As the fast had begun, they stumbled around the house, knocking the pressed wood furniture with their feet. This furniture they had put together themselves, with grim focus, through long nights. ‘Oh we are so weak,’ she cried, her mouth mouthing other words too, but silently — ‘We aren’t so bad for settlers.’ Her rufï¬ed collar appeared especially blue in the morning light. The slaves, who were well fed, and believed in no gods or fasting, fanned themselves, high cheekbones belying European descent.
The town was hungry, but soothed by ocean breezes. ‘Let us whip ourselves, for we have believed in dissonant symbols,’ they wrote in their journals. The slaves would some day compile these journals into a single book, and any boring pages would be dissolved in the noxious swamp on the edge of town. The whippings took place at dawn, encouraged by excessive journaling.
The people of the town were soon thin, their fast nearly completed, shaking as they crawled through the streets. Their elbows jutted, their ï¬ngers caked with dust. The slaves, now tan from the summer sun, walked freely among them, spritzing the whip gashes with seltzer. The settlers were glassy, evening was settling on their backs, their black notebooks ï¬lled with the lists of recipes they would prepare for the survivors. The slaves stood straight, brushing ï¬ies off of the weary, picking cabbages and brewing ales. At the dusk bell, they straightened feather beds and burned the bodies of the dead.
All then, dreamt, the dreams of dogs, fattened rabbits in their mouths, slinking across the dew grass, their bellies ï¬nally cooled.