A husband and wife sit at a table in a coffeeshop. The husband on the right. The wife on the left—closer to the coffee counter.
The couple’s son is running around in camo pants and a longsleeve blue shirt. It looks insulated like it might be the upper half of a pair of pajamas. There is either a train on it or a race car.
Their daughter sits across from them. Lately, she’s been getting very tall.
“Feminism meant equal rights for women,” her mother says.
They are having an important, but not serious conversation. A serious conversation would be had at home. This is a subject they are comfortable discussing in the cafe.
"Back during the Civil War time, women couldn’t own property. They couldn’t vote,” she continues.
The wife is a brunette. Her hair is pinned up with chopsticks. She wears a deep olive drab cashmere sweater—loose fitting. In her lap is an American-manufactured handbag. Her legs, in dark leggings, are crossed beneath a black short skirt. Her leather boots—cropped at her ankles—barely reach the ground.
Her daughter listens attentively. She sits in jeans with a periwinkle cardigan that is much too big for her—even though she likes it. Under it, she's wearing a pink t-shirt decorated in glittering rhinestones with a picture of the cat's head and some words. The words on the shirt say You Amews Me. Her sneakers have bright green glow in the dark laces.
"So when people used the word back then, they were standing up for those things. It meant they were saying that women deserved to have the same rights as men. Things have changed."
Now her daughter is really listening. She barely fidgets. This is the part where her mother will answer her question and she doesn’t want to miss a thing. Her mother doesn't like to repeat herself.
“When people say Feminist now, it’s not just that they want equal rights for women—"
Her husband’s bald pate sheens in the light coming in from the glass picture window. He’s in a navy blue t-shirt either with the name of a company that sells paint or does construction and cargo pants. He sips his drink, letting his wife do the talking.
"—they want special and more rights for women—even at the expense of everyone else."
The girl values her mother. She can ask her mother anything. Mothers are teachers and the girl's mother always answers her questions and encourages free thinking in their house.
"I’m going to go pay for our coffee now," the wife says.
A train is coming. Its horn can be heard. The peppermint-striped level crossing bar falls horizontal. It means NO CROSSING. The girl goes outside to watch it pass by.
The boy has to be caught. He is too young to be running around by himself. The coffeeshop is right next to the tracks.
The train whips the leaves on the trees making a pleasant breeze on this day which is not too hot and not too cold. When the girl tires of the boxcars, she turns around and wonders what is taking her family so long.
The shop door is still open and the girl can hear her father speaking to his son.
"Say 'Thank you for the coffee,'” the father tells his son to tell to the barista.
The boy says something that might be understood as this.
The barista smiles. She waves.
The girl meanwhile is staring at her reflection in the glass. She can see herself. Beyond her reflection, she can see her mother done paying for the coffee and father scooping up her little brother from where he is now rolling around on the floor.
The little girl sips on her drink. Her mother is very beautiful. She is very wise. Her mother answers all her questions. Her mother and father love her very much.
As her family step out onto the sidewalk, she joins them.
Down the street the family walk in the alternating sunshine and shade. Oh look, there is an ice cream store. If the girl asks nicely, perhaps they’ll buy her some vanilla.