A Reason Why

July 14, 1896
Edith Bowen

Men are always at war. It is not just the soldier in his uniform, aiming his rifle at the enemy, it is every man on everyday. He can even be his own enemy although he rarely realizes when he is. It is far simpler and easier to accept, when the enemy is someone else, something more tangible.

Am I so dangerous? Is it my ideals, my dreams for a world in which a woman can cast a vote, secure an education, and provide for herself, which endangers men? I would not choose to be man’s enemy but if he chooses me to be his, I have no choice.

It was 10 AM when we gathered at the cemetery. The morning haze had lifted, but the sky was overcast with gray clouds. There was dreary feeling in the air, like it would rain at any moment. It was hard to believe this was a summer day.

Mister and Misses Carrington were present as was the sheriff, Dean Steadward, and the majority of the faculty of Primrose. My gaze settled on Charles Birchwood for a moment. He was alone and it seemed to me he wanted to be. Caroline was not even present, but it was more than that, he stood apart from the other teachers and the Carrington’s. I could be mistaken but I have the impression there is more trouble brewing.

As we laid Pollyanna Maple to rest it was my dark thoughts which protected me from the traumatic emotions. Guilt was the strongest of all. We stood the enemy together, but in truth it was always only me. If I had listened to her, done as she had instructed, then this day would not have come to pass. Wish as I do, I cannot change the past.

It was Mr. Carrington who once told me it is possible to be wrong even when you are right. I did not understand at the time, but I have learned the lesson well enough now. I did not comprehend the hate, the anger, or the fear of men. The price of my ignorance is too great, but it has been paid in the blood of another and almost in my own. Maybe I should wish it was me lying in the grave. I do not. However, I am certain there are those who do and some of them stand next to me.

A holy man speaks of eternal life and a good soul taken far too soon. He says God will welcome her into his Kingdom and she will know his eternal love. For those of us left behind, it is comfort we should find in the mysteries of God’s eternal plan. Only it was not God’s plan that killed her, it was the plan of mortal men. They were not soldiers in God’s army, they were men of fear and hate. I find no comfort, only misery and anger.

I walked away empty. I had thought I would shed tears. My eyes burned but they were tearless. My heart did not ache, it pounded blood in my ears. If it war men want, it is war they shall have. If they thought death would dissuade me, they will live to know they were wrong.

The sheriff wants to know what I remember. He asks me if I can recognize any of the men involved. I have told him I recall little and saw nothing. The truth is I recall everything, every minute detail and I will remember every single one of their faces until the day I die. There is one in particular, which I did not connect at the time but now I know, I know him. He was Elizabeth’s friend, the one who set up the meeting with the boys from Brown, the one who took her to the junior ball, Jonathon.

I will keep what I know to myself. Men cannot be trusted and the sheriff is a man.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Ashley, you are doing an excellent job here, where are your friends, the plot thickens.
Warm hugs,