died in the same battle that he’d ‘ruined’ my momma. Just over nine months later, I was born with full square cheekbones, thick dark hair, and the purest olive Native skin. Momma stuck with the Cherokee people until I was three before settling on our makeshift ranch on her own. The people she loved and called family we’re being pushed west, and picked off regularly. Being alone with an Indian child was a big risk, but so was staying with them.
Our ranch sits on a vast prairie land in Tennessee. Our home is small and we barely keep enough animals to get us by, but we’ve made it this far. There’s a town a day’s ride from us, but we don’t make the trip very often. Mainly because I’m not welcome. Most of our supplies are brought to us by the women in town. They come to our ranch for Momma’s famous “mud”, or so she calls it. After spending so much time with the Cherokee people, they taught her many things about plant life. She has a green thumb, and is seen as a healer of sorts. No matter the rash, wound, fever or sickness, Momma can mix up something to help. It’s the only thing that’s kept the townsfolk from coming out merely to slit my throat in my sleep. They’re not too keen on allowing Indians to stick around. Even young ones. I keep to myself with my eyes at the ground. Except with Jesse.
“Sorry Momma. I’m okay, just a little sick.”
“You get sick a lot.”
Momma stares at me with her hands on her hips, just waiting for the confession. She knows I’m pregnant. She has to, it’s getting obvious. But, I still haven’t actually told her, and she’s the type of woman to wait for me. She’s tough, but when it comes down to it, we’re a team. She isn’t going to force it out of me until I’m ready to talk. I remove my hand from the outhouse door and force myself to stand up tall despite the swirl in my guts.
“I’ll be okay, Momma. I’m sure it’s the heat.”
“The heat,” she rolls her eyes, “yeah.”
Momma reaches up to tuck a long thick strand of my black hair behind my ear. After moving it from my face she takes a long look into my guilty eyes.
“If you’re sure you feel okay, we really do need ta’ tend ta’ the crops.” She says a little gentler than before.
“I tell ya’ what,” Momma starts. “If we get all this corn down before the sun drops, then tomorra’ we’ll take a day off and go into town.”
“Town?” My head snaps up.
As much as I hate the people in town, our trips are always bitter sweet. Momma holds her head high and marches us from shop to shop. I get to pick out something nice, and as long as I don’t make eye contact with anyone the abusive comments are usually minimal.
“Well, I was thinkin’ we could pick out some new material and make ya’ another dress or two. What do you think about that?”
She definitely knows. I look down at the stretched material around my middle and nod. This must be her way of making me talk. I’ll have to tell her while we measure me and sew I’m sure of it.
“‘Kay,” I agree, a little embarrassed. “Let’s get to it Momma.”
The chickens cluck and scatter as we make our way to the small fenced off corn field. I’m in the middle of filling my second basket of freshly plucked ears of corn, when the sound of a galloping horse pierces into my eardrums. The butterflies in my chest are confused with the sinking feel of a rock in my stomach. I never know what to expect with visitors. Please be him, I think, please be my Jesse.
“Ms Hattie!?” The voice is deep, and definitely does not belonging to Jesse.
I let my hair swoop back to its usual place, covering a quarter of my face. The man is clearly drunk, as he struggles to swing a foot to dismount from his horse. He ties the animal to a post of our fence by its reins. Momma straightens her back and sashes proudly in his direction. Ready to face the world.
“Where’s he at, Hattie?” he slurs. “I know my boy’s been foolin’ ‘round with that mix breed of yours.”
Momma lets out a sigh, she knows how bad this can turn and how fast, but she keeps her composure.
“Sherif, why don’t you let me pack a few ears of this fresh corn in your pack, and send you off with some coffee. We haven’t seen your son.”
I keep my hands busy, picking corn and placing them in the basket. Jesse’s dad hates me even worse than the rest of the townsfolk. Especially when he drinks. Momma reaches a kind hand for Sherif Brink’s shoulder. He throws it aside and marches at me full force, like a bull ready charge.
“Where’s my boy?”
His breath is thick with bourbon, it nearly makes me gag. A light spray of spit showers my face.
“I haven’t seen Jesse, sir.” I speak to the dirt at my feet.
“Bull shit!” He shouts, before reaching down and wrapping his fingers around a rock. He stands back up tall, “He didn’t show up, you mutt. Jesse was supposed to help me at the jailhouse today, and he never came. He ain’t home neither.”
Momma has been on his heels since he began swaying to my direction.
“Sheriff put down the rock.” Her voice is firm. “What in the world do you plan on doin’ with that?”
“You shut up!” He demands, pointing a finger in Momma’s face. “Answer my question mut!”
