it’s no wonder Stuart Whitworth dropped you

I stare at her and my anger is sudden, ferocious. Everything I’ve kept down for months rises and erupts in my throat.

“I will not print that initiative.”

She looks at me, holding very still. “I want that initiative in the newsletter before election time,” she says and points to the ceiling, “or I’m calling upstairs, missy.”

“If you try to throw me out of the League, I will dial up Genevieve von Hapsburg in New York City myself,” I hiss, because I happen to know Genevieve’s Hilly’s hero. She’s the youngest national League president in history, perhaps the only person in this world Hilly’s afraid of. But Hilly doesn’t even flinch.

“And tell her what, Skeeter? Tell her you’re not doing your job? Tell her you’re carrying around Negro activist materials?”

I’m too angry to let this unnerve me. “I want them back, Hilly. You took them and they don’t belong to you.”

“Of course I took them. You have no business carrying around something like that. What if somebody saw those things?”

“Who are you to say what I can and cannot carry ar—”

“It is my job, Skeeter! You know well as I do, people won’t buy so much as a slice of pound cake from an organization that harbors racial integrationists!”

“Hilly.” I just need to hear her say it. “Just who is all that pound cake money being raised for, anyway?”

She rolls her eyes. “The Poor Starving Children of Africa?”

I wait for her to catch the irony of this, that she’ll send money to colored people overseas, but not across town. But I get a better idea. “I’m going to call up Genevieve right now. I’m going to tell her what a hypocrite you are.”

Hilly straightens. I think for a second I’ve tapped a crack in her shell with those words. But then she licks her lips, takes a deep, noisy sniff.

I keep my jaw clenched so that she cannot see the effect these words have on me. But inside, I am a slow, sliding scale. I feel everything inside of me slipping down into the floor. “I want those laws back,” I say, my voice shaking.