Good as her word, William was undisturbed the following evenings as he read in the parlor. The noises coming from the hall sometimes gave him pause, trying to imagine what might be going on behind the doors, but almost always, he returned to the words on the page, the science and religion he could find in them.
He’d never read the bible before. He expected it to be painfully difficult, but it was surprisingly simple. It contradicted itself over and over again, making him wonder if the pastors were ever as confused as he was. The books on nature, which he expected to be simple, were very complex, requiring he consult the gigantic dictionary that rested on a reading stand in the parlor and was the main reason he read there. When he was first introduced to books, he assumed the tome was the bible. In a way, it had become one. His library of words.
He gave up on sciences after a time. He could understand the basics, how plants and animals procreated, life cycles, food cycles, those were easy to understand, but when it extended to air currents and weather or the pull of the earth, he was hopelessly lost.
Lynn asked, poking her head in the parlor. “I
didn’t expect you to stay in tonight. Isn’t there a shindig down the road?”
There was a party at a farm. The master was on a trip out of town and the mistress was visiting a friend in town, leaving the slaves unoccupied for an evening. Will had heard about it, but hadn’t really considered going.
“Wouldn’t you like to go? Meet a nice girl?”
He shrugged. “What do I want one for?”
He pulled his arm back. “No. Women are only for fucking and beating.” He turned back to his book.
“You think I’m only good for fucking or beating?” she asked, moving to perch on the arm of his chair.
“Of course not,” he said with a smirk. “You’re a white lady. You are for men to carry on their arm, to make babies and run households.”
He dropped his book in alarm. “No.” He said, shaking a little. What was she asking? That was mad. He could never...fuck a white lady. “No, I don’t want to make any more slaves,” he said, imagining that was what she meant.
She nodded solemnly. “I can certainly understand that.” She ran her hand through Will’s short cut black curls. Terrance took a razor to his head once a month, so the coarse nap never had much length. “We worry about you, William. Are you happy here?”
He looked into the vampire’s glowing amber eyes. It was one of the few outward signs that they were different, their gemstone eyes. They seemed to shatter light, collect it in a glow. “Why should it matter?”
“And who would keep your house?” he asked. “You?”
“Why would you do that when you can have a slave?” It didn’t make sense.
“We...we aren’t comfortable with humans living here, William. You know what we are by now, don’t you?”
“You haven’t told anyone, have you?”
He snorted. “Who would believe a slave boy? No, I have told no one. I haven’t seen any dead bodies or had to clean more than splatters of blood. What business is it of mine?”
“None, I suppose, but you can see why we might worry.”
“I’m not worried,” he said shrugging. “You seem to get your blood from your...clients.” He used the word with derision. He still couldn’t comprehend what exactly went on in the house.
“Thank you, Ma’am. I think I’ll read some more.”
Lynn straightened and turned back again.
“Because although your happiness might not matter to you, it does to us. We
want you to be happy, Will.” She put her hands on his cheeks and pulled him
toward her for a quick peck. Lynn’s head turned to look toward the front
entry. “Henry is here. Excuse me, Will.”
She smiled broadly. “We’ve expanded our library for you. I’m glad you enjoy it.”
He dropped the book a second time. “You bought them for me?”
She nodded, still smiling. “Yes. We are interested in some topics, but don’t usually buy books. Are there any you particularly fancy?” She rose from her perch and went to the small shelf.
“All of them,” he said, still lost in a fog of disbelief. “Why would you buy books for your slave?”
Will didn’t open his book again, looking at it in wonder. Perhaps there was more to this than he had imagined.
More tasters on the blog.