The Door Hinge Maker’s Wife

“A hinge is a type of bearing that connects two solid objects, typically allowing only a limited angle of rotation between them. Two objects connected by an ideal hinge rotate relative to each other about a fixed axis of rotation.” –From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

There was never any freedom in Emily’s life, not really.  Freedom was a transient concept used by men to control women and hoisted over the heads of the enslaved.  Its conceptual origin was transfixed, mutated actually, upon the arrival of the pilgrims who in their crafting of a new society challenged the relevancy of the social mores and rules of their motherland while creating a different life.  Crudely but accurately put, Freedom was connected to the provincial legal rights afforded to genitalia, the penis more specifically, and not how gender was expressed in colonial times.   From the earliest moment of the morning when the outstretched rays of violet sunlight kissed the tops of the pine trees to the eventual setting of the silvery gray moon, she worked tirelessly trying to make a comfortable life for her family.   Though not enslaved, which means, in our current language, that her skin was blessed with a peach like hue, Emily felt like an enslaved African having to work like an automaton.  Although she was indentured to the dreams she grew and harbored from childhood.   Emily worked fastidiously with an air of nobility as she managed the people and things that lived in her compacted handmade wooden house.

Their house was small and tucked away.  It was surrounded by daunting pine trees and sprinkled with regal white birch trees.

Hours upon hours Emily would chase down the spiders who left their cob webs between the doorways, underneath chairs, and beneath the windowsills.   Her days were full of expected monotony, loneliness, and anger.  It was a seething type of anger.  Like a dew drop from a leaf, there but vanishing when the sun came only to return again every morning.  It was an anger closely related to contempt, abhorrence and imprisonment.  There were no other forms of lives for white women given the harshness of having to survive cold winters, abandoned in unknown and mysterious lands, and having to reckon with burgeoning oligarchies that proliferated throughout the colonies.  Death was certain and the tears that came from mourning the dead were in fact sometimes tears of relief because the mourner realized that the seething anger could not exist any more.

She learned to be a colonial wife, good at everything in order to keep everything going but inside her heart cried, it howled at the moon like the howl of the last wolf in its dying pack.   She was forced to perform happy things in order to appease and please every living being that crossed her path, for example, she learned to hum a hymnal because they were the only things that seemed to calm the cows when she milked them.   She learned to rub the backs of her children while talking softly to them when they bathed because this helped them to sleep through the night.  The children, three of them, would spend their days picking their noses and chasing the hens around and through the tall unmanageable grass.  She learned how to whisper in her husband’s right ear as he arched his muscular back before making his final thrust, just before he released his weary fluids into her unwillingness.  His body reeked of burning iron, as if the iron smoke settled into his pores waiting for the moment to be set free into Emily’s nose and mind.  His hands rough and callous from the constant pounding and turning of the red hot metal.   Rodger spent his hours striking and bending the circular holes that would eventually catch and hold the hinge pins.  Large hinges, medium hinges, and small hinges, he would marvel at their ability to be so little and yet contain such utilitarian power.   He was a door hinge maker and he grew richer and richer as his ability to make the perfect hinges spread throughout New England.

Rodger never noticed Emily because she was only his maid, built in cook, sexual automaton, and housecleaner, and mother of his children, and besides a wife could never truly understand him because the only thing that really brought him true joy was making door hinges.   Life there with Emily from his view was difficult, full of paradox and whimsical chagrin.   The love she so desperately wanted never came to her because her husband did not have it inside of himself to give.   She would spend many nights revealing her temple to Rodger wishing that the movements he made on top of her would move her inner spirit, but they never did.  She had married Rodger as part of a pitiful back up plan because his brother, whom she really wanted, never looked at her with any intention of lust or even subtle longing.  His eyes when he looked at her were like flat coals; lifeless with no intention other than burning.  Emily so wanted to love Rodger but any emotional fire she could muster would flicker into a dying flame the moment he touched her.

           “Morning, dear,” he said planting a frigid kiss.

           “Morning.” Emily replied turning her head not quite fully to receive his kiss but just enough to let her sadness show.

           “You sleep well?”

           She drew in a quiet lonely breath but before she could answer Rodger continued, “I sure didn’t that damn moonlight.”

           “Mama, mama!” little Jenny called out bouncing into the room.

           “Yes,” Emily said wiping her wet hands on her worn thread apron, gladly ending the empty conversation from her husband.

           “Colin is playing rough with the chickens…he stepped on one.”

           “Colin,” Emily yelled as she made her way past her husband out into the yard. She chased her son and smacked him on the back of his head.

           “Owww what’s that for?” Colin chimed.

           “I told you about stepping on those chickens.”

           “Sorry ma.”

           “Eliza fetch me some water please.”  Emily commanded as she let her anger with her son rapidly dissipate.

           “Yes maam,” Eliza replied.  She was long legged with unruly long brown-blond strands of hair tussled around, as if clumps of hair had formed their own caucuses and were trying to divorce themselves from her head.   She obeyed the mother whom she loved so much because she knew that her mother ached with unrelenting loneliness and pain.   Eliza made the long walk up the steep hill and as soon as she got there saw a man drinking from the well.  She stood there in frozen joyfulness.   Stuck in feeling a half and half emotion, not quite frightened but not feeling an open welcoming feeling either.

           “Hello,” she whispered.

           Tilman turned and almost jumped seeing the sight of the disheveled and dirty rag-a-muffin girl.  He looked at her with survival sturdiness sensing that he was not in danger, “Morning,” he replied sucking in the last drop of water before returning the ladle to the stonewall.

           “You a slave–I mean a runaway?”

           He nodded two times by lowering his chin up and down slowly while maintaining a connection between their eyes.

           “Wait here as soon as my Pa leaves for work—Uh—ah—um–he makes door hinges,” she added parenthetically as if this would mean something to him.  “I will go and get my mother.   She helps runaways.”

Tilman listened closely as her words floated into his ears.   He had heard about the door hinge maker’s wife, she was known in the underground world for giving favors.

“You hungry?” she asked.

           “Yes,” he answered while feeling his heart race.

           Eliza quickly lowered the well bucket and pulled up the bucket of water and moved like a gazelle disappearing down the steep grassy hill.  He watched as water droplets playfully leaped out of the bucket top splashing onto the warm summer grass.

           Eliza straightened her dress before entering the house.  She cozied up beside her mother helping her to dry the dishes with the ragged cloth. Colin ran past the window looking for a chicken.

           ‘I’ll be back at sunset” Rodger said not looking behind him as he closed the door.

           Eliza waited until she heard the horse foot sounds slowly dissipating, “Ma, there is a man, I mean a slave up at the well.”


           “Would you like me to fetch some biscuits and other stuff.”

           Her mother smiled warmly smoothing her long hair with her hands with long sensuous motions.  She grabbed the cloth package of biscuits that her daughter had gathered and quickly made her way out of the door way up to the hill, “Watch your When she got to the top of the hill she scanned her surrounding trying to see where he was hiding.  He rose up slowly so she could see him.

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