A Short Story I Wrote

Updated: Jul 8, 2021

Before we begin, thank you for taking the time to read my work! I don't usually share my writing, but I really think this piece embodied historical fiction set in the 1960s, when gender discrimination was heavily present in the workforce. This short story has a special place in my heart, and I hope you enjoy it! Happy reading :)

 

The Unbridled Exception

By: HoneyScribbles



It was a stormy day in Herinton, and gusts of wind screeched the air. Smoky clouds enveloped the sky, casting a somber guise over the neighbourhoods. The heavy silence was dreary, toned down to the whispers of creatures scampering through the underground tunnels. Her light footsteps reverberated in the quietude, swift and prompt as she rushed along the sidewalk.

The morning was departing expeditiously, every second a loss of time and a higher probability of a scolding in her future. If she didn’t arrive to work on time, her earnings would be lacerated until a third remained. Meya needed to obtain an adequate salary to provide for her family and guarantee their survival.

She was the sole contributor of her dwelling, after her father was severely wounded from a lethal battle of the Southern and Northern districts years ago, leaving him paralyzed from the hip down. Her mother was raised as a housemaid, and her skills were limited to all but cleaning and cooking.

Her strides decelerated as she approached her journey’s end. The antiquated workshop was positioned around an array of tattered roads, overlapping on ends, and shrouded with patches. She scurried into the building, searching for steel-blue eyes.

Familiar, kindred ones found her instead, across the room. In a few strides, the gentlemen peered at her from the vicinity of a few feet with an audacious demeanour.

“Miss. Meya Turner, how lovely to have finally been graced with your presence,” he spoke in jest, his teeth gleaming against the soft light.

“Likewise, Mr. Frian Harol.”

Meya was accustomed to Frian, having crossed stares on several occasions and indulging in conversations lasting either fewer than three minutes or longer than an hour. Over a mere couple of months, she had established trust with the man two years older.

“It must be a nuisance to show up to work an hour earlier than the rest,” she said, remembering the minor detail from one of their discussions.

“Yes, well, when your father retains the company you’re employed for, it’s a duty, rather than an option,” he murmured under his breath, sighing clear enough for her to catch. At the mention of his father, Meya startled with consternation.

“Speaking of Mr. Harol, I must be going now,” she said hastily, and Frian’s eyebrows raised in awareness.

“Of course.” With a bid of goodbye, she dashed through the room, entering a lean hallway that ushered her past several wooden tables and chairs filled with employees. She paused outside the office door in a trice, submerged by the apprehension rolling off of her body. It spawned an uneasiness in her stomach and a poignant reminder of the implications at risk.

She took a deep breath, before grabbing the doorknob and extending the door open.

A broad man in a suit situated himself at the farthest end of the expanse, his back facing her front. His hands were planted on the table, and he inclined forward, bowing his head towards the pieces of paper spread across his work area.

“Miss. Turner,” he snapped. Mr. Harol spun around, glaring through piercing eyes.

“Yes, sir?” Her voice quivered.

“Did you, or did you not, arrive unpunctual to work today?” He asked sharply.

“Yes, sir,” she spoke quietly.

“You are aware of the consequences, aren’t you?”

Meya nodded, forcing her eyes to linger over the hardwood floor. Disbandment from the job.

It was a miracle that she arrived to work on time every morning, until today. It was a mystery that in the five months of employment, her release happened to be days after her sixteenth birthday. Fate is a cruel contrivance that does not deserve to dismantle the world, she considered with scrutiny.

“I will do anything to keep this job, sir. Anything,” Meya begged, but her answer was apparent in his eyes.

“Pack your things, and evacuate the building within the hour. Farewell, Miss. Turner.”

She turned around, feeling indignant. Her job may have been snatched from her fingertips, but they sparked with a newfound sensation, one that ignited her bones with an everlasting fire.

She vowed to obtain good earnings for her loved ones. She vowed to not only exist in the eyes of her wrong-doers but live to her heart’s extent. Meya learned a principal lesson at that moment—her viability would not be misread. In a world of prejudice, her objective wouldn’t be appraised any less than it deserved.

𓍝

The walk home was deplorable, and Meya’s feet grew colder by the second. She was in no way prepared to tackle the forthcoming lecture. However, she vigorously trudged forward in the eyes of uncertainty. Her mother and father perched on the mattress with repose, wearing jovial expressions. That would soon be erased from their faces, her inner voice added.

