ThreeA Chapter by emily
My cheeks became hot and I looked down. I had, in fact, missed a buttonhole in my haste to do-up my blouse, making my top look uneven. I shuffled my feet and stared at the floor, unable to bring myself to look at Hannah.
“Your mother sent me,” she said darkly. My head snapped up and a wave of fear shot through me. What did Mama know? Hannah seemed to read my mind.
“Don’t worry, she doesn’t know. She wanted me to check on you. I heard you in there, you know, at dinner, when you were ‘so very famished.’ You worried your mother. She wanted me to make sure you were well.”
She shot a look at me and I looked at the floor again. “You’ve never been “famished” in your life. You were absolutely fine when you talked to me half hour ago.”
I tried to remain unaffected, as if I had no idea what she was talking about. “I didn’t feel much like talking at dinner. It was just an excuse to get out of conversation. That was all.”
“Now, that’s what I figured at first, until I started to put it together.” She was pacing around the room but keeping her eyes locked on me, like I was going to make a run for the door before she could deliver her charges.
“You see, Adeline, when you left, Isaiah started acting strangely. I had never seen him so low. He never so much as smiled. Of course I knew you were his friend and that some part of him was with you in England. But it seemed to me like something more might have been going on.”
I could tell that my absence had a larger effect of Isaiah than he had let on and I immediately felt ashamed of what I had done to him.
“When I couldn’t stand his moping around anymore, I asked Eli and Ruben if they knew what the hell was wrong with him. And they told me the truth.”
“They told me that you two were together and that you had chosen to leave him!”
“That’s not true!”
“I didn’t believe it at first. But then I thought about it. You two were always the closest to each other. He was gone the night you left for England.
“But he was badly hurt by your leaving. So I guessed that when you returned, he would not make the mistake of going after you again.” She gave me a condescending look. “Clearly he’s stupider than I thought. He wasn’t in the fields when you got in today.” She was more observant than I had taken her for.
“And then just now I was on the second floor when I heard these footsteps above me. They were coming from your room and there was more than one person in there, I could tell. I could see through the window that Isaiah wasn’t in his cabin. I knew he wasn’t with Eli or Ruben. Everyone else was downstairs. If someone had used your door, they would have passed me on the stairs.
Hannah stopped in front of me and looked me directly into the eyes. “And now I come in and it seems like someone has been taking off your blouse.”
“Well, I haven’t slept with him, if that’s what you think!” The words just burst out of my mouth in the hopes of defending myself. I wished I hadn’t said it so crudely, but it made me angry that Hannah seemed to be coming to that conclusion. I slapped a hand over my mouth and blushed some more.
To my surprise, she scoffed. “I know. If you had slept together we would be having a very different conversation.”
“How do you know?”
“Because I know what happens to a girl when she gets mixed up in that kind of thing!”
“Where do you think I get my extra cash, Adeline? Huh? The money I’ve always said will get me out of here?” I knew what she meant. It had been a few years since she and Eli started talking about getting out. “The way I make it… it wasn’t my idea, Adeline. It’s… it’s Ethan.”
I immediately knew what she meant, but was too stunned to say anything. I should have seen it coming. Ethan was always one to see women as objects. He was always one to abuse the slaves. Those qualities had always made me angry with him, but now I hated him for what he did to Hannah.
“Hannah, I’m so…” I would have said ‘sorry’.
“I don’t want your apologies. They can’t make it go away.” Her voice was harsh. “It’s not going on anymore, anyway. Eli found out a few months back. It was killing him, and I had to go to your brother and beg him to stop.” She looked down. “He hit me a few times, but then it was over.”
We stood in silence for a minute while she regained her composure.
“Look, I know you and Isaiah better than you think,” she said quietly. “If you two were doing anything serious then I know it would only be a matter of time until one of you did something stupid. One of you would tell the wrong person or get caught together or try to run away or something else that would ruin both of your lives.”
“That won’t happen,” I said firmly, though she had succeeded in filling me with doubt and fear.
