[Hi again! Been a while, sorry about that… it’s amazing how quickly three months can go by when you’re giving yourself lots of holidays! Anyway, I’m totally back, probably. Here’s a piece I wrote as part of a recent job, where a poet commissioned a bunch of dystopian feminist flash fiction stories that he’ll then turn into sonnets. Just a normal job, hey? Happily, he said I was fine to share them here too, so enjoy! This is the first of five]
As soon as her husband closed the door, she fetched the stepladder, moved the armchair, pulled the hatch down, and clambered into the loft again. He wouldn’t be home until 15:00—she had hours!
She gingerly opened the box and lifted out the first book: ‘The Magic of Motherhood’. It was her favourite—everyone in it looked so real, not at all like the models you saw on the adverts, smooth skin stretched to bursting. These were real women, normal women. Women like her.
Paul would be furious if he knew what she was thinking, fantasizing about. There was no way they could afford a pregnancy. Even after the population had stabilised and HealthCo slashed the prices, pregnancies remained the pastime of the elite. Oh, to feel that incredible feeling of another life growing inside her! She pulled the book close to her chest, gently stroked its cover, whispered words of comfort to it, and to herself.
“Paul,” she breathed to the dead air of the attic, to the ghostly workbenches covered in sheets, “why can’t I have a child?” She knew exactly how he’d react. Sensible, pragmatic Paul.
“Come now, you don’t want to be a part of the problem, honey! Pregnancies are just a celeb fad, a moneymaking scheme. Look at the trouble overpopulation caused,” he’d say with a tired smile.
He’d tap the terminal around her wrist, gently reminding her how lucky she was to be a registered citizen, not one of the ‘wanderers’, unregistered, on the streets, and free game for the militia that ‘kept the peace’. The same terminal, through two microscopic pins on its underside, kept her dosed up with enough hormones to make pregnancy impossible.
She noticed she was crying and stood up quickly, ashamed. The movement caused a sheet to slip from the nearest workbench—Paul had been quite the handyman when they first married. The jaws of a vice glinted at her.
Several minutes of exertion later, her mangled terminal fell from her wrist. With lecherous wanderers on every corner, she could be pregnant within the hour! She hurried down the stepladder to find something revealing to wear, ‘The Magic of Motherhood’ left discarded on the floor.
[What do you think? Exploring feminist issues in a dystopian setting, amiright?]