There is a girl this morning who will wake up before anyone else in her family. She will start the fire and begin to make the matoke and beans that will be their breakfast. She has four brothers and a Mother to cook for, her Father is in the woods making what living he can for them by hunting. She empties the last of the water from her yellow plastic jerry can into the pot on the fire. As the water heats she takes the empty jerry can and begins her walk to the well. The walk to the well is pleasant enough, few people are awake and the day is still and quiet although already quite warm. Mosquitos bite her legs as she walks but she doesn’t notice them. After a short walk down a very steep and muddy hill she reaches the well. This well is nothing more than a pipe protruding out of the earth and pouring water into a little alcove. She knows better than to take water from the little pool the pipe creates. That stagnant water would bring disease and death to her family. She wades up to her knees in the pool and puts her large jerry can directly under the pipe and it begins to fill. The can gets heavier and heavier as it fills with water and her arms ache to keep it in place just a little longer until it’s full. Finally water reaches the top of the jerry can. She lifts it with all of her strength onto her head and begins the treacherous walk back up the slippery steep hill. She knows that if even a little bit of water spills she will have to go back to the well and start again. She walks slowly but confidently up the hill. This isn’t her first trip to the well. Since she learned to walk she has been making this trek with progressively larger and larger jerry cans. The one she carries today is the largest and weighs almost as much as she does. She never reaches a hand up to the can balanced on her head- this comes from years of practice and the jerry can doesn’t so much as move no matter how steep the hill or long the walk. By the time she returns home with the fresh water, breakfast is boiling and she removes it from the fire and divides it into exactly equal portions. How she does this type of division without a measuring cup is almost mystical. Mathematicians couldn’t divide this breakfast more equally. Her brothers and her Mother join her outside for breakfast. They eat quickly and quietly- this might be all they get for the day. After they finish this amazing girl washes the bowls with the least amount of water possible, she doesn’t want to have to walk back to the well until this evening, yet the dishes are somehow spotless. Her brothers pick up the rope they have made out of leaves and begin playing. They are young, they are all young the girl included, but the task of cleaning their home is left to her and her Mother. The boys have the liberty to play. She grabs the broom from outside the curtain door and enters her home. It is dark inside and cooler, she sweeps the dirt and dust into piles on the floor and then carefully, with the utmost caution, sweeps it into a makeshift pan and dumps it outside. Her back aches but she hardly notices it, she just wants to finish her morning chores so she can join her brothers outside and play for a while before it’s time for her evening chores. Finally she finishes. Outside she and her brothers and a few other children from their road create games to play. Duck duck goosie is her favorite but the boys would rather kick and throw around a worn out almost unrecognizable football they have. She doesn’t protest and just enjoys the freedom of being able to, for just a minute, play. She doesn’t go to school, none of them do, their parents don’t have the money to send them so instead she is learning everything a women needs to keep a house and her brothers will soon go into the woods with her Father to learn how to hunt. Far too soon, it seems, her Mother is calling her and her brothers to come and bathe. This is her signal that her playtime is over and chores begin again. For her brothers this is their signal to throw a tantrum and cry all the way to the bath. They hate the cold water and resent being made to bathe. She doesn’t mind the bathing but she would rather not have to start the fire, cook the dinner, and walk to the well again. The girl is grateful to have a dinner though and she holds onto that as she makes her way back home. Her day ends as it began and tomorrow morning it will begin again.
I knew a boy once who had the unique gift of being born disillusioned. He could never be hurt and could not understand oppression except as that vague sort of thing he imposed on others, but it could never touch him. He had the most beautiful lips. Full and always moist without being wet. Lovely for kissing. When I kissed him, I had the most extraordinary sensation of dying a little. He was a wonderful kisser. He felt no pain, yet he craved pleasure as if it were his lifesource. He fed this habit with an ease only one who has no concept of consequence can. The kind of pleasure he craved was rarely physical, although he did find a certain satisfaction in that as well. Satisfaction but not ture pleasure. In his mind the only real pleasure one could obtain was from others suffering. Mentally he tortured those around him he viewed as weak. Although I’m sure he never thought it of himself, I always believed that he did this so that others might become as disillusioned as he. He understood that people without his ability needed oppression and painful experience to become as he was and he took it upon himself to provide the necessary knowledge. He thought of himself as a teacher. I filled myself up with him and realized he was empty.