Mr. Turner caught a glimpse of his daughter first as his head rolled back in amusement from a pleasantry spoken by his humorous wife. Meya grinned at the sight, momentarily disregarding her conundrum. Their display of affection never ceased to leave her lost for words.

“Meya! We weren’t expecting your arrival,” her father spoke, his face mortified.


Mrs. Turner released a soft chuckle, an alluring melody to Meya, “Darling, she’s well-nigh a young woman, susceptible to making her own choices. How was work, dear?”



The young girl swayed on the heels of her frayed slippers. The task was deeming more strenuous than she thought. After clearing the tickle in her throat, she spoke in a soft voice, “I may or may not have…received dismissal.”

Meya’s mother launched into an incensed bearing. Her father maintained a clenched jaw and knitted eyebrows, a countenance his daughter was acquainted with. “Why would you do such a thing? You are aware of how badly we needed the money!”

“I understand, but—”

“No, not another word. We will handle this ourselves,” she rejoined, making Meya wince.

“Depart to your room,” her father ordered, his face ashen and voice bulky with tension. She nodded, leaving as salty liquid pervaded her vision. Guilt throbbed in her chest and a hole carved into her conscience. To her, it seemed like dire consequences solely rooted from her decisions. A terrible price that people around her has to pay, for her sake.

Suddenly, she understood what had to be done, acknowledging the one thing tethering her to chains—herself. She would not become a disappointment. A misfortune, or burden upon others. With an unflinching resolve, Meya hoisted her posture high. Her feet moved to the beat of her heart, and the reverberations chimed in her ears rhythmically.

She took leaden strides, each one weighing more than the last. Herinton appeared more gloom-ridden than usual, but she presumed it matched the harrowing mindset that established itself inside her brain. The road was recognizable, mundane to a certain liking, and she was apprehensive, wondering if her ongoing trek to the predestined location would be her last.

The establishment materialized into view, emerging from the shadows. Despite her nerves, Meya sensed exultation coursing through her blood, thawing at the fringes of her soul. A deafening pound of the door earned several gawks in her direction, and a piqued overseer was foaming at the mouth.

“You,” he shot a finger out, “Come with me, now.”

Meya gulped under the coercion, all the same complying with the man in the suit. Her footsteps echoed the corridor, an uncanny clamour amongst the quietude.

His calloused hand stretched towards the door handle, extending the entryway, and Meya set foot in the corresponding placement of their precursory encounter. His fingers dragged along the desk, tender strokes that almost seemed merciful. Howbeit, his impression conveyed a conflicting story, one that was far from lenient.

“Why have you returned? I distinctly recall dismissing you,” Mr. Harol sneered, his brows furrowed in displeasure.

“I refuse to be made redundant for hardly arriving late to work,” Meya replied, fierce in her voice. “I have more dignity than that, and I deserve to be given a decent explanation.”

“What, pray tell, do you want me to say? That you were punctilious? Sensible? Diligent, even? Trust in me when I tell you that you are terribly mistaken.”

The words struck her with a prickling sensation, like splinters prodding her insides and excavating a pit in her stomach. She knew her inexpertness drove a wedge in her line of work, but she was certain that her position of employment didn’t result in utter incompetence.

“Sir, I’ll do anything to acquire my position again.”

There was a pause, an interlude of unpleasant hush. His fingers rested on his chin, revolving in circles as his mind encircled its own ring of speculation. Mr. Harol eventually spoke, his speech deep-toned, “Fifty pages typed on my desk by morning.”

“Understood,” Meya nodded, scurrying away to attain her chance at redemption. She was appreciative to her boss, however, a fathomless notion ruffled her feathers. Why must women succumb to such labour? Her eyes counted seventy females at least, in the foremost quarters of the workshop. It was comprehensible that the job offered great compensation to the help. In fact, her current placement guaranteed the most secure circumstances she ever received, providing an abundant salary to expend on necessary items for her household. It was a blessing to the Turners, and she knew she wasn’t equipped to suffer worse, like before. After obtaining such a prize, she wasn’t intending on taking her eyes away from the stroke of luck. Meaning, her intention for gaining redemption flourished a hundredfold.

𓍝

Hours passed by, but she disregarded the numbers on the pendulum clock. The night proceeded to slip away undetected. Printed font displayed over white, and the tips of her fingers were benumbed. Her body was paralyzed from the neck down, disabled of movement in every part excluding her blinks and wrist maneuvers.

