So, without further ado, here is the first section of "Dare we Dream."
“Dare We Dream”
Frankie raised a spoonful of cornflakes to her mouth and tried to act natural, but the sudden clang of the trolley outside made her jump and her spoon slipped and the milked dribbled down her chin.
“Mamma, I need to you to get me something in Topeka,” her sister called as she followed their mother through the kitchen.
“Susan, the campus trolley runs sporadically on Saturdays,” their mother replied, expertly pinning her hat onto her head as her high-heeled ankle boots clicked on the floor. “If I miss this one, I’ll miss my train.”
Frankie wiped her chin and gripped her spoon tighter. What was Susan thinking, antagonizing their mother this morning of all mornings?
“Besides,” their mother continued, smoothing her skirt and retrieving her purse from beside the icebox. “What is in Topeka that you can’t get here in Lawrence?”
“This,” Susan replied, holding up a copy of Harper’s Bazaar and showing their mother a page Frankie couldn’t see from the table. Their mother paused and squinted at it.
“A razor?” she asked. “What on earth do you need a razor for?”
Susan groaned. “It says right there, Mamma. ‘For the removal of objectionable underarm hair.’”
Their mother’s eyes widened at Susan’s use of the word “underarm,” and Frankie’s aggravation gave way to curiosity. She stood from the table and craned her neck to see the advertisement. It featured a woman in a slip-like, sleeveless dress with her arms up over her head and her underarms totally bare.
“This is how women in big cities are dressing now,” Susan said. “You can’t wear a sleeveless dress without shaving your underarm hair.”
Their mother lifted her gaze and narrowed her eyes. “You can’t wear a sleeveless dress, period, Susan. Not while you live in this house.”
“Mamma, it’s nineteen-fifteen. Times are changing,” Susan argued, and Frankie sat down and closed her eyes, willing her to be quiet. “I’ll be seventeen next week,” Susan continued. “I’m practically grown.”
“If you insist on mutilating yourself, use your father’s razor,” their mother replied, grabbing her jacket from the coatrack.
“Mamma, it has to be a woman’s razor. It has to be this razor.”
The trolley clanged again and their mother groaned. “Susan, we live in a country where women don’t have the right to participate in the government as equal citizens. Try worrying more about that and less about advertisements.” She hurried over to Frankie at the table and kissed her forehead. “Goodbye, sweetheart. Unless either of you have changed your mind about coming with me. Jane Addams is speaking, after all.”
Frankie swallowed and looked down at her bowl, knowing what a terrible liar she was. “Sorry, Mamma. We have too much schoolwork this weekend.”
“And you’re the one who always says we need to ‘improve our minds,’” Susan added, and Frankie looked up and glared at her, but their mother simply sighed, walked back to Susan, and kissed her as well.
“Be good, girls,” she called as she rushed out the door. “I’ll see you tonight.”
The screen door clattered shut as their mother sped down the porch steps. Frankie stood, glanced out the door, and watched as she made the trolley.
“Why did you have to bring that up today?” she demanded of Susan.
“If I hadn’t acted normal, she would have known something was wrong,” Susan replied. “And I am going to get that razor. I don’t care what she says.”
Frankie snorted. “What else would you shave if some magazine told you to, Susan? Your arms? Your legs?”
“Just because you’re only fourteen and don’t have any underarm hair yet.”
“I do too,” Frankie countered, her face flushing. She did. A little.
“Oh, who cares?” Susan said, smiling as she picked up Frankie’s bowl and carried it to the sink. “Everything worked out perfectly.”
Frankie took a deep breath and nodded. They had waited for an opportunity in which their mother and father would both be gone all day for two months now. With Mamma at her suffrage rally in Topeka, and their father – a KU geology professor – still at a fossil dig in the Smoky Hills, they could take their own train to the Missouri side of Kansas City and see the film their parents had forbidden them to see.
The film that had been banned in the entire state of Kansas.
“You’re right,” Frankie said, her heart picking up speed as she wiped her mouth and sat her napkin down. “Come on. Let’s go.”