pencil sketch of 1800s plantation
Written by Ken Carman
What we now celebrate as Halloween. 1856.
“Darling, are you alright?”
“Yes, Ma’am, just a monster under my bed.”
“Do you want Robert to check? He’d do anything for ‘Lil’ Miss.'”
“No need to bother him. I know the monster will fly away when you leave. He’s scared of the light from your candle.”
Her mother left: gently closing the door. Everything was silent for a while, except the whippoorwill out in the weeping willow, and the buzz of the cicadas under the bright southern moon that hung over the plantation. Then the monster, blacker than a moonless midnight, crept out from under her bed.
“Your fine now, Gordon, she’s gone.”
The little girl gently felt, with her soft satin white fingers, the whip scars splattered all over his back. Some old and deep, some so fresh the blood still seeped from the slowly healing wounds.
“Those must have really hurt.”
“Yes, Lil’ Miss, ans I’s fraid I’s might’nt live thru nother.”
“I’m afraid you’re right, Gordon. Daddy’s been at it again. When Daddy has too much he gets mean and goes out to the quarters and whips who he finds first. Some of the ones he was meanest to he made slaves bury next to your quarters just so you all will behave. Better leave now. Daddy’s still drinking. He’ll be visiting me soon. At least you will be gone. You know the way up north. Besides…”
She sniffled softly.
“I don’t want you to hear me cry after Daddy leaves. He always hurts me, but he would kill you. Please leave. Godspeed.”
“Thank you, Lil’ Miss.”
And with that the man blacker than the blackest southern night, silently slipped out the window from where he had been hiding when they released the dogs who hunted escaped slaves.
Lil’ Miss waited and shivered in fear in the dark.
She knew the true monsters were not under her bed.
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