Talking Book

Separate (and hardly equal)


I’ve had the most horrid day. Didn’t sleep a wink last night and saw a fine, feathery wrinkle appear, as if caught in the act of its self-creation, in the corner of my left eye in the vanity mirror this morning. Too much oolong last afternoon or, more likely, Lucretia oversteeped. Like most of her caste, she’s either late or soon, and never where you need her. At any rate, truth be told I did manage to sleep, in a manner of speaking, though it was plagued by the strangest dream.

I was at my writing-desk, trying to finish my review of that silly book by the Negro, when my hand kept getting tangled up. When I looked down to seek out the source of the trouble, it was a bit of fine, sheer muslin. Annoyed, I pushed it aside and kept writing. But it returned. This time, I gave it a good tug and found that it was … attached. It was my bridal veil, which I know for a fact to be in a cedar chest in the attic. Nonetheless. When I finally threw it back, over my head, I noticed that my sleeve had ridden up my arm a bit and went to smooth it down, careful not to stain the dress with my blots. When I did, I noticed that my skin was tawny like that of a common field hand. Horrified, I shoved it down and sat back down to work. But before I could write another word, the sleeve had risen up again, all the way to a chesnut-hued elbow.

I woke up howling, bolt-upright, while the mockingbirds tweeted outside the window. Later that day, I got an insolent letter from that Negro, daring to take issue with my review. I’ll not let that stand, I promise you. And he’d better stay five hundred miles from Tennessee, where we know how to preserve a white woman’s dignity…

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