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The World's Wife

a monologue from Mildred Montag

By Catherine DorianPublished 2 months ago 3 min read
The World's Wife
Photo by Sunil Ray on Unsplash

Some months ago, I wrote this story in response to a prompt from the UK-based Mslexia Magazine. The challenge was titled, "The World's Wife": take a fictional character, historical figure, or world leader, and write from the perspective of their wife.

I chose Mildred, the wife of Guy Montag. While attempting to step into her point of view, I soon realized that I was romanticizing her; I wanted her to appear smarter than she was depicted in Fahrenheit 451.

As I revisited her conversation with her husband on the morning after her stomach was pumped, I learned the extent to which her attention span had been consumed by the digitized family that acts as her company by day and the Seashells that suffocate her memory by night.

As I wrote, I uncovered, with horror, the extent to which my own brain is coming to mirror Mildred's.

The piece was not accepted. I'd like it to instead live on here, so that I won't forget it.


Mildred, the Wife of Guy Montag

Funny. It really is funny that I can’t remember where or when I met my husband.

Of course, every woman has something she can’t remember. Dottie can’t remember what she’s cleaned; every day, she shines the mirrors, dusts the walls, fluffs the pillows, then forgets what she’s done and does it all over again. Susan can’t remember what she’s had to eat. Buttered toast here, a cube of cheese there, a bit of raisin bread. Munch, munch, munch.

Me? I stay slim. And I have a pretty good memory, I do. In the afternoons, I mind my script and remember my queue. Bob and Ruth ask, “What do you think of this whole idea, Helen?” And I say, “I think that’s fine!”

Fine. See, I’m perfectly fine! I always remember my lines. And now, it’s bedtime.

Bedtime! A Sominex at bedtime. Sominex for sleep.

Sleep. The other night, I was supposed to be asleep when Guy asked me, “When did we meet?”

When did we meet? Originally? Why, I don’t know. Tomorrow, I’ll call Mother. She’ll know, and she’ll tell. Like the jingle: “Seashell, Seashell! The Shell knows, the Shell tells!”

And here’s the Shell now!

“Goodnight!” she says. “Sleep tight! Did you take your Sominex tonight?”

Sominex. Yes! Guy thinks I sometimes forget.

“Remember, Sominex and sleep, sleep…”

“…safe and restful sleep, sleep, sleep.” How could I forget?

“Time for bed. And what do we do when it’s time for bed?”

Take Sominex tonight and sleep, sleep, sleep!

“Don’t forget!”

Forget! I never forget! The capsule, still sticky on my tongue—I must have taken one. But just in case, I’ll have another one.

“Goodnight! Turn out the lights and draw the blinds!”

Yes! The blinds, the window. The sky. And the moon, a crescent, glowing like a swan. A swan in the sky. A swan, how lovely—a swan.

“Seashell, when was the last time I saw a swan?”

“A swan? A swan?”

And there it is. Guy’s voice: “Want to see the swans?”

Our first date. We’d gone for a walk. He had no idea I’d hit “Record” on my Seashells, so that one day, I could relive the moment. So that one day, I could remember.

Now, I remember. The swans, the pond—Chicago. We met in Chicago.

Chicago! How wonderful. And how funny! It really is funny that the whole time, I could have just asked the Seashells. “Seashell, Seashell, the Shell knows, and the Shell tells!”

Well, tomorrow, I’ll tell. And Guy will be so happy that I remember. But that’s for tomorrow. Leave my slippers at the bedside, for tomorrow. Tomorrow! Chicago.

“Tomorrow! Did you take your Sominex, so you can sleep till tomorrow?”

Sominex, Sominex! Yes. And I’ll tell him tomorrow. Tomorrow, tomorrow. Chicago, Chicago. I’ll remember, and I’ll tell him tomorrow.


Thank you for reading.

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About the Creator

Catherine Dorian

Writer and teacher. Sometimes, I write about teaching.

For me, writing is compulsive, but it never feels self-destructive; it’s the safest medium by which I can confront what scares me.

I've been told my Instagram needs a makeover.

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Comments (3)

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  • Barbara Steinhauser 2 months ago

    Do you teach about writing? Because I felt like this post was very instructive! Fascinating concept.

  • Lacy Loar-Gruenler2 months ago

    Catherine, this is so evocative of Mildred and her desperation. It took me a few paragraphs before the novel came back to me since it has been decades since I read it. But you brought Mildred alive in an amazing way, which can only be done in the hands of a great writer. Thank you for sharing!

  • John Cox2 months ago

    First of all, this an amazing story! If memory serves, you have captured the sense of the absurd in Mildred’s inane thoughts in a manner that dovetails nicely with Bradbury’s characterization of the hive mind in the novel. I’m, however, stretching memory to its limits since I read Fahrenheit 451 when I was 15 or 16. I’m tempted to read the novel again to better appreciate what you have accomplished here. I do not know if it was intentional, but you have written a cautionary tale apropos of our times. The fact that it got under your skin suggests that you are already fairly advanced in your journey to your core. In my own life and writing such realizations are akin to looking in the mirror and seeing in the reflection my true self rather than one of the masks that I have fashioned for the world’s indulgence. I am excited to see what the future holds for you. Keep writing and I will keep reading.

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