BE A MAN
A Short Tale of Perseverance
By Jordan Adorno
“I do consider myself a feminist role model; but I think am a role model for men as well as women... I am an independent woman, I don't rely on other people to take care of me, I do exactly what I want to do, I fulfill my dreams, I have strength of character, I have a vision...I think I've accomplished a lot of things; and I think that’s a role model for male or female” — Madonna
In the eyes of Susanna Marshall
“...Do not tell me, my dearest friend, you are happy in a marriage to a compassionless man you have never loved. Your love is for Kristen Lament,” Emily Mages told me much too bluntly, silently as much naming the matter indeed most highly noteworthy ... And it was too true. She was right. My only love had been for Kristen when we were sixteen in a secret romance – But the effects of extreme emotional distress caused us to seek a parting of our ways and proceed along with the arranged marriages bestowed upon us by our conservative parents. “My love, we shall part, but let us end it on this final kiss,” I had said my last impassioned words, and then I walked to my home, and awaited my husband-to-be in a fortnight. And my misery began.
“I’m inclined to agree, yes, but I am obviously not alone,” I spoke, directly to my dear friends. Then I got up from my sofa, I walked to my window, pulled aside the curtain and sat on the windowsill, watching out to the village where I watched a man lead his wife through town. “Mackenzie, I am in such luck my husband is at war.”
“I would never deny that I am plagued by my own dark shadow of unhappiness. How such injustice is placed upon us women!” said Mackenzie. When we had been wed off at sixteen, two years ago, she had been most vocal in her indignation to Emily and me as we mourned in silence ...We had no way to reverse the actions that were the cause of our grief.
“And I must endure the patronization of my husband in his medical field as he truly believes I, and all women, suffer such low intelligence,” snorted Emily, sarcastically sliding off her words. “And yet he knows not of our secret education. Do you remember my loves, with Kristen, how we excelled in mathematics and the principles of science?” She spoke with such excitement; it made me smile. I remembered my excellence in political philosophy and our discussions on the very real possibility of incredibility, a fallible nature, within the holy books of the world, our obsession with the concepts of evolution, our constant practice of complex mathematics, our studies of ancient cultures – All in the basement of my home, using deception fooling my mother, pretending we did nothing but chatter of pretty boys (a topic I had no interest in) and of our future devotion to our husbands. My mother was a fool, just another brainwashed woman of society.
“I am unhappy,” I let out alas, almost melodramatically. “I want to attend a University, become a philosopher and a writer, fight for feminism – Prove equality in the sexes,” I tried to explain my words carefully, so my dearest and only friends would understand. “If at all, we women are superior in emotion and social development – Men only excel in physical domination.”
“Look at the war. So many die – And this by far is the worst; I mean just THINK, they for their first time now use fighting aircrafts!!” Emily said diligently. “It will be a bloodbath.”
“Men do not understand the concept of peace,” spoke Mackenzie passionately. “They need women to assist them in politics.”
“No doubt,” I said cynically. “I do hear of the movements to allow women to vote. Henry is appalled.” Henry was my not-so-dear husband, who luckily was fighting in the war. I shall not say I wish an ill fate upon him, because I do not. But still, nevertheless I simply cannot , cannot ever genuinely love him. My love remains with Kristen. I pray one day, in the future, this kind of love shall be tolerated and accepted. Someday maybe...
“I want to do something,” Mackenzie said abruptly, coming to join me by the window, and she saw my tears of frustration.
“What?” I laughed sarcastically. “No one shall listen – Our village is male-dominated with their uneducated, brainwashed wives.”
Emily looked thoughtful. “Most women at the least are able to read and write,” she began, sounding as though she had had an epiphany. “I think we should form a petition and after some success we can appeal it to the mayor’s wife, who will persuade her husband to take action.”
“What will the petition do? What level do we begin at?” I asked sharply.
“Allow girls in the village to receive equal education to the boys,” interjected Mackenzie.
“But we should approach the matter somewhat harmlessly.”
“We’ll start the petition; I think we may get some women on our side,” said Emily, nodding enthusiastically. “But we shall need signatures from at least some men, which should prove difficult.”
Mackenzie and I stood thoughtful as Emily joined us, putting a hand on each of our shoulders. “My loves, we shall achieve what we can.”
I nodded, though my hopes did not exceed my doubts. Mackenzie’s composure was only of fierce focus. She hated her husband perhaps more than either Emily or I. She felt boredom towards his profession in law, in which she believed he was immensely biased. And like Emily, she hated having a husband ten years her senior, equipped with disrespect towards her and all women, and yet called himself a gentleman. Mackenzie in her sensitive emotions repressed him openly in their home; publicly, however, they engaged in the most believable front of a blissful marriage.
But as this plan began its initiation, we had no doubts the anger my dear friends’ spouses would direct at them. I, in luck, had a husband at war and would not deal with the animosity he would otherwise bring. I was grateful as I was very prone to emotional distress, lacking Emily’s strength and Mackenzie’s ferocity. “I shall invite Mrs. Jack into my home,” I said, firm with my idea, and then I smiled. “And I shall coerce her with my charm. She is easily led.”
“And I perhaps will invite Ms. James – And even her husband. He’s amiable, he shall hearken to me,” said Emily, in a confident tone.
“I shall not endeavor into anything now,” Mackenzie said. “I shall not bring light to our conspiracy; suspicions could quickly rise.”
We nodded in compliance; we held no suspicions that Mackenzie held fear, as she was, perhaps, braver than even Emily. Her intentions were well thought out, and she would strike eventually, and strike she would with success.
“I swear I shall burn the village before I allow us to fail!” Mackenzie exclaimed,
sometime later. Even though Mackenzie did not mean the comment literally, I could almost believe it in such a sense, as Mackenzie was one to halt at nothing.
