Millie never understood how so many women found it so easy to defer to a man. Even as a child, the strict roles had chafed at her. Her mother had been strictly mute in front of her father, unless spoken to. She was usually a ghost who flitted around the house providing services. Dinner, mending, cleaning, etc. There had not been great love, and it had informed Millie’s choice of a mate. Her partnership had been equal. They did chores together, and they eased their burden this way. Laughter speeds up any chore, and they were never in short supply.
So many of the women that Millie grew up with had similar examples and emulated them. Millie couldn’t wrap her mind around this, how they went from servants in their deddy’s house to servant in their husband’s house. Things looked to be changing for a while, but it seemed like the whole town had just gotten lazy, decided to drop into the role carved out for itself without complaint. It was like everyone decided, collectively, to just go through the motions, miserably, until they died. She’d heard it said that most people lead desperate lives, and she had never seen much evidence to the contrary.
It was not lost on her that Banklin also swam against the current his gender created. He did not follow sports, he did not love cars, he did not go hunting, ever, and he dressed like he was in the previous century. It was almost fated that they would find each other in their later years, become the kind of platonic couple who goes to fancy restaurants to drink too much with their dinner. Maybe it was destined to be that way. Maybe not.
There were those in town who took issue with Millie being a business owner, but, for the most part, they knew to keep their mouths shut and their opinions to themselves. Most of the gossip skipped Banklin and Millie; not that they realized that. This was mostly due to the holy hell they would raise if gossip was directed their way - often, the gossip wasn’t even about them, but they would shut it down, passionately. Eventually, this gave them a kind of protection, a teflon understanding with the town. It boiled down to this: Millie and Banklin had been born and raised amongst them, suffered with them, shared their dreams, and, if they wanted to be left out of the loop, let them. Kids grew up knowing what to say and what not to say. Religious converters had long ago given up, it wasn’t worth the arguments.
It’s hard to say for sure what makes anyone keep going. What keeps us getting up in the morning and stops us from jumping in front of a train. It’s different for everyone. Some people get up for God, some for their families. Some get up for the chance to make more money, and some get up to get wired, loaded, etc. Some get up just to get back down, and some never get up - they spend the day twisting in the blackness of their own inner turmoil. Some of us are motivated by love, by sex. Some are motivated by envy, by retribution. We are a varied bunch of animals, and we tend to forget that very easily. This is humanity: a continuous questing to dodge the pain, court the pleasure, hurt the enemy, outdo the neighbor. This is what we spend our time doing, and that speaks volumes about the kind of animals we are.
Pack animals with prejudices.
In that way, Millie and Banklin were also different. They eschewed prejudice in all it’s forms because stereotypes are inherently untruths, and they could not abide dishonesty.
Millie could hear the hum of thoughts in her brain. She could place her finger on one for a moment, but, like a record paused with a finger, staying too long on any one thought would burn up the motor. So, she took quick peaks and kept on spinning, just trying to stay in the groove and she made pretty good music along the way.