Gender Essentialism

For the prompt “parley and proposals.”

The rustle of chairs.

“Thank you for coming, Lord Tillwood.”

“I had to admit to some curiosity, your ladyship. It is seldom I receive a proposal from someone I am currently making war upon.”

“I did consider other methods of communication, but I’ve never been known as a woman whose talent lies in coming to the point.”

“Your ladyship confuses me. If your proposal was not to the point, what is?”

“I wished to speak with you upon a subject.”

“What subject, if not marriage?”

“I did not say the subject was not marriage.”

“Now your ladyship has as much as said the subject is marriage.”

“I did not say that either, Lord Tillwood.”

“Are we to argue in circles, then, your ladyship?”

“If it pleases you, Marquis of Tillwood.”

“I came here to assuage a curiousity, your ladyship, and out of courtesy. Pray be courteous.”

“Have I offended you, your lordship?”

“No, no, not offended. I simply ask that you speak plainly.”

Silence, broken by the swish of a fan and a finger tapping against a leather glove.

“Tea, your lordship?”


Small, bustling noises. Tea pouring. The silver clink of a spoon.

“Milk, sugar?”

“I will take both, please.”

“Very good,” came her murmur.

The sound of a cup moving against a saucer as it is passed from hand to hand.

“Very well, lady, if you will not speak plainly, pray speak at all. Say on, and I will attempt patience.”

“Do you ever succeed at patience?”

“Not often, no, though sometimes on the hunt.”

“What do you hunt?”

“I prefer men, but deer will do. Wolves provide a challenge, and the wild boar is terrifying.”

“Something terrifies you? I’m surprised.”

“I am a man.”

“Yes, as I am a woman. I take a woman’s approach to solving problems.”

“What do you mean by that, your ladyship?”

“You see, Lord Tillwood, I’ve poisoned the tea.”