“Not if you’re careful,” Hannah said. It seemed that she was calming a bit. She put her hands on my shoulders. “Adeline, please be careful,” Hannah pleaded, suddenly changing tones. “I don’t want anything to happen to you. But if Isaiah gets hurt I don’t know what I’ll do.”
“I don’t want him to get hurt either, Hannah. I would never hurt Isaiah.”
She smiled weakly. “I don’t think he has a damn clue what he’s gotten himself into.”
For some reason, I found that incredibly funny. I started to laugh, then Hannah started to laugh with me and soon we were both laughing for no reason at all.
After we both got control of ourselves I confronted the problem at hand. “So… so have you… and, um… Eli…” I could not bring myself to say anything as bold as ‘made love.’ Hannah understood, though, and nodded.
“And you certainly have not.”
Yes, thank you, Hannah, for making my virginity so apparent, I thought sarcastically. But I could not bring myself to say anything half so witty. “Yes and I was… I was w-wondering if…” I stammered.
“You want to know what to expect if Isaiah wants to go any further,” she said calmly.
I nodded and Hannah took a deep breath. “Well, you know the basics, of course.” She said it like she didn’t believe I did. How could she not remember explaining to me everything she knew when we were thirteen?
I was pretty sure my entire face was on fire. “Yes of course.”
She laughed. “All I can say is that it will hurt the first time, and make sure you’re in the dark because just talking about it turns your face the color of an overripe tomato.”
I giggled and turned even redder. “I really don’t need any more details than that.” Even though I was still almost completely clueless, I was realizing that Hannah’s descriptions would be much blunter than anything I cared to hear. And I would rather not know the kind of information that would keep me from looking Eli in the eye ever again.
“All right,” she sat and crossed her legs on my bed. “Then tell me about you and Isaiah. I feel like I’m the last one to hear this.” I had not seen her so free, having so much fun, in a very long time. She could have been any one of my white friends, secretly discussing naughty things behind our fans without a care.
I told her all about the night in the barn. I told her about what happened today when I got home and about the kiss just now. I’m ashamed to say that I exaggerated a bit; I was a little embarrassed that I did not have any more to tell. It had all seemed so serious a moment ago, but in comparison to Hannah’s apparently vast experience Isaiah and I might as well have been children holding hands under the table.
When I told her how I couldn’t seem to forget him, even in England, she shook her head and smiled. “Adeline, I do believe you are falling in love with my brother,” she said.
“What?” I exclaimed. “Oh, no, it’s not like that. I don’t think that I am in love with him. I mean… I mean I have feelings for him. I care about him and… but… it’s not like… nothing more than…it’s more like… an affair.”
I realized how stupid that sounded a second after I said it. I wished I could take it back. Hannah seemed to be holding back another bout of laughter. Obviously what Isaiah and I had was more than an ‘affair.’ I just couldn’t seem to find the right word. That bothered me. What could I call our relationship?
“Yes, you’re right,” Hannah said sarcastically, getting up from the bed and walking towards the door. “You are just having ‘an affair’ with a boy who you’ve known your whole life, who you love to be with, can’t stop thinking about, and refuse to leave even though being with him could mean giving up everything.”
I opened my mouth to protest but no words came out. I closed it again to keep from looking like even more of a fool.
Before I could come up with anything else to say, Hannah was already halfway out the door. She smiled like she knew that she won this battle.
“I’ll see you at the cabin. I’ll tell your parents that you’re fast asleep.”
“Wait, where are you going?”
Hannah smiled slyly. “You think you’re the only one who gets a talk tonight? I’ve got a thing or two to say to Isaiah, too.”
She closed the door before I could object. It was finally dark out. It was time to go. I checked my reflection in the mirror and redid my buttons before quietly slipping out the window into the night.
© 2012 emily
Added on March 3, 2009
Last Updated on March 13, 2012
AboutHello all! My name is Emily, I'm 18, I am definitely not at home in this tiny MN town, and soon I will be the most famous author my generation. I go to Barnes and Noble to see where my book will sit .. more..
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