Today, for Flash!Friday the story element this week was conflict, specifically (wo)man vs. self. And the photo was of the first all women jury in 1911. It was strange to me that the first jury was in 1911, and women were not allowed to vote until 1919 (ratified in 1920). But, these two elements made my creative juices flow, and as such I came up with two stories.
Story # 1:
The trial was simple: did she or didn’t she kill herself? Six months pregnant with another man’s baby. The plaintiff’s lawyer said it was all very clear that she jumped.
Katie sat in the front row of the juror box and listened. She understood the need for self-harm. She’d been doing it for years. Sitting here, amongst these women, most who were older and wiser than her, she didn’t know if she could come to a conclusion. The wickedness of self-doubt always sitting next to her.
The three piece suit and top hat droned on. Katie pulled back her sleeve to count the marks she’d made on her arm; six now. One was precariously close to the artery. Jack had found her that time, the baby crawling around with red knees, in their tiled bathroom. He seemed relieved when the summons had come for the jury.
“It’s remarkable, Katie. You’re making history. Baby will be fine with Nurse Delores.”
And now the doubt crept in again. If the woman who died felt as lost as she did, felt the fear and anxiety of the world on her shoulders, then maybe, just maybe she threw herself off the building. Where was the proof otherwise?
Only A Woman
The first words out of Ethel’s mouth were, “I can’t.” Ethel believed she couldn’t do much. Her parents believed she’d inherit the world.
“You’ll see, Ethel, dear. One day women will even have the right to vote,” her mother said.
But Ethel was too busy telling herself she couldn’t pass her history test. Her parents had sent her on to college. She would be educated, this child of their old age.
When the summons came, Ethel was shocked. She was even more shocked when she saw the all women jury.
“What if I’m the one who causes a hung jury,” she asked the woman next to her.
Ethel took detailed notes throughout trial. A pig theft. She didn’t even know there were pigs in Los Angeles. Ethel finally felt like she was overcoming her fears. Fears she had carried within her like an overstuffed suitcase her whole life. Fears of “I’m not good enough,” and “I’m only a woman.”
She was named foreman, and in the end she was the one who handed down the guilty verdict. Self-doubt scoured away like scum from a bowl. She went on to be a leader in the Suffrage movement, so more women could reach their potential as she had.