Two days later, the three of us attended church service as normal, but stood out to out fellow villagers in a quite devoted sense, purposely; our intentions, obviously, to portray innocence to the first of many we sought to convert to our beliefs. I stood alone in the front pew, eyeing all in forced tears, dressed in black accompanied by a veil, in an act of pretense mourning my husband’s absence. Mackenzie and Emily sat silently by their husbands, as expected, pretending to avidly absorb the sermon.
Upon leaving, I sought out Mrs. Jack, whom I had previously spoken to of a meeting today, and began speaking of the sermon with passion. “Oh yes, Colossians is too correct in stating that we do not endeavor into philosophy, as it is a subject of Satan, and it shall force us to question are faith in such blasphemy,” I began dramatically. “Thank God we have such a genius book in our Bible.”
Mrs. Jack agreed. “Too true! We must follow the teachings of our Lord, and seek direction through Him alone,” she said, in disapproval of philosophy. I laughed inside as it was my favorite subject and it had, yes, turned me to an agnostic feat of countenance, so to speak. “Now, shall we make our way to your home?”
“Indeed. Let us enjoy a walk, as it hardly a mile from here,” I said kindly. We made our way.
The one reason I had chosen Mrs. Jack was because she too had her husband at war. She had an inability to bear children, and I too pretended to have the same problem, as I had not bore any children either, but for different reasons I did not disclose. As she spoke in passion of these matters, and I responded in pure pretense, it was almost pleasant, if only entirely deceptive.
I made her tea at home, spiking it with a bit of brandy. We chattered happily, but I began pressing on the subject of my husband. I moved along to the necessary independence I had achieved, and how I had shocked myself in my own strength. And then I disclosed into her, as though a secret, the next step. I had truly begun to believe in the equality of men and women I told her. I begged her, as though I cared, not to judge me. I told her, in my somewhat standoffish manner, I had sought refuge in books, and had educated myself quite well. She was intrigued, and she seemed to notice my education had only been a benefactor to my personality and she realized how articulate and amiable I was.
Thereby, I explained to her carefully that if women like she and I could function alone with no husband, why did society say we women needed men to take care of us? Had we not proved our strength? Had I not proved my intelligence through personal studies? And then I told her how Jesus himself had elevated women to a degree, and then I noticed she truly began to think …
“An advancement of women could indeed improve society. I do believe this,” I said very firmly. And then cleverly, I spoke of my husband again. “I remain forlorn as I ponder upon my husband in the war, but I simply am confiding in you the recent epiphanies that have dawned upon me. Do women not have a huge responsibility in society, as mothers, to raise children into suitable people? We must be equal. It seems, when given a chance, we can be as successful as any man.”
But still, I was clearly being too forward. I could see the variety of emotions ranging on her face every few seconds. She had never anything like this; it frightened her but clearly she was pondering upon it. I could tell she wanted me to continue. I was feeling a bit of confidence. “A social experiment is necessary to make confirmations,” I said, leaving the sitting room, going to my room, pulling the petition out of my drawer, and bringing it back to her. “This is a petition to educate the girls in the village equally to the boys.”
It indeed took convincing, but Mrs. Jack was nevertheless the first to sign. Mission served.
Emily’s mission occurred that evening, when she invited Mr. and Mrs. James to dinner at her home. I had already briefly visited, showing her the petition’s first signature, which adamantly encouraged her. She cooked an excellent meal, and after simple conversation with Mr. and Mrs. James, Emily could tell her mission wouldn’t be too hard. They respected and liked her.
“Oh, my dear friends, I must speak of an important matter,” she began in a quiet voice.
The hardest part was her husband, Donald, who sat with her. She loathed him; he was one to never admit to shortcomings, and he was too conservative. But Emily had mustered incredible perseverance.
“What is it?” asked Mrs. James, curiously.
“I am an intelligent woman with potential, and I feel I am equal,” Emily stated composedly, and she ignored the expressions on their faces. “We have the responsibility to raise the children in society; we are the mothers of the world, and our duty surpasses many of the hardships men face. We are equal, and we deserve education.”
Donald was embarrassed and offended, but he attempted a polite countenance. The conversation was similar to my own with Mrs. Jack, but Donald tried to stray her away from her motive, insisting his wife was ill, but it seemed the James’ were interested; they were good-hearted. When she brought out the petition, Donald slapped her, and Emily responded in something of a melodrama, falling to the ground in a perfect act. “Oh, my husband, why must you ignore my plea?”
The James’ were obviously offended, and as Donald tried to escort them out, Mrs. James said she wanted to speak to Emily first, saying she needed to instruct her, which pleased Donald. But when she spoke to Emily in the study it was only to find a pen to sign the petition.
Emily was too pleased. “Matthew will sign as well,” she said, nodding. “Join us for lunch in our residence tomorrow.”
Emily would later comply happily with this. She endured hours of fighting with her wretched husband, but she was a strong woman, and it was worth it to her. Mackenzie encouraged us for now. She planned on striking later, and she had placed upon herself the most difficult duty: She was to make a speech at the Women’s Bible Class in two weeks time, once Emily and I had opportunity to get more signatures. It wasn’t easy, though it wasn’t always hard, either. Educating women was very progressive in urban cities, especially in the North, but we were in a rural community in the South. But we women would deal with it no longer. We got dozens of signatures by women over two weeks’ time. Giving girls equal education must have seemed innocent enough.
More men obliged then we may have previously guessed. I believe that perhaps the fact that Emily was a teacher in elementary studies at the local school may have aided us. She was highly respected, and perhaps the fact that a teacher felt unhappy that her female students couldn’t receive higher education meant something. Regardless, our petition was becoming a success.
Some men tried to silence us, but we did not allow it. I used my loyalty to my husband in my defense; I was shocked at how manipulative I had become. I said my husband’s strength only inspired me, and that he would be proud. I also reminded all that in many large cities women were becoming educated, and most of all, many women were working in what was labeled “Men’s work” during the current war.
