The next morning I woke up with the same blazing headache I went to bed with. The light from the window shined into my eyes taking my vision away temporally. I closed my eyes to block out the light.
“Why are you still in bed? Are you ill?” A voice bellowed from a distance.
“No, but I have a horrible headache that will not go away,” I answered without opening my eyes. The voice was unfamiliar to me, but I didn’t question who the person was. Mary had mentioned that she hired a new maid and that she was supposed to start today.
“Could you get me something for my headache?” I asked.
“Yes, madam, I will get that for you immediately”
“Excuse me, what did you just say?” I interjected.
“I said I was going to get something for your headache immediately, madam.” she replied with confusion.
I rose up of the bed to look at her, but each time I attempted to open my eyes my headache heightened.
“Why are you addressing me in that manner? That’s rude and disrespectful.” I exclaimed coldly.
“Haaaaaaaa? I don’t know what I said wrong, but I’m sorry if I offend you in anyway, madam.”
“Is this a joke?” I asked, “because it’s not funny” I continued. I swing my legs off the bed turning my back to the sun light.
“Please close the curtains.” I stated as coldly as possible. After she closed the sunlight out I forced my eyes open to get a good view of the person who was so intended on calling me madam. She was a pale skinned older woman of average high. Her hair was pulled back neatly. She wasn’t a bad looking woman, but her demeanor and stiffness took away from what ever beauty was there. The tone of my voice must have startled her because fear was all over her face. Her awkward posture made her ridiculous looking maid outfit look even more horrific. She looked like she came straight off the pages of a history book. I turned to check the calendar to see if it was Halloween, but it wasn’t there. In fact, nothing looked familiar to me. I looked around the room confusingly as I tried to replay the night before.
“I came home, I know I did.” I whispered to myself.
“Madam, are you okay?” the woman asked with concern.
“Will you stop calling me madam!” I shouted at her. The loudness of my voice caused her to jump. “Where am I?” I asked.
“Home in your room, madam.”
I put my hands to my temple and shook my head. “What is wrong with this crazy woman?” I thought.
“Where is my wife and why am I wearing a night cap?” I asked as I pulled the cap of my head unleashing a cascade of fiery red hair down my back.
“What the …?” my headache heightened tenfold. I fell onto the bed. The motions of my fall immediately alert me to the protrusion of my chest. “For the love of God; what is happening to me? Without even thinking my hands went straight to my manly part. I would never do this in front of a female, but today is an exception. I felt over and over, but nothing was there.
“For the love of everything that’s holy, will someone please tell me what’s going on?” I shouted as I looked up at the maid. Her face showed confusion and fear all over it.
“Madam, calm down please, I’m going to get your husband, I’ll be right back.” The terrified maid bellowed out as she ran out of the room.
“What husband? Stop!” I shouted, but she rushed out the door before I could stop her.
That was one year ago; for some reason those two days stayed with me. The last day I saw my wife and the first day of my ongoing nightmare; has become a permanent fixture in my unconscious mind. I don’t know why those two days replayed so vividly; when all my other days since then have been 100 times worse. It’s not every day a man goes to bed and wakes up a woman in 1915. Since then, I have jumped through time, in and out of women’s bodies. I don’t know when it will happen or where I will go next, but over the months the jumps have gotten easier. However, the women’s lives I have experienced have not. To become these women is to inherit their emotions, their passion, their thoughts and their feelings, which I will never be able to handle. No one person is suppose to experience so much tragedy.
I started a journal on my last jump only to keep me somewhat sane. Re-reading what I wrote helps me hold on to reality.
December 14, 1915
I must say a women’s body is as complicated and mysterious as their minds. For the last four jumps, I have experienced the most unpleasant womanly body function ever, menstruation. There are so many words I could call this experience, however, none of them are good. Therefore, I am going to leave it at that. The only bizarre thing was how much of a difference a decade affected the way women and men handle this ghastly body function. (4) Surprisingly, woman can still function with this taking place. Nevertheless, I never want to ever experience it again.
December 20, 1925
I have jumped again. The woman’s body I have entered is a married woman with no kids; her name in Mary Carmichaels. She is a well-educated woman who worked with her husband in a research lab. They both went to medical school, but her husband is the only one that practices. However, she has been putting in a lot of hours in the lab on a research project that has become dear to me and her. At first I thought that he was the brain behind the research, but the passion and knowledge she had of the project quickly showed me that she was the brains, not him.
“Good morning Mrs. Carmichaels.” Someone called. She turned to look at who was addressing her.
“Good morning Dorothy.” She replied. It was her husband’s secretary. Dorothy walked over to her and handed over huge envelope.
“What’s this?” she asked.
“I don’t know” Dorothy replied. “Your husband asked me to deliver it to you because he had a conference today at nine a.m.”
Mary opened the envelope. Her entire body got tense. I could feel the anger and sadness rise to her throat taking her voice away.
“Thank you, Dorothy.” She replied with a shaky voice as she walked out of her office. She was barely to the stairs when I felt tears streaming down her face. I felt hope dissipate from her as relinquishment crept in.
Her husband had published a medical journal taking the credit for all the work she had done. (5) To make it worse, her name wasn’t even mentioned. That night Mary cried harder than she had ever cried in her life. I tried my best to think of positive things, but the emotions that emerged from her overwhelmed my thoughts and pushed me to feel the full magnitude of her sadness. She had worked years on this project and now no one will ever know that she was responsible for it. The only explanation her husband gave was a hand written note that was attached to the publication that read:
No one will take this research serious if it came from a woman.
How could he do this? He can’t get away with this. I, no, she worked too hard on this project to not get any credit for it. All that work. “Fight for acknowledgement, Mary.” I repeated this over and over in my head hoping she would get the courage to fight, but it was no use she had given up. I closed my eyes as I slipped from her body into the next woman’s body.
(4) According to the Museum of Menstruation, “woman in the early nineteenth century wore [rags]. Earlier woman wore nothing.” However, today women are more fortune; we have a more modern approach for handling menstruation. The Museum of Menstruation further asserted that “It seems likely that women had to conceal both blood and odor before they were able to extensively participate in male business society. The relationship between men, women, menstruation, and women’s health is unendingly complex—and interesting.” a quote I found interesting. One more ridiculous reason why woman integration into work place was challenge by so-called ‘educated man.’
(5) In the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, most women got little acknowledgement for their writing. It is thought that many well-known works done by men were originally created by women. However, when published little credited was given to them. The Clever Maid: The Secret of the Grimm’s Fairy Tails write by Valerie Paradiz highlighted one such occurrence. “Paradiz tells us that it was a relatively small group of women, neither common nor illiterate, who related the vast majority of the stories found in the collection. It was simply that these women found an interest in such lore and were able to retain and transmit the tales for transcription into print.” (qtd. in Hart)