“I don’t know sir, maybe he forgot.” I plead, my eyes glued to the rock in his fingers.
Thwack. Everything goes blank.
My vision begins to focus, Momma’s face transforming from two to one and the blur lifts. As my consciousness regains I feel a thick wet warmth down my legs. I must have been out for a while because I’m lying in my bed and a familiar hand is laced tightly in my fingers. I try to speak, but my voice catches in my dry throat. I want to tell her. I want to tell her, but I can’t form words. As my eyes roll back in my head and I start drifting back away, I listen. His voice is deep and sweet, it warms me through the cold dark pain.
“Ms Hattie, please,” Jesse pleads. “Please tell me me she’s gunna’ make it.”
“I don’t know Jesse. If you hadn’t have showed up when you did he woulda’ kept kickin’ her.”
“Oh my God, she’s bleeding” he cries. “The baby.”
Again darkness consumes me.
“Adsila, my love?” I whisper her name.
“Yeah?” Her voice is smooth.
The grass is soft under our backs and the sun is blinding above us. Her hand is small and warm in the palm of mine. My heart thumps as I look down at her rapidly growing belly. She’s due anytime. My father hasn’t been to her ranch since the incident, thank God.
“When are we going to talk about leavin’?” I ask, for the hundredth time, hoping that just maybe this time she’ll listen.
“We can’t Jesse. You know I can’t leave Momma.”
I watch closely, completely relaxed as she rubs her free hand over our miracle that’s somehow still alive. My mind races back to that day. The day my father nearly killed them both. I shudder, and close my eyes tightly.
“What if someone sees the baby? What if he comes back?” I plead.
I want more than anything to take my beautiful Adsila, my blossom, away from this place. I would have left two years ago, the day I turned eighteen had she agreed to come with me. But she won’t. I understand her need to stay with Hattie, I do. But, how are we going to hide a little one?
“I know we have to go, Jesse.” She finally admits. “They’ll find a way to take her I know they will. But we need Momma. I can’t have this baby without her and we both know it.”
“Her?” I sit up, and smirk. She grins back at me, her tall cheeks lift even higher.
“It’s a girl, I just know it.”
Author Two Scene Two
“Oh yeah? Is that so?” I mock her in a playful tone. “What happens if it’s a boy?”
“Then I’ll be just as happy, as long as it’s healthy.”
“Yeah, me too.”
I turn my attention from the blue sky above us and look at my one true love. She’s beautiful, no matter what my dad or any of the town’s people say. Her black hair, coco coloured skin, full lips and bright brown eyes blow me away. I don’t understand it, I don’t understand the hostile attitude toward her just because of who she is. She never asked to come into this world as she did, as a product of a rape. And even if she had been conceived in love between two different people from different backgrounds, what’s the big deal? I can’t help but have a different opinion to the rest of this town, even if I never fell in love with her.
“So what’s the plan Adsila? You’re due any time now and really we need to decide what we’re gonna do. It’s a miracle you’re both alive after what my dad did. I plan on keeping it that way.”
“Okay, let’s do it, I don’t wanna leave my momma but we need to stay safe.”
The words fall out of me before I even have a chance to really think about it, life won’t be easy here not with another Cherokee child one half of the community will accept the baby, maybe as he will be part Cherokee but the other half won’t. Life’s hard enough for me as it is. And then there’s Momma, if I stay her life will be even more harder, if I go I’ll break her heart.
“I’m not sure you’ve thought this through Adsila, Georgia? You wanna head to Georgia?”
“Yeah Momma, we might be more welcome there.”
I watch my momma pull herself up to her full height, as she takes in my plan.
“Child, there ain’t no way you’re goin’ ta Georgia.”
“But Momma, it’s just the next state and maybe people will accept us, me and the baby.”
“That may be so, but how are y’all gonna live? That’s my concern as ya momma ya can’t live off thin air.”
“Will you come with us?”
I know it’s a stupid question, but I have to ask. For a second, Momma’s face looks like she’s considering a life in Georgia. Then it clouds over as she looks off into the distance at the chickens running free in the yard.
“ I just can’t I’m too old to be doin’ that journey and settin’ up a new home.”
“Nothin’ else to say Adsila.”
I get to my feet from the steps of the porch and reach out to her, to try and reason with her some more, she turns her back as she heads over to the chickens. I never imagined that it would come to this, that I would be forced to make a decision between my momma and baby. I need them both, and I need Jesse too.
“Arrrrgggh Momma please make it stop please!”
“Stop hollerin’ and focus Adsila. Your body can’t do it by itself.”