“Hypocrisy, do you not see it?” I once demanded to a few Christian extremists who did not believe in elevating women past domestic duties. “We were never found capable until the men were unavailable to do the jobs themselves! I will not rest until the intellect of women can be pursued to the fullest!”
There was simply no turning back for us anymore now.
Mackenzie was next. She was brilliant in her speech; Emily and I naturally attended. She used Jesus as a tactic, speaking of how he elevated women more than ever, speaking of how many of his most devoted were women. She pulled the few quotes of the Bible that showed strong, powerful women, and then she pulled quotes that almost hinted at equality of men and women – These quotes were rare, but Mackenzie, in her immense drive, found them. “Our creator placed brains inside of our heads for a reason!” said an impassionate-as-ever Mackenzie, letting out much of her emotions. “And we must realize this.”
“My good friend only wishes for the best of our village, and we must stand together in sisterhood to meet our potential,” said Emily, standing up and addressing all.
So many looked interested, so many looked furious, so many look inspired. We really had no fear at this point; our lives were misery in such male domination, if we were shunned, it could only improve our lives. No matter how conservative one is, or how rigid they are in their beliefs, one cannot help but take in the information given to them. Though some women glared at Mackenzie so evilly, I knew it did not bother her. As I watched my fellow women I saw looks on their faces I had never seen. I had never liked many of them, but I now saw potential; I saw how they began to really take in what my dear Mackenzie said. Mackenzie was a genius.
There was uproar afterwards. Many accused Mackenzie of being possessed. Emily and I stood by her and defended her. It did not matter; we would have been properly exposed soon enough. So many criticized, saying we were threatening family values and meddling in matters that have always brought us peace. Peace, yes, degrading a gender into a life of potential that could never be reached.
How I ached when I thought of the primitive pagan cultures of the past that worshiped both goddesses and gods. I’m quite a skeptic to all religion, but I know of no genocides having happened due to those religions. At least they saw their female counterparts as equal. If only we had grown from this! Women would most likely rule the world!
And of course we had the power to make a difference. But the one most important step was that all of us women in the village came together. If we women did not join together, it would not work. We wouldn’t be taken seriously if the other women didn’t want the same. But the fact of the matter was there were more women in the village than the men at the time, given the war.
It was utterly perfect timing. And we got plenty of signatures. Even after being brainwashed their whole lives, women were very intelligent. This was proof. Deep down women all know the truth. It seemed those who were repressing our efforts were those most devoted to their faith. Extremists, men or women, I always considered waste of human beings. This was hardly a loss.
Two more weeks passed. The mayor’s wife, Jane Roger, signed during this period. Then, with her blessing, my kindred sisters and I took a visit to her residence. Jane Roger was very kind to us, and Mayor Roger was very polite, though he was so polite that it was obvious he was not completely comfortable with the current matters. We were confident, though – We had gone thus far.
The five of us sat over tea and spoke gently of casual matters. I avidly spoke of my husband, pretending, once again, to be in complete depression because of his absence. The act was so casual at this point it was almost enjoyable. It was quite comical watching their sympathy. It was a guilty pleasure.
But it was so easy after that. Emily was even able to kill two birds with one stone – To show our devotion, she showed Mr. Roger the mark on her face from when Donny had slapped her. Husbands hitting their wives had never been accepted, but it was agreed upon most that women often drove their husbands to horrible means and it could easily be excusable. Truthfully, we didn’t expect the reaction we received.
The man was outraged. It was strange, really, because none of us had interacted much with the Rogers as we didn’t even really enjoy their company much. But that would explain our ignorance to his feelings on such a subject. It seemed as though this was a man with ….. A brain? Ah, interesting. And so the man went on … “He hasn’t a damn right to treat you like that! I’m appalled Matthew did not tell me!” The man had jumped up from his chair in his tantrum. It seemed kind at first, but it almost seemed abnormal.
However, it seemed as though it could only help us. “I’ll be seeing your husband tonight, dear Emily.”
Emily looked down at her lap and didn’t respond. This was smartest. I was very nervous at this point, but if we could just keep our composure solidly, show ourselves as young ladies, he would see our motive was absolutely good. I did wonder, I remember, if perhaps Emily was hoping Mr. Roger would really do a number on Donny.
“Thank you, Mr. Roger,” said Emily finally, in a high-pitched, innocent girly voice. “Your concern is most appreciated. Please do calm yourself, though, you’re frightening your dear wife.”
He smiled at her a bit, and he laughed a bit. “I will not tolerate any man hitting his wife, ever,” he said. “I shall deal with this personally, but you must not intervene at all. It will be between us two men.”
I began to respect him a bit. He had at least one principle idea correct. And at this point I knew we had already won. The tension went down slowly, and for a bit we went to casual matters, Mackenzie humoring us with silly conversation. Then, with her help, I slid the topic of conversation to a bit of a lesson on our founding fathers. I spoke pleasantly, as though I wanted to share such knowledge with such good friends, and I could tell Mr. Roger was taking to us well.
He was impressed by my knowledge, and it helped considerably that I made it harmless. All he knew was that I had read a bit as I had tragically missed my husband. Emily asked me a few questions earnestly, even though she knew the answers, just to show how it could be for women. And we made it so polite it looked great. And so finally, knowing we had done excellently, we approached the topic straight at hand.
“You have been mayor of our village for a good amount of time, Mr. Roger. In this tragic time of worry and apprehension without Henry, I have been forced to learn independence, and my own strength has shocked me,” I said in a passionate voice. “And sir, I have done some studies. Henry would have been skeptical before to this, I admit, but I am sure if he saw the woman I am now, changed for the better, he would agree it is only right to allow all women to be educated. It would only turn us into even better wives for our husbands.” I smiled in a schoolgirl manner now, and then politely acknowledged his wife, who seemed to have respected my words. And then I turned to Emily and allowed her to speak.
