The Dirt Road
Clip, clop, clip, clop. Our horse and buggy trotted down the dirt road. my father and I in the front, my mother and baby sister sitting in the back. Everyone is tired from the long journey we’ve had. I wish we could just go back to our old home and be able to run around in the fields and soak in the sun. I loved spending days out in the field, learning from my dad about how to properly plant the seeds and groom the fields, hoping one day I would be as good as him. Then one day the owner of the farm bought new machines and taught us how to use them. The machine did 10 times the work of one man. Then the owner started to get rid of the labourers because there were too many of us doing one man’s job. My best friend Philips family was the first to leave. More and more family’s left. Our family was one of the last family’s to be kicked out. Now here we are, the hot sun beating on us, the bumpy road beneath us, all of us, and our stuff, squished into one cart, on our way to look for jobs in the city. I just hope our new job is just as fun, and will be able to give us enough money so someday I can manage my own farm.
I’m woken up by the the church bell across the street. That means it’s 4am. I have one hour to get ready. Not to go to school like the kids my age on the west side of town, but to go shuck oysters with my mother and sister. I wash up and get ready to leave.
My knuckles are bleeding, I’ve only done half a bucket today I’m much slower. It’s silence in this crowded, dusty room. Only the sound of feet shuffling and oysters being shucked. People have talked before, but then they are taken away and never seen again and someone new comes to replace them.
I’ve now done one and a half buckets, I’m am almost halfway through the day. This day has seemed to just go on and on. All I can think about is what I’m going to get my little brother for his birthday. Tomorrow he is turning 5. He is two years younger then me so on my birthday I don’t expect a gift from him, but he loves getting gifts so I want to get him something. I’ll take today’s pay and go get him something. I think I might get him a toy car.
I leave the factory with today’s pay in my hand. My mom often doesn’t let me go into town to spend my earnings, but today she said yes. I see the toy store. A mother and her son walk out. The boy has a toy plane and is pretending to fly it. The woman’s chin is pointed so high, and her neck is so long, she looks like a giraffe. She catches a glance of me and quickly looks away. Her and her son hurry away to the other side of the street. That’s when I realise how awful I look.
I walk into the the store and see the car from the window and pick it up I bring it to the owner. I ask how much. And he says that is 5 cents I earned 10 cents today so I’m good. I give home the money and head out.
I can’t sleep, I keep thinking about that mother and son. What did I do wrong? Was it something I did? Was it my facial expression? Then it hit me it was the way I looked. The old brown dress I’ve had since I was 5 all torn and dirty, my knuckles are wrapped in fabric with blood seeping through. My face and arms have splotches of dirt and oyster gunk from work, I haven’t showered in a week because papa says it costs to much. I think back to what they looked like, the mother in her fancy hat, a long peuple dress that sticks out at her waist with lots of layers underneath. The kid with a nice vest over top of his clean white shirt with fancy black dress pants. That boy probably was coming home from school. A nice school with books you can read and paper you can write on. That night I fall asleep thinking about school and how I long for the chance to be able to read and write. I snuggle up to my moma who’s beside me and close my eyes.
I’m here, I’m finally here. After traveling for weeks in a crowded, loud, cold ship I’m finally here. I step off, the cold breeze is nipping at my bare skin, my parents are holding my family close, making sure no one gets lost. A large old building sits here in the middle of the water on this port named “Ellis Island”. Herds of people are shuffling into this building, eager to get through to, America.
America, I’ve heard that that word in movies, and books, and conversation. But this word was just a place i had dreamed about. America, free from the beggars on the road, wanting something, to be able to put in there mouth, and eat. Free from the riots that mom and dad would shield my eyes from. Free from the angry words of the villagers. America.
My papa told stories of the food here. He said people eat alligators. But America had Lots of sweets. He told of the ice cream store with tubs and tubs of ice cream sitting in a freezer. And the candy shops with rows, and rows of gummy’s, and chocolate, and lollipops galore. I can’t wait.
I’ve always dreamed of being able to call this place home. Now this place isn’t just a star on the map its home.