Disclaimer: I do not own Jack Kelly, Sarah Jacobs or any other member of the Jacobs family. The characters in this short piece are the property of Disney, ©1992—, and are from the musical, Newsies. I just like the play with them, sometimes.
Look at her. Go on. Look at her. Now, tell me what you see.
A pretty girl, no doubt. Prim and proper, with her long, perfect chestnut hair and a trim, slim figure that her children will surely ruin. Not that she has any just yet, but she will. A mother, that will be her career, whether she wants it to be or not.
She'd wanted to go to school, instead, but, when the choice came between her and David, the answer was obvious. Send the son—keep the daughter at home. The small and tiny apartment in the Jewish part of the Lower East Side is where she belongs until a husband comes along and moves her into his smaller and tinier apartment.
Trapped and on display.
Do you see the wrinkles that are threatening to crease that creamy, ivory skin? The tiny lines that snake around the precariously up-turned corners of her mouth? Or the dark and heavy circles that underline her once-bright chocolate-colored eyes? Time has never been her friend; a hard life just makes it pass all the faster.
What about the callused fingers, blistered and dulled by years of handling a too-sharp needle? Near invisible scars trace her hands from missteps and careless use of a shuttle. Tatting is the only thing she's good at, the only thing that makes her useful. And it's woman's work, too.
Of course it's woman's work.
Do you notice anything else about this pretty, pretty girl?
She stands there, hiding a desire to live. Not just to exist, but to really live and thrive. But she's a girl and it's not proper.
Girls with families that take care of them don't have daughters who whore themselves out on the street, whether by inviting men into their bedchambers or by doing such a simple act as selling flowers on the street. Hell, she's lucky enough that her mother trusts her to deliver freshly tatted lace to various patrons.
But that's not what she wants to do, even though a smile on her face as she makes her deliveries denies it. What she's always wanted to do was go out with her younger brothers early in the morning, hawking headlines, making up lies and having a grand old time.
It had been such a thrill to join David and Les and the other newsboys when they had their strike. It was not difficult to see that she did not belong with such a ragtag army, being such a pretty girl, but those poor boys did not hold her beauty against her. They welcomed her, letting her join them.
Until, of course, her parents forbid her from going with her younger brothers down to the distribution center again once the strike had ended. Her parents, Mayer and Esther, always trying to protect her, even when she did not want or need their protection.
Oh, what her parents would have thought to see her kissing Jack Kelly in front of a crowd like a common hussy before their ban was in place.
Jack. Jack Kelly.
Where is Jack now?
A young man ensnared by her purported beauty long before they even shared a word, Jack confessed his affection but fled when it was returned. She let herself love the liar, the thief, the street rat, all against her mother's wishes and father's demands. Let David hold onto his friendship with the boy, Mayer Jacobs had said, but never let him near enough to his precious daughter. She was pretty enough to do better.
She did not heed her father's warnings and, instead, gave herself over to the urban Cowboy. But then, just when she thought that everything she'd been living toward had been changed, that being pretty was not going to dictate she led a female lifestyle—plenty of kids to keep her company while she kept her place in the kitchen—he was gone. Gone with the wind, exchanging his living doll for a far away dream.
That's all she had ever been to the child-like Jack Kelly: just another toy to play with. She was a pretty doll, fun to play with, easy to discard. Santa Fe… she was his mistress.
Santa Fe had beauty that she did not possess—being pretty wasn't enough. And now…
Go on. Look at her again. Squint if you have to. Watch as the creamy skin spots and wrinkles right before your eyes, the clean, healthy hair hangs limply around stooped shoulders, the smile etches deeply into a frown that a lifetime of pretense has hidden.
Time passes and opportunities flitter by unnoticed. Beauty fades but unattainable dreams remain. She's dreaming, dreaming of a place where outer appearances are trumped by inner strength and kindness. But dreams are dreams and truth is truth.
She will marry, she will bear children and she will grow old. Old and wary, tired and angry. And alone.
Look at her.
Still such a pretty girl?
There's more to life than just being pretty, you know.
Just look at her.
Author's Note: You know, I have no idea where this came from but it seemed to just flow from my fingertips as I took a break from working on various other stories this morning. It was a nice change to focus on a character that I usually don't work with – and, really, Sarah does need more love.