Based off of the nursery rhyme, About the Bush.
|Willie died early the day of the Eve of the New Year just before the year of 1792. Immediately afterwards his son, Tommie, went out to go tell the bees. He let the tears loose as he approached the plantation’s beehive, weeping as he neared the bee gum, a hollow red gum tree with a hole in it to allow the bees access.
“Pops is dead!” Tommie moaned out as he got to the tree, sitting down on its roots and sobbing with a passion. “Poor ol’ Willie died this mornin’!” He sat with his knees to his chest and his face almost buried into his knees.
But, as Tommie knew full well when in an objective state, the night is always darkest just before the dawn. He didn’t feel that that was true right now, though. His master, Edward A. Leonard, came to him, a stern look on his face.
“There better be a good reason you’re not working, slave.”
Tommie looked up at him with sadness upon his face- that same sadness dug deep into his eyes, which looked into his master’s eyes with a hollow quality.
“My dad, Willie, died this morning…”
Tommie’s master sighed then, but, nodding, went to Tommie and knelt by him. “You, your mom and your little sister… Take the day off. I know that it’s a hard thing, and you and your family have been faithful to me. I’ll help you make your preparations in any way I can.”
Tommie, nodding then, said in a soft voice, “Thank you, Sir.” Tommie, getting up then, sighed himself as he nodded once more and spoke, “I’m going to go back to my family, Sir.”
His master nodded as Tommie walked off, and Tommie smiled softly in gratitude as he called after him, “It’ll be alright, Tommie my boy.” Tommie arrived home to a crying mother and a numb little sister. He hugged them both at once, and sighed himself. “We don’t have to work today, the master let us off.”
They nodded sadly, hugging him back tightly. He smiled at them sadly as they all released each other. He put his little sister to bed- she was young, and seemed to be unable to cope with all of this.
Going outside, Tommie saw the holly bush by their little cabin, and smiled widely as he got an idea. Taking a limb from the bush, he grinned at it, and went back inside for a moment to sneak past his mom into his dad’s room and take his father’s favorite possession: his tie. Sneaking out again, he left to go to his secret place.
His secret place was on the plantation, but nobody ever went there but him, and it was well hidden, which is why Tommie felt safe putting his altar there. He put the holly bush limb and his father’s tie on the altar and stayed a moment to focus on the altar, its contents, and his concentrated thoughts.
Leaving after a few minutes, he smiled widely.
Tommie got home and went to bed himself- he rarely got a day off, and starting tomorrow, he’d have to go back to work. And go back to work the next day he did. He was busy all day, and it wasn’t long before the days had passed and the full moon had risen. His father was already buried, but Tommie knew that that wouldn’t be true for long. He returned to his secret place with a shovel.
Tying his father’s tie to the holly bush limb, Tommie dug a hole in the ground about a foot deep and wide. Placing the limb and tie inside of the hole, he put the dirt back in and packed it down, all the while focusing on the wish: I want our family back together and happy.
Tommie went home then, and crept in carefully, making sure not to wake up his family. He went to bed himself, and woke up early to start his first job. Arriving there, he saw his master, who was smiling at him. “Tommie- I have something for you.”
Tommie nodded to him slowly, and approached his master respectfully. “Yes, Sir?”
His master, smiling widely as he handed Tommie three gold eagles, said, “I don't know why I am doing this, but... I've been getting a feeling that I should. You and your family are now free. That’s a year’s wages for you three, plus your father. I figure that should get you started. And you all are welcome to stay on with me- you’ll get a half-eagle and a quarter-eagle every year. Each.”
Tommie smiled widely and hugged his master happily. Withdrawing after a few moments, he said, “Oh, thank you Master!”
His master put up his hand and chuckled. “It’s Mr. Leonard now, Tommie. You’re a free man now.” Tommie nodded, and, offering Mr. Leonard his hand to shake, smiled at him saying, “I’ll stay on. I think my family will too. Thank you, Mr. Leonard. This truly means so much to us.” The two nodded, and Tommie went to do his job.
Later that day, after he finished his jobs on the plantation, Tommie went home. He showed his mom the gold eagles before speaking. “Mr. Leonard freed us, mom- he gave us a year’s wages, plus dad’s. He’s also offered us the opportunity to stay on with him as workers and he’ll pay us. And it’s all because…” There, Tommie paused, a horrified look on his face. He sat down, and cupped his face into his hands.
“Because I tried to get Willie back from the dead. Ma- I did Voodoo to get him back from the dead. I’m sorry… It didn’t work.” Tommie’s mom hugged him and smiled softly.
“Willie’s dead, Tommie- and that’s horrible. But who knows? Maybe his spirit is looking after us still- maybe that's why we're free people!" Tommie nodded and, smiling, hugged his mom back. "Yeah, ma- maybe so."
Word Count: 995