A bellow of noise jolted Meya as she became conscious of her surroundings. Her head lifted steadily, catching a sheet that affixed to her cheek. Spittle trickled the edges, and she averted her eyes in repulse. Pages dispersed across the table, cluttered but completed.

“What in heaven’s sake are you doing here at the crack of dawn?” Frian piped up, causing Meya to jump. She crushed the folds of her knitted sweater under her palms, adjusting the oversized rolled cable knits around her neck.

“I—the time slipped my mind, I suppose,” she replied, feeling heat bloom over her cheeks. She loathed having her father’s receptive genes. “Mr. Harol requested an assignment by morning, and it took…longer than expected.”

She made an effort to obscure the pages, snatching the sheets in her hands. But for all that, Frian approached the work surface, planning to assist his friend, only to draw a dreadful conclusion from the unmistakable facts situated before him.

“My father forced you to type fifty pages? Has he gone sick in the head?” He asked in disbelief. His nose flared, and Meya was convinced that he was on the verge of unleashing smoke from his ears.

“It was for a fundamental purpose,” she explained feebly, although she didn’t understand why her opinions spoke on his behalf. She felt drained of vigor, and what stuck around in its place was a hollow corpse. A corpse that was unresponsive to everything except the sound of his captivating voice. It was demeaning to even regard, and her heart concealed the untold secret from the world.

“Like what?” He pressed further, eyebrows knitted in puzzlement.

Her narrative sprung from her mouth, spilling weighted tons that rested on her shoulders. Frian tuned in to her voice, giving concentrated thoughts to her predicament. She disclosed intelligence about her ménage, particulars that she would have never imagined sharing to anyone.

When she finished, Meya awaited his response in a state of nerves. He released a sigh, pushing off the facing table in the vacant cluster of offices. “I believe there is only one solution to this, and that is—”

The door squeaked, a tumult that triggered flutters along her back. Mr. Harol crossed the threshold of the door, and Meya’s eyebrows darted downwards, a harsh shadow outlining the brim of her vision.

“What is going on?” The question hung in the air without reply.

“Answer me!” He exclaimed, his face bitter with emotion.

Meya shuddered from his sonorous voice. “The pages have been typed, sir.”

Silence infused the air, and the corners of Mr. Harol’s mouth twitched in response. “Hm, well…I suppose you may be entitled to reemployment, with the assurance of an hour prior arrival to work, and an hour late departure, henceforward.”

While his mouth twisted uphill, hers went tumbling down. She assumed that her mind would be put to ease by the revelation, but it only set another burden on her shoulders. Mr. Harol evidently viewed her as an easy, labour force in a highly feminized line of work. It would always abide in that manner, and the realization rattled her. At the apex of first light, Meya hit an epiphany, one that spun the wheels in her head to incredible speeds. It came as no surprise that the job would improve her family’s well-being, and open doors that held opportunities unheard of. But, wasn’t it also closing another fundamental door in her life?

She realized that she was, under no circumstances, going to exert herself like a slave, especially for a man who favoured males in the workforce. A man who stripped away the essence of a female, leaving nothing short of the pretence of a game to be played with. Her objective was to reclaim her past, but she believed that perhaps she needed to move forward instead. The door to possibilities anticipated her, drawing her through the gateway into a vast scope of free will.

Her former employer hollered her name at the top of his lungs, cavernous eyes meeting her final glance. She continued forward, vague about her journey’s end, but for once not inconvenienced by the uncertainty. It was a delight to Meya, steering her own path and being under no one’s influence. She allowed her heart to control her feet, while her mind wandered idly somewhere else.

A massive heave of breath fostered a wide-eyed look from Meya. “Frian, what are you doing?”

“Following you, clearly,” he stated in point of fact.

“Why?”

“Because it’s time I stopped allowing people to control me. Don’t you agree?” He asked.

Meya requited the expression, exuberant. “Absolutely.”

“Then lead the way, miss. Our fate rests in your tiny hands.” He cracked a broad grin, and they strolled through the dim neighbourhoods. The teenage girl didn’t have the faintest idea where the road that was her future led, however she was certain that her decision was the right one. It was time for her to be set free.


 

*Please do not repost this short story on any platforms. All rights reserved to @HoneyScribbles.*


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