Rebellious Hearts

Rebellious Hearts

I was never a fan of short stories until I discovered the inimitable J. California Cooper. Her short stories carried me through as I navigated one of the most difficult times of my life. I’m reminded of the song they sang in church, 🎶 “Love lifted me. Love lifted me. When nothing else could help, Love lifted me 🎶 In church they were singing about Jesus’ love. But I’m talking about the love in Ms. Cooper’s books. They lifted me. They saved me.

I generally write self-help and personal growth and development books, with the exception of my book of poetry. But as I grow as a writer, I’ve written a children’s book with my daughter and I’ve started to dabble in fiction, historical fiction and neo-slave narratives.

I’ve written my first short story based on events that occurred during the Stono Slave Rebellion that took place in South Carolina in 1793. This is a story of the profound love shared between two slaves; a man destined to lead a rebellion and the woman who loved him because of it . I hope you enjoy.

It had been two weeks since he had gone. Two weeks since her heart had been ripped clean out of her chest. Loss and misery had been no stranger to her. The ubiquity of hollow empty spaces were an inevitability of life on the plantation. But somehow he managed to fill every hole with a devotion and tenderness that she never felt deserving of. She found him completely remarkable. Fear nearly drowned her in the beginning. If there’s one thing a slave knows, it’s never safe to love. Anyone. She warned her heart. Don’t. Stop. His love proved to be more potent than her fear. But Freedom, the ever longing and yearning for a man to be his own man was more powerful than them both.

Rebellion emanated from the very core and essence of his being. Every, “yes suh, yes ma’am” was riddled with resistance. He was a clear threat. To the master. To the overseer. To himself. How he managed to stay alive this long was due solely to the fact that no one could tell a story like he did. Once he opened his mouth, his captivated audiences would soon forget what he was truly capable of; justified and righteous death and destruction.

But she never forgot. How could she? Despite the hopeful moments of promise, she knew it would never last. It couldn’t. And she didn’t need it to. They were simultaneously meant to be and destined to fail. She had accepted and made peace with his fate and subsequently hers. Their bond was mystifying and impenetrable. They took great care to hide their true feelings for one another. Only in the recesses of the darkest nights could their affection blossom. It was also in those moments his resistance grew.

She kindled his resolve to gain his freedom. He knew ultimately it would mean leaving her. The irony of this was never lost on him. The one thing that gave him life would result in his death. The paradox haunted him. His heart rebelled. The deeper her love, the deeper his discontent with his enslaved status.

Black folks had found freedom in Florida. White folks was falling ill. There was a new law that said white men had to carry their firearms with them to church on Sundays. There was talk of war between England and Spain. The conditions were ideal. It was time.

He didn’t tell her. He didn’t have to. There were times she knew him better than he knew himself. The week prior he had been distant. She respected his distance and maintained her distance as well. It was easier this way. The truth is, she could never love a man that loved her more than himself, a man that would chose her over his freedom. And this paradox haunted her. Her heart rebelled. He consumed her, while freedom consumed him. She never quite knew how to explain to him that his love had already set her free.

That Sunday morning, it began. Those lionhearted black men snatched their manhood, their autonomy and their freedom and left a trail of white blood and tears as both evidence and reminders that there is no force greater than the Rebellious Black Soul of the Enslaved. Freedom or death. They were prepared for both. For hours this went on until it didn’t. He had escaped. But not to freedom. He escaped from an enslaved status to haunted.

It had been two weeks. She heard they had found another responsible for the insurrection ; the one that told the stories. Her heart dropped then began racing. She immediately felt sick and the food she’d hadn’t eaten in days came up in dry heaves. She called upon her ancestors for strength. She conjured his love for fortitude. She felt his energy. He was proud. More importantly he was at peace. She stood up, placed her hand on her womb, and gave thanks for the seed of two rebellious hearts that had been planted in their freedom


Kathleen Nicole

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