EightA Chapter by emily
I sprinted up the stairs, unable to listen to any more. Back up in my room, I went into a panic. I paced across the floor, mumbling the things I could not keep in my head and trying to decide what to do. Finally, I sat on the edge of my bed and buried my face in my hands. I knew my only option.
I could not, under any circumstances, let my parents sell Isaiah.
I was not about to leave things with him the way I had left them.
I would have to tell him the truth. If that was what it took to keep him here, I would tell him how I really felt.
It was not the kind of plan I was about to think through. If I thought about it, the good southern girl inside of me would tell me to stay in the house, warm and dry, and leave all this business with Isaiah alone. But I refused to let that voice have any more power over me.
As I lifted my head from my hands, something on my dresser caught my eye. The hairpins. Without thinking, I grabbed them both and pinned up my hair. Maybe if he saw them, Isaiah would more easily believe that I still cared about him. Then I climbed out my window into the downpour.
I shuddered against the wind and rain, wishing I were wearing something more than my light nightgown. Maybe it would have done good to think this through a little more, but it was too late to worry about that.
I fell into the muck from a fairly low place, then I was up and running. My bare feet dug into the mud as I dashed across the yard. The rain soaked me through as it poured down from the sky. My wet skirt slapped against my legs, slowing me down. I lifted it and carried myself quickly towards the slaves’ cabins.
I felt near hysteria by the time I reached Isaiah’s far cabin. The light from the window drew me in, a warm beacon in the night. Without even realizing I had reached the cabin, I burst through the door.
He was there, standing in his shirtsleeves with his suspenders hanging loose, in front of the small hearth. Oh Lord, he was handsome. He turned with a start, shocked to see me, I’m sure. His startled look quickly became a smug, uninterested half smile.
“You seem to be lost, Miss Dupree,” he said coldly, repeating my earlier words.
“Don’t you start that now, Isaiah,” I snapped at him more harshly than intended.
He scoffed and turned away, dismissing me already. “You must be freezing. You oughta get back to the house before someone catches you out here.”
I realized then that I was shivering. I must have looked absolutely pathetic, but he was not getting rid of me that easily. “No. Isaiah, you have to listen to me.”
“Why? Why would I listen to you now?”
“Because you need my help,” I put a hand on his shoulder but he pulled away, never meeting my eyes. I went on anyway. “Isaiah, my parents are going to sell you."
It seemed for a moment that I had gotten through to him. He turned sharply to face me. "What?"
"They know about us, Isaiah! They are going to sell you and marry me off to Roy McCalvin!” I said again, praying that he could see how afraid I was.
Isaiah still didn’t move or look at me. He stared into the fire. “They won’t have to,” he said.
I did not understand. “What do you mean?”
“I wasn't going to tell you,” he said in a flat, unreadable tone, the tone he used when he didn’t want to upset me. “But I should have known you would figure it out.” I could tell he was trying to appear stronger than he felt.
“I’m leaving, Adeline. I have everything planned for a long time, ever since I decided to tell you how I felt…” He scoffed, the laugh was humorless. “I thought that if your feelings were the same we would leave soon anyway. Together.” I detected more than just a hint of regret in his voice.
“But that’s not how it’s gonna be, so there’s not much reason to stay here, is there? I can be long gone before they come for me in the morning."
I understood then. He was leaving because of me, because of the way I had treated him. This was more than just an ill-thought-out plan. Isaiah was smarter than this. He knew as well as I that not one slave had ever escaped from Daddy’s plantation. He and his overseers handled runaways with absolute brutality. There was a special rope in the barn for slaves who were caught and refused to return. If Isaiah went through with this plan, he would die.
I knew that if I told him the truth, maybe I could change his mind. But I was still afraid, and now I was angry.
“And what if your brilliant plan doesn’t work, then?” I asked bitterly. “What happens if they come for you tonight? You’re going to let them sell you off like you were a sack of cotton or a cow or an acre of land?”
“I have to do as the master says,” he said with a defiant, mocking voice that did not match the submissive words. It was hot in that small room and I was beginning to feel just how close he was. “After all, I am a slave.”
