Gone, but never forgotten

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
This short story is about two people becoming friends, despite their differences. Although this kind of friendship has consequences.

Submitted: September 09, 2014

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Submitted: September 09, 2014

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The market was filled with life and people chattering in the early morning with the sun shining bright in the sky already. Gracie walked around the stalls, looking at all of the different fruits and fish to choose from, but one stall caught her eye. Gracie rushed over to the stall filled with books, bouncing with excitement. She bought a whole heap of interesting books with the money her papa gave her. Happy with her find, Gracie walked around to find a nice spot to read in. She’d gone through some vegetation before she found a nice oak tree in the uninterrupted space. Gracie sits down, pulling out her books from her backpack, surrounding herself with them. Gracie picks one up and starts to drift into her own world.

 As Gracie read, the sounds of her atmosphere – birds playing and the trees swaying in the wind – were interrupted by something else. She glanced from her book to see a Negro girl in the corner of her eye. The girl’s eyes were red, and her face was wet and covered in snot. Gracie turned to see that she was in great pain, her body covered in bruises and cuts. She wore clothes that had holes in them from what looked like to have been created by a knife.

“Why are you hurt?” Gracie asked, looking at the wounds that covered her body.

Gracie had seen Negroes with bruises and scars, but never understood why they were always treated poorly. The girl didn’t say anything, but sat down next to Gracie. Gracie put down her book and turned to the girl, giving the girl her full attention. Whenever Gracie fell over her papa would clean the wound and kiss it better. But it didn’t seem like these bruises were an accident, or that she had anyone to kiss the wounds better. Gracie remembered that she had a rag and a drink bottle in her bag. As she went to get them out, the Negro girl tensed, looking as if she wanted to run away. The girl was less alarmed when she saw Gracie was pulling out something to help her.

“This will clean your cuts. My papa does it to me when I get hurt.” Gracie tries to explain to her.

Gracie wets the rag and dabs it where the Negro girl is bleeding. She flinched when Gracie touched her cuts with the wet rag, but looked a lot calmer now. Gracie gives her the wet rag to wipe her face with and starts to pack her books in her bag.

“It’s getting late now. I have to get back before my papa gets worried. My name’s Gracie, though; it was nice meeting you.”

Gracie gives her a smile. The girl gives a half smile back while still wiping the snot from her face. Gracie turns and gives her a wave as she walks towards town, with the sun setting in the distance making the sky pink.

This time Gracie buys two peaches at the market with the money her father gave her. She waits under the same oak tree with the books she has not yet read. She starts to read a book, while anxiously waiting to meet the Negro girl again. The girl turned up an hour later looking better than yesterday. Gracie gave her the fruit and the girls eyes filled with joy. She ate it gratefully. It looked as if she hadn’t eaten a good meal in months, as she was too thin for her height, with bones starting to protrude from her shoulders.

“What’s your name?” Gracie asked, eating the peach leisurely.

The Negro girl looked up from the now remaining stone in her hand; she seemed cautious about speaking to Gracie.

“I’m Hadiya,” she says slowly, “but Master doesn’t call me by my name.”

Who is Master? Gracie wondered; she didn’t understand how slavery worked or even why people had slaves.

But Gracie just puts her chin on her knees and smiles at her, saying “It’s nice to meet you, Hadiya.”

Hadiya smiles from ear to ear, it looks as if she’s never been shown such kindness before. Gracie’s smile gets smaller, and she gets into a more suitable position before she asks her next question.

“Why were you hurt yesterday?”

Gracie looks at Hadiya, concerned. Hadiya looks at the ground, refusing to meet Gracie’s eye.

“Master gets angry when I ‘fuck up’,” Hadiya manages to let out.

Gracie is bewildered, why would this master person care if Hadiya does something wrong? Hadiya looks up at Gracie with a completely different expression than before.

“Master gives me food sometimes, and lets me sleep on a mattress though.” Hadiya says with a half-smile, as if trying to be grateful towards the person who abuses her.