It’s been twenty years since the coup. The bloodless, victimless, almost pleasant coup. The women’s coup. The coup that made me, a man, a completely powerless citizen of the world. As it turns out, that was for the best.
I don’t know how they did it. All I know is that somehow all of the women of the world were able to communicate with one another silently and without evidence. My belief is that they used their eyes but I have no proof of it- only a sneaking suspicion that they discovered a form of communication no man could follow or trace. We never looked in their eyes before. I’m pretty sure they used their eyes.
What the women communicated was that they were sick and tired of being treated poorly. Sick of never being looked in the eye. Sick of always being victims. Sick of never being paid equal wages. Sick of wars, and poverty, and suffering that men created and they paid for. The women were sick. They were also angry. Angry that many of them had to starve themselves to get a vote. Angry that almost no one acknowledged their contribution in almost every war known to man (most of those contributions being non-violent and entirely more useful). Angry that men didn’t carry the same burden they did even though Adam took as big a bite of that apple as Eve did. The women were angry. Sick and angry those women were.
So, they decided they didn’t like feeling sick and angry and once they decided that it was all over for the men. The women told each other (I’m sure it was through the eyes) that they were going to overthrow the men- without gore of course, they were ladies after all- so they did. One day, or night depending on what part of the world they were in, all of the women at exactly the same time told all the men, as sweetly as possible, that they didn’t run things anymore and that the women would be managing the world from now on and that there were going to be some very big changes in life. Shockingly, almost no man resisted it. I know I was relieved. When my wife told me she would be taking over I thought it was a splendid idea. She managed our household to perfection and I didn’t doubt she could help run the world that way.
Some men did attempt to fight back but it was short-lived and even weaker-hearted. I think the only reason they fought was out of pride and even they could see that was an awfully silly reason to fight. Where had pride ever gotten us anyhow? So the women triumphed and ever since then world has been a much prettier place to live in. No one is fighting and dying in wars, no one goes hungry, no one sleeps without a roof over their head unless they want to, our ozone has grown back, the rainforests are flourishing, and before bed every night everyone in the world says the same prayer ” I am thankful, I am satisfied”.
I won’t say there haven’t been a few changes I don’t wholly approve of. The way men are separated into two groups, sperm donors and sexual partners, seems a little crude. Sperm donors are men who are of above average intelligence and possess many pleasing physical attributes as well as having all the most desirable genes. The women harvest their, ahem, “samples” and use them to get pregnant and procreate. That may not sound all that different from the way things use to be but for the women it sure is. They uncovered a way to have pain-free birth. I can’t tell you what it is- I don’t know myself. What I do know is that apparently a male doctor discovered pain-free birth hundreds of years ago and forgot to tell anyone. Well, I think he forgot- the women understandably think otherwise. So, having children doesn’t hurt and the women are more than happy to raise the children in a world as lovely as ours is these days.
The other group of men, the sexual partners, are men who showed an aptitude for giving women pleasure. Not just sexually, although that certainly is a large part of it. Men who are sexual partners also give to the women they are paired with what they need emotionally. The men in this category are usually partnered with one women for their entire adult life. Both the men and the women are screened very carefully and then the women is given a choice of two men who are believed to best suit their needs sexually and emotionally. Usually the woman chooses the right man although sometimes she doesn’t and in that case she just goes back to the store and picks another. Some women go through many sexual partner men but that’s because they want to not because the system doesn’t work. I don’t understand the system but it’s something the women worked out and it seems to work rather well- although as I mentioned before, I consider it a bit crude.
I happen to fall into the sexual partner category. I wasn’t too happy about being separated from my wife and being seemingly through into a lifetime with some stranger. I was wrong. As it turns out, I was paired with my wife anyway. It is nice to know that even before the system some women knew how to choose.
Zoe had been in love with Frank her entire life. They met in elementary school when he tripped her on the playground- she broke her arm and lost her heart all in the same day. From that day on Zoe had only one mission: marry Frank and spend the rest of her life making him happy.
Zoe knew all about how to make a husband happy. She had watched her Mother cater to her Father’s every wish her whole life, and she didn’t know anyone happier than her Father. Her Mother made him three meals a day, washed and ironed his clothes, rubbed his shoulders every night, and she even bathed him. Her Father always had a smile on his face, and who wouldn’t in his position? He went to work every morning, although, if you mentioned it Zoe could never remember what it was he actually did for a living. Zoe always had a notion that he managed some sort of cosmetic factory because he always smelled like perfume and had lipstick smeared on his shirt collar when he came home at night.
