Stay Down, Boy. Don’t Move, 1944 (PT. 4)

volgograd-oblast-country-roadMr. Sammy and his old horse scuttled off, the horse leaving behind a stinking present on the road.  Merry wrinkled up her nose from the stench and watched them kick up dirt down the dusty trail.

“Come on out now.  He gone.”

“Whut you go and tell him that fo’?  Momma ain’t sick.”

“So.”

“So?  Mistah Sammy gone find out!”

“Not if you go back home and finish pickin’.”

“Aw, Merry!”

“You heard what Mistah Sammy said.  He ain’t gone have no mercy on us if we short again.  You want us tuh lose duh farm?”

“No.  But why you goin’…”

“Boy!  Jus’ go home!  Dag!  Gone!”

Merry glared at Johnson and balled up her little fist like she was going to hit him.  And Johnson, convinced he was about to get a licking, bolted away from her, back down the road for home.

Merry looked up at the sun.  She could tell it was half past the hour just by the way the sun hung in the sky.  At nine, Merry may not have known many things, but the one thing she was smarter at calculating than most grown folks was time.  Before she even knew how to count or spell, her momma had taught her how to tell time by the sun and moon.  That’s the way the slaves had to keep track of precious hours and minutes when they were out in the fields picking cotton or other crops.  If they didn’t pick enough at a certain time every day, Massa’s foreman would bring the whip down on their backs or worse.

To this day, even though the scars were healed, Merry’s momma’s back looked like someone had played an old game of tic- tac-toe on it.  Dora told Merry that she had been forced to learn the lesson about the white man’s time the hard way, but she made sure that Merry and Johnson would never have to.  Yes, her babies were Colored and the way of the world made sure that they would always have to depend on the white man for his money and his land.  But his time?  Never.

Merry walked faster.  She had to hurry.

Fooling with Johnson had made her lose too much time.

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