Thursday, February 28, 2013

An Independent Woman


Having not needed one since she was 16, Brigid awoke without recourse to an alarm clock.  Slipping quietly from the warmth of his bed, she took her clothes from the chair where she’d placed them the night before and padded to the small washroom.

She occupied some few minutes with a damp cloth erasing, as well as the facilities provided opportunity to, the stale scent of her indiscretions of the night before. Plaiting her thick auburn tresses, she pinned them up with not a hair out of place. 

Dressed in the same pale yellow shirtwaist and woolen skirt from the day before she was, nevertheless, satisfied noone at work would give her a second glance. Slipping on her heavy black shoes, she gave her appearance a final inspection before returning to the bedroom of Edmure’s lodgings. She was relieved to see him still in a posture of repose, his breathing slow and steady.

Taking up her small clutch and her jacket, she was at the door before his voice startled her,  “Here now, running off without so much as a brush of the lips? Why not put those things down and come back to bed, eh?”

She tried, with indifferent success, to mask the irritation in her voice, “Sure and it’s fine for you to wish such, but you know I’ve places to be. In seven years, I’ve missed nary a day and intend not to be starting such today. I have a streetcar to be on in but a few minutes, Edmure, so leave off with such nonsense.”

“Nonsense, is it? I’ve asked you before to leave that damnable factory behind and I’ll give you a proper home. You know I only keep rooms in the city for business. We could be in a house of your choosing away from the smoke and the noise and the clutter. Dammit woman, be sensible!”

“Insensible is it I am, now? Does it make a lick of sense for me to leave off a fine position and my own rooms and my own money merely to be little more than your trumped-up housekeeper? I’ve given you my body often enough to please us both. I’ve given you as much of my heart as I have to give. But I’ve told you before and, it seems, must again I’ll not leave off being my own woman…my own person…merely for your sweet words and bonny promises.”

A scowl of contempt clouded his handsome face and he hissed between his perfect, clenched teeth, “So, that’s the way of it? For six measly dollars a week, a roomful of mismatched furnishings and boarding house fare, you’d spurn what I offer you? Mucking about like some common laborer means so much to you, then?”

Brigid smiled at him with a mixture of sorrow and disbelief, ‘And why must it be that them who have so much understand things so little? Those ‘measly’ six dollars are my dollars, by the sweat and the skill of my brow. That rickety furniture and those common table meals bring me solace and comfort. I’ll not barter away that which is mine of my own hand for all the fripperies and folderol of what others think I ought best to be. I will not.”

‘If you walk out that door now for naught more than another day of toiling at some machine, scarring your body and squandering your youth, then do not come back. I am at an end with this!”

She turned back towards the door, pausing with a hard hand on the knob. “You may find me then at Mrs. McClury’s house. We’ve spoken enough on the telephone you may inquire of me as you wish. I’m certain you recall the exchange. But that call shall have to begin with you for I have too much to do to sit about awaiting your enlightenment. Now, if you’ll excuse this common laborer, I’ve a streetcar to meet and a full day at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory at the other end of the ride. Goodbye, Edmure.”

An independent woman emerged from the building and strode, with purposeful steps down, the avenue leaving behind a confused and bewildered man to contemplate their future.


This story was written for the weekly Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge based on the song "Give Me One Reason" by Tracy Chapman.

1 comment:

  1. You got the accents down pat mate! Really well done. I saw this challenge recently appear, but had too much on my plate that day to have a crack at it

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