Occasionally, her Mother would make a mistake and rub her Father’s shoulders too hard and then she would feel so bad about making that mistake that she would be sick and have to spend a few days in the hospital. One time, when she burned the potatoes, Zoe’s Mother was in the hospital for a month. When her Mother came home she made sure to spend extra time with Zoe, teaching her how to make her own husband always happy when she grew up.
Zoe made sure to always do whatever Frank wanted. She even did all of his homework in high school and is probably the reason he graduated. Frank left her once, to go to college, and Zoe didn’t leave her bed for three months. He came back though, because he loved her and also because he had a little “trouble” with a girl at college and also he never went to class and even if he had wouldn’t have been able to pass the class. Frank wasn’t intelligent but Zoe loved him anyway. So, Frank married her and Zoe’s Father gave them a house and a car and gave Frank a job. Although, Zoe was never quite sure what the job was. It didn’t matter though because Zoe kept Frank happy and she was fulfilling her life’s goal and using every trick her Mother taught her.
Zoe made a mistake with Frank’s dinner once and she felt so bad about it that she was in the hospital for two weeks. When all her bones healed from being sick Zoe came home and promised Frank she would never make a mistake like that again. Frank was happy and Zoe kept him that way.
Poor Zoe wasn’t able to keep her promise. The dry-cleaners lost one of Franks shirts. When Zoe told him about what happened Frank lost all his happiness. He was so sad about his shirt that he took one of the kitchen knives and began swinging it wildly at Zoe. For the first time in her life, Zoe’s first thought wasn’t about Frank’s happiness, it was about keeping the knife away from her. Frank swung and swung and hit Zoe in the shoulder and the leg, then Zoe did something her Mother never did, she fought back. The neighbors heard the ruckus and called the paramedics who walked into Frank and Zoe’s house and saw an awful scene. Zoe seemed to be bleeding from everywhere and Frank had wounds on his ankle and arm. Before Zoe lost consciousness she implored the paramedics for one thing.
“Save him!” “Save him!” she begged.
And they did.
There once was a girl who cried at just about everything. Movies, books, weddings, people yelling at each other on the street, old people eating alone, getting valentines from boys she liked, getting valentines from boys she didn’t like. She would bite her bottom lip and a few tears would escape from her eyes. She wasn’t loud, in fact, she tried not to draw attention to herself. Everyone in her town knew about her and everyone had the decency not to stare when she cried and to keep all of their judgement to themselves until she left and then they freely discussed her predicament. Some people called her an empath, others a nutter, and a few people called her Lou. This last group were people who actually knew her and spent time with her everyday, they called her Lou because her name was Louisa although no one in the town had ever called her that.
So, Lou cried and people talked about it. Who wouldn’t? No one knew why everything made her cry, Lou didn’t know why. Whenever she felt any emotion that was stronger than indifference she would bit her bottom lip and the tears would flow. She used to try and prevent it but that only made her cry harder. It was just her way. She knew it was considered abnormal, but what was to be done about it?
One day, when the time was right, which is to say, whatever time it was at the time, Lou met a boy she liked very much. She liked him because he stared right at her while she cried and always asked her what it was she was feeling that had caused her to cry. No one had asked her that since she was a little girl and when she was a little girl she hadn’t had the vocabulary to describe what she was feeling as she did now. Of course, it only makes sense that when she couldn’t describe it she was asked to, and when she could describe it no one cared to ask. That’s called life. Life was, coincidentally, what made Lou cry the most. It all makes sense you see. So, Lou and her inquisitive boy fell in love. He always asked and she always answered but she cried the exact same amount she always had and nothing really had changed for Lou except that everything had changed because she was in love. They went on like this for some time until the boy told Lou he didn’t love her anymore and was moving to Decatur, Georgia because that was where he wanted to move. Lou said she understood and then stared at him with perfectly dry eyes.
“Aren’t you going to cry?” the boy asked.
“Am I not?” asked Lou.
“No.” said the boy.
“Oh, sorry.” said Lou
The boy moved to Decatur, Georgia. Lou never cried again.