Sweat dripped slowly down my face. I used my palm to wipe away the trailing tear from my cheek. It was brutal under this heat. Under the Carolina sun. My nana always told me that if the sun wanted to, he could burn the earth but each day the sun decided to let us live and made his way to the horizon. I looked up and stretched my palms toward the sun.
“Irene! Stop staring at the sun!” my father yelled farther down the field. I turned to see my father make his way toward me. A proud man. A proud black man walking through his fields. The cotton swayed in the heat. The white seemed to make my father’s skin sparkle in the sun. I wondered how long I would have to work in this field. I grabbed the basket and lifted it to rest atop of my head.
“Pa!” I called “Can’t I enjoy the field just for a moment?” I noticed the shade from the trees at the edge of the field. For a moment, I was transported to the cool shade. I blinked.
“Irene, you gotta understand. It is a must that we get this cotton harvest in. There is no time for waiting and dreaming. Look at your brothers, what do they do? Is it easy for them? No,” Pa had started getting frustrated. I looked down. “We need this, you are family. No enjoying.”
I nodded and felt more sweat drip down my face. It was always the same with my father. Family had no choice but to help. But my pa couldn’t stop me from dreaming. Even as my hands grew raw from the husks, I would dream of soft and subtle hands. As the fabric of my dress clung to my back, I would dream of a cool river and the evening sun. I would dream of a place where my family wasn’t tied to the land. In these dreams, I promised myself that I would make sure my children would see a different sun. The sun could burn my skin but as I grew darker and darker I felt more and more alive.
This short fiction piece was inspired by the monthly Ekphrastic Challenge over at the Ekphrastic Review! I have been following this page ever since Ingrid mentioned it! It has been a great way to explore and challenge myself! The writers that are selected are those that have been in the writing game for a long time. But even still, each week I submit my piece to challenge myself and grow. I enjoy reading the selected responses and seeing how other’s have been inspired by the image! What would your response be?