“As I have revealed, my husband often does not treat me adequately. And through this experience I’ve learned by far not all men are equal. And yes, I am not afraid to say I am a much better person than my husband. And I don’t believe I will always be able to depend on him – So why would I stay ignorant to knowledge I may so often need?” she said carefully, and slowly, checking their reactions after every few words. “Please approve this for all women who would like to go to school to make themselves better mothers and wives, and for all the girls now who only receive minimal education.”
Emily gestured to Mackenzie. “Mayor Roger, please ponder upon all you have done for our community with me,” Mackenzie began, and she got up from her seat and began circling us. “And now all I must say is that I already know you shall oblige to the terms of our petition, and send the girls in the primary school with the boys to secondary school.”
She sat down, so dramatically, in a pronounced, affective sort of way only Mackenzie could. I personally thought her words had been a bit pretentious, but it wasn’t much of a surprise coming – Mackenzie, after all the most judicious of us. She wouldn’t make a plea because she already felt it should happen, and therefore it would. In a perfect world (or at very least in a better world rather) her mindset would be perfect. But yes, for sure one had to make an admission out of it; for oh how really dangerously pretentious this still came to force as!!
But Mr. Roger laughed and it was approved. It was June, and when the children finished primary school, it was not just the “future fathers” of our village continuing school, but it was the future mothers, who in my opinion, were most certainly superior and would show that in coming years…
Thanks to indignation, as a matter of simple fact. Thanks to Emily’s, thanks to Mackenzie’s, and thanks to my own as well. Pure, unapologetically put forth indignation.
In the eyes of Mackenzie Smith
It was only going to be harder, and our celebration of our first success was really more of a meeting to decide our next motives and how to go about it. I felt motivated regardless. I certainly wouldn’t give up. I knew they wouldn’t either. And nothing else, if worse came to worse, we’d stick together and it would be fine. There was no team like Emily, Susanna, and I. After all, together we were the all-final, unfailingly ultimate and tremendous-like triple-threat trio no less! (Well...sort of anyway, hehe.)
Eventually, an inevitable mention of something crucial: “The monthly village council meeting is Friday!” I finally brought promptly onto the table. It occurred to me that this was perfect. It would be very controversial, but it was absolutely necessary. “It’s always the same twelve men, that’s including Mr. Roger. No woman has ever been allowed to attend. One of us should go … And I think it should be me.”
I wanted to do it myself, I just somehow felt I would succeed, and though it sounds horrible, it was almost as though I trusted no one else to do it, though it wasn’t personal at all to my friends. I just wanted to do the deed myself.
“Are you sure? Emily is so diplomatic and calm in those situations,” Susanna pointed sharply out. This was true, but I felt the opposite was needed. This task required extreme emotional devotion and I didn’t think there needed be an act this time – Now it needed to be fair game, and we needed to show them we meant business.
“Yes, we need to use some force now, and I’m the one to do it,” I said firmly. Emily and Susanna surveyed me carefully, but they seemed to trust my instinct. I was relieved as I really hadn’t planned on any compromises.
And thank goodness, they rapidly complied, warming to it nicely, apparently. “Use prudence, Mackenzie,” Emily advised sharply, looking pensive. “It could get quite nasty.”
“Yes, they’ll say awful things that’ll anger you, but you’ll have to keep your composure,” Susanna also warned. “But you can do it, I know it.”
And so thus was the plan of action with which we initially maneuvered ourselves on.
The day was sunny and looked seemingly ordinary indeed. But nevertheless, in its more cooled, cleverly-still subtleness, long it awaited much development, some profound even. Yes, soon-as-ever-to-come whilst developing its major headway, it'll crash, alas disruptive, in the mutated form of some juicy assortment amidst the cloudless, unharmed blue skies; and yet, beneath the lids of my inner defenseless eyes, all the while there would also there transpire, directly unto me this time, an all-encompassing fear which would thunderously illuminate itself outward in the light of my own blanched-out, frozen-fearful gaze. So happened it was Monday then, so I had time to rehearse my plan to myself until perfection. But the truth was – I had no plan. I just felt it would come together somehow when it happened. I felt no real apprehension, even when Emily and Susanna nagged me with advice and precautions. I just felt it was something that had to be done and would therefore be done.
Coincidentally, the council meeting was at the exact same time as Women’s Bible Studies that week. Oh, the irony... So, as Robert, my infamously-kept husband, set out to work at his firm, and I acted all the normal. He hadn’t been pleased at all with me recently, but he was smart to not dare place a hand on me. None of us knew what had happened to Donny, but life at Emily’s home had become more bearable in the past days, thankfully. Mr. Roger had certainly served a good purpose and had managed to cause a further influence unknowingly.
The council meeting was at one. Around noon, admittedly, I was beginning to feel true fear. I could be putting my life at jeopardy! But the more I thought of that fact I also thought that everyday I wasted in this pathetic lifestyle was putting my life at jeopardy. So as I walked through the village streets, with my heart racing, I kept this fact in my head as I approached the meetinghouse in the heart of the village. I entered, and proceeded straight to the main room. I was ironically the first there.
The room was rectangular in shape (lounge-ish, perse), a very nicely-sized layout joined with a long, equably rectangular wooden table with six chairs on each side of it comfortably. There were windows on both sides of the room, guarded by simple curtains. In front of the table was a dais with a larger chair place on it where Mayor Roger sat and directed the meeting. I took a seat in the chair farthest from the door and waited. I was fifteen minutes early, purposefully of course (had to be at the best astuteness of my ever-sharp mind by the time all the room finished filling, I was evenly considering), but the suspense began to drain me.
And then I heard a few men laughing and I closed my eyes for a moment. When I opened them there was no more laughter, and four men were in the room with me, staring point-blank at me in confusion. “Mackenzie Smith, is it? Did you need something?” one of them asked kindly, but in a dismissive manner.
