What had been a clutter of china and tinkling of stainless steel on unfinished breakfasts, became a hush as my ears attuned to the conversation beside me.
Two women. Huddled around a low pine table, their faces bent inward, listening intently. The steam from their coffees wistfully evaporating as they sunk into worn chairs, coffee shop chic. From a distance, the man two tables away for instance, they may have appeared as mothers, sisters or daughters with a moment to spare, to share. Two escape artists who had stolen away from the circus of finger painting and unmade beds. The assumption grounded in the laughter lines and exposed roots. An assumption dressed in coffee coloured fog.
In fact sitting there, with hands clasped around steamy ceramic or raised in quiet gesticulation, were two women. Two women – fiery, tempered by the ‘selfish’ desire to live as women. Not mothers. Not sisters. Not daughters. Just women. One who regrets her decision to settle. One who was working through a divorce. One who equated children with kittens and puppies. One who refused to live vicariously when she could live. One who favoured two steps forward in the workplace, rather than two steps back.
Yet, children were always on their mind, on their lips, on their hips. As I lifted the cup I was cradling to sip, ante-natal classes, school gates and extra-curricular clubs were described as the working mother’s Inferno. Two women. Who felt like outsiders. The clothes pegs left forlorn in wet grass. Soggy and damp. Too slippery to be of any use. Two women. Cast aside by frowns and pursed lips reeking of nappy cream.
On a frosty December morning, I was made aware of these two women who echoed a passive chorus of many more. Two women. Who wanted to be known by name and not by the power between their thighs.
Kristiana Reed juggles writing and teaching English; in both vocations she endeavours to remind people of their self worth and how dazzlingly beautiful the world can be.
You can read more of Kristiana’s writing at My Screaming Twenties