“Thelma, I was reading this woman’s magazine that I picked up at the grocery store. It had an article about rape.” Alice took a deep breath. “It says it’s rape if a husband has sex when a wife doesn’t want to.” Again, she drew a deep breath. “What do you think?”
Alice and her best friend, Thelma, were sitting at Thelma’s kitchen table enjoying their daily gossip sessions with a fresh brewed pot of coffee and bags of sweet treats from the Day Old Bakery.
Thelma just stared at Alice. “I think you’d better stop reading those magazines that put fancy ideas in your head. If a husband wants his wife, it’s her duty. It’s not rape. Get that rubbish outta your head.”
“But he hits me,” Alice bitterly spat out her protest.
“Sometimes men just can’t control themselves. It’s no big deal.” Thelma seemed to dismiss Alice’s words as easily as if she had just commented on the weather.
“But I’m just so tired of Jake hitting me and forcing his way into me. He’ll do it every night for weeks at a time. Then he’ll just leave me alone for a long time. It don’t make sense. There’s gotta be better. This can’t be right. That article says it’s not.” Alice refused to let go of the subject. She needed someone to know what she was going through, someone to tell her she deserved better, and she hoped her best friend would understand.
But Thelma replied with obvious cynicism. “An article says it ain’t right? That’s just some writer talking. There ain’t no better for you and me. You think some knight in shining armor’s gonna come and rescue you? Or you think you can go off and get a job, work eight hours a day, and still take care of your family by yourself? You’ve got a man, don’t ya? Just put up with what you gotta put up with and get on with life. Life’s not meant to be a fairytale, Alice. If you’d quit dreaming and reading those magazines, you’d be better off.”
Defeat swallowed Alice. “Does Al still hit you?”
Thelma lowered her head. “Yeah, once in a while, but not so often anymore. I quit asking for it. If I keep my mouth shut, I’m okay.”
“But it’s not right. It just can’t be right. Not all men hit their wives, they just don’t.”
“And who says? Some fancy writer? Your father hit your mother. My father hit my mother. Al hits me. Jake hits you. What’s that tell you, Alice? Who do you know that’s got it different?”
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