“I am here to participate in the meeting,” I said as firmly as possible, though I felt I may have let my fear out a bit. But I held myself steady; I knew I could do this. “I am an upstanding member of this village, and I want to be a part of making it what it is and will be.”
The men looked at me puzzled; when they realized it wasn’t a joke, they realized this was the latest of the recent schemes my friends and I had caused, and they looked tense, upset, and very displeased. But they also looked as though they were about to put an end to the situation before it even began. Obviously, I would rather die than allow that.
One of the men glared at me. “Young woman, you have no business here whatsoever. Leave the property now or you will be arrested for loitering,” he said cruelly, trying to intimidate me. It wasn’t medieval times, though, and if I was arrested, I’d be released in no times. This did not frighten me.
“You fool, you do not scare me,” I laughed, and I was actually getting a high from the rush of excitement. “My brain power exceeds yours; I can assure you of this. I will not rise from my seat, and you will do well not to touch me.”
The four men were taken aback. I knew them all by name. The first man was John Jackson, a preacher. The second man was Adam Simmons, one of the most conservative people I’ve ever met, and one of the families who we hadn’t even bothered with in regards to the petition. And ironically enough, Kristen Lament, Susanna’s only true love, had been forced to marry the twit. The third and fourth were actual policemen by the names of Sam White and Blaine Ross. I had never liked them, and I was secretly pleased I was having the chance to attack them.
“Your disrespect will be the end that destroys, you little girl!” snapped John, rudely. “Do not think the Lord does not see your actions. You will do well to go home and take care of your home as any decent woman would do for her husband, especially a man like Robert.”
“What you know about Robert I could fit in the palm of my hand,” I laughed mirthlessly.
Robert was far from a happy thought. “I have more wits than him any day, too. Leave your conservative ideas behind. I am equal!”
I was so happy to let my feelings out. I knew this was the beginning of an end for me, at least to some degree. But I was so happy at that moment – No more front, no more hiding, I was finally coming clean! And I wasn’t regretting it, not for a second, it was all ending, yes, but I would deal with it, I would …
“Be quiet,” said a voice coming from the threshold. The rest of the men were each filing in just as well, too familiar fools who I’d had the burden of knowing my entire life. There was no shame in me, on guilt, nothing. I felt only feelings of strength. I was on a mission that I would complete.
But when I saw who the voice belonged to, I admit perhaps I felt just a bit bad, for a millisecond, perhaps. It was Mr. Roger, the man who had helped me. I couldn’t help but feel bad, but he had to understand the ultimate motive was equality, and I would work to that. It was not personal, per say, and if he did really respect me, he’d assist me. “Mr. Roger,” I began a bit quieter. “You know I am worthy of being here.”
He did not approach me, but he did stand in front of the other men, and he stared at me as I sat. He did not speak immediately but he did study me closely. I think he was attempting to find out my true motives, to conclude whether my intentions were good or bad. But I don’t think he was too sure. “Mackenzie, I have already assisted you, and now you come here, causing a ruckus?”He seemed hurt; a star cast both dubious yet doubtless in its shining ray. It was obvious that he didn’t get it. I so wasn’t causing a “ruckus”, first off; I was just standing up for women, plain and simple! But on the other hand, still, he had helped, this was a fact.
So I decided to explain myself once to him formally, before I found myself behaving much too rude. “Sir, what you did was remarkable and honorable, and I do appreciate it. But I cannot stop there! I don’t just want the ability to learn, I want equal rights, and frankly, I don’t care how ludicrous that may seem to you or any other!” I said heatedly, adamantly without any trace of doubt or insincerity in my voice.
He looked appalled. I believe he thought I was out of my mind. I believe it was right then he was starting to regret helping me, and perhaps all the horrible rumors about me were start to validate themselves in his mind. “Mackenzie, I shall ask you once to return home and allow us to our duties, you have no business here!” he said, sounding like an angry parent. Was society so faltered by stigmas that he was unable to even see my perspective, at the very least?
“Mr. Roger, I am not leaving,” I said, and I stared at him directly now. I did not feel bad now at all. He was making the choice to not support me now, and that was his prerogative, but I didn’t need to have any respect for him anymore. “Do what you want, but I will not leave. I will not stand by and allow myself to stand down, fall behind my heart and its principles.”
“You are disturbing the peace, Mackenzie!” he decided sternly and loudly. He was becoming angry. When he saw my face lacking any kind of remorse, he pointed a shaky finger at me and yelled, “Arrest her!”
“You may arrest me if you want,” I said outright, half-surrending. “Your tactics will not distort my perseverance. I shall return, and with help at that.”
“If Mrs. Marshall and Mrs. Mages join you, they will be arrested too,” said a stiffly replying Mr. Roger with no sympathy. “Arrest her, now.”
I thought of violence, but I realized I was above that form of ‘negotiation’; and plus, if I did become violent, I would only appear less credible. So with dignity, I allowed myself to be taken away on the charge of loitering. I was taken to the police station in the town a short distance away, as our village did not need our own independent station. They were willing to let me go with an apology, which I outright refused. The charges were kept, I was arraigned, and I pleaded no contest.
Of course Robert had been notified at this point. I was set to return to court soon enough, and he was appalled. On our short journey to return to the village, he was absolutely livid, and I do admit I feared him. He wasn’t an enormous man, but he wasn’t a small man either. He also had a horrible temper to reckon with. I knew he wouldn’t strike me. Still, it seemed the emotional distress of the whole impending encounter could be, it was quickly proving, quite trying.
When we arrived home, he was lashing out on our furniture, shattering a glass table in our sitting room and throwing a lamp across the room, shattering loudly against the wall. He screamed out; it was over everything that he was angrily insane and yelling: how I had humiliated him, at how I was becoming evil, at how I was defying him, how I was a heartless demon in the end. I could not take it. I ran to our room, grabbed together a few things, placed them in a bag (which I swiftly then equipped), charged out, and thereupon headed for Susanna’s home. Thankfully, he knew better than ever daring to follow me there (or anywhere period for that matter).
