I hope everyone’s doing well! Today’s post is later in the day, but better late than never!!
Prompt: The 1950s are often painted as a simple and idealistic time in American history. One income could support an entire family. Jobs were plentiful. Moms stayed home with their kids. Divorce was scandalous. Write about a protagonist who didn’t fit the mold, whose life was difficult because of the cultural and societal conventions of the time.
Virginia Phyllis was an odd girl.
Firstly, she was the only woman she knew with a first name as a last name- even her sister had changed her name as soon as she married. Teachers used to pause when they said her name and raise their eyebrows the tiniest bit.
Next, most of her friends and acquaintances didn’t know that she was mixed-race: her mother Jacqueline Hernandez was Spanish. If word got out, it could be the end of her social life.
Virginia even had a fondness for trousers instead of skirts. It was unthinkable to wear ‘men’s clothes’ in the ’50s.
Finally, Virginia hadn’t started a family. Nearly every other twenty-eight-year-old woman was married, many already with multiple kids.
Virginia was the exception.
She had married, to her credit- she married Randy Smith two years prior, though she hadn’t taken on his last name.
They’d divorced a year later and Virginia had yet to find another man.
But she was different in other ways- she’d insisted on a quality education and even fought her way into a university, where she studied law.
Now it was time to put her patience and other skills to test- in a lawn party hosted by her elder sister, Victoria Harrison.
“Virginia! My dear sister!” Vicki cooed, leaning in to kiss her sister’s cheeks. She was dressed in a green and gray plaid swing dress with a small bonnet covering her brown curls.
Virginia smiled pleasantly. “It’s wonderful to see you, Vicki. How do you do?” she asked before striding away without waiting for an answer.
Even at a lawn party, Virginia stood out. She wore long, wide red trousers that almost- almost- passed for a skirt, but not quite. Even her hair was odd. Every other fashionable woman kept it short and curled, but Virginia’s long brown hair laid flat on her back without any bonnet or headband covering it.
“If it isn’t the odd Virginia Phyllis!” Another woman in a periwinkle blue circle dress walked up and shot a feline grin at Virginia.
Virginia wished she could leave this blasted party.
“Don’t you remember me, little Ginny? It’s me, Patricia Miller, you know!”
Virginia plastered a smile on her face. “Ah, Patricia. Of course.”
Patricia laughed loudly. “Still haven’t found another husband, have you? You should know, it’s quite curious that no one else would marry you! After all, we’re the same age- yet I’ve been married to Robert since I was nineteen, you know. We have four children, you know. Bonnie Jane, Brian Earl, Beverly Ann, and Bruce Roy. They’re the light of my life, you know!”
Virginia didn’t even pretend to smile. It took all her self-control to not lash out at blasted Patricia for her thinly-veiled insults.
Patricia tsked. “What about your nieces and nephews, you know? How old are they? Don’t they make you long for your own children?”
Not if having kids will make me anything like you, with all your pesky questions, Virginia thought. But of course, she couldn’t say that.
“Oh, they’re lovely. Harold is eight, Kathryn is six, and Curtis is three. As sweet as they are, I don’t think I want children.” Virginia said before she could stop herself.
Patricia’s eyes bulged. “Really!” she said, louder than necessary. “No woman in her right mind wouldn’t want children, you know!” She really was shouting by then.
Everyone in a ten-yard radius quieted so they could hear the conversation. Virginia sighed.
“Patricia, I think I’ll excuse myself. Lovely to meet you,” Virginia said through gritted teeth. “Have a nice day.”
She strode away, only to be bombarded with a crowd of women who had overheard her conversation with Patricia.
“Virginia! What an irresponsible decision!”
“Is it true that you don’t want children?”
“But don’t you adore Vicki’s children?”
“Will you just be alone forever, then? How sad!”
Virginia pushed her way through all the Marys and Nancys and Janets shouting at her.
Suddenly, a woman blocked her way.
“Hello, dear! I’m Connie White. Let me tell you about my children!” she said with a crazed smile.
“No, please- I’m not interested-” Virginia tried to argue.
“There’s Leonard, Willie, Philip, and Rhonda. They’re all the sweetest little angels-”
“I’m not interested!” Virginia snapped. But Connie didn’t seem to hear her, and it only got worse when another woman shoved her way in front of Virginia.
“My name is Margaret Allen. My daughters are Christine and Carolyn. They both have soft blonde ringlets-” she started before being interrupted.
“I’m Teresa Johnson! I have five children, and I couldn’t be happier!”
“Virginia, my name is Sharon Barnes! My daughter Kathleen-”
“Just quiet your mouths!” Virginia shouted, which was the equivalent of cursing at the group of women.
Everyone quieted, but the shock on their face was evident.
Virginia’s shoulders slumped. “Please. Just leave me alone, I beg you.”
She whirled around and stomped away, trying not to care about the women staring at her.
Being Virginia Phyllis in the 1950s was the worst.
I hope you liked my first historical fiction piece this month!
What’s your favorite genre? Have you read any books set in the ’50s? What genre would you like me to write next? (I’d REALLY appreciate it if you could answer the last question especially)