Momma pats dry my damp brow as I pant, yell and try my best to stay calm.
“It’s a few weeks early, sometimes it happens. Now push Adsila… pusssssssssssssh!”
I snap my eyes shut and do as Momma say’s ,she knows best, but this pain is killing me how to women do this more than once?
“All right, I can see the head. Deep breath now, that’s it. Push Adsila pusssssssh!”
“Awwww Momma make it stop please.” I clamp down and push again.
“That’s it, that’s it…. here come the shoulders, keep pushing…. Good girl!… That’s it….push. You done it!”
The sound of my baby greets my ears, and for the first time in my life I know what true pain feels like.
“It’s a boy… Adsila we gotta boy child!”
“What… what, really? Oh gosh Momma,, why didn’t you tell me it hurt so much?” I manage to pant between breaths. I can’t believe it. I have a son… a king.
I rest with my eyes closed, the fan on full blast next to me and my king cradled across my chest feeding. He’s a hungry boy, I feel like the life is being sucked out of me. I’ve been in bed since he arrived, just over two hours ago. Not one part of my body feels like what it once was, before or during pregnancy. No one prepared me for what childbirth really means, how it feels and how amazing the end result is. For nine months I’ve felt the connection with him inside me, every turn he made, or leg that kicked out as he bedded down in my womb for the night will never leave me. There’s something about carrying a child that changes you, I’m only sixteen but I feel much more older now, now that my body has gone through the whole experience of feeding, keeping safe and protecting a baby. I feel grown.
I hear a light knock at the door which causes my eyes to snap open, and pull my king closer to my chest to protect him. I’m full of nerves thinking about the reaction he will get from town folk. His dark hair, eyes and tan skin giveaway who he really is skin deep.
“Ma’am, can I see Adsila please.”
“Go right on through.”
I instantly relax at the sound of Jesse’s voice. I listen closely as his boots clunk against the floor, then my door slowly creaks open.
I look up at Jesse at the foot of my bed, with his hat in his hands and a broad smile on his face.
“Hey, you okay?”
“More like are you okay? How are ya’, can I see?”
“Sure, come on over.”
Slowly Jesse makes his way over to the side of my bed and peers at the tiny bundle in my arms. I watch his face light up.
“Wow, can I hold?”
“Mmm hummm.” I give nothing away, I hand over our king and wait for Jesse to notice it’s a boy. He unwraps the blanket gently to get a good look.
“No way, haha well, what have we here? That don’t look like no girly parts to me!”
I can’t help but laugh at his surprise.
“A boy, amazing.” Jesse shakes his head and smiles down at the baby as he covers up his tiny body.
“Look at him, he’s just fine, all of him. He has your hair too.”
“Sure is, he’s a miracle.” I look up at them both beaming.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t come over sooner, dad was around and he would only ask questions. I had to wait until the bourbon took over and he passed out.”
“Have you spoke to your momma yet?”
I watch Jesse move around the room rocking the baby back and forth, with a proud look on his face as he talks baby talk to him. My heart swells.
“Yeah, kinda she’s not happy as you can imagine, and I’m not sure if she will come with us.”
“Adsila we have to go, you know this as much as I do we can’t stay around here. Both of us are targets as well as the baby. Already, the town folk are avoiding me, I know they’re callin’ me names behind my back. Not that I care, I just don’t want him to grow up in this environment, this … I don’t know what to call it He is a miracle as you say, after the beating you took, he deserves more than these narrow minded folk here.”
“I get it Jesse, but Momma’s right how are we gonna live?”
“I’ll think-a somethin’”
I lower my lashes to the bed, and pray he does.
“Maybe I can find a job too maybe–”
“Are you crazy? No way! You stay home look after… after, what we gonna call him?”
It feels like I’m frozen in time, as we stare at each other. To see Jesse and the baby bonding already my mind is made up, we need to leave and soon. No matter what people think our baby was conceived in love, no violence, no hate and he is so innocent. If people can’t accept me or us around here we’ll travel across the USA until we find somewhere that will. Maybe even farther overseas if we need to, there must be a place we can fit in. A white American boy, with a Cherokee girl and bi-racial child. He’s mine, ours and we’ll protect him.
“Earth to Adsila… did you hear me, what we callin’ the little guy?”
“King… I wanna call him King, let’s pack a bag.”
Thank you for reading and voting. Didi and I will pause this week on wards, don’t worry we’ll be back soon. Like I said last time we paused, it’s the quiet before the storm. Then what happened?… The Suspenseful Collection Volume one was published. 🙂 Sit tight for more Kim and Didi’s Suspenseful Collection, with a twist! You can read all our stories here.