I’m a bit preoccupied with writing my novel about Phillis Wheatley at the moment (and trying to catch up on my word count, as I am still really far behind) and couldn’t think of much else to write about this week, so I thought I would share a couple of excerpts from this work in progress.
There are ineffaceable moments in every story. Pivotal moments that erase what preceded them and upon which our fate hinges.
As the history of nations is spun in these moments, so they occur, too, on the smallest of scales. Moments of no consequence to our fellow beings, but that alter the course of a life. One life. And to that life, they are of such significance that they act not only as milestones but as authors, creating new realities and shaping every succeeding event until the inevitable close.
Three such ineffaceable moments have determined the course of my life.
Each brought both light and darkness with it, and each changed who I was with a resounding finality that echoes from that day to this.
My sister and I were separated. I never knew what became of her, a thought which has remained in my mind ever since.
I was told to go with a group of men.
I was told to get on a large and creaky ship.
I was told what I was allowed to do.
I was told if I did not behave well, I would be punished.
I was sold.
I was sold and the ship sailed.
I watched the blinding sand fade into the brilliant blue of the ocean and the coast disappeared into the horizon.
As much as I did not understand, I knew I would never see my native country again.
I had never seen white skin before, or yellow hair. Not until that day. I stared. For hours I stared at them. Almost blinding. Like the sand on the coast I had watched as we sailed away. Or a candle. When you stare at a candle long enough, it no longer illuminates but obscures everything until it becomes swallowed in a sheet of blazing white light over your eyes.
I remember the first stop the ship made.
We were told to get off the large and creaky ship.
We were told what we were allowed to do.
We were told to behave well or we would receive severe punishment.
We were sold.
We were sold – or many of us were – and the ship sailed.
We were sold, and then those that remained boarded the ship again and I watched another coast disappear into the horizon.