That was the last conversation she’d been trying to avoid. “Maw, please!” Minette protested. She wrapped a lock of hair around her finger and rubbed it between her fingers. She wouldn’t be able to meet her reflection at all with her last shadow of independence sheared off. It was her only weak grasp at her true self, at the person she dreamed about. Shearing off her hair turned her outsides into the outsides of the Good Son, the honorable husband, the person who was not–and would never be–Minette.
Paw’s fist slammed down on the table, silverware jangling, Irma startling. Uh-oh.
He leaned forward. Crickets sung outside, unaware of the calamity inside. “Why do you fight this so hard?” he asked. His face was the reddest she’d ever seen it, and that was saying something.
Minette was silent. She couldn’t tell him. She had no defense. She couldn’t answer past her tight throat.
“Morton, you’re too old for all this. It’s time to grow up,” he said, snapping the last two words in emphasis.
Minette ordered herself not to cry. She nodded her head, hiding behind locks that would be gone in a day or two. Her dreams bled away. This was real. This was happening. To her. And soon.
Paw leaned back. “Good,” he said. The sounds of life resumed. Everyone else kept eating, complimenting Maw on her mash. Irma asked about her dress, and Maw’s eager yammering filled the silence and loosened everyone’s shoulders.
Life kept turning around Minette, even as desperately as she wanted it to stop, to just stop, if only for a moment.
It felt utterly useless, almost stupid. What control did she have over her life? All her dreaming, her pining for something else, it had only served to hurt her. To highlight its own impossibility. Before autumn came, she’d have a moppy head and a wife and she’d be a partner at the smithy.
Before long, she’d be trapped behind the portrait of her false life forever, acting and dancing around like a fool until it was time for her own weary, overworked death, completely voiceless, her true self unknown to all.