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A Walk through Darknessby David Anthony Durham
Synopses & Reviews
A humid July evening. Moon high in the sky and bright. A grove of trees near a waterfront, centered around one massive oak, a monster of a thing whose lower branches were as thick around as a person. In the shadows beneath this, a man caught his breath, rested, and planned. His body was mostly in shadow, but patches of moonlight fell down through the branches and stenciled highlights across his features. His face was handsome even in the partial light. Clean lines of his jaw. Thin bridged nose that flared strongly at the nostrils. Dark eyes that sat heavy on their lower lids. His complexion was hard to classify, neither pale nor truly dark, but some shade between. His face betrayed commingled cultures, bits and pieces of foreign lands set beside each other and somehow more beautiful for it.
Although he was still, his mind hummed with energy. He had already escaped the tidewater plantation on which he labored, but the night was only half over. He had crawled from his straw mattress and crept around the back of the hut, past the house in which the white man slept and out through the woods. His feet made barely a sound for the first mile, but farther on he gave up caution and splashed down the center of a thin creek. In a hollow beneath a wooden bridge he gathered the strange array of supplies he had hidden over the last week: internal organs of hogs, inflated and bound airtight; strips of leather and hemp twine; and a corn knife, stolen only the night before. He stuffed all of these things into a sack and ran. He sprinted along the edge of several tobacco fields, directly through another, and on through the forested bracken. As he felt each passing mile slip away behind him he almost began to believe in his own scheme. He ran north to begin with but soon cut to the west toward the shore of the Bay. It was on this move that his plan depended.
He had accomplished all of this in half a night, but it was the crossing yet to come that truly concerned him. He listened to the surge of the waves against the beach some fifty yards away. They called to him, but he needed a few more minutes to steady himself, to steel his mind. Just a few moments to accept the magnitude of the journey ahead and to remember why he must take it.
He had been born a slave. He emerged into the world with an ancient face, the color of wet brown sand, with black hair plastered to his skull. When offered his mother's breast, he took to it hungrily, eyes shut tight, a loop of hair entwined in a tiny fist. Looking down on him, his mother was filled with emotion she could not contain. She knew then that there were wonders yet to be found in life. There was meaning yet to be divined. There was a God and She gave birth, for no man could invent this love. She told him this many times later in life, embarrassing, blasphemous, beautiful. His mother. There was no other like her.
Their master wrote in his ledger: "Boy child, born March the fifteenth, eighteen hundred and thirty-two, Annapolis, Maryland. Valued at twenty dollars." He instructed the mother to raise him in good health so that he would live through his first dangerous years and grow to work in the man's behalf. Without consulting the mother, the master named the boy William. Simply William, and should a surname be needed the child would borrow his, less a name than a tag of identification.
Knowing what life held for her child, the mother slung him clos
The second novel by the acclaimed author of "Gabriel's Story" is history infused by myth, the intense narrative of an escaped slave trying to reunite with his pregnant wife.
William en undvegen slave flygter nordp under borgerkrigen i USA for at finde den kvinde, som venter hans barn. Hans s
The lives of two men--William, a fugitive slave from Maryland undertaking the treacherous journey North, and Morrison, a Scottish immigrant--intertwine in the years before the Civil War.
About the Author
DAVID ANTHONY DURHAM was born in 1969 to parents of Caribbean ancestry. He won the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Fiction Award in 1992 and received an MFA from the University of Maryland in 1996. His first novel, Gabriel’s Story, was published to wide acclaim in 2001. His short fiction will appear in Gumbo: Stories by Black Writers. Durham, along with his wife and two children, currently lives in rural Scotland, where he is hard at work on his next novel.
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