I attempted to shed no tears as I recollected the day to Susanna. She listened intently. She proceeded to comfort me, and then she told me she was proud. This meant a lot, obviously. I was not giving in, I had no regrets, I was just frustrated. I was so confused on how any human being with a brain could truly believe a woman could not attend a simple council meeting!
“You were strong, Mackenzie,” she assured me. “But I don’t want you to return to Robert...You definitely don’t deserve that.”
We were sitting on her couch, wrapped in blankets, sipping tea. I of course agreed with her, and I knew she was offering to harbor me. “You realize if you allow me to stay with you this revolution will truly begin, right? No going back now, love.”
“I know,” she nodded understandingly. “I think we need to make a mark here and head out. We’ll leave an imprint, and hopefully things here will change slowly. After the Bible studies class, we heard about the arrest, and Emily and I had a talk. She thinks we should go to the city.”
I pondered upon this notion carefully. Our fantasy that we would change our village was just that, I suppose, a fantasy. But perhaps Susanna was right; we could leave an imprint …. But we wouldn’t stay. Even if we accomplished some, which we had, we wouldn’t ever reach our full potential. So we could leave, head to the city, live together as a new generation of women, have a chance, if only a fraction of one …
“That’s a big step,” I observed, not negatively or positively. And then I laughed. “What about Kristen? Is she coming?”
Susanna shrugged, but I could tell it had crossed her mind. “I think, after all this time, I’ll pay her a visit,” she said, nodding. “Of course I want her to.”
I got up and pulled Susanna up as well. I embraced her. “In a blink of an eye everything has changed. I guess it was just finally time to wake up from the whole entire nightmare of the most oppressed life of which has been ours to live this thus far; yep, 'spose that's so, I'm afraid, ” I said darkly, but in a heartfelt tone. “We have each other, and we’re going to leave this hell behind. The three of us – And Kristen too, maybe, might I need add...”
She hugged me harder. “Don’t worry, I’m not afraid. I’ll be with the people I’ve trusted more than anyone else in my life.”
In the eyes of Emily Mages
Before he left for work the next morning, Donny, however, would speak terribly of Mackenzie. I argued with him indignantly, of course, not because his opinion mattered, but because I hated that man. He was just another brainless man raised by another brainless man, repeating an endless cycle …A waste of a man. He left in quite a mood that I was delighted I had instilled in him. I happily relaxed for a bit as I was meant to rendezvous with Susanna and Mackenzie in an hour or so – After most of the men had already left for the day’s labor.
And then a surprise knock came at my door. I hypothesized in my mind it was Susanna and Mackenzie, deciding to come to my residence instead, but it was not. I opened the door, and the last person on earth I would have expected was there – Kristen Lament, smiling at me in a devilish manner as she curled her tongue in her mouth.
“Kristen?” I said, shocked. When we had all been married off, the three of us had distanced ourselves from Kristen a bit – Not because we loved her any less, but because it was much too painful for Susanna. Susanna, Mackenzie, and I had all been friends since little after our birth. And we had befriended Kristen after our primary education ended. We had absolutely always stuck together, and though it seemed not right, Kristen still had to be left behind to hold our tight circle together. But, now that we were actually fleeing, Kristen’s surprise visit came at a perfect time!
“Yes, it’s me,” she said. Her devilish smile and composure screamed she was in on some sort of private joke, and without me saying anything, she walked right inside and into the sitting room, and made herself instantly comfortable.
I smiled – It was the same Kristen I knew for sure. Seeing her was like comic relief. She beckoned me to join her as she put her feet up. “What do I owe the pleasure?” I asked, heading for the chair beside the couch she resided on, but then I was pulled by her onto the couch and I nearly fell onto of her – But I was screeching with laughter. “Kristen! Ha, it’s nice to see one of us never grew up!”
She laughed heartily as I sat up and looked at her, still laughing a bit. Any unwelcome tension that I may have felt at this point dissipated, thanks to her childish efforts. “I’m so happy to see you all working against the system, I really am,” Kristen said, offering her commendations in a light tone. “But you’ll never reach what we need, don’t you see that?”
How quickly she was to bluntly put down the truth, as always. I pretended to not hear this, as I wasn’t ready to talk about that just yet. “How does Adam treat you?” I asked, swiftly changing subjects.
“The same as your spouse treats you,” she responded cynically.
“That sounds awful,” I said, and even laughed in a cynical tone.
“It is, it is,” she noted earnestly, laughing cynically herself. “But at least you enjoy men in general! I have it the worst! I mean, Susanna is in the same boat, but at least her brute of a husband is at the war!” She said this so emotionally I started laughing happily, just happy to be with Kristen again, and hear her unintended humor.
“Well, I’d hardly define my husband as any kind of thing I’d have a sexual preference to, trust me,” I said, still laughing. “It’s so horrid.”
Kristen nodded adamantly. “We’re used to it though, aren’t we? It’s been a long time,” she said, changing her tone to a more nostalgic, serious note. “I wish things could have been ….Different.”
Now guilt really did arise in me. The three of us were kindred spirits, and we had found Kristen, a perfect addition, and she remained part of us for years …. And we left her behind. Even though we had no malicious intentions toward Kristen, I still felt horrible. As I looked into Kristen’s eyes, I saw her sadness. “Kristen …. It just would have been worse for you and Susanna,” I said in a very humble and comforting tone. “It would have destroyed you both.”
Kristen shrugged. “Look at us now,” she said quietly, not in an accusing voice, but it was unhappy. “We’re so lost.”
“But we’re surviving,” I responded strongly. “At least none of us have gotten pregnant.”
She laughed out loud. "I will never hold a human being inside of me, no thanks.”
