Chapter Two: Heaven’s Daughter

Chapter Two
Noni

“Grandmother! Grandmother! Where are you?” Noni called. “Why can’t I find you?”
Noni ran through the jungle. The lion was gaining on her, she could almost feel the hot breath against her back. Faster and faster she ran. “Grandmother!” she cried, “Help me!”
She turned and saw the lion just as it leaped into the air to pounce on her, but when the paws hit her chest she flew backwards and landed in her grandmother’s arms. Bisa ordered the lion away. He turned obediently and walked back into the jungle.
Bisa lifted Noni as if she were a child again. Then, like magic, they ascended high above the jungle, flying, floating toward home. Somehow Noni could see everything from the safety of her grandmother’s arms. One moment she gazed into her grandmother’s face, the next she saw a pond below them that she knew was close to their village. Gazelles and giraffe, water buffalo and wart hogs all congregated at the watering hole. The landscape was lush, the animals familiar. Maribou stork and tawny eagles perched on and around the lake.
Bisa floated them down toward the water, circling them around and around above the reflecting pool until Noni felt healed from the trauma with the lion. Noni saw her reflection, and Bisa’s, in the water.
When they reached the far side of the pond Bisa landed gently on the shore. Noni turned, throwing her arms around her beloved grandmother. Bisa took Noni’s face in her hands. Though she did not speak, Noni heard her as though she did. “I am with you, Noni.”
Then Bisa smiled and motioned for Noni to look again at her reflection in the water. Noni bent, but when she looked into the still surface of the water, she saw the white girl’s face on her own black body.

When Noni woke, she saw Efuru and the white girl wrapped in each other’s arms. She understood the dream and what it meant. Whatever had happened to the girl didn’t matter. She was a girl who, for whatever reason, found herself alone in the woods without her family.
Noni gently woke the two sleeping girls.
“Have a little somethin’ to eat,” she said as she handed them each a piece of bread. “Den we best get movin’.”
Efuru looked at her mother with worry.
“No need to be lookin’ at me like dat. De girl can stay if she want to.”
Efuru threw her arms around her mother’s neck. “I love you, mama.”
“C’mere, chile,” Noni said to the white girl.
The child got up and went to where Noni sat on a log. Noni opened up a tin of medicine, scooped some out onto her finger and dabbed it onto the girl’s bloody knees.
“You gotta name, chile?” she asked.
“Yes, ma’am,” she answered. “It’s Abby.”
“Abby.” Noni looked at her. “Look like you can stay wid us if‘n you want to.”
Abby smiled. She looked over at Efuru, whose face exploded into a huge grin.
“Abby,” Efuru finally said, then again, but softly, like a prayer, “Abby.” Then she nodded, as if the name itself gave sense and meaning to her life.
Noni curled her finger at Efuru, beckoning her over for an application of medicine. Without a thought, the child dropped the shift off her shoulders, holding it at her waist, exposing her brands and stripes for treatment.
Abby’s gasp startled them. They both turned to look at her. Her hands had clamped over her mouth. Her eyes held an expression of horror, quickly transforming to tears.
Noni and Efuru, used to such sights in nearly every person they knew, were surprised by the girl’s reaction.
An awkward silence ensued, broken, at last, by Abby.
“Wh…what happened to you?” Tracks lined Abby’s dirty cheeks as tears dripped down her face.
It was Noni who answered. “You never seen a slave whipped or branded?”
“I,” she started, “I never met a slave before.”
Noni and Efuru looked at each other, their understanding slow to come. “How,” Noni asked, “how you live down here and don’t know no slaves?”
“I don’t live anywhere near here. I…I don’t even know where here is.”
Noni sighed. “We best start movin’. Let me put some medicine on you, Efuru.” She gently dabbed medicine onto her daughter’s infected brand. “Looks like we got plenty to learn ‘bout each other,” she said as she dropped the ointment into her sack. “Come on along, girls.” She smiled and shook her head as she began walking. “Miss Abby, look like you better tell us yer story.”
#historicalfiction #women’sfiction

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Free! First chapter of Heaven’s Daughter

Thought I would introduce readers to the characters whose lives continue in WHEN RAIN REMEMBERS. This is chapter one from the prequel HEAVEN’S DAUGHTER. Enjoy!

