I. Passage To Darkness: Premiere La Reine; Amalie

  • February 16, 2006 at 2:07 am #1713
    Jeff Crowley

    ?I have learned colors from dreams. In them, I have seen the things that have been, or have yet to be. Some of them are strange dreams. I hear the sounds of thunder from little clay pots. I see vibrant azure waters and lush green cane fields sprouted from obsidian sand. I can?t help but to wonder if these things truly exist, or if they are nothing more than the delusions of a saddened mind filling the vacancy of sightless days and nights equally void of dream without message.? ? egeria to abraham

    Kjeldsen Estate and Cane Plantation, Teague Bay, St. Croix, circa 1820.

    The Danish West India Company listed the beast as being of questionable origin. The slave lot she had been purchased from in the Dominican was equally unsure of her breeding stock. The softness of her onyx hair and lighter tone of molotto flesh left a mark of question on her certificate of sale where ?negress? would have been indicated for any of the others. None knew of her name, her previous trade, though there was none left to care so long as her flesh remained without blemish and her limbs did not fail to carry her weight from the hold of the stowage to the dock?s meager podium.

    The wood of the platform had turned soft and waterlogged, stained by the filth of so many passengers that tread before her. It would not have been splinters that would cause the concern of potential buyers, but the threat of illness or plague seeped up from the grime and waste that threatened to slip into open sores, cuts, or scrapes. The sale, as she would someday learn that one?s fate could so easily be purchased by another, was quick but fierce. Green eyes and light flesh were as prided upon, perhaps even more so than complete sets of fingers and toes. It was yet another clever ruse to deny a heathen?s birthright. It was the giving of a new name, without regard to the old, that was thought to be an adequate remedy for forgetting one?s place, and one?s past. Her name was Amalie now.

    Lips are turning blue
    A kiss that can?t renew
    I only dream of you
    My beautiful

    From the day that Henrick Skov had taken her to his home, he knew she was not meant for the field. Surely thick thighs and sturdy limbs would have suggested a great and long use in the harvesting of cane from the field to the distillery, but the unrelenting sun and sharp blade of the sickle would only mar the flesh he had spent such good earnings on. For this, Amalie would serve the house, its guests, and the children. She would wear a heavy cotton frock and a matching turban of white wound tight about her head at request of the home?s mistress. She would nod or bow her head, ever agreeable, and never speak as it was their only hope, they reasoned, that her presence within their home would be easily forgotten. Though for as tightly as the turban was secured to hide the softness of her hair, or how heavy her dressings were to steal away the shape of her form, Henrick could not remain ignorant to the servant?s presence for very long.

    Tiptoe to your room
    A starlight in the gloom
    I only dream of you
    And you never knew

    The master of the house soon learned that admiration from afar was a simple matter to hide. A scowl was an easy gesture to feign when handed over the wooden switch to beat her with, and disgust was yet another clever turn of thin lips when fingernails grated close to the warmth of her flesh when tearing down white linen garments from over her breasts. He delighted in the act of discipline when his wife felt that she did not have the strength to exact on the slaves what they deserved for any number of their transgressions, be it speaking, stealing, displeasing her with their presence unannounced, or speaking to her to announce the same. But he grew bored with the manner in which the others wept. Silently, always silently, when their black and beady eyes grew swollen by the sting of salty tears and their thin bodies shook. He felt that by this, they had truly been convinced that they are of no greater import than the wooden chairs they sat upon, the pitted pots they urinated in, or the toy drums they beat upon when the day was done with and the slaves were left to their own devices.

    They tried so hard to blend with their surroundings, still as chairs, fragrant as flowers. Anything to please the master and mistress of the house. Amalie was no different. For three years she played the part of a chair, a pitted pot, or fragrant flower. For three years she wept as silently as the others had, stilled herself as best as she could beneath Herick?s heavy hand, until that hand split the flesh, and broke the bone beneath it. With the spill of her blood trickled down to stain the floorboards of the carriage house came the shrill words of a heathen?s tongue. It was Creole by some accounts, jibberish by most of the others. When he spoke to the slave of a rhetorical question on the subject of her outcry and disobedience that she had no means to ever understand – she replied to him in kind.

    ?No more you godless man!?

    They say that to speak on a matter three times would make it so.

    ?No more.?

    ?No more??

    Sing for absolution
    I will be singing
    And falling from your grace

    Henrick had been denied the pleasure of beating an animal. At some point between the swift fall of his fist, the breaking of skin, the cracking of a rib, her voice stayed him still. Her voice lifted the slack from his shoulders, taking him from his leveraging crouch to stand, and in his arms he took broken woman. He took her from the carriage house to his bedroom down the halls from his wife?s chambers. While on their way words were hushed into her ear in a child?s awe. His own progeny had not yet learned to take the letters from pages and read them aloud, how could this woman have accomplished as much? While on their way Amalie spoke of her learning of things from the unseen. Of the Loa, and the Bon Dieu. She spoke of things that have been, or have yet to be ? of clippers that have long since settled to the bottom of the Atlantic when his grandfather owned the estate, of enemies and friends and his mistaken identification of each of them, of his infant daughter not yet born whom he would grow so fond of only to witness her end in a wooden crate. At once Henrick dismissed these things for the onset of fever dreams while tending to the injuries he inflicted upon her, and he felt guilt for what he had done, and for enjoying the thing he was now doing.