I laughed harder than ever. Kristen was one of those women who usually repulsed being around other women, though that was mainly because the women of our village and its surroundings were all the same. She enjoyed sports and she was tough. She wasn’t very feminine, and she hadn’t even bothered with a front even though she was married. She had short, auburn hair and though she was of small stature she had impressible muscle mass for a woman of her size. Still, though, her glinted, glowing blue eyes had a sort of emotion in them only a woman could have.
“Ha, you’re such a man!” I joked, struck offhand by the corny anecdote. Her mouth fell open in repulsion, though she was smiling. Still laughing, I added, “An ideal man, though. The kind of man I’d have a preference for.”
And then I realized how strange that sounded and we both cracked up in laughter. It was just like old times, it really was; and I realized that Kristen was most definitely coming with us on our special adventure (MISadventure, really, it was thus seeming) , on our flee, on our path towards … Liberation. I decided to tell her this, not ask her.
“Well, thanks. I think,” she finally mused out, candid straight into the air, once our laughters began to die down. “But another thing I shall never do is equip a penis, no thank you.” She said this in an almost professional tone, and I, not at all unexpectedly, bursted out laughing once again. The tone was perfect to speak about our liberation in an excited manner.
“Oh my God, Kristen, you’re so funny …. And I have news for you. The three of us are fleeing this village,” I said, and I tried not to show I was about to add she was coming as I wanted to watch her expression.
She looked down at her lap absently for a moment, and I smiled exuberantly. I finally added,“And you’re coming with us!” She screamed out in joy and then she hugged me, laughing. At that point, I was unsure if my dear knew the seriousness of the situation. When our embrace ended, she looked at me intently, smiling, but looking a bit befuddled by such a lovely, yet borderline preposterous, statement. “How on earth are we going to do this, though? You’re serious? If you’re not, you should be, it’s meant to be …” She trailed off, talking quite fast in the adrenaline rush she was experiencing from my statement she so wanted to come true.
I smiled at her. “I am serious. I don’t know if you know, but Mackenzie left her home when Robert lost it and she went to stay with Susanna. No one would ever approve of that. Mackenzie’s already gone past the point of no return, and we’re joining her. We’ve already left our imprint …. What else can we do?”
Kristen nodded, agreeing. “And Susanna and I may even pick up where we left off,” said she, in a sort of dreamy voice, though totally authentically. “I hope time hasn’t ruined it.”
I laughed out loud. “Trust me, it hasn’t.”
We talked excitedly for a bit of time, catching up on simple manners, enjoying each other’s company. I felt such relief to have Kristen back again, and at such impeccable timing. And now we were going to run away, go out, and never come back. The world would be our oyster!
It was going to be hard, but we were going to be free. FREE,and free at last, I must too mention; well so just as we should have been long, long ago, perhaps before even the start of everything, quite frankly, as to most forwardly emphasize. End of fucking story. (Uh, well with kind forgiveness for my, err, “French”, though, please of course.)
Anyhow, an hour later, the two of us ventured to Susanna’s house, and the suspense of seeing the only lover of her life once again, nervously speaking to her, was making Kristen very apprehensive. I repeatedly reassured her, though it had virtually no real effect on her unsparing mind. And so when we arrived at her doorstep, I then knocked loudly, so that they would come quick and the suspense would end. I was excited to see how the first part of our happy-ending story was faring today.
It was Mackenzie who opened. When she noticed Kristen she froze in shock, but then she smiled amiably and they embraced; and then, upon this is when I soundly heard true tears of joy – And then I myself realized some of the tears were coming from my own eyes as I grinned in appreciating the moment.
“What is it?” called Susanna, and as we walked in, she saw Kristen and, too, was shocked. She didn’t race to Kristen immediately. Mackenzie and I stood to the sidelines as Kristen walked to Susanna, frozen in movement, standing in front of her sofa. Susanna looked so shocked, but she was the first to speak. “Kristen, oh Kristen.”
“All this entire time that this has been going on, I mean it when I say I’ve wanted to see you again – I promise it. But I just wasn’t sure, I just didn’t know...so I went to Emily instead,” said a suddenly rather gentled-sounding Kristen quietly, who thereon remained flushed, just as in a vulnerable voice she was just finishing, “I love you.”
And Susanna kissed Kristen as she wrapped her arms around her. It was long and full of passion for three years’ missed time. As I watched them, I realized how much worse it must have been for them – Mackenzie and I had never properly been in love with anyone, they had, and they had suffered worse as they had had to partner off with not only a mate they did not choose, but a mate of the opposite gender they felt attraction towards.
When they finished, they fell onto the sofa next to each other, talking quietly for just a few minutes in their own realm of existence, which normally would have annoyed me, but of course now was quite understandable, and now brought me nostalgic happiness. After a short time, they beckoned us to join them and we begun discussing our departure from our Hell.
There weren’t many material possessions we would need to bring along with us – We’d be starting a new, and I personally did not want to bring any reminders of our previous life. So I proposed we each packed one bag of pure necessity only – And only Susanna, whose guilty pleasure was clothes (that’d be too well-minded over the years, that was for sure). We laughed at her as she unwillingly agreed to leave the majority of her wardrobe behind.
And then we had to decide how much money we would bring with us – How much was necessary. As much as we repulsed our husbands, it would be wrong to steal hefty amounts from them and then hit the road. Besides, we would not have earned it, and I myself wouldn’t therefore feel right using it. Of course, as we had suffered through partnership with them, some of it belonged to us, and we would take the appropriate amount. We decided we would most likely be afforded a given small selection of minimum-wage jobs when we first arrived in the city; so, estimating we’d still be treated unfair and fall on the short end of the stick (we were women, the major oppressed demographic, that was sadly the unquestionable given) and so for that we’d thereby need at least a year’s savings. So we each settled on taking certain portions of what savings our spouses had kept away in our safes.
