1450 words (5 minute read)

Chapter 1

Arkansas, 1918-1935

Thirteen year old George Whitehead watched with a heightened sense as groups of black residents trudged around their dilapidated housing, their clothes dirty and worn out. The summer sun felt scorching on the people’s back and the many native-born workers were sweating heavily as they hauled and heaved through the manual labor in their neighborhood.

George had been keeping a lookout from behind a burned out building near an alleyway, covering himself in the shadows a bit just in case anyone spotted him.

George had left home at dawn and had been wandering the streets for hours.

The teen had no plans about going home.

George had left home with intent—he was going to move away from his family and make his own living. His mother and father hadn’t been pleasant people to begin with and the other members of his family hadn’t even believed in education.

Ironically, George’s father was a teacher and minister who felt that his word was law. The community thought of him as an outstanding man, but the Whiteheads thought he was very stern and cruel.

The Whitehead patriarch had once thrown boiling water on his wife’s dress. George could still remember the blood-curdling screams released from his mother.

Peeking around the corner of the building to see that the coast was clear, George then made his way through the dirty streets and crowd. The neighborhood was segregated from the cleaner, middle class side of the white community.

Being a negro child with no education and a little work experience, George figured he would be like all those other black folks having to work hard with little money and little appreciation.

This mattered little to young George at the time.

He was a fighter, and he had a strive to survive whatever the universe threw at him.

He would miss his oldest sister, though. He had three in total, with two of the girls being twins. His oldest sister was named Corean, and she was his favorite. George had been the baby of the family and the only boy so Corean had been the one to take care of him when their parents were gone or busy.

Maybe he would visit her once he had found a place to live.

As George continued walking, with sweat from the heat sliding down his face, he came across a young woman several feet across from him, sitting on a wooden bench. She appeared to be alone.

The woman was dressed rather nicely, as though she had just come from church, even thought it was only a Tuesday. She was a light skinned black woman, so for George, it made sense that she was dressed well. It appeared life would be a tad bit easier for her.

Just a tad.

She was wearing a tight-knit black dress, complete with flat shoes and a cute sun hat. Her face was angled in a way that her hat obscured the top of her face.

George found himself smitten with her.

Ignoring his own greasy white shirt, wrinkled pants, and a mere pack on his back, the young teen walked over to the woman and sat right beside her.

George smiled at her, hoping she would appreciate his charm, even with his much darker complexion. He had scarce amount of hair and the shape of his face was round like a basketball.

Lifting her head slightly, the woman initially frowned at the child’s uncleanness. But once her eyes made contact with George’s, she smiled back politely. She wasn’t much older than eighteen, and she felt bad for the teen.

“Hello,” she greeted quietly. “Are you by yourself?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Where’re your parents?” the young woman asked with a sweet voice.

“Don’t know, ma’am,” he lied convincingly.

“You poor thing,” she frowned sadly. “Are you hungry?” George nodded his head, appearing sad himself. He wanted to influence the woman by acting as though he was just a helpless little boy.

The young woman took pity on him, and offered to help him.

And George was more than happy with that.

The young Whitehead would bounce from place to place as time passed. The years seemed to merge together, as though each year was part of a puzzle ready to connect to the next year, or as it were, puzzle. In the span of sixteen of those years, George had moved around and had lived with multiple women.

All of these women had something to offer George, and he reveled in it. It felt nice to be taken care of as a man.

Light-skinned women were the ones he was most attracted. Their caramel shade of coloring represented to him beauty, smarts, and money.

“George, who you staring at?”

George looked beside his friend, Nathaniel, who had asked the question with a knowing grin.

The two of them, along with many others, were attending the local Baptist church on the south side of the town. George had been eyeing a young woman seated a few pews away from him.

Her name was Daisy Miles, a well educated and no nonsense woman. At twenty seven years of age Daisy was accomplished and well spoken. She was one of the daughters of TJ Miles and Georgiana Miles. Georgiana’s maiden name was Sharp. The Miles were pillars of the colored community, and were well respected as a family.

Daisy had really light chocolate skin, almost beige in color. She had a way about herself that called to attention, a presence that demanded dignity. George felt that he could admire that about her, as long as he was able to own her as a future husband.

“Y’know who I’m staring,” George answered the other man. “Miss Daisy Miles.”

“She ain’t for you, Whitehead,” said Nat. “Haven’t you heard what they say about her? She’s too cold.”

“She’s a good woman,” George countered.

Nat laughed, causing some churchgoers to frown at him disapprovingly. “Y’all just friends though, right? She don’t want you like that.” George didn’t answer the other man; he just stared harder at Daisy.

The church service ended on a prayer, the masses arising in waves afterward. George made his way toward Daisy. Daisy had been sitting with one of her sisters. Both of their faces turned blank as he approached.

“Good morning, ladies,” he spoke in a smooth tone.

“Hello, George.” Both of the Miles sisters said back in unison.

“Would you ladies be willing to accompany a gentleman out for a walk?”

The two women looked at each other before Daisy said, “If it appeases you.”

Nathaniel witnessed the three walk out of the building’s front entrance with a shake of his head.

Daisy Miles wasn’t attracted to George Whitehead in the least. He was a very dark skinned man with minimal schooling and a reputation with women. She did consider George an acquaintance though, and sometimes didn’t even mind his company, but he wasn’t the man she wanted.

Daisy was in love with a divorcee, a state in which was a hidden scandal. She wanted to marry the man, but her father would hear none of it. Two years into their romantic affair, she wound up pregnant. TJ was furious that this man would so much as lay with his daughter, let alone that he had been married. TJ was adamant that this man would have nothing to do with his Daisy again.

It was only a matter of time before George came to TJ with an agreement, with George proposing marriage to the Miles woman. Daisy begrudgingly accepted, mostly so she would have a husband to support the family and her son would have someone to call a father.

Whether she loved George or not was incidental.

“Well, I guess I’ll marry that ol’ black George,” Daisy had later relented.

Although George had been involved with a lot of women, Daisy became the first woman he legally married. Daisy Whitehead, as she was christened, didn’t always get along with her husband, and didn’t always have nice things to say about him as time wore on. George, as a result, began to feel insecure and inferior to Daisy.

Daisy remained strong throughout, with family referring to her as a “Taurus Bull”. She was able to handle herself, regardless. Their marriage, however, morphed into a rather unhappy one.

Next Chapter: Chapter 2 Excerpt