I told them the truth- nothing shameful about that.
They wanted to know what it was I had been hiding on my person during the ritual and why I did it. I'm still not clear on which answer it was that got me on the short list to be exiled. No matter how much pleading, how many bargains I tried to strike with them, they wouldn't hear it. They were afraid of upsetting her, the evil, self-proclaimed Queen of Voodoo. None of them will admit that she has them under her spell; they won't even own up to the fact that she practices black magic. Apparently, I am the only one with eyes wide enough to see her truth spilling out from her essence.
At first I was just banished from our neighborhood, then they pushed the boundaries further and left me at the edge of the forest in a dilapidated shack. One man that took me there commented that I shouldn't be afraid; I would survive, but only because they were coming back soon to take me again. I could have run. I should have run. But something deep down inside me halfway hoped I'd have a chance to see my loved ones again. I prayed to Erzulie, asking her to use her strong female persuasion to change the hearts of my newfound enemies. But still they came, deeming me and my "obsession" with black magic a threat to our community. Here I sit on the salt soaked floorboards of a half-rotten ship sailing to America as my punishment. I know there are other Voodoos in the states so I am not afraid. Whether they liked hearing it or not, I bitterly shared this sentiment with those that had turned their backs on me before I set sail. They laughed hardily and told me not to get gobbled by alligators. I have never even seen an alligator in the wild and highly doubt my first experience will be in the great boxed-building cities in America. I'm not sure what they think they know about where I'm heading, but clearly someone has been pulling their leg and the fools allow it to continue.
Instead of them distrusting her, they chose to rid themselves of the only power strong enough to force her out-back into the cob-webbed corners from which she crawled. When whoever it was that had decided to jump inside my body spoke the other night, they mentioned she was nothing but a fraud. I only wish they had given more detail or sent me a vision to better understand. This would have been just the stuff I needed to convince the others to let me stay and out the big bad witch bitch. But here I am sobbing, soaked, and starving. I know Bondye has no time to hear my prayers, so instead I continue to pray to Erzulie, hoping she takes pity on a young girl fighting for her life. They have sent me to die; exiling someone and then transporting them across the high-seas takes some doing... she must have more power than I'd thought. But where was it coming from and why had she targeted me? The moment our eyes grasped one another's for the first time, it was as if claws had lurched from each set, sinking themselves into the white voids of the others. No matter how I much I hated her, we seemed to be connected.
Nothing inside me feels good when I admit that, even if it's silently to myself. She couldn't be trusted; therefore, we couldn't be trusted. I was the weaker link, the one that might spill the beans, so she had to find a reason to get rid of me. Clearly she won this battle, sending me off to another country and all, but I knew I would win the war. Though tears threaten to swell the lids of my eyes completely shut, truly I am not afraid of facing a new world. I would find my way to other Voodoos in the great city of New Orleans I had heard so much about, make friends, find shelter, and be fine. Just fine. I'd never write home after what they did to me. I wouldn't give them the peace of mind that I'd made it and was safe. The hate inside me is boiling over, spilling out, soaking into the woodgrain below my scraped knees and tattered dress.
A giant, unexpected lurch sends me tumbling below deck along with boxes of light-weight freight that share the same storage space as me. I am technically a stow-away, though someone got paid for my passage. I am to consider myself as just one of the other "things" down there getting sent to their new home. The men in my tribe that betrayed me should be grateful I have nothing of theirs to sew into a doll - why I never thought to capture anything of little Miss Mambo wannabe, I have no idea. Foolish really- a huge missed opportunity on my behalf. Most people think they cannot move backwards in time or shift location through space, but I know with Voodoo anything is possible- it just depends on how dark you are willing to go. Me- I will go past midnight into a black hole. Even if don't come through the other side of it, I accept the darkness into my life because it's a part of me. There isn't a boko I wouldn't make a deal with to slide sideways through time and space to gather a piece of her, to own... to punish. For now, I survive the turbulence of the sea and this coffin I seem to have been planted in.
I hear footsteps clomping overhead with booming voices tied to their movements. There is shouting now, swearing in English, and heavier, faster footsteps. Someone is running... someone is being chased. I hear a wooden bang back and to the left of the top of my head. The sound of heavy breathing is down there with me, sharing the same oxygen I pull through my lungs. I am no longer alone with the inanimate baggage- I just hope whoever the hell it is likes making new friends in strange places. If not, my hand will be forced to protect myself and the promise of safe exit I was given. Tucking my body back and away from the single beam of light coming through one of the cracked upper deck boards, there is nothing near enough to hide behind. I close my eyes and pray to any and every spirit, priestess, lwa, I can think of. With my eyes still pressed shut, I feel something come down on the top of my wrist. I withdraw it with an added unintentional gasp.
I have outed myself.
"Who's there? I swear to God if you come at me, I'll have no choice but to take you out. Where are you? I hear you breathing so I know you're alive," a stale white man's voice chimed out.
I stood and made a run for it through the shadows, hoping it was too soon for my opponent's eyes to have adjusted to the blackness. Apparently, not. His body slid across the bottom of the floor, slivers of broken wood stabbing into his broadside, but that didn't slow him enough. His hand clasped my ankle, forcing me to topple. I am at risk now as he looms above; standing over me as I lay there a simpering victim to whatever he so chooses.
I can see the sides of his face- he is young. His cheeks are sculpted in line with his chiseled jaw bone. The outline of two large almond-shaped eyes stare back at me blankly. They blink as if to clear the sawdust, but I know it's in an effort to take a better look at me. I see his posturing slightly loosen and relax. He's realized I am a woman, and no doubt thinks I am less of a threat to him. Idiot. He knows nothing more than my gender about me and already assigns me as harmless. Little does he know that the charms of a female's bodice were created to allure and tempt their way through a world where men are believed to reign over them. Our curves, our softness- all an illusion that we use as a defense. And now, I will use my new bosom and youthful figure to help charm my way to safety.
"Please sir, don't hurt me," I use my best language skills for this one. English is hard but Haitian is harder. I try to bat my eyes as I spread my legs, making him think there may be a chance for something more for him to gain. He squats down in response with a sliver of a smile on his mountainous cheeks. I reach up as if to caress his face, but change the shape of my open hand to that of two jabbing fingers that will serve as my swords. Plunging them deep into his eyes, I twist them around puncturing the gelatinous balls. The outer sides of my fingers scrape his inner eye sockets- his screams hurdle themselves against my ears. Nope, not welcome here. I say a little spell and reverse his scream so that it flows backwards through his mouth and into the brain that ordered it. Losing his balance, he falls backwards, blood raining down from what was once his lovely almond-shaped eyes.
Fucking fool- you don't mess with the Queen, the next Mambo to be. Stepping over his writhing body, I go to quietly close the wooden door in which he had fled through. Returning to his body, I rip a wad of his hair from his head. If he comes back to life somehow, I can use this.
Walking back to my corner, I curl up in a ball, waiting for my arrival at port, licking the blood off my hands as I listen to the shifting freight boxes that surround me. I will make it there alive no matter what, because I am willing to do whatever it takes.