Gracie turns to the vegetation surrounding the tree, staring off into the distance.

“My papa told me not to talk to you. Why shouldn’t I? You’re not different from us.” Gracie says, as she turns towards Hadiya, but not quite looking at her.

Hadiya looks at Gracie’s dainty dress, all prim and proper with no stains even though Gracie sits on the grass all day.

“I’m black, you’re white.”

It was as simple as that, Hadiya thought. But Gracie didn’t seem to be convinced. It was like she wouldn’t accept it as an excuse to claim them to be different.

“You’re from Africa; it doesn’t mean you’re from another planet.” Gracie replies with a frown.

Hadiya was amazed at this girl’s stubbornness; she’s refusing to accept what everyone else has told her.

“I was born in America though.” Hadiya said while folding her knees, pushing her legs into her chest.

Gracie looked up at the sky with a smile, “Then you really are no different from us.”

Gracie got up from the shade of the tree and turned to Hadiya while brushing off the dirt on her dress.

“Let’s be friends.”

Gracie grinned at the idea she suggested. Hadiya was hesitant as she understood what the consequences of such a relationship were. She liked Gracie though, and figured it was worth the risk. Hadiya held out her hand, smiling at Gracie,

“Okay.”

Gracie grabbed Hadiya’s hand and pulled her up from the grass.

“It’s getting late again, I better go.” Gracie explains as she puts her books back in her bag. “I’ll see you tomorrow?” Gracie puts her bag on and looks at her watch.

“Yes.” Hadiya replies, realising that it’s later than she thought.

Hadiya gives a quick wave as she heads off in the opposite direction of Gracie, smiling to herself the whole way back.

Hadiya is awoken by the sound of a woman crying. She opens her eyes to see one of the Negro women is missing from the old mattresses sprawled across the floor. Hadiya gets up only to hear a man screaming for her. Alarmed, Hadiya quickly climbs out of the hole in the wall she covers up with a piece of sheer wood. The hole leads to a small forest, which shows a path of vegetation leading towards the oak tree that Gracie sits at. Hadiya arrives at the oak tree half an hour later to see Gracie already sitting at the tree reading a book. Gracie has always brought books with her; she seems to like them a lot. Gracie greets Hadiya with a smile as Hadiya sits down next to her. Gracie gives her a piece of buttered bread.

“Eat up.” Gracie commanded while putting down the book she was engrossed in.

Hadiya was grateful for Gracie’s food. It was a lot of food to her. Hadiya was feeling better after she’d finished her bread.

“Why do you always read books?” Hadiya asked, intrigued by Gracie reading.

“Because I love them, I can go anywhere and do anything in a book.” Gracie replied passionately.

Hadiya couldn’t read though, she didn’t know how it felt to read a book.

“I wish I could read.” Hadiya said, looking towards the book Gracie was holding.

Gracie’s eyes brightened when she thought of an idea. She turned towards Hadiya, her body fully facing Hadiya now.

“I will teach you how to read!” Gracie said enthusiastically.

Hadiya was shocked by Gracie’s outburst, but also delighted. Hadiya never imagined that someone would teach her how to read. It was illegal here, but as long as no one knew, Gracie and Hadiya would be safe.

“Where do I start?” Hadiya asked, feeling excited at the idea of being able to read.

Gracie picked up one of her books from the grass, and opened to the first page. She pointed to the letter ‘a’ and started to explain the alphabet and what each letter sounded like. Hadiya listened intently, trying to absorb everything that Gracie was saying.

 

After a few weeks Hadiya had learnt the alphabet and the basic words. Although there was still more to learn, Hadiya felt smarter than before. Gracie and Hadiya would often spend their afternoons under the oak tree, reading stories and then talking about them. Hadiya had never been so happy and never been treated with such kindness before. It felt as if the summer would never end. But when the leaves started turning red, Gracie had to go back to school, and Hadiya was left alone under the tree until late afternoon and sometimes until the next day. Gracie leant Hadiya books to read when she was not there, but it wasn’t the same without Gracie reading next to her.

