A oneshot I wrote and originally posted on Tumblr for Girlsies Week, hope you guys enjoy!
When Katherine Ethel Pulitzer was a little girl, her most favorite thing to do was accompany her father to the New York World offices. To her, the sharp smell of fresh ink, the sound of typewriter keys clicking, and the commotion as both reporters and editors ran around her chasing stories was wonderful, even magical. As her father stood next to her discussing the day's headlines with the Editor in Chief, Katherine would look around with wide eyes at everything that was happening, shyly hiding her face in her father's pants whenever a passing reporter would take the time to smile at her.
As she grew her love of the newsroom deepened until one day when she was seven she walked up to her father and said confidently, "Papa, I'm going to be a reporter when I grow up."
Joseph Pulitzer nodded absently. "You have plenty of time to make up your mind, Katherine. Don't be in such a hurry to grow up."
Katherine tried to protest that this was what she wanted to do, she knew it with all her heart, but her father hushed her and told her to run along and stop nagging him.
This often happened when Katherine told people about her dream. They told her to wait and see what the future would bring, or they laughed and patted her on the head like she was a dog. One gap-toothed old woman who apparently was Katherine's great-aunt even declared that no woman should even consider such a grubby occupation, to which Katherine replied that in that case, she supposed she wasn't a woman. This spirited outburst resulted in her being sent from the room with a warning to respect her elders, which Katherine grumbled to herself that she would heed only when her elders respected her.
As the years dragged on and Katherine grew from a naive little girl in a frilly dress with a bow in her hair into a lanky eleven-year-old with a hot temper and a love for mischief she still held tightly to her dream of becoming a reporter, though sometimes it was difficult. It seemed the whole world was against her, telling her that no respectable lady could become a reporter and that she should devote her time to more feminine tasks such as sewing and keeping house.
Katherine often wondered if the world was right. Real reporters weren't teenage girls who wrote stories about going to the library for the afternoon, they were hardened men who wrote provocative pieces about murders, fires, and the conditions poor people lived in. Katherine didn't even own a typewriter, and you had to own a typewriter to be a real reporter.
All this was enough to make Katherine want to give up on her dream, but something happened one day which changed everything.
Katherine was once again accompanying her father to the offices of the World. Now that she was older he didn't take her with him nearly as often as he used to, but that particular morning Katherine had been annoying her mother so much that her mother finally begged her father to take her with him, and her father had agreed.
Now Katherine was standing outside the door to the Editor in Chief's office, waiting for her father to emerge and take her home. As always the newsroom was a hive of activity, and Katherine found herself watching the hustle and bustle with the same intense longing as always.
Suddenly, she caught sight of something she had never expected to see. A young woman was standing near a desk talking to a reporter, and from the way she spoke Katherine could tell they were discussing something important. Katherine also noted that the woman was holding a small bag and looked to be about to leave, which made Katherine even more curious about this mystery visitor.
Slowly walking closer she attempted to hear what they were saying without being observed, but her plan was foiled when the woman finished speaking, turned, and caught sight of Katherine. Before Katherine had time to fully process what was happening, the woman quickly walked over to her.
"Hello," the woman said, a kind smile on her face. "Can I help you with something?"
Katherine shook her head, finding herself unable to form a coherent sentence. The woman looked her up and down, then remarked, "I didn't know the World employed any other female reporters."
"I'm not a reporter," Katherine managed to squeak. Then the rest of the woman's words sunk in. "Do you mean you're a reporter for the World?"
The woman nodded, then stuck out her hand. "Nellie Bly, at your service."
Katherine shook Nellie Bly's hand. "I'm Katherine Pulitzer," she responded.
Nellie raised her eyebrows. "Would you happen to be related to Mr. Joseph Pulitzer?" she asked.
Katherine nodded, looking down at her feet under the woman's intense gaze. "He's my father," she explained quietly.
Nellie nodded. "I see," she said.
They stood in silence for a minute before Katherine found herself blurting out, "I'd like to be a reporter when I grow up."
Nellie smiled. "Well, with a father like yours I'm sure you'd be a natural."
Katherine shook her head. "He doesn't want me to be a reporter. He says there's plenty of time to make up my mind about what I want to be when I grow up." Katherine shrugged. "Besides, I could never be a reporter."
Nellie looked surprised. "Nonsense! If you want to do it, you can do it. The question is, do you want to do it?"
Katherine looked back up at Nellie, astonished that anyone would take her dream seriously. "More than anything," she said earnestly.
Just then the door to the editor's office opened and her father stepped out. Looking around he quickly spotted her.
"Katherine! Come along, we're leaving now," he called.
Katherine turned to look at him. "I'm coming, Papa!" she called back, then turned back to Nellie.
Nellie smiled again, then lowered her voice and spoke softly so that only Katherine could hear her. "I've always had the feeling that nothing is impossible if one applies a certain amount of energy in the right direction."
Katherine nodded in understanding. "Thank you," she said, her voice conveying that she was truly extremely grateful.
Nellie nodded then walked past Katherine towards the door, nodding respectfully to Joseph Pulitzer on her way out.
Katherine stared after Nellie Bly for a moment, then hurried to catch up with her father. As they drove home, Katherine couldn't help smiling to herself. A new determination had taken root inside of her, and she knew now that Nellie Bly was right. She could be a reporter, and no one could convince her otherwise.