“Don’t say that, Isaiah.”
“Yes ma’am, Miss Dupree.” Sarcasm.
“Stop that! I…”
“Besides,” he cut me off, “I’m not running away from anything. I’m leaving a place with nothing left for me.” When I didn’t respond, he looked at me with frustration and disdain. “How could you have never understood?”
He turned to me and finally met my eyes. “You’re the only reason I’m here, Adeline. You’re the only person I couldn’t possibly leave; the only one who I thought needed me as much as I needed you.” He had let his guard down and I could see that everything he was saying was true. He looked away. “But you don’t need me anymore,” he said through his clenched jaw.
This sounded an awful lot like what Hannah had already told me. I had never realized how much Isaiah needed me. I had always been the one who depended on him. “Are you that blind? How can you not see what’s left for you here?” I yelled at him.
Isaiah took a step towards me. It was becoming difficult to breathe. The room was hot and smoky, and I could see beads of sweat breaking out on his forehead. I was damp all over from perspiration and the rain, and my hair and clothes clung uncomfortably to my body. I could feel the heat radiating from Isaiah, just inches from me in that close, warm room, and I suddenly felt almost naked under his fevered gaze. “What, Adeline? What’s left here for me?” he challenged.
I was so afraid of what I was about to do. But it had to be done. It was the truth, and maybe it would make him stay with me.
So I took a step closer to him, took his face in my hands and kissed him, knowing I may never kiss him again. And he kissed back.
I pulled away after a moment, trying to understand his reaction. Isaiah’s voice was hoarse, almost a growl. “You’re lying.” It wasn’t really an accusation. He wanted to believe me, but I did not know if he would let himself.
I shook my head and swallowed nervously. “I’ll never lie to you again. Last night, when I told you I didn’t love you, that was the only lie I’ll ever, ever tell you.”
He took hold of my shoulders. The smile playing at his lips was careful, with an air of amusement, but his eyes burned with something deeper. “Goddamn it, Addy. You had better be telling the truth.”
He held my face less than an inch from his, studying me. I did not break his gaze for a second. I knew he would not see anything but the truth.
Then, slowly, he brought me into a lasting kiss, and I knew I had done the right thing. I knew it would be all right.
“I’m sorry,” I breathed over his lips, finding that I was unable to stop talking. “I’m sorry I lied. I should’ve told you. You were right, I was a coward, I was…”
“No,” he said into the skin of my shoulder, “It wasn’t your fault. I moved too fast. I scared you, I know. I shouldn’t have called you any of those things. I didn’t mean any of them. I was just angry… I was stupid…” he didn’t finish his sentence but kissed me again, an act that managed to make up for everything. When he spoke again, he took his lips away from me altogether and looked me earnestly in the eye. “Were you lying when you said… you were ready? Because I won’t make you do anything you don’t want to, but…”
I felt my breath catch in my chest. It had been a lie then, but there in that warm cabin, knowing for certain Isaiah’s feelings for me, and mine for him, I suddenly knew I could do it. I looked up at him and nodded. Isaiah studied my face for a moment, then, without another word, he kissed me again in a way that told me he was ready too.
In each other’s arms, we slid down to the threadbare rug in front of the fire. Isaiah hovered above me, smiling very softly. His serious eyes told me he was concentrating very hard on doing things right.
Slowly, tentatively, he reached down and brushed a hand across my cheek. He took the pins from my hair, the pins he had given me, and set them aside. My damp hair spilled around my face.
“Are you afraid?” he asked sincerely. His tone told me that, though he wanted to hide it, he most certainly was.
“Terrified,” I answered softly, honestly, with a nervous laugh that he returned, “But I trust you.”
There was really nothing else to say. Isaiah brought his lips back down to mine, kissing me softly for a long time. Then he pulled away, kneeling next to me again.
He removed his clothes first, slowly and intently, first his shirt and then his pants. I had never seen a naked man before. The sight rendered me nearly paralyzed with shock. Transfixed, I reached out and traced the muscles of his dark, inviting chest, his stomach, then down towards his groin.
After a moment, I realized I was staring and took my hands away embarrassedly.
