I am seeking representation for my historical novel, set in 1918 in the Deep South.
In the changing and dangerous American South in 1917, two women—one white and one black—are forever entwined by murder and a child they both love. As they spiral towards a fiery end, each must choose between heroism or cowardice, forgiveness or hate.
“That Applebee’s a thief!” Mae slapped the scrap bowl on the wooden counter. “He charge us twice as much as what the white folks pay in town for the exact same thing. They can buy work shoes for $2.50 at McDermitt’s General Store and he charged us $4 for yours.”
At Mae’s sharp voice, Ruthie’s bottom lip slipped out in a pout and she slunk down in her chair.
“I know it,” Joe said calmly, “but I aim to make him give me a statement this time. I kept good track this year.”
“You best check ever line he wrote in that big ole book of his.” Mae shook her finger in the air. “I’m on tell you, he’s gonna say we owe more. And if you don’t stand up to him, we gonna get stuck another year—”
“I will, Mae!” Joe rolled his eyes and slipped a quick smile. “We all gonna ask for accountin’s this year,” he said patiently. “Everone agreed at the meeting. Remember?”
“Course I remember. You be the Deacon that got them all to settle on it.”
Mae recalled the sharecroppers lining the wooden pews of Providence Church last Thursday night. Ruthie’s head was heavy and hot in her lap as Mae fluttered a cardboard fan from Brownfield’s Funeral Home, whipping up a whisper of breeze in the oppressive heat. Men sat in their threadbare overalls; boys with the tips of hand-me-down shoes cut open, their dusty toes leaking out over the soles; women in cotton dresses that clung to their skin, half moons of sweat beneath their arms, rocking babies, shushing toddlers, glaring young ones to silence. The farmers shifted and sweated, bellowed and pounded their fists, agitated by the searing heat and their boiling rage.
We deserve our fair share!
They’ve been cheatin us our whole lives.
We gonna stand up or stay poor?
But all the while, fear gnawed at their necks. What if the whites saw their wagons and the light of their lanterns through the open church windows? Men had been lynched for meetings like theirs.
Worry churned in her stomach. Perhaps Joe had said too much that night. There were spies and Toms everywhere.