The days began to roll slower and slower. Without Annabelle across from me at night, sleep was hard to come by. Even though you see was only moments away, it seemed as if she was in a different world, and in reality, she was. In all my years at on the plantation, I was never able to stay in the big house. I was able to only cook the meals, and sit with the boys while the Master and Mistress entertained. I didn’t mind that though, because there in the big house I always felt out of place. My spirit would never settle, as if the walls had sometime to tell me, and they were speaking to me but I could never hear them. I would only stay in the parlor when I mined the boys and in the kitchen where I cooked the family meals. These days though the kitchen didn’t even feel the same. The lamps that brightened the room seemed dimmer, and the heart no longer had a song. I just would cook, set the table, and leave. They kept Annabelle so busy. When they would call for to come to the house I would run as fast as my legs would carry me, hoping that I would be able to catch a glimpse of her, even if it was just her sweeping or hanging the laundry to dry. I just wanted to see her, but it seemed as if our paths never crossed. The whole camp seemed more silent now that Annabelle was in the Big House. The men working near the field seemed a little more quiet in the morning, the sounds of the banter and laughs more and more each day come closer to silence. We all missed her.
Henny usually always had a good word. She was a joyous woman with a nurturing spirit. She was a mother of 8, and loved everyone’s else children just as her own. She earned that name because Mistress said she was always “laying eggs” (having children). I noticed her in the field singing her favorite song, “Waaade in the waaaterrrrr, Waaaade in the Water Children, God’s gonna trouble, the waaater.” as she crooned on her husband and oldest sons would the hum the melody. It was an earful of medicine for any aching soul. I stood there listening to their songs, and for a moment all my thoughts, and worries escape me. I stood there, and just closed my eyes, breathing in the words and accepting the message. “Sweet Sara” she called out to me, I opened my eyes to see her moving toward me with arms wide open. I smiled and embraced her. She looked at me with such concern. “How ya hol”in up?” I just nodded. I didn’t want to lie to her so I figured not saying anything at all would be best. She grabbed my hand and begin to walk towards the corner of the plantation into the shade of the trees. “You know he been askin’ bout you…” “who?” I said eagerly. “Old Man Baboo” I almost chocked on my own spit, “NO. no, no, no, now Henny you know he don’t got no news for me, I don’t want to hear nothing he got to say!” I began to walk away, when she grabbed my hand again, “Just hear him out, it wont hurt ya, and besides he said its important… look Sarah, we all worried bout ya, just listen to’em, ya hear?” I looked away, as if I gave it a minute of thought. “Okay, I will go” and took off, back to the my work, with an even heavier heart than before.
Old Man Baboo, was what called a “Shadow Man”. He was a slave but had a unspoken power over everyone on the plantation, ever Master. Some say he is over a hundred years old. Everyone would go to him for answers, except me and Jim Paul, because we knew all our answers came from God. He lived in a shack alone, at the furthest darkest corner of the plantation. He was always sending for people at night, he claimed to have a vision of them, or have been told their future. I had only been to his shack once, on the day Annabelle was born, he sent for me right before my water broke. He told me, “The story you will hear is not the truth, and yet you will be a believer, and soon he will use this power to deceive her.” I figured he just wasn’t well. He ate many uncooked animal remains that he found and one of his eyes was completely white. He wasn’t the picture of health. Master didn’t bother him, he always asked him to “Try and get some work done today fella?” Baboo would never reply, just leave the shack and report to field. Master handled him with extreme caution. Well ever since that one day. When Baboo came to the Plantation we was job was to maintain the horses, because he was so old, he couldn’t work the fields, and Master didn’t want to have to deal with another dead slave. Even though it was an easy job, Baboo wasn’t too keen on being a slave, when he came across he didn’t even speak the Master Language, much less speak at all, but he made things happen. One time Master had went to the stable to see his horses were not together, there was enough manure in their to fertilize the whole plantation. Master sent out to beat him. When he reached Baboo’s shack everyone had kind of stopped what they were doing to chance a glimpse of what was about to happen. “Isaac, you come out here right now!” Isaac was Master’s name for him. But Baboo’s door remained shut. “Don’t you make me come in there, you old monkey!” Suddenly the door flew open, to show Baboo sitting on the floor in the front the door holding a knife. Master’s eyes grew large as onions. No one knew what was to happen next. “You gonna cut me?” Master said tauntingly. Baboo looked at Master, and than closed his eyes. He gripped the knife in his hand and began to move it slowly in the air as if to slice the breeze. Master walked to over to Baboo, raised his hand to strike him, and paused, he looked down at the floor and saw blood dripping. He backed away from Baboo and looked down at his hand, it had be sliced clear across the palm. Everyone stood there glaring. No one could speak. “How did you do that, Why am I bleeding?…. Speak Monkey!” Master stood there screaming, and Baboo, never said a word, he just sat there, without an emotion on his face, just a blank stare, holding the knife. He raised it again as if to make another slice, “STOP!” Master yelled. “I will leave you be, Isaac.” He backed out of the shack , closing the door leaving Baboo to his darkness. Master stood there looking at all of looking at him. He never seemed more powerless than at that moment. His eyes scanned the whole plantation, than he looked down at his hand, dripping blood into the dirt. “Rooster! Come here.” Rooster was Henny’s husband. He came running over. “I want you to tend my horses now, and the rest of you get back to work! Don’t make me crack my whip!”
From that day on Master never entered that part of the plantation, and Neither did I. Jim Paul says that he always had strange sounds coming his shack, sometimes sounded like animals crying, and sometimes sounded like it was 30 men in there. Just hearing that was enough to keep me visiting him. Until now.