And The Moon Moaned
My name is Celestial, and I was fifteen years old that night. It was cold and rainy on a Sunday. Daddy was still away, working at the mill. He was always working at the mill. Mistah Reinhart, my daddy’s foreman wanted round the clock workers this time of the year, he would pay a little extra but not much. Guess he figured us Negroes’ time wasn’t worth much, my daddy would always say. But still he didn’t much complain. Daddy was the hardest workingman in the world Mama always said, and he loved us. So did Mama, although she was far more stricker than he was. Mama gave that tough kind of love. And me? I had just had my fifteenth birthday. In my eyes I was a woman, tall and slender, mocha brown-skinned, shoulder length hair, straightened with the hot comb. I was a ripe fruit, just aching to be plucked, and I was being courted by my first love, Jason. Now I just loved me some Jason, he and his ma lived a few gates down the road near Acorn pond.
Then there was my baby sister Lydia, she was 10 years old, and a big pain in me and my sister Charlene’s butt. And my older sister Charlene... Well she was seventeen, and NOT a virgin. Of course Mama didn’t know that. Yeah she knew Charlene was BUSY, I guess that’s a nice way older folks liked to put it, but one thing was for sho, if Mama ever found out Charlene had been humping with the boys, she would tear her frisky behind up. Charlene had a bad reputation. All the boys in Stoney Creek would brag on having done it to her, and it embarrassed me sometimes just to be around her with the way she carried on. But that was her, and this is me, still had my cherry and proud of it. Still had my reputation and was gonna keep that too. But one night changed me, the night HE invaded my young world. The night the stars fell, and the wind blew, and the moon...well the moon, it moaned...
“Least y’all could of done is put some dangone kindling in da stove!” Mama growled, as she stuffed the old cast-ironed wood stove with oak. “I know y’all woke in there, ya lazy dats all to it!”
Charlene and me giggled quietly between us in the big double bed we shared, listening as mama fused, steadily complaining as she stuffed the old wood stove with kindling. “Ma it was sooo cold, too cold to get up and put wood in,” Charlene explained, waiting for the hmph from our mama that we both knew would come.
“Hmph!” Mama said, “Y’all hands ain’t no softer than mine. Makes no sense, y’all hear me in there. Don’t make no sense!” Mama ranting and hollering was interrupting by a sound that jerked all of us out of the bed. A loud banging at the front door that was not to be ignored. “Who in the world?!” Mama exclaimed. Charlene and me had jumped up to peep around the hall wall, a bit nervous yet curious at the same time of who could be knocking at our door at 9pm in the pouring rain on a Sunday. Mama quickly surfed up to the door, we standing back in hurried curiosity. Opening it, a tall willowy figure stood. A white man though it was a bit hard to tell, drenched in black clothing.
“Yes?” Mama asked. Charlene and me slowly made our way into the living room, standing closely behind Mama. As more light seeped through the open door, we were able to better make out the white man to be Jean Reinhart. He lived down a few gates back, not far from Jason’s place. He would always pass by the pond when Jason and me would be down there stealing sweet kisses and making out. Jason had always said he didn’t trust the him, didn’t trust no white folk, and didn’t like the way Jean Reinhart nosey, always peeping at what other folk, especially black women folk, were up to. Jean Reinhart’s daddy owned the old cotton mill in our town, and his papa’s papa use to own half the Negroes back when we were slaves. The way they carried on sometimes though, you would figure they STILL owned all the Negroes around here, and slavery was long, long old and done.
“Y’all Timothy Green’s peoples?” he asked, going on after he saw my mom nod yes. “Well he had a accident at the mill. I’m doing y’all folks a favor letting ya know on my ways home, so you best to get on down there and get em.”
“Oh my goodness! What kind of accident?! How bad?!” Our mom asked, myself feeling sick, hoping that our daddy wasn’t hurt too bad. In our world, if ya daddy was ill and couldn’t work, it could mean the difference of losing it all and pulling for scraps. But also, we all knew how dangerous the mill was, and had always feared Daddy getting hurt while out there.
“I don’t know all that, like I said, I just figured I would be neighborly, and let y’all in on what was happening, now somebody best get down there.”
“Well yes sir, yes sir we will, and thank ya so much, God bless ya!” My mom said quickly. “Charlene you come with me, Celestial you stay here with Lydia ok? Oh Jesus please let him be ok! Thank ya, thank ya Mistah Reinhart.”
