Simon Says

in #fiction6 years ago

Margaret and her brother, Simon, sat on the front porch of the farmhouse where Margaret lived with her husband and children. Croplands stretched in every direction as far as the eye could see. Tall corn stalks swayed under the late afternoon sun as her husband supervised the harvesters in their labors. Margaret missed city life and was happy to see her brother, a Dragon Knight, lately come from the capital for a visit.

As they sat, sipping apple juice that had been chilled in the well, they talked lazily about the latest gossip from court. Suddenly, Celia, Margaret’s oldest daughter, burst out from between the rows of corn. She came up the front steps and was about to go inside when Simon called her over. He hugged her close and then held her at arm’s length, examining her. “Well, well, Celia, you’ve grown so that I hardly recognize you.”


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Simon was alarmed to see that tears streamed down Margaret’s face. Her cheeks were red and her lips were tightly clenched as though she was trying not to cry out loud. “Why what is the matter?”

“Don’t want to be a girl no more,” said Celia. She scrubbed at her face. “Rob says that girls don’t get to go to school and they don’t get to be anything but mommies.”

“That’s not true, Celia,” said Simon. “Girls can do lots of things.”

“But—but, Rob said that boys don’t hav’ ta be nice to girls.”

“Why that little brat,” cried Margaret. She stood up and said, “I am going to remind him of how—

Simon held up on hand in a stopping motion and Margaret sat back down. “Even if you could change,” he said, “why would you want to be a boy?”

“Cause boys are more ‘portant than girls.”

“Nonsense,” said Simon. “Let me tell you a story and then you can tell me if you still want to be a boy.” He leaned forward in his chair and took a long sip of his juice. “A long time ago, when Sir George, the first Master of my order, still walked amongst us, there came a day when he visited the village of Droflim.”

“He was right near here?” said Margaret.

“Yes, he was here for some time before he went to the capitol and founded the order of the Dragon.” Then he turned back to Celia and continued, “On that day, many, many years ago, he entered the village square and was shocked to see a man beating a woman who crouched on the ground, covering her head with her arms.

“He approached the scene and said to the people who crowded around the two, ‘Why do none of you stop that man?’

“There was no answer at first, but then one of the men said, ‘Why should we stop him? That is his wife.’

“‘That does not make it right,’ said Sir George.

“He approached the man and, just as he pulled back his arm to strike the woman again, Sir George grabbed him by the wrist and stopped him. ‘How can you be so stupid?’ he asked the man.

“The man stared at Sir George, obviously angry. He finally replied, ‘What is stupid? She will not do as I say so I must teach her to behave.’

“‘I say that you are stupid and I will show you how. But first, how do you make your living?’

“‘I am a miller,’ said the man.

“‘Then you are familiar with the small gear that transfers the motion of the oxen to the plate that grinds the grain.’

“‘Yes, of course,’ the man replied.

“Would you smash that gear?’

“‘No.’

“‘And why not?’

“‘It would be stupid. If I broke that gear, the mill wouldn’t work.’

“‘Exactly. And that is why you should not beat your wife,’ concluded Sir George. ‘You see, your wife is like that gear. It is she that is at the center of the family; she who makes things work within the home and without it. Break her, physically or mentally, and your home will no longer work.’

“As the man stared, Sir George reached down and helped the woman to her feet. Leaning closer to her, he said, ‘If I were you, I would leave this fool and find a man who already understands your value.’”

“Did she leave her husband?” Celia asked. She stood with one hand on Simon’s shoulder, leaning close so as not to miss one word of his story.

“The tale does not say,” he said. “It ends there. But we all know that it is true that a wife is the heart of a home. Do you disagree?”

Celia shook her head.

“Do you still wish you were not a girl?”

As she opened her mouth to reply, her brother, Rob, came running out of the fields and onto the porch. He screamed with delight when he saw his uncle and threw himself at the man to hug him.

Rob glanced at this sister and saw the tear stains on her now smiling face. He looked from his mother to his uncle, eyes wide, as though waiting for a punishment he was sure would come.

“Rob, who told you that girls were less important than boys?”

“The overseer’s son, Stefan,” he said. “Isn’t he right?”

“Take a look at your mother, children,” said Simon. “Do you think your home would be a nice place to be if she wasn’t here?” When they both shook their heads, Simon asked again, “Do you still wish you weren’t a girl, Celia?”

“No, uncle.” She turned to her brother with a mischievous grin and said, “Don’t you wish you were a girl?”

NOTE: “Simon Says” first appeared at my Live Journal as an entry for the September 2009 writing contest at Brigit’s Flame, a Live Journal community. It also appears in my book, Dreams in Transit available for Kindle, Kobo, iBooks, Nook, and other eBook reader formats. The image at the top of the post is courtesy of Pixabay.



A picture of Irene

Who is Irene P. Smith? I am an author, programmer, and web designer. A former Contributing Editor to PC Techniques Magazine, I have written about computers and programming since 1989, and began publishing fiction in 2003. My home is in New York State, along the Delaware River, where I live with my husband and son.


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