Hadiya took whatever food she could find and escaped through the hole in the wall like usual. Gracie had given her a new book, and Hadiya was excited to read it. As she was walking to the oak tree she realised the path had been cleared by not only her. Hadiya grew concerned as she saw that the now more cleared path was leading towards the oak tree. As Hadiya neared the vegetation surrounding the oak tree, she noticed that something was different. She couldn’t tell what it was, but something certainly didn’t feel right. As Hadiya approached the tree, she noticed a figure in the corner of her eye. It wasn’t Gracie.

Hadiya immediately span to see her master lunging towards her with an anger filled face. As fast as she realised what was happening, she received a powerful slap, forcing her to the ground.

“You sneaky bitch!” her master was shouting from above her. “You think I didn’t notice you sneaking off every day?!”

The man started to kick Hadiya while she was curled into a ball on the ground sobbing. His anger was uncontrollable, and Hadiya was helpless. She wanted to go back to simply sitting under the tree with Gracie, before she was able to read would be nice enough even. She just wanted to be away from this man, the man that had abused Hadiya her whole life. Her master didn’t appear to be getting tired of kicking Hadiya; it was getting harder for Hadiya to breathe. She could already feel the many bruises that would soon form on her back. The man kicked harder, forcing a yelp from Hadiya’s lips. She couldn’t scream out any real words through her sobbing. Her master grabbed Hadiya’s collar, pulling her up from the ground and then above it. The man’s face was now close to Hadiya’s face, she could see the hate in his eyes but she didn’t understand that kind of hate. The kind of hate people have when they have no reason to hate the particular thing.

“I will make you regret that you ever came out of your black momma.” Hadiya’s master whispered viciously half into her ear, half into her face.

 All Hadiya could do was wait for her master to calm down, like she always did. This time was different though, this was the angriest she had ever seen her master. She was afraid of what he was going to do next.

The man looked away from Hadiya, towards the noise that was coming from the vegetation. Hadiya’s eyes followed to see Gracie standing there, out of breath.

“Let her go!” Gracie shouted at the man who was still holding Hadiya up by the collar.

The look in his face turned from anger to amusement. “Or what? You’re going to hurt me?”

Gracie didn’t give up though, “What you’re doing is not right. You can’t treat people the way you want just because you’re angry.”

“I can do whatever I like with my property. She’s not a person, she’s my property.” The man was growing impatient.

“She is a person! She’s my friend!” Gracie shouted at him, trying to tell him how wrong he was about it all.

She looked towards Hadiya, whose face was now inflamed. It made Gracie’s eyes fill with tears but she fought them back in order to look strong in front this man.

The man started laughing, what looked a little too happy for having just beaten up a 7-year old girl. “So this is why the bitch kept running off? To see a white girl?”

Hadiya’s master lowered her to the ground with his hand staying on Hadiya’s collar. He turned to face Gracie now. Gracie could see what he was truly like now. He had scars all over him from what looked to come from brawls and a face that made you want to run away him.

“Say goodbye to your ‘friend’ because she’s never coming back here again.” His face was twisted with amusement and hate.

“No!” shouted Hadiya in protest. It was the first word that she’d said all day.

Gracie and Hadiya’s master both looked at her with a little surprise. But before Gracie could agree with Hadiya, Hadiya’s master had already picked up the girl, put her over his back and turned towards the direction of his farm. Gracie was left standing under the oak tree they had both met at watching her friend be taken away from her.

 From that day on Gracie would come every day to the oak tree, but she would never find her friend. That day was the last time she was able to see her friend. It gave Gracie this feeling that she had never experienced before. It was a feeling she would never let go of. It’s the feeling you have when you lose someone dear to you. You never see them anymore, but you never forget them.


© Copyright 2020 ammit49. All rights reserved.

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