Like the day before and the day before I spent my day digging up rocks, washing rocks and building a wall. Yates’ soldiers did the same. We tried to communicate with each other when the guards weren’t looking. It was a challenge. If caught by the guards it would have meant a beating. I watched the guards dish out punishment without cause time after time. The guards seemed particularly cruel to a couple of slaves that could apparently do nothing right. I felt sorry them. I wanted to help but I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. I watched the other slaves go about their work as if nothing cruel was happening around them. No one flinched. The most common reaction was to move carefully out of the way without drawing attention from the guards. I think it’s a coping mechanism put into place after weeks and months of trying to avoid punishment. I found myself doing it.
At the end of the day, after the guards had finally decided we had done enough work they led us back to our place of sleep. They gave us the same stale biscuits and a drink of water. I tucked myself up against the wall beside a couple of Yates’ soldiers. The wall was one of the safer places to sleep. The guards harassed anyone sleeping near the fire. I don’t remember falling asleep. I woke up ready to fight the moment I felt his hand grab my mouth.