The Divide

November 16, 1896
Margaret Spooner

I have a new routine. Studying at Edgar’s apartment was supposed to be a good thing. No distractions, like hours of gossip, and plenty of space and light. But, it seems theory and practice are worlds apart even when it comes to something so mundane. I was trying to study math and Edgar was trying to wear the rug out.

“Would you mind sitting down?” I asked.

Edgar grunted an unintelligible response and continued his back and forth wandering across the floor.

“Edgar!” I said.

He stopped and pivoted toward me like a soldier snapping to attention.

“What?” He asked.

“I can’t concentrate with you running a marathon in front of me.”

“What? Oh, I am sorry, dear.”

He was clearly distracted by something not me.

“Do you want to talk about it?” I asked.

He pulled out the chair across the table from me and sat down in it. He folded his hands on the table in front of him and his wavered from side to side as if it were a pendulum counting seconds on a clock. Then he stopped and settled an intense gaze upon me.

“We should talk.” He said.

“I’m listening.”

“I followed you.”

I was taken aback by the confession. Should I have been angry?

“When?” I asked.

“To your feminist meeting.” He said.

The word “feminist” spat from his lips like a curse. I shuddered at the obvious hatred in his tone.

“I would never have gone if you had not made such an issue of the note inviting me.”

It was the truth. He would not like it, but had he not made issue of it and accused me of lying I would have never given the note another thought. I had at the time completely forgotten of it and it was only his reaction to finding the note which peaked my curiosity.

“I am not a fool, Margaret. You would not have received an invitation if you were not a part of the movement.”

“I have not lied to you. I had no connection to them before.”

“But now you do?”

“Would it be such a horrible thing?”

“Yes.” He replied.

“They are only asking for women to be given the same rights and protections as men under the law.”

“To make these things the same is to take away from women, not to give them more. Surely, you must see how the law is designed to protect women from the dangers of the world?”

“I thought you of all men would have understood the disparity which exists is unjustified. You know me and what I dream of becoming, do you think me less capable than any man?”

“It is not about what you are capable of, it is about what you are. God created men and women to be different, unequal, for a reason.”

“And what reason is that?”

“So that we would all appreciate the gift that is life. It is my duty as a man to protect you and I will do so even if it is from yourself.”

“Do you think I need protecting from myself?”

“Are you going to endanger yourself by joining the feminists?”

“So now you believe me?”

“I do. I am sorry I did not listen before. I was only looking out for your best interests but I should have listened to you.”

“I forgive you because I do love you, Edgar.”

“And the feminists?”

“I will not band with a political group, but I cannot change who I am.”

“What does that mean?”

“Being a woman is not like joining a political group. I will always be a woman and I hope you do not consider it to be a bad thing.”

“Never.” He said.

He took my hand into his and leaned across the table to kiss it. It these moments with Edgar I cherish. I wonder though, as I look into his loving eyes, will they be enough? Or, will there come a day when the differences between us leave such an expansive divide no bridge can span the distance?

No comments: