Daily Fiction Writing Challenge Day 10: Everyone
Our prompt for the StoryADay challenge was to write about a small space, or one that is becoming smaller. They suggested maybe an elevator or even a shrinking solar system.
I thought instead about the things that make us feel smaller and this is what happened.
“Children should be seen and not heard,” they repeated to her as she grew, reminding her girls were supposed to be dainty and pretty, not boisterous and plain.
“Keep your laughter to yourself,” her teacher cautioned in junior high. “This is QUIET reading time.”
She grew, but the space around her seemed to shrink.
In college, they told her to be contemplative, not opinionated. “You’re here to learn.”
At her first job, she talked about inequality in pay.
“You’re poor. You’re just jealous,” the told when she talked about wealth disparities.
“You’re married, to a man,” they said when she asked for marriage rights for everyone.
“You’re healthy. Why would you care?” They told her when she asked for health care for all.
When she became disabled, they told her she should let people who were able bodied make the decisions.
When she talked about abortion, they told her men knew best.
When she talked about racism, they reminded her she was white.
When she told them history was repeating itself, they said she was paranoid.
Finally, the woman was frayed around the edges, a tight know of insecurity and nerves.
She sat on the edge of the giant chair in the therapist’s office, her arms drawn in tight and her words soft, barely above a whisper.
“What made you afraid to express yourself?” he asked.
She shrugged, ever so slightly and whispered, “Everyone.”