The Slave Who Could Fly

By Cousin Avi

Elijah Jefferson was Montgomery Plantation’s greatest asset. He looked like a bumblebee the way he flew around, fertilizing the peach trees. His shackles had one hundred yards of slack on them. Elijah liked to fly over the canopy, and watch the thousands of sickles in the distance, striking in unison. His eyes were completely hazel as the sunlight nearly extinguished his pupils. The blades reflected silver and dark blue from the sky and reminded Elijah of fish scales. His beard could dull Excalibur, and there was always peach juice dribbling off it. Some folk swear it rains peach juice at the Montgomery Plantation. He spent his days sucking on a pit and lying cross -ankle on a low branch under the shade, day dreaming about one day ripping the shackles from the roots of the tree. He thought about flying to the fish scales. When he flew into the sky he would always try to exceed his limits with his four limbs in bondage. By the time he was seventeen he had the core of an ox, and his back muscles rippled.

When the Montgomery Plantation had a 4th of July County Festival, scores of guests arrived from the city. They were eager to immense themselves in the country, and each child was given his or her own horse to occupy themselves. “A fine rider indeed!” Elijah heard Shane Montgomery bellow. It was followed by gay laughter and a round of skeet shooting for the men. Clay and fireworks crackled all night, which startled Elijah at first. But he found the red, white and blue in the dark sky tantalizing. He could reach these colors! The leaves ruffled and peaches dropped as he launched out of the tree and into the clouds. Gun powder burst in front of him, and singed his beard and struck his shoulder. While gravity pulled him to the Earth, all he could hear was “Cease fire!” under his own cry. He woke up in bandages in the guesthouse. He lied on his side and was being treated by Loretta while he watched slaves forge chains, much shorter than his old shackles. The plantation must protect its asset.

For four months he couldn’t see the sickles. His chains couldn’t reach high enough. Even if they did his body was too weak and fragile from his wounds to fly over the canopy. By winter his flesh had healed and muscles rested from winter, the off-season for peaches. As the slack had been reduced, his leverage grew and muscles compensated. Elijah groaned while his body made roots rip through the soil. He looked like a comet the way the chains dashed behind him. The chains dragged through the fields and one by one the workers climbed up them, while Elijah Jefferson followed the brilliance of the North Star.

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