As I looked at him, I realized I had something more to be glad for: Isaiah was a virgin too. I always wondered if he truly was, if had simply hidden that part of his life from me out of respect or embarrassment. But as he knelt, vulnerable and naked, over me, I saw his youthful inexperience, the excitement and nervousness and wonder all together, in his eyes. And I was unbelievably glad to know he and I were on equal ground. He took a few deep breaths before proceeding; watching his chest rise and fall I suddenly felt warm all over.
Rough hands traveled under my thin, damp nightgown, feeling every inch of my body before pulling the garment over my head. I had to remind myself to breathe as those hands explored me. We just looked at each other for a long moment once we were both undressed, lingering a little longer in the instant before everything would change, still a little afraid to proceed. I cursed the flush that rose to my cheeks and felt rather foolish as I imagined myself, lying there, naked and soaking wet and sweating and blushing like a scandalized maid. I could barely believe the words that came out of his mouth.
“You’re so beautiful.”
I looked into his eyes and saw all the sincerity in the world. He truly meant it. Reassured, a smile spread, unbidden, across my face. Isaiah smiled back, knowing he had put me at ease. Then he brought himself back down on top of me. Bare skin on bare skin: it was a feeling I had never known before. I kissed him and Isaiah wrapped his arms around me. I closed my eyes, took a nervous breath and spread my legs, praying that I could handle whatever happened next.
There was a fumbling, awkward minute while he figured out just how to do it. I avoided eye contact and tried to remain perfectly still while Isaiah gripped my hips and furrowed his brow in concentration. Then I felt a stabbing pain, and I knew he had gotten there. It shocked me and I winced and made a small noise. There was no way Isaiah would fail to notice that.
“What’s wrong?” he asked roughly, breathing heavily already. “Did I… did I hurt you?” He pulled back a little, and I knew he would stop if it was painful for me.
“N-no, I mean yes, you did but…” I stammered, terribly embarrassed and finding it incredibly difficult to speak, “but it... it's n-nothing. Please," I breathed, "please don’t stop.” I was afraid that if we stopped, I would never have the courage to try again. And I knew it would get better. It had to.
Isaiah looked unsure, so I kissed him again, to prove to him and myself that I could do this, and he said nothing more. I silenced myself in the skin of his neck, holding on through the pain.
But then, after a while, everything changed. The pain continued, but with it came a wave of feeling like nothing else. It was a feeling I wanted more than anything. It came from Isaiah. I wanted to be closer to him, though there was no way we could be. The waves crashed over me again and again until I felt like I was drowning in him, gasping for air. He held me closer and made a sound that was somewhere between a moan and a growl. The only way I could breathe was to gasp over and over again: “Isaiah.”
Isaiah’s body tightened under my hands as he crushed down on me and we both reached our peak. I moved with him and against him at the same time. His big hands entwined with my small ones. His full lips closed around my delicate mouth. The dark, hard roughness of his body pressed against the light, soft smoothness of mine. I felt so close to him and so apart from anything else. I felt like we were finally the same.
When it was over, it was over quickly. Isaiah rolled off of me and I looked at him, thinking he could not possibly have felt something as strong as I had. But he looked at me with an expression so astonished, so glorious; I knew exactly what he was feeling
I had never imagined being with Isaiah would feel like that. I never would have thought I could feel so close someone as I did to him at that moment. Isaiah took my hand in his and rested our entwined fingers his chest.
Eventually, Isaiah got up. We were still very quiet, and he was the one to break the silence. “What do we do now, Addy?” he asked quietly, pulling on his pants. “Where do we go from here?”
At that point I was barely able to process anything, but this did not sound good. I could tell when he had something on his mind. “What do you mean?” I asked as I sat on the straw-stuffed mattress that we somehow had forgotten about entirely.
Isaiah looked at me shyly, even now a little embarrassed to see me naked, and handed me his shirt. I pulled it over my head, avoiding my still-damp nightgown. “I mean… I mean is this how it’s going to be? You’re going to sneak out every night? Meet in the attic and be back by dawn?” I shivered and Isaiah wrapped the quilt from the bed around me. His voice was flat again, but I detected that this troubled him. It troubled me, too.