We would head for New York – The city of what (hopefully anyway) was a slew of newborn opportunities for us lost women. We knew there was an unbelievable amount of diversity in the city, so perhaps there would be tolerance for four women who were housing together, that too specifically, instead of with men who would be otherwise dominating them. We would have to see. And so, in a rush of utmost captivating excitement, we henceforth cleverly planned our escape, which we determined would take place three days from now; consecutively, we would rest subsequently later on a fixed time as well, midnight, that we would be free. All was, thus, so far starting well.
Mackenzie never returned home. Meanwhile Susanna’s house was bombarded by Robert later on in the evening. Then, to make it worse, Donny and Robert both went to Susanna’s home to terrorize them. Resigning irresolutely, last they locked up, and after sometime they departed, as they had no other options. If they had tried to damage Susanna’s home in anyway, she would have surely turned bent on vengeance and destroyed them.
But everyone had turned against Mackenzie and Susanna by the end of the night. I ventured out to the marketplace that night to purchase some supplies, and I heard John Jackson, the preacher that Mackenzie had dealt with at the council meeting, and his wife chattering with a few friends of theirs harsh words about Mackenzie. As it no longer mattered, I approached them and stood up for my kindred sister.
“I find it repulsive how you dare to speak ill of a woman who seeks, in full-most overreach of such spited pinching hardship no less, the maximal usage to the human brain of which she has been gifted with, and why? Because it is her greatest, deep-down most utmost-held aspiration to fight for the greater good of humanity and of all – pure selfless unlike the likes of you!!!” I proclaimed, and said so both sarcastically and rudely. “I understand you all lack intelligence, but really must you be so audacious as to make fun of your legit superiors? Do you not realize how much stupider you appear?”
I laughed mirthlessly at them as I charged off and I now heard the whispers switch from the topic of Mackenzie to myself. But I smiled because my sisters and I were to have the last laugh. We were going to fly away into the real world. We were going to leave the village idiots right where they were and forget them. And then someday in the far, far future, we’d come back, and actually come to feel sorry for them when we were rich...
So when the night finally came around of our escape, I – my one heavily-contained, leather army canvas-style bag propping neatly up over my one shoulder by its assembling string's stretching, fully-extended pull – was all set to go. I was much more “obedient” towards Donny. I made him a nice meal and even pretended to fall asleep next to him. And as soon as he was in a deep sleep, I quickly got out of bed, waited a bit, and ventured out to rendezvous with my sisters at the meeting point: The clearing in the woods to the east of the village, a bit of a walk for all of us.
As we met in the clearing, the four of us spoke for a few moments in quiet relief. We’d all been scared one of us would be left behind; but luckily, no, all was fine and well. Or so we thought. We heard footsteps from the other side of the clearing, in the opposite woods, and I gasped. “Do you hear that? Guys, did you hear that sound?! There’s someone out there, I swear! I heard ’em!!” I cried out fearfully, shaken to my wits. I heard Susanna say something about calming down, but Mackenzie seemed shaken, too. Kristen took out a pocketknife, but once I saw what had made the footsteps, I knew it would be useless.
John Jackson revealed himself, dressed in an all black suit, as though he had been passing through on his way to dinner. He looked gleeful, and in his hand by his side was a revolver. At this point I was in beyond fear for my life, after all having no idea how he had found us or what his intentions were. “Well, well, well,” he said, laughing, and he pointed his gun forward at us. “Nice to see such lovely young ladies going on a stroll tonight – Don’t you dare make a slight move.” We were all shaking horribly, except Kristen, who was frowning horribly at Jackson. She still held the pocket knife in her hand, she even held it still. But I have no idea how she may have thought it would be helpful. Jackson laughed at her as he stood still, gleefully laughing at us.
“What do you want from us?” Kristen demanded fiercely, and I heard no fear in her voice.
“Dare you try to leave your spouses and lives behind? Dare you leave your spouses to the mess you have created in our community?” bellowed Jackson angrily.
I was truly scared, scared that he would fire the gun and destroy us all. But then Kristen lunged forward to the ground six feet forward for upward something of a millisecond. Immediately, Jackson pointed his gun downwards to her and at that very instant, and I to this day do not even believe it was humanly possible, she hopped up, took her pocket knife and launched it directly at Jackson. In seconds the knife was inside of Jackson’s chest, and he had dropped the gun, and then dropped to his knees, and then fell on his head.
Immediately Kristen screamed in utter shock. “I killed the man,” she said whisperingly, frightfully unnerved. She was shaking to the absolute madness of things. “Oh my God!”
We were all scared, apprehensive, nervous, all of us fully confused, each utterly and wholly aggrieved inside; yes, we’d thereby succumbed to indeed an entirely barricading and overwhelmed wretched state, right at the face of the most unhandy, ill-fortuning circumstance at hand. I was first to speak, first to seek out reason. “Our lives were in mortal peril; you saved all of us! You did absolutely nothing wrong!” I passionately let myself express forward, hitting out at them right upon the most sensitive gauge of their ears. I was relieved to have my life, and I had her to thank for it.
My interruptive soundbite seemed to hang, impressing upon the atmosphere momentously before penetrating apart ever thread of thin air. “She’s right, you know. We have a mission to complete,” affirmed Susanna loudly, directing her voice at Kristen as she placed a hand around her neck.
“We have GOT to get going on,” said Mackenzie hastily, sounding very serious. “The man was going to exterminate us, Kristen, you’re a hero!”
A few moments passed similarly by before any of us had the stomach or the willingness to bury the body in the woods. It took away such an incredibly decent amount of our time that, as we finally actually finished – drained so thoroughly in disgust it was very uncanny to anyone’s enabled imagining, mind you – I’m surprised we all didn’t become sick. We quickly nevertheless charged away and continued on our mission. We were strong women, and we had gone thus far already, and therefore no one would ever be standing in the way of our deserting journey. Not once, not ever again (to speak quite blandly on the matter that is).
And at that very point forthright, in the testament of my life I knew that I would continuously prove there was no tribulation or labor in this world that to survive through I would need to be a man.