Dow Late in the eve of a hot summer night when the air was a humid breeze blowing lazily through the thick huddles of trees and little plants and bushes. A small feast had been served to the master and cleaned up properly to his liking, and the late chores that few received were finished, and Dow was finally aloud to rest her swelling feet.
“Bates, I tell ya, I can't keep working like dis all day.” said Dow, fanning herself with her small chubby hand and rocking back and forth in a little chair with her toes.
“If ya can walk ya can work, Dow. “said Miss Bates sternly. “I don even know why ya even talking, Lord knows ya wouldn't be saying nothing if master was out here. Yud be quiet as a mouse, all scared and what-not.” She perched herself atop a stool near Dow, rubbing her calloused hands together and peeling off loose skin.
“I ain't scared a him!” she hissed, spitting through her teeth in the process. “I's just don feel like hearin' hims say nothing.”
“You's scared of a lashin' and ya know it.” said Miss Bates with a laugh.
Dow took off her raggedy shoe and threw at her. Aiming for her smart mouth.
Miss Bates ducked and laughed some more.
“You know yo aim is so bad ya couldn't have hit a horse!”
Dow sat back in her rocker, pouting with her arms crossed over her chest.
“Ya need to stop pokin' at me.” Dow muttered.
“Ain't nobody pokin' at you. You just need to loosen up and stop all that complainin'.”
“I's got the right to complain with this belly hangin' outta me.”
“You ain't the first pregnant girl on this plantation, Dow. You'd best remember you ain't special.”
But special she was.
She was having the master's baby; a Mr. Jean Cooley of Cooley estates, and he was a very rich man with a very short temper. He sneaked into her cabin one night with lustful eyes and a load in his pants, hunting for a youngin'-preferably a virgin- with toned legs and an ample bosom and a face as beautiful as any white woman, suchlike his wife's. Mr. Cooley was a tall well built man with legs like a horse and a stomach as flat and as hard as a board; his skin was tanned from his hawking duties and the whippings he lashed out to anyone who lagged as little beads of sweat dripped down from his furrowed brow to his chiseled jaw in the noonday sun.
'He's very handsome for a white man.' Dow once thought as she picked her fill of cotton sneaking glances at the man when she could. Lingering eyes wouldn't do her any good, everyone knew what happened when he saw a pretty girl looking.
And she was one of the very few pretty girls on the plantation. With big brown eyes and thick long lashes to frame them she would stare at Mr. Cooley, gawking at his glistening muscles as he flexed right before he whipped one of lazier slaves, their wails would remind her who he was and she would hastily go back to her picking.
“Ain't he a fine sort a man...” said Dow wistfully to no one in particular.
“He a nigger beater is what he is.” said her friend Bo.“Dow, you best steer clear a him.”
She instantly felt guilty for thinking of him that way. She knew he wasn't a good man and Bo had done right by putting her back in her place, they had known each other since childhood and she knew she could trust his words. Bo was usually a gentle soft spoken man and his agitated tone had made her snap back to reality. Her friendship with Bo was a lucky one, most slaves raised together rarely got to stick around long enough to see each other grow up they are always sold to different plantations soon after they are old enough to do their work without being told by their parents. Dow wasn't sure why Cooley never sold her, she wasn't the best gardener or good cook, and her cleaning was always half done. She wondered if it was because of her beauty; she never considered herself pretty, she thought her arms were too big and her stomach too jiggly and loose. Her mother had started shaving her head when she was nine and she kept shaving it whenever it grew past her shoulders. Her mother would sell it to the master for extra food and toiletries.
But master Cooley always stared at Dow with that look in his eyes, that look most girls try to avoid by stuffing their rags or rubbing dirt on their faces to lower their beauty, and even cut their hair all sorts of crazy ways to keep him away. One time he even peeked over her shoulder just so he could get close to her, he smelled down her neck with his lips brushing her shoulder sending chills down her spine, and then he would suddenly walk off and whip someone shoving her back in her place with each 'snap!' of his whip.
He took her when she was thirteen years old and the night was a cold so she had bundled herself up in blankets and kept her rags on and her petticoat willing herself to stay warm. She heard the door to her cabin open and knew immediately who it was, only one person had a key to unlock her cabin (and all the other cabins), only one person held a Master's key.
Mr. Jean Cooley gently closed the door behind him and lightly stepped through the small cabin to her room. It was a two bedroom cabin and her mate was asleep in her own room dreaming up her fantasies not knowing that her master was walking past her door to take the young girls innocent flesh. “I think I's special nuff.” said Dow, rubbing her swollen belly in circular motions.
Miss Bates jumped to her feet and rushed over to Dow with her hand held up. Faster than Dow had ever seen her move Miss Bastes smacked her clean across her face leaving a light hand mark in a stinging patch chubby cheek.
“You ain't special!” shouted Miss Bates with her face so close to Dow's she could smell breath and feel the spit that flew with each word. “Ain't none a us special! We is slave niggas... ain't none special 'bout that!” Dow saw the tears fall from her friends angry eyes before she turned away and stormed off to her room. She felt her own tears sting her eyes and she quickly wiped them away.
She was not going to cry.
The truth did not deserve her tears.