Chapter One
Efuru
Night noises of the forest filtered through the trees, falling like invisible leaves to snap and pop in the small fire Noni had built. The sounds still unnerved Efuru, though less than they did a few short nights ago.
Noni leaned against a boulder, Efuru’s fevered head and upper body in her lap. Efuru snuggled against her mother’s body as comfortably as she could, which wasn’t easy. Her back was tender, still raw from her first whipping. Her shoulders raged, nearly steaming, from the brands forced upon her just a couple of days before.
“Sing me a song, mama,” Efuru whimpered. “Sing me a song of Africa.”
Noni began humming. “Mmmm, hmm, hmmm.” The words soon followed. “Hah, hahye, hahye. Aye, hahe. Om maam na pum imjya, kothbiro, kothbiro. Hah, hahye, hahye…” Sweet notes of the lullaby Noni’s grandmother used to sing to her.
Efuru drifted in and out of sleep, floating on her mother’s voice as the melody connected her to a world she had never known.
Noni’s long, slender fingers stroked her daughter’s arm, careful to avoid the angry wounds. The song stopped abruptly. Noni stiffened. The woods went silent. Efuru woke with a start, alert to the sudden danger. She looked up into her mother’s face and saw the very look she hoped not to see.
Oh, God. Efuru’s fear leaped from her chest to her mind. We have been found.
The eleven-year old pushed herself up slowly, never taking her eyes from her mother’s face, bracing herself for what she would see when she turned…bloodhounds, white men with rifles, ropes and whips. Her throat clamped shut, her breathing stopped, her heartbeat pounded in her ears. She turned slowly, wondering when they would grab her to take her back to the plantation. Her body tensed, prepared to flee, or fight.
In the dim light of the tiny fire, clinging to a tree, was a girl: a white girl. At least Efuru thought she was white. The child was so dirty it was difficult to tell. She could feel her mother’s fear, the tension in her body, but her own fear drifted away on wispy tendrils of smoke, as she felt only relief.
The white girl did not move, nor did she speak. As she looked into the filthy face, Efuru saw all of her own emotions staring back at her. Efuru smiled. “Hello.” The white girl’s eyes moistened and flakes of firelight sparkled in them. If Efuru could have labeled what she felt at that moment, she might have said she was seeing herself reflected in a mirror, a mirror completing a picture of her own soul in a way that felt like she had found home.
But Efuru couldn’t describe the depth of her experience any more than she could have recited Shakespeare. All she knew was that she needed the girl looking at her as much as that girl needed her.
“C’mon over. We ain’t gonna hurt you,” Efuru said.
The frightened girl took a few halting steps toward them.
“No,” Noni said. “No.”
The child stopped, but her eyes never left Efuru’s. Efuru’s gaze stayed with the girl. Ignoring her mother, she held out her hand. “It’s okay.” She stood and walked the few steps to where the lost child waited.
“Mama, she’s scared,” Efuru said, still looking into the depth of what she could now see were blue eyes.
“She’s white,” Noni said, as if that were the end of the matter.
“She’s just a girl, like me,” Efuru said, as she reached down and lifted the girl’s hand into her own. “She’s just a lost girl,” Efuru said so softly that only the girl could hear her. “Aren’t you?”
The stranger allowed Efuru to draw her closer to the fire.
“She can’t stay.” Noni was on her feet. “S’all we need is to have us a white girl in tow. Dey hang us fer sure.”
“Mama, we can’t send her back into the forest alone,” Efuru said as she finally looked at Noni. “She needs us.”
Efuru reached into the sack on the ground and pulled out some jerky and a piece of bread. “Come on and sit.” She reached again, pulling the girl down next to the fire. “You look hungry.”
Silently, the girl followed Efuru’s direction, took the bread and devoured it, then started chewing on the jerky.
“I’m Efuru and this here is…”
“Stop!” Noni practically shouted, “don’t be tellin’ dat girl our names. You don’t know she ain’t gonna find her way and tell folks ‘bout us. You wan’ get caught?”
Efuru looked from her mother back to the girl. “What’s your name?”
The girl didn’t answer, just hung her head as if she didn’t have enough strength to hold it up.
“’S’ okay,” Efuru said, “we can talk tomorrow. You look real tired.” Efuru turned to her mother and said, “Mama, let the girl sleep with us, please. She ain’t gonna go tell anyone about anything tonight. Look at her.”
Noni looked from Efuru to the stranger. Her eyes narrowed. “I don’t like it. Tomorrow she gotta go. We can’t be draggin’ no white girl along to…” she stopped. Efuru knew what she was thinking, that the former slaves helping them on their journey would not take kindly to them travelling with a white girl.
“Just tonight, then, mama.” But already Efuru was determined that this girl would be with them as long as she needed to be.

The Muse’s Bitch

For anyone who is called to write, I thought this description of me by my friend, Chris, was apt. I was a little taken aback when she said it, though it didn’t take but a moment for the reality of the label to hit me. I have not stopped laughing. So, I thought I’d share the description for all of you who create. It doesn’t matter if you write, photograph, paint, draw, decorate or are an entrepreneur…when the muse speaks, you jump. Creation is life…it is spirit…it is passion. May the muse help you to create and may you fall in love with every creation.
#creativity
#writers
#dreamers

Celebrating Black History

It’s Black History Month. This morning, as I read about Reverand Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to kids in Sunday School, I was struck by how certain phrases in his famous “I Have A Dream” speech jumped out at me. “…now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.” I believe that Dr. King, were he still alive, would be at the forefront of the fight against human trafficking. I believe, that I would stand shoulder to shoulder with him in that fight. Dr. King said it with regard to racial justice, but I believe it applies to the current slavery resulting from human trafficking worldwide… “It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of this moment.”
#blackhistory
#slavery
#humantrafficking
#Martinlutherkingjr

Modern day Slavery: The International La

Modern day Slavery: The International Labor Organization estimates that about 20.9 million people are enslaved globally—an overwhelming number. 1.5 million of these people are in developed economies and the European Union. And the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates that 100,000 of these people are children within the U.S. Trafficking is not only a foreign problem. It’s an American problem.
http://ow.ly/hcv2S

Human Trafficking = Modern Day Slavery

Did you know that this is Human Trafficking Prevention Month? Did you know that slavery is alive and well in these United States? I write about history–women’s history–and yes, that includes the sordid stories of slavery from our American past. It saddens and frightens me to know that slavery–in so many forms–exists today. Please check out the link to “Causes” on msn.com. Familiarize yourself with the frightening ways that young girls are lured into the sex slave trade in America. We must do all we can to stop human trafficking both here and abroad.

Update on Book Giveaway

So far only one new review on Amazon since the announcement of the book give away.  Please don’t hesitate because there are already more than 10 reviews.  The new reviews will need to be posted since the announcement, so there is still plenty of time to get a review…and a new book personally autographed.

What I write

My genre is historical fiction.  I choose stories that weave real historical events with those of women who face hardships from without and from within.  We all need heroes who help us believe in a better world, a better life and a better us.  I hope my heroes give you courage and faith to face your darkness and find your truth.