This was actually a school project, a five page paper, that turned into so much more.
I Really Don’t Know Where We Are, 1786
We’ve been walkin’ for three days now. My feet are about to fall off, I swear they are. Them whites don’t have any mercy, it’s just march, march, march, you fell down? Get up ‘fore I whip you. Can’t walk no more? Well ain’t that a sorry piece a work. We’ll drag you then. The days blur together. I don’t see, don’t hear, I don’t feel no more. I don’t allow myself to feel. In a way the constant movement of the walkin’ is good for me. It lets me forget ‘bout… ‘bout things I don’t wanna think ‘bout. At night it’s the worst. There ain’t anything to distract me from thinkin’ then. Rememberin’ mostly, rememberin’ and wonderin’.
* * *
Jenny sees me in my stupor and she don’t like it, not a bit. That night when we’s all down on the ground she shuffles close to me so she can whisper in my ear. I like her voice. It’s deeper, richer than Mama’s, but with the same timber and calmness to it.
“Amanita,” she murmurs. I’d told her my name a few days ago when she asked it. “Amanita, listen to me. This will not help you. It will not help them. It only- Listen!” she says and pinches me hard in the side. I only whimper and blink at her. “It only makes you grieve. There’s no crime in the grievin’ but you have to know when that time is over!” She stops, starin’ at me long and cold. She looks like Mandiki now, when she used to wonder whether I was truth tellin’ or speakin’ lies. When she speaks again her voice is low and flat. “I see your eyes, Ami. They’re dead. There’s nothin’ there. I need you to put life back in there. Do it for your Mama. For Bala and Mandiki, do it for me. If you give up now, you let them win,” her eyes flicker to the white men’s tent when she says this. “You can’t let them win Ami. You can’t ever let them win.” And with that she rolls over and says no more. For a long time it’s silent in the camp. Then-
“Thank you, Jenny.” I won’t lose that easy.