Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wherefore Art Thou, Emajean?

A Friends of the Library Mystery

When they got in that night the young women sat on Celia’s bed and talked quietly. Emajean asked, “Celia, would it be breaking the ‘time-rules’ for you to tell me about your own family? You must miss them.”
Celia teared up. She did miss Rob and her children, and to talk about them was a joy. Without revealing anything about their time they lived in, she was forced to describe her family by who they were, what they looked like, and what was important to them. She found it refreshing.
“My daughter is a lot like you. She is lively and passionate and wants to do everything all at once. My son is more introspective, but because he is a boy, he believes he should be tough. So he holds in his tenderness. I think someday a girl is going to break his heart. As his mother, I’m going to be so angry at her!,” Celia laughed at the prospect.
“Rob,” she started, and she choked up. “Rob is the kindest man alive. I do silly things and I forget to do things that are important to him and he never gets angry. He just laughs and hugs me and says none of that matters. He supports my writing and my volunteer work, and well, just everything.”
“Do you work?” asked Emajean.
“Yes, I’m a lawyer in a small law firm,” answered Celia.
Emajean’s eyes were round and her jaw dropped. “Women can be lawyers?” she asked, incredulous.
“Sure, a few are lawyers in your time. But it’s a hard road for them. I’m very grateful to them for going before me,” Celia said.
Emajean grinned. “I’ll bet you’re going to tell me that women are doctors too.”
“Actually, yes,” said Celia. “The medical schools are over 50% women in my time. There is still a pay disparity, but women are actually getting to where they can really contribute to their families.”
Celia thought for a minute before continuing. “Emajean, in your lifetime, we will have a Roman Catholic president, and you may even live long enough to see a Negro as the president of the United States.”
This was too much for Emajean. “I can’t believe that either one of those things will happen. How can a Negro be president if they can’t even use the same water fountains as we do?”
“That will change too. It will be difficult, and it will take a great deal of courage, but someday, the differences between you and László will be insignificant compared to the changes in society around you. Your children will see even greater changes. Men will walk on the moon, and . . . “ she stopped, realizing her enthusiasm was carrying her away from what she felt was permissible to share.
Emajean’s eyes were shining. She shivered as she said emphatically, “If we can get to the point where László and I raise no comment whatsoever, I’ll die happy!”
The lights dipped to warn the girls in the dormitory that they had only ten minutes to finish their evening toiletries and be in bed. Emajean hugged Celia quickly and slipped from the room.
Celia laid back in bed after brushing her teeth and stared at the ceiling. “God,” she began, “please let me be back with Rob and my children. Please?”

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