This is a story I wrote about the election of 1824. There are mispellings and incorrect grammar because of the girl’s young age and lack of education.
Mama always said, when god closes a door, he opens a window. She said that a lot ‘cause god took away my sight when I was just a babe. I dunno what he did that for- but I ‘spose it’s so he could open two other windows.
I am very good at listening.
I am also very good at not getting seen. Sometimes it’s like I’m invisible.
Sometimes I sit under tables at restaurants, just listening. I like it when I hear people talk good words, but sometimes they don’t talk so nice. But I got to listen anyways, ‘cause if I don’t a lot of things go unheard.
I’ve been here for a while. I like it here for one thing: I can see here. It’s big, kind of empty like. Not like people used to talk about heaven, talk like they putting a picture in your head. Heaven’s real different then what mama used to go on about, with the clouds and god sitting on a big gold chair. No angels. Just a lady at the desk who calls herself a ‘Receptionist’. She gave me this real heavy book, all blank inside. She told me to write down why I am here, and if I am proud of my life or not. Mama used to talk about pride as a bad thing, so I’m mixed up.
I am here ‘cause I told somebody some bad talkins that I heard, a whole room of important people. And they gots all mad, but they tried acting nice to cover up that they were mad, but I could still tell.
I still remembers the cold hard wood on my back, the feel of the real small place I put myself in so I could listen in on the elections.
It was 1824. I had sneeked in before anybody was in the courthouse. I pushed myself in a barrel in the way front of the room, so I could hear everything stat was agoin on. I pulled the top over my head. So I sitted and I sitted for about 100 breaths and the door opens real quiet, like the door doesn’t want to be heard. But ya see I’m really good at listening, so nutin ‘scapes my ears. Two mans walked in, real quiet like they really don’t want to be listened to. One pair of feet sounded real guilty, sorta like when I broke Mama’s bestest plate and I had to tell her. The other steps were mad. Mad like evil, like the big bad wolf. Then the whisperin started.
“I’ve got a little deal for you, Clay.”
“What is it Adams?”
“If this gets tight, I need your support.”
“You’ve already got it.”
“Well if you really help, I’ll give you the position of secretary of state. Something tells me I’m going to need you.”
Nobody talked then, it was all quiet again, and the man called Clay was thinking real hard. I could hear it in his breathin, almost like I could listen to his thinking. He was scared, real scared. I knew the Secretary of State was under the vice president, and that meant what Mama called power. She said power and pride, and they were all bad when there was too much of ‘em. She said men love power, and would do anything to get it.
“Alright Adams. Whatever you want me to do.”
Right then people started coming in, everybody was talking at the same time, saying things like ‘this is gonna be a close one’.
They counted, said the votes.
It sounded like that Jackson Man won. He got the most votes out of everyone. That is how you win right?
“Considering the fact no one has enough electoral votes to win, it is up to Clay to choose.”
I took in a real fast breath inside my barrel.
“Ad-dams. John Quincy Adams.”
“I guess it’s decided then. Congratulations President Elect.”
Lots of people clapped, yelling all happy like, but some were yelling, all mad.
No. Jackson Man should’ve won. Adams man only won because Clay, the man with guilty footsteps said he’d help him if he made him Secretary.
I pushed my hand up on the wood, falling over, rolling out of the barrel. Everybody was quiet, i could feel them all looking at me. I got up, brushing my dress down.
“That’s not right. Jackson should’ve won. He got the most votes! You can’t listen to Mr. Clay. Adams told him that if he helped him win then he’d make him secretary of state! I heard him! I heard him say it! Mr. Jackson should’ve won. Mr. Jackson should be our President!”
I felt hands on my arms, holding me back.
“No! That’s cheating! He cheated!” I said real loud, pulling and pulling at the hands. I put all my strongness in it, pulling as I kept saying real loud the same thing.
“I think you’re confused, honey. Where is you’re mother? Somebody get Louisa Smith! Get her in here!”
“No! He cheated! Mama’s got nothing to do with it! He cheated!”
My throat got real dry and hurt a whole lot. I was getting tireder and tireder.
I heard Mr. Jackson yelling and yelling about ‘corrupt bargain’.
“He cheated! He cheated… He…. Cheated…”
I felt something hard hit my head. My head hurt really bad, and I couldn’t hear as well. I was like a scarecrow in the hands.
“Let her go! Let her go!” Jackson was far away, I couldn’t really hear him. I felt like I was slipping… slipping into a pool of warm water, like a bath.
I remember once, when Grandmama was dying. She was all scared like, crying. I wish I could’ve told her that it’s just like taking a warm bath.
‘Close your eyes Mary, we don’t want to get soap in them.’
‘Why can’t I tell people when I hear some one talking not so nice about them?’
‘Some folks don’t want to hear things. Life is much easier for them if they just close their eyes, keeps the soap out.’