I was getting worried, “I don’t… I don’t see another choice, Isaiah. What else can we do?”
Isaiah opened his eyes and looked at me with concern. “Things don’t work like that, Addy. It will never work. What will happen during harvest, when I work from dawn into the night? What happens if your parents marry you off to that preacher’s son?” I shuddered inside but Isaiah went on without notice, sitting down next to me and touching my face.
“What happens… if I really do get sold?” That thought returned me to my earlier state of panic. Isaiah bit his lip and his pained expression made me feel like I would do anything to make him smile again.
“Oh, Isaiah, I promise I won’t let that happen,” I said, very concerned now. “I’ll do anything to keep you with me.”
“Do you really mean that?” he asked hopefully. Isaiah studied my face intently and took my hands.
“Leave with me.”
For a minute, I didn’t know if he was serious. “What?”
“Leave with me. Please,” he said again. “We can go north, where they won’t care about the color of my skin.” He looked long and hard at me, taking in my disbelieving look. “Look, this isn’t just some stupid plan. I’m eighteen years old and I’ve never been more than twenty miles off the plantation. I’ve never been anywhere where I’m anything more than a property, and I if we stay here, this place will be all we ever have. We won’t be able to be together, ever.”
"Isaiah..." I said, not really sure how I intended to finish.
"Addy,” I watched as Isaiah moved from his place and held himself on one knee in front of me, eyes pleading, “I know I have no right to ask this of you. I have absolutely nothing to offer you. I can’t give you the future you deserve. But I promise I will give you everything I have. I will never hurt you and I will work every day for the rest of my life to give you a life worth living, if you will just please, please walk away from this place with me.”
I looked up at the ceiling while I thought about it, but I knew my answer already. All night I had been looking my fear straight in the eyes and all night it had paid off.
I was not going to stop. I was not staying any place that Isaiah was leaving. And though I knew that there was probably no place in the world where people could accept us, I would follow Isaiah anywhere if he said that place existed.
“All right,” I said, swallowing my fear, “All right. We’ll go.”
“Really?” it occurred to me then that Isaiah had been expecting me to say no.
“Yes,” I said, finding myself almost laughing with joy. “We’ll go away.”
“Oh, Addy, I love you so much.” He embraced me.
“I love you, too.”
We both realized at the same time that that was the first time I had actually said it out loud. Isaiah just looked back at me with an expression of such happiness and wonder I couldn’t help but reflect it.
Without breaking my gaze, Isaiah moved forward knelt between my knees. He put a hand on each of my legs and stretched up to kiss me. His lips traveled down to my throat, past my collarbone and over my breasts. He kissed my stomach through the fabric of my shirt before trailing down to the soft, exposed flesh on the inside of my thighs. A spark of anticipation shot through me so strong I almost couldn’t stand it.
I grabbed Isaiah’s hand and pulled him to sit beside me on the mattress. I threw my leg across his lap, all the better to reach his lips. He dropped a hand to my thigh, stroking me there with calloused fingers. His rough hand traveled further, under hem of the shirt and towards the place he had so recently explored. I felt the pressure of his hand between my legs. My breathing became heavy and I had to break away from his lips. He kissed my neck and used his other hand to begin unbuttoning his pants, and I thought with excitement that we might do it again.
In that second, I saw my future. We would go north, far away from this lonely old plantation, far away from all the cotton and old money and slaves. We would have adventures, the kinds of adventures I could only imagine, and Isaiah would keep me safe through it all. We would build a little cabin in the woods where no one would care that we were together. We would share a bed at night and make love, deep and passionate, every day. We would be together every day of forever and grow old with each other and Isaiah would be right beside me for the rest of my life.
At that moment, I thought nothing could ever take him away from me.
I yelped with shock when the door burst open. Isaiah pulled his fingers out of me so fast it hurt. My father and Ethan stood in the rain. My brother had a rope. Daddy had a bullwhip.
Isaiah and I flew apart as my father’s voice rang out over the thunder, shattering everything in a second.
“Well I’ll be God damned if you’re going anywhere with that b*****d. Dead men can’t go nowhere.”
© 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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