The Lynching Tree

Cassandra watched the men take her husband to the top of the hill from the dining room window. The top of the hill is where the lynching tree is located. She knows this because for the past year, she has watched her husband hang six of those slave boys. She always watched from afar through this very window.

The days were always beautiful when the husband did it, and today was no exception for the skies were blue, and the clouds white. The sun beamed on the hill, casting a shadow over the men.

Bethal, one of the house maids, slowly stepped beside Cassandra at the window. Wrapped in the maid’s dark brown arms was a light brown baby. Cassandra looked from the maid, to the baby, and then back out the window to her husband. They couldn’t feel the heat blazing from inside the dining room, but they could see the sweat covering the skin of the men on top of the hill. The dining room window had a perfect view of the lynching tree if you stood directly in front of it, which is why Cassandra and Bethal were standing there now.

From the window, they could see the husband screaming, pleading and seemingly begging for his life, but they could not hear him from inside of the house. They could only watch in anticipation.

For the men standing on the hill, the temperature seemed to only be growing warmer and warmer. The sun had reached its peak for the day, and scavengers were beginning to circle the top of the tree for they knew death was to come soon enough.

The slaves wrapped the rope around their master’s neck.

“Don’t do this, boys,” the slave master screamed to the top of his lungs. “You niggers know you won’t be able to survive without me. Just let me go right now, and we’ll just act as if this never happened. What do you say boys?”

One of the slaves held up his hand, and everyone stopped what they were doing. He was the leader of this slave rebellion. His face was calmly filled with rage and his eyes were wild with revenge. Without saying a word, the slave leader stepped up and threw his right fist into his master’s left cheek bone. This seemed to spark something in the rest of the slaves as they too joined in the beating.

Blood covered their knuckles and stained their ripped clothing. The brown dirt soaked up the wet blood into a muddy substance that slowly began seeping into the roots of the tree. Once again, they all stopped at the slave leader’s hand signal, and stood their master on a wooden chair.

The slave master’s face was scarred and bloody, and he was having trouble balancing himself on the chair. His legs were shaking uncontrollably with fright, but that wouldn’t save him now. Pity was a feeling that was long gone from his slave’s minds. The slave master was about to be killed by his slaves, and he knew it.

The slave leader looked across the field, and to the dining room window at Bethal. After receiving a nod from Cassandra, Bethal looked back to him on top of the hill, and nodded sternly.

It was time.

Cassandra’s eyes began to redden once the men threw the rope over the highest tree branch. She stood perfectly still, and tear drops slowly began to emerge. This is what he deserves she kept telling herself.

The slave leader kicked the chair from beneath his master, and they all watched him struggle to his death slowly.

The slave master’s veins were popping out as he fought for oxygen at first. After a few seconds, he noticed that he could only see the top of the heads of his slaves. From a distance, he looked to his crying wife behind the dining room window, then to Bethal and the baby. The rope turned him slowly, and he could see that the cotton fields just down the hill were empty, and that the tree hanging him was brown. The red shed where some of his slaves were known to reproduce late at night was empty now as well, and he wished that the baby was darker.

He thought about all of these things one last time…just before he breathed his last breath and his mind went dark.

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