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Spring, 2009
24-Hour Short Story Contest
2nd Place Winner!

TOPIC OF THIS CONTEST WAS:

"Silly Scilla, silly Scilla," the young girl sang, as she pushed another tiny blue flower into her hair. She knew she would have to remove these adornments before they returned to the house. When Mamm gently cleared her throat, the girl remembered the tiny celery seeds that had been spilling out of her apron all morning.

She sighed and settled down in an empty row, digging her bare toes into the cool soil. She froze when her foot bumped something hard. Scooping the dirt aside with her fingers, she found a tiny, tattered purse. Glancing at her mother to ensure her secret treasure was still a secret, she opened the clasp...

Entries must touch on the topic in some way to qualify.


Little Mamm's Treasure
by Janice Croom, Bloomington, IL

Little Mamm's toes dug into the warm Georgia dirt. Shoes would be a powerful help 'gainst the rocks and biting bugs, but she' d outgrowed her shoes and wouldn't get new ones till fall planting. Folks called her Little Mamm on account of how she looked so much like her mammy.

The women made the long furrows needed for cotton. Lucy, the forewoman, rode up on the wore-out horse Master William give her.

"Make a noise there," she shouted. "We need this field done 'fore night fall."

Aunt Nellie's deep voice started them off. All the slaves except for Little Mamm and Mammy sang.

My ole Mistress promise me,
When she died, she set me free.
She lived so long dat her head got bald,
And she give up de notion of dying at all.

This song always made Little Mamm laugh, but today she couldn't fix her mind on the singing or the hoeing. Onlyest thing on her mind was why wouldn't her mammy stop crying. Little Mamm had slowed down a mite, well more than a mite, that's why she saw it.

'Twarnt dirt 'Twarnt rock

She brushed the dirt aside and found a tiny, tattered purse. After checking that Lucy was otherwise busy, Little Mamm opened the clasp and saw two coins.

Lucy stopped her horse and got off. Little Mamm snapped the clasp shut, pressed the purse against her hoe, and started working.

"You falling behind." Lucy touched the whip strapped to her waist.

Little Mamm worked faster, praying not to drop the purse. Praying not to give Lucy cause to use that whip. Just last fall Lucy had worked with them. Now, she worked to keep Master William happy. Little Mamm's body got to working, but her eyes just naturally wandered to her mammy the next row over.

Seemed like Lucy's did too. "Stop all that caterwauling," she shouted. "What's done is done."

Mammy started crying last night and wouldn't tell Little Mamm what was wrong. Even with all that crying, Mammy worked harder than everybody. Little Mamm worked harder too. She didn't want to add to Mammy's worries.

"Better not have to stop here no more." Lucy got back on her horse and rode off down the field.

Little Mamm tried to think of what she could buy her mammy with the two coins. Maybe some yard goods for a new dress, or some of her favorite snuff, would make her smile again
She thought until her brain hurt. Nothing seemed right.

The sun climbed high in the sky as the dinner bell rang out. The women dropped their hoes where they stood, gathered under the shade of the big tree, opened their buckets and started talking. Only time they could without getting whipped. Little Mamm sat far enough away that they wouldn't chase her off but close enough that she could hear.

Aunt Nellie pulled an ash cake from her bucket. "They got Joshua locked up with all the others they selling down river."

Mammy's bucket stayed closed. "Just wants to see him one more time fore he go."

Aunt Nellie rubbed Mammy's back like maybe she could rub the hurt away. "Master William not gonna give you no pass to go nowhere in the middle of cotton planting,"

"Maybe I go without a pass."

"Gone then," Miss Betsy said. "Let the pattyrollers catch you too. Let Master William sell you off like Joshua. You oughta be grateful. Little Mamm and Joshua been with you all their natural born days. You got to see them get almost grown. Master William tore my babies from my arms and sold them off; you don't see me carrying on.

"You oughta be grateful, your boy is still alive. For all I know, my babies dead. You oughta be grateful they ain't hung Joshua after he tried to run. They didn't even whip him."

"Bring less at auction with fresh stripes on his back," Aunt Nellie said.

"So you oughta be grateful and stop all that crying. You boy ain't got dead, he ain't got whipped, and you got to see him get fully growed."

Master Williams hired Joshua out, but sold him? Only one thing stop her mammy from crying. Maybe the two coins would be enough. Little Mamm set off to find Lucy. And once she saw the coins. Lucy took her to Master Williams.

Master Williams sat on his veranda with all manner of books in front of him. "What do you want Lucy? I need to finish my accounts."

"Little Mamm has something to show you. Go on now."

Little Mamm opened her hand. The coins looked all shiny in the sun. "May I buy Joshua please suh."

"Where did you get those?" Master Williams roared.

Lucy backhanded Little Mamm then smiled. "She stole em."

Little Mamm cried for her mammy.

"Stealing gets 500 lashes," Lucy said. "Gotta show the others."

"That we do, Lucy. Give a little thing like that 500 lashes, at the end of it, all I have is a dead slave. I know a better way."

Little Mamm never seen her mammy again. She did see Joshua though. He got sold to one Louisiana plantation. She got sold to another. Brought Master Williams a tidy sum. He wrote everything down in his books.


What Janice won:

$250 Cash Prize
Publication of winning story on the WritersWeekly.com website
1 - Freelance Income Kit Includes:
-- 1-year subscription to the Write Markets Report
-- How to Write, Publish and $ell Ebooks
-- How to Publish a Profitable Emag
-- How to Be a Syndicated Newspaper Columnist Special (includes the book; database of 6000+ newspapers; and database of 100+ syndicates)

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