Wednesday, January 09, 2013

New Beginning 988

It felt awkward, me straightening my tie and gulping down coffee while Natalie sat at the breakfast bar in her dressing gown, sans make-up and hair awry, refusing to talk, like it was my fault.

The phone pinged to let me know I had seven minutes to get to the bus stop, and I’m pretty sure I saw her flinch. “Have a good day,” I said, as I leant over to kiss her. She turned away. “You’ll get used to it,” I added, then wished I hadn’t.

“You’ll be late.”

I pulled on my coat and grabbed my briefcase. “Have—” I started, then stopped myself. “See you later.”

I heard Natalie sigh as the door closed behind me. The first Sunday since we married we hadn’t left the flat together. The first Sunday she had nowhere to go. She couldn’t just sit there feeling sorry for herself, though. She wasn’t the only one. No married women had jobs anymore.

When I returned home, the dirty dishes were in the sink, the clothes hamper was full, and the baby was crying. Natalie was still in her dressing gown, watching some novella on the standard-issue 120-inch television.

"Glad you're home," she said, graciously pausing her program long enough to acknowledge my arrival.

"Glad you noticed," I said back.

She yawned - a wide, gaping yawn that made me feel tired down to the depths of my soul. Why, oh why, hadn't I listened to President Clinton's stump speeches? You know, the ones about women being free to do whatever they wanted if she were finally elected? We men were now reaping the wrath of all those years of female repression.

I sighed, threw a load of darks in the washing machine, put on my apron, placed the baby on my hip, and began scrubbing the dishes. Four more years, I kept saying to myself. Just four more years.

Opening: Anonymous.....Continuation: Lisa H.


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:

Maybe I shouldn't have married her. Maybe I should have done what Karl and Rob said, and just kept her around, like a doll or something. But I couldn't do that. Not to her. Not to my Natalie.

Not after skinning her and stuffing her to look so deliciously perfect. No. We had to be married.


The bus glided to a halt right on schedule and I climbed on. Most of the seats were already taken and the other passengers stared at me. That was when I realised this was he first Sunday Natalie hadn't reminded me to put my trousers on. Now this felt awkward.

But on the other hand, the minx would soon be eligible for a job again.


Evil Editor said...

If she were really acting like it was his fault, she'd have flinched when he tried to kiss her, rather than when the phone pinged.

Intriguing opening. Intriguing that married women no longer have jobs. Also intriguing that we're singling out Sunday, as it's the day we'd least expect a couple to leave for work together, even if they both had jobs. Is Sunday the only work day in this time and place?

Dave Fragments said...

The Sunday reference was the only part of this that bothered me. On one hand it left me wondering what Sundays had become in what new dystopia (think Handmaid's Tale), on the other hand, I was simply puzzled why the non-standard work day.

BuffySquirrel said...

I find it a bit weird that Natalie's the one whose life has been shattered, yet the story apparently isn't about her. Eh. Apart from that, it's okay.

Mr Baskerville said...

I also got a Handmaid's Tale/new dystopia vibe from this beginning, but it intrigued me and I would definitely read on.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

I'm having trouble with the dystopia thing.

See, it wasn't so long ago that a married woman was expected to quit her job. If she didn't, she was considered to be taking work from a man who needed it. My mother remembers this well. It's recent history.

Whereas in much of the world today, "women" are forced into marriage-- or prostitution-- when they ought to be in primary school. Now *that's* a dystopia.

So... I dunno. The writing's good but I'm hoping this dystopia is gonna get a little more dystopic.

Anonymous said...

Where I live 30 years ago women didn't even TALK or go to school or work. An observation, no need of a snark reply.The world works differently in different places. That's all.

Dave Fragments said...

I got news for you guys. WHen I started grade school in 1957, my Mother went to work and worked five days a week every week after that until the late 1980's... Many of the women I worked with were professionals with college degrees and children.

So this "wife who has to stay home and not work" did strike me as dystopic and unusual.

I read the statement "No married women had jobs anymore." as odd and unusual and I wondered why and for that alone I would have read on.

Anonymous said...

Just as an aside EE, in the middle east the working week is Sunday to Thursday, and until last year Oman and Saudi Arabia had a working week of Saturday to Wednesday.