From the drafts file. July 2020. A deleted chapter followed by two paragraphs about the news.
Place: west of Wappoo Plantation, South Carolina where Eliza Lucas lived before she married Charles Pinckney in 1744.
Time: October 1739. Roughly a month after the rebellion later known as the Stono Slave Rebellion, named for the river running through the landscape of fervent hope and violent loss.
Character: Mo. An enslaved man from Wappoo.
This chapter is duplicative of others so won’t be included in my novel, whose working title has gone from Blood and Indigo to The Weight of Cloth. I often write a scene six different ways before landing on a keeper and even then, might make major changes. I don’t think this is unusual.
He stood at the crossroads ashy with fatigue. Was he even still alive? Time had gone wonky. Nights sleeping in the scrub, days making a meandering path, first away, and now back. Back to what? The rebellion had really happened, hadn’t it? It wasn’t just a fever dream of freedom? Mo remembered the weight of Commissioner Gibbs’s head in his hands. He looked down at his tunic, saw the confirming blood there. What had happened to those who hadn’t melted away into the shadows like he had? He did not know, but had a hunch. He had a hunch that most of those brave rebels were dead and not just because hounds are ruthless and native trackers precise, but because sometimes at dawn or as the sunset and the clouds bruised purple, he felt their spirits like butterfly wings on his cheek or shoulder. They wandered still, in other words, still seeking a way out of bondage but without a body to hold them back anymore.
Mo was rail thin. There were hickory nuts this time of year and bracken ferns, sour plums, but not much else. He’d gone from a wild and ferocious hunger that left no room for other thoughts, not even of Binah’s sly smile, to having no hunger at all, the thought of hominy nearly enough to make him wretch.
That dawn, something about the way the wind spoke to him through the chestnut trees told him that it was at last time to return home, if he could call it that.
*. *. *.
July 2020. I know I promised a rant, but one that wrestles with how to speak up as a white person, and when, and what that might sound like just cannot be published the day after George Floyd’s memorial.
I watched much of the eulogy by Reverend Al Sharpton yesterday — did you? Powerfully moving, as was Kamala Harris’s seven minute statement to the Senate about Rand Paul’s idiotic attempt to limit her and Cory Gardner and Tim Scott’s bill to make lynching a federal crime.