Part 1

The late evening sun streamed through the trees casting shadows that stretched across the ground. Around the front porch of the plantation house the field slaves had been gathered. Their ebony skin slick with sweat and dirt from their hard days work slaving in the cotton fields. They stood with their heads lowered, silently standing, waiting apprehensively. One of their own was to be punished and they were to witness it. They all knew who and they all knew why. Sympathy hung heavy in the air. The young man had done nothing really wrong; he was being punished for obeying, for not refusing. He had been in a no win situation, damned if he did, damned if he didn’t.

The master came out through the elegant front door. Richly dressed, all the finest cloths from places like Paris, London, cloth bought with the sweat and blood of the poor unfortunates that gathered meekly at his door. A frightened whimper broke the silence, pitifully begging as the man was dragged from where he had been held all day, left to anticipate the severity of his punishment. His bare feet dragged across the ground as he was manhandled to his masters’ feet, thrown into the dirt before his rich unfeeling owner.

He trembled not daring to move, tears running freely down his pretty face. His master nodded to his overseer and the young man was dragged to his knees, his slender wrists had been tied tightly behind his back. He knelt weeping with fear as his hair was grasped and his head pulled painfully backwards. He began to scream hysterically as he caught sight of the branding iron being pulled from the brazier, struggling desperately to escape the iron tight grip of his captors.

He began to beg frantically as the white hot iron was brought closer to him and his head held in a vice like grip his face turned to the right. His cornflower blue eye fixed on the steaming metal as it came closer and closer to his face. He howled in agony as the steel bit into his cheek, burning deeply into the exposed flesh. An agonised scream ripped from his throat as the iron was pulled free of his face and he was thrown to the ground. He screamed his throat raw, writhing in his agony. Cold water was thrown over him, stunning him to silence. Coarse sobs tore through him, bit not a sound emanated from his body so complete was his terror of his master.

The big man towered over the petrified slave scowling down at him causing him to tremble even more violently as he awaited the verdict on the rest of his punishment.

“Tie him up till the morning then gather the slave to witness his castration.” The young man screamed and threw himself forward at his masters’ feet pressing his lips to the hard tan leather of his high boots.

“No mas’er, please mas’er, don’t castrate Joshua, I be good mas’er, don’t don’t make me not man mas’er.” He kept on screaming, crying and begging for his balls as he was dragged viciously backwards and his throat roped to a tree. His feet were bound together and he was left alone in the rapidly approaching night to await his horrendous fate.

Joshua sobbed silently, afraid to sleep, if he slept the day would come all to soon and he would be held down and his legs split so his balls could be hacked off.

He was alone all alone, more alone than he had ever been in his life. His cheek burned as the wind caught the fresh brand. He drew up his legs and turned his head as far to the left as the rope would allow him weeping uncontrollably. He closed his eyes and pictured his mother, the woman that had brought him reluctantly into this world, and the woman whose arms he had been torn from when he was just four years old sold as a playmate for his masters’ son. Acceptable because of his pale skin, but his white skin and blue eyes never saved him from abuse. In his masters eyes he was as black as the Africans that worked in the fields, his mother had been half blood and her mother was black, that made him black in the eyes of the Southern states, he had bad blood, slave blood and so he was subject to his masters rule and now his master was demanding his manhood. A shadow fell over him and he curled smaller against the tree, pressing into the rough trunk, whimpering fearfully.

“Joshua, oh my sweet Joshua.” He began to cry harder at the sound of his former young masters voice. “What happened? Tell me.”

Ragged sobs broke the slaves words. “She made me … I … I didn’t want to mas’er, didn’t want to.”

Alexandra McLean crouched down to his former playmates side and turned the slaves head so he could examine the angry black burn in the soft cheek. “They tried to take way your beauty, but beauty is more than a pretty face Joshua, beauty is here.” He placed his hand over Joshua’s heart. “Inside here.” He paused and lowered his lips over the shaking mouth. “You were

the first man I ever touched Joshua, the first I ever penetrated and I care for you deeply even after all this time.” Alexandra pulled a knife from his pocket and pushed it against Joshua’s throat. The ragged slave shuddered as the cold steel rested against his neck. He squeezed his eyes tightly shut waiting for the deep slice that would end his miserable existence, only to feel the rope fall away from his flesh, his hands were released then his feet.

“I can’t sit by and let him castrate you Joshua. Run, run fast and don’t stop running.”

“Where will I go?” The soft voice whispered through grateful tears.

Alexandra kissed him again softly, playing his tongue over the salt tinged lips. “North” He whispered back. “Go Joshua, go now because come the morning they will set the dogs on you and I cannot save you from them.” He helped the fragile man to his feet, stoking the burn on his face tenderly with his fingertips making him wince. “One day Joshua someone will see past the scars, see the beauty within you. Now run. RUN.”

The slave pressed his lips to his former masters hands in thanks then ran as fast as he could towards the massive plantation gates and freedom.