    There?s nowhere left to hide
    In no one to confide
    The truth burns deep inside
    And will never die

    The thickness of her white linen dressings gave the appearance of a round, white, onion freshly pulled out from the soil with its limp roots and stem left to hang. He found himself delighted in the peeling back of each layer, and wondered for just a moment, that if he were to continue in this, there might be nothing left of the peculiar woman. Within this onion?s core he found a soft serpentine frame, the color of smoothed over drift wood well before it was bleached by the sun or dented from the passage of years. He took the binding from her hair, carefully in it?s undoing, and wrapped the blemish he made of her waist, hoping that it would be forgotten for now, and healed over sometime within the passing weeks.

    Lips are turning blue
    A kiss that can?t renew
    I only dream of you
    My beautiful

    With the weeks that did pass, Charlotte, the mistress of the house, had grown suspicious of her husband?s fascination with sleep and study in his chamber. He had kept himself to curious hours, setting off into the fields by the slaves? cabin by night and sulking back into his room before the break of day covered in sweat and soot and stinking of whatever the slaves had dredged up from the seas or unearthed from the rubbish heaps. In the evenings they did spend in the company of one another, he would not end his night asleep in bed washed over and serene from their shared passion, but sat rigid and still, bleary eyes turned up and through the window where the quiet thunder of drums slipped through for hours on end.

    Amalie had been sent to the fields, or so Charlotte had been assured by her husband when she was no longer seen within their homestead. Yet not even he could have known of her whereabouts on any given occasion save for the nights they kept in his chambers, within the cane fields, or down by shore of Teague Bay. He knew that she understood each of his queries when he asked her where she had been and what she had done. Her sly little grin of full and pursed lips spoke to him as much as she shook her hand away over a naked shoulder, padding into the washroom to freshen herself for sleep hours after she had first intended to rest her head. But, often, she fell no further into his bed than she had into arms of soft pale flesh, shallow blue eyes, and closely cropped wheat hair. She would love him as often and as deeply as he had prayed that she would, and in return for her loyalties, he would give to her a daughter. Just as she once told him that he would.

    Sing for absolution
    I will be singing
    And falling from your grace

    In the spring before the expected birth, 1824, the Kjeldsen Estate and Cane Plantation swelled fertile in time with her belly. So much so that Henrick called for expansions to be made for a distillery barn for the processing of cane to rum, and with it, a second cabin to serve as his field office and (once more unbeknownst to Charlotte) a nursery. In preparation for when his wife took notice that Amalie?s robes had barely fit her, he concocted a dismissive excuse of a young and foolish union between the slaves. He would swear to her that the plantation was doing so well, that it would not cost her a single pretty gown to feed another infant?s mouth. With such assurance and the gifting of an even finer summer wardrobe that she had ever been gifted by her husband before, she gave the woman nor her unborn anymore wasted attention.

    The birth that nearly killed Amalie was of no greater concern than a passing point of bemused interest to Charlotte, though she could not help but to wonder why Hendrick fretted so. Her visitation to the mother and child served no other purpose than to tsk and smile at torn flesh and high fevers ? and to remark on the stark contrast of what she would call the ?pale-tan? flesh of the child in comparison to her mother, and the azure blue of the child?s eyes. At once, Henrick feigned ferocity that drew him to a rage in arms against a childhood friend in which he had no qualms in blaming him for the impregnation of his property. It was a simple matter to threaten the life and livelihood of an innocent man for his own doing. After a sound beating involving a sickle and a broken bottleneck to the man?s throat, Henrick made certain that he was clever in concealing himself. Charlotte was also certain that justice had been served for the ruin of the estate?s slave.

    The clever ruse to deny a heathen?s birthright had been undone in the little wooden field cabin built on the Kjeldsen Homestead . There her mother would make certain that the giving of a new name, without regard to the old, that was thought to be an adequate remedy for forgetting one?s place, and one?s past would not bind the infant child to the life suffered by her peers. Her name was Marion now. Marion Skov, and she would not be denied.

    Our wrongs
    Remain unrectified
    And our souls
    Won?t be exhumed.

    ((Lyrics by Muse:Sing for absolution)) To be continued

    February 16, 2006 at 2:14 am #2282
    Doug Davis

    Fantastic, fantastic, fantastic. Very awesome stuff hon. I loved it!

    February 16, 2006 at 2:20 am #2283

    AWESOME post! It's so great to see you writing again, and I truly can't wait for the next part…incredible work, as ever!

    February 17, 2006 at 1:31 am #2284

    Very cool, like history and personal stuff combined.

    February 20, 2006 at 10:43 pm #2285

    Lovely, m'dear. I meant to reply before. I think I told you anyhow.

    February 21, 2006 at 2:19 am #2286

    That rocked! I can't wait for more.

    February 25, 2006 at 9:29 pm #2287

    Holy smokes! That was a pretty bad a** post hon.

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