Excerpt from Cracked Beads – 1858
They hung him.
The townspeople heard the scream when the slave catcher grabbed the back of the tailor’s neck and yanked him onto his toes. The sheriff’s mustache rose dripping from a tankard of beer. A dropped sack of four spread white dust over the back of a wagon. In the blacksmith’s shop a hammer paused mid-swing, and a silk purse slid into the pocketed fold of a whore’s wide skirt. The town ran into the street.
The tailor had stopped screaming. In that pause when his lungs were spent, before he breathed again, all the fear of his whole life pulled out of his bones and left him in a sort of ecstasy. With his next breath, he took the gun. He had never held one before. It fired and flung his hand sideways. The man who had come for him, the one his people called a soul catcher, attacked. A knee dropped hard into his back, and his face slammed into the dirt of the street until the gun fell out of his hand.
Sandra Gail Lambert writes memoir and fiction. Her writing has been published in New Letters, Brevity,The Weekly Rumpus, Water~Stone Review, the North American Review, Arts & Letters, Hippocampus, the Alaska Quarterly Review, and a variety of anthologies. Her work has received nominations for a Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net. Excerpts from her novel,The River’s Memory (Twisted Road/2014), have won prizes from Big Fiction Magazine and the Saints and Sinners Short Fiction Contest. Sandra lives with her partner in Gainesville, Florida—a home base for trips to her beloved rivers and marshes.
Sarah Einstein is the author of Mot: A Memoir (University of Georgia Press 2015), Remnants of Passion (Shebooks 2014). Her essays and short stories have appeared in The Sun, Ninth Letter, PANK and other journals. Her work has been awarded a Pushcart Prize, a Best of the Net, and the AWP Prize in Creative Nonfiction. She is also the prose editor for Stirring: A Literary Collective and the special projects editor for Brevity Magazine. She is a professor of creative writing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
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