Amelia was a sensation, dropping perilously from the sky, a shiver of raindrops glossing her hair. She stood solidly next to the men as they’re voices trembled with regret, wondering how she faced their fears of the unknown.
They pushed their microphones indecently toward her lips. The cameras rolling from the minute she touched down, and already her face twisting into the image of the jovial explorer. Put on the show, begged George Putnam. Talk graciously. But why must she she speak plainly about her courage, the thirst for adventure? When what she needed was more money, more flights, to escape the crush of manly sweat, their eyes trying to cage her, their hands punching and prodding, looking for the soft spaces she hid with flight jackets and trousers.
They would have rather banished her to the kitchens and sweatshops, the dirty fields or the frozen schoolhouses of their own mothers and sisters, but she had broken the code, dared to replace them, and now they made spectacles of her feats, waiting like dogs for the bird to fall carelessly into the fields. They’d scoop her up gently with their mouths, the way they’d been taught, preserving her lifeless body as a trophy, a lesson to ward off any other persistent and talented woman. Death, men proclaimed with the unsubtle beating of their chests, was their birthright and they would guard it judiciously.
Amelia dazzled death into submission, wrestled the laws of gravity, splitting molecules and atoms as she rocketed toward the unreachable horizon. Amelia dared the gods of land and sea, barnstorming through the translucent sky crossing from ocean to ocean, no longer a woman sitting in silence, while men grounded in their soiled suits watched from below muttering, finally, amazed.