I mildly protested only to be stilled by my mom’s, “Listen girl, Lydia is sleep. There is no need for all of us to be walking down to that mill this time of the night. Just stay here, and me and Charlene will be back soon with your daddy ok?” From the corner of my eye, I noticed Jean Reinhart staring at me oddly as my mama closed the front door, my mama giving him one final nod of thanks before closing it.
“Ok Mama,” I sighed. “But y’all don’t be too long ok? It’s scary here all by myself. Promise me you’ll hurry?”
“We’ll be back as soon as we can Celestial,” my mother said, giving me a hug before running behind Charlene to dress warmly for the four-mile walk to the mill.
I sat quietly watching the fire flickering in the wood stove. Lydia was still asleep, hadn’t even stirred the whole night. Me, I felt eerie and alone, and it was too quiet. So I sat, wishing Jason was around to keep me company, but that was all I needed, my mama to come home and find a boy in the house late like this. Whether she liked him or not, it was a definite no-no where mama was concerned.
Just as I felt myself dozing off, I heard a tapping at the front door. “Mama back already?” I said to myself, jumping up quickly to answer the door. Without thinking, I swung the door open, coming face to face with Jean Reinhart. I immediately got worried, thinking something bad had happened again.
“Did something else happen?!” I asked hurriedly.
“Not that I know of, but I thought I would come on by and make sure you was ok. It’s not safe for a pretty young thing being all by herself like this,” he said. A wicked twinkle in his eye gave me immediate alarm, causing me to push at the door as I spoke, trying my best to shut it, but his foot was encased in the doorway.
“Ok,” I said, with a nervous tenor to my voice, still trying to shut the door.
“Now wait one darn minute gal,” he said, pushing his way through the door. He slammed it shut behind him, locking it, still looking at me like a wolf after its prey. “You don’t seem very GRATEFUL for all the help I’ve been to your family tonight.”
“I’m..I’m very grateful, it’s just that I’m not allowed to have anyone in the house while my, my parents aren’t home.”
“Don’t be getting uppity with me you nigga bitch!” He snarled, grabbing my shoulders roughly and pushing me down on the hard cold floor. Fear rose up in the pit of my stomach, causing me to scream out with from the depth of it.
“Oh no please leave!” I screamed, pushing at his chest as his red lips pressed hard against mine. I could feel his privates grinding against me, pressing at me between my legs. I could taste blood from my lip, bruised and cut, and taste his foul tobacco saliva. I felt as if I were beating against a hard wall, could feel his big hands ripping and tearing at my under panties. Could feel him thrusting and pushing between my legs. “Yeah gimme’ some of that black pussy gal, you know you want it!!” he groaned.
I tried hard to scream, but could no longer move my lips because of his big hand covering my mouth. I felt as if my breath was being sucked from my body, from the weight of this man’s body and his heavy dirty hand over my mouth.
Pain rippled through me suddenly, shocking me in its rawness, an aching burning sensation between my thighs, as this big white man thrusted himself in and out of me, breathing so harshly I feared for a moment he was having a heart attack and dying atop of me. He screamed out after a few moments of this and began moving in little jerks. Suddenly I heard my baby sister’s voice, and Mr. Reinhart hollering and rolling off of me. Looking up, I saw Lydia had a black cast iron frying pan in her hand, and Mr. Reinhart was holding his hand, blood dripping through his fingers from his cracked skull, the thing between his legs shooting this white stuff all over Mama’s clean floor.
“You bitch!” he screamed at Lydia. “I’m gonna kill you nigga bitch!”
I jumped up, trying my best to get to Lydia before he did, but not succeeding, as he flew at her, punching my baby sister hard, having Lydia fly across the room, landing against the wall on the other side of the room. He charged after her again. “No! You leave her alone!” I screamed, and without thinking, picked up the metal poker beside the wood stove and struck Jean Reinhart across the back and head as he choked Lydia. He fell in a heap on the floor, both me and Lydia looking at each other in thinking that we had killed him, a WHITE man. All we could do then was wait, wait for someone to come. Both of us frightened as we sat on the porch, frightened, so very frightened...
I was fifteen years old that night. The night my life changed...the night the stars fell and the wind blew and the moon…well the moon, it moaned...