Broken Birds

2 readings

1 vote

In competition


Sir Cunnigham wanted water. But she couldn't hear him. She was looking through the window at her people working outside barely dressed and barely human. She knew they were singing. They always were. Nevertheless, the distance prevented her from hearing their voices clearly; the house was a few meters away from the field, and from where she stood it sounded like the whispering leaves that the wind threw against the windows. She could guess the melody of their scourged souls; she remembered her Mushi* mother used to sing the same air filled with grief and hope when she put her in bed. She didn't keep many memories of her mother. She was only five when her old masters traded her to another planter. She then became Mary, a slave of the Cunningham plantation. Though, she managed to keep her true name alive in her mind. KAZE. What a beautiful name for a lovely little girl! But Kaze was not a child anymore, and the greedy eyes of Sir Cunningham had sure noticed that metamorphosis. At auction, the estimated worth of the Mulatto was higher than that of the Negro. In moments of strength, he sometimes thought about putting her light-skinned ass on the slave market. This well‑born man was a very unlucky bettor; his addiction was disgracing the Cunningham's name, and his creditors were losing their patience. However, he could not bring himself to sell his favorite slave. Where did she go? By God's heart! He was thirsty!


Under the blue sky of Louisiana, the slaves were far away from the sea that once cuddled their black skin on the African coasts. The sun was hurting their flesh as much as the repeated beatings of the foreman. Despite weariness and dehydration, they kept cultivating the sugar cane in chorus like a barbaric choreography. How did these caged birds find the strength to sing? Instead of working on the field with her peers, she had been assigned to housework. The rules were simple: the house had to be perfectly clean, and every desire of his had to be satisfied.


A jet of cold water pulled her out from her musings. Then, Sir Cunningham grabbed her by the hair and took her into the bedroom. He stared at her for a long moment. How beautiful she looked! The sunrays magnified her body, giving her the golden complexion of an ancient goddess. He cursed himself for having such blasphemous thoughts while he was tearing up her worn dress. He ordered her to lie on the bed. As usual, she slowly obeyed like a silent, broken bird.

* Someone from the Bushi Kingdom located in Central Africa.


Image of Spring 2019


Image of Short Story

In competition


RANKING Short Story

Few words for the author?

Take a look at our advice on commenting here!

To post comments, please