They came at night and brought me and my son down to the boat. I told him to bring his doll, but he thought we would be coming back. He didn’t want the men to see him carry a doll he called Mommy. The men were not patient. They didn’t speak our dialect. I told him again to get the doll. He stood his ground and stared at me. I got the doll and showed it to the man who did the talking. He put his spear through the doll and through my hand and gestured toward the boat. My son shrieked and clutched at the doll. I lifted him and held him crying. I didn’t think the men would kill us all but I didn’t care. We would die together. Tell them we ran away, I told the man. Tell them our hut was empty. He speared me thoughtlessly in the side and stepped away. We walked to the boat. Before he sent us to the hold, he threw the doll in the ocean. I sat between the knees of a man from our village; another sat between mine. They manacled our feet to the floor. Too small for leg-irons, my son squeezed himself between me and the man in front. This the man did not like. For the rest of his life he hit the boy, and fought with me, for his rightful space. It was a journey without days or nights. I told my boy that we had died and that if we survived this glimpse of hell we would wake in the missionaries’ heaven. I tried to make it true. The man who bought me is kind if I do right. Don’t be sad, he says, You don’t have to worry about feeding a family.

Copyright © August 02, 2008 David Hodges

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