"But Mummy, why do men have smaller brains?"

Karen Rose

"Libby, wait up."

Turning, she saw Katriona running down the crowded street towards her, red faced, panting and flapping her arms.

"Where...(pant)...are you...(pant)...off to?"

"Oh I'm just off to see what's new in today."

"Haven't you made a decision yet?!" She asked incredulously, "You'd better hurry up before your time's up."

"Well, I want to make the right choice, 'cause if I don't I might need to live with the mistake for a long time"

"I don't get why you're so picky. One's no different from the other."

"It is to me." Libby felt upset that no one could understand how important it was to her to choose the right one, especially one of her closest friends.

"Look I just don't see why you don't just pick one and be done with it. I mean..."

"Libby! Kat!" They turned

"Hey Sari," Libby smiled, glad for the interruption.

"So are you off to see what's in?"

"Yup. Not that it's any of your business Kat."

She had only met Sari yesterday, but liked her already. Sari was a life long friend of Katriona's and Libby liked the way she talked to her. She wouldn't take any of her rubbish or answer any of her inquisitive questions. She just told her to stop being so nosy. They reached their destination just like yesterday and the day before and the day before. Like monotonous drones every one would queue up to see what was new. They entered the tall blue building's large double glass doors and headed through the neatly furnished hallway towards the nearest receptionist.

The woman (whose name was Lucy) took their names and handed them the appropriate computer keys

"Here's your computer keys and happy hunting. Five minutes, Kat. Third floor..."

"Second on the right, I know. Thanks Luce."

Kat turned and gave them a hopeful glance as they made their way to their computers.

"Fingers crossed," they both mouthed and crossed their fingers. Katriona gave a small smile and turned away towards the lift.

"Oh I hope it's good news," Sari turned towards Libby with a nervous look on her face. "This is her fourth try."

"Yeah, I know. She wants this so badly."

"And her mother doesn't help with all the pressure."

"I've never met her mother."

"And trust me, you don't want to. This is still for your first try, isn't it?"

"Yes..." She was curious as to what Sari was getting at.

"Then trust me she'd eat you alive with all her speeches about duty. She's a very scary woman."

And with that thought they laughed, entered the searching room and sat at their computers.

They stood at the docks in a long procession line, grimly facing the incoming ship. , A trail of men that lead from the pier to the shipyard and right up to the docking bay. A little boy jumped up and down, pulling at his father's shirttail.

"Daddy, when will I have a baby brother? When?"

"Soon, Niky, soon"

"Daddy where do babies come from?" He looked awkwardly at the boy and at his older son who was smirking and smothering a laugh.

"Ask me again later. Now you go off and play." The little boy nodded and ran away laughing towards the play area. Immediately, his older brother burst out laughing.

"And what is so funny?"

"Oh come off it, dad. If you had seen the look that was on your face, you'd 'a burst out laughing on the spot and not bothered waiting till he'd left."

"Look, Ewan you just get ready for the shipment and be quiet."

"Dad, just promise me something."

"What?"

"Just promise me you won't wait as long to tell Nik the facts of life as you did with me. I'll never forget the embarrassment, the humiliation of announcing to my class that the fairies were making me a little brother."

His father began to smirk and smother a laugh, and as the boy turned to leave, he burst out laughing.

They walked up the gravel path towards the large but homely semi-detached house and as they were nearing the door, a chubby blonde haired woman peered out.

"Lorraine, Ann-Marie, hi." She greeted the women and their three little girls.

"Hey, Rosie."

"Hello, Auntie Rosie." the little girls chorused.

"Is Lisa, Rachael, Lauren and Katie up to play?"

"Yes they're up from their naps, Marie-Claire. Just go through to the room girls." As the girls trailed off, Rosie led Lorraine and Ann-Marie through to her large spacious kitchen.

"Tea?" she asked.

"Thanks, Rosie. Milk..."

"Three sugars, I know. Lorraine?

"Yes thanks. Same for me."

Rosie busied herself making the tea, "So what have you been up to? How's work?"

"Oh it's quite good," Lorraine replied, "Lots of babysitting to arrange, you know how it is. I'm run off my feet! Sometimes I think it might be better if..."

"Don't even think that. Things are much better now. "Ann-Marie looked at Rosie as if to say Lorraine was not feeling all that well, "Just take a seat at the table and we'll have a nice little chat."

"Yes, I suppose so. Do you have any rich tea's?"

"How do you think it went?" She looked anxiously at Sari then back at Katriona who was slowly approaching them.

"I don't know. She's too far away to see what her face is like." They stood there nervously, like schoolgirls waiting for exam results, ready to chew their fingernails. "I can't stand this any longer. She's doing this on purpose."

"Or maybe she's just in shock." Libby said. Sari looked at her.

"Shock that it failed or shock that it didn't?"

"Well how am I supposed to know!" By this time, Kat had almost reached them and from the look on her face, she was in shock. But was it shock that it had failed again or that it hadn't? Libby felt confused and unsure of what to say. But she didn't have to as Sari spoke first.

"Well...?"

"It worked." they looked at each other and paused in silence. Then erupted in screams of joy. The women around them looked and smiled. The three turned and walked out of the building with linked arms.

"I'm so happy. I can't believe it worked. After three tries I thought it was impossible."

"I'm so happy for you." Libby was overjoyed for her; she knew just how much Katriona wanted this.

"Now all we need is for you to choose one and try."

"Don't get your hopes up, Katriona."

"You mean you still haven't found one?!"

"No and at the rate I'm going, I don't think I ever will." Libby sighed. "I keep thinking that...I...Oh it doesn't matter." They stopped walking and looked at her.

"What?"

"I don't know, I keep thinking that maybe things would be better if I could do it the old fashioned way." Sari and Katriona looked at each other disgusted and then at Libby.

"The old fashioned way!"

"You mean..."

"...have sexual relations..."

"...with a man?!"

"Niky! Come over and look at this."

"He's going to be over the moon." Ewan looked at his dad and smiled.

"What about you? How do you feel about it?"

"I think it's great. I just wish that I could meet..."

"I know you do, son, but you know what the rules are."

"But why did it have to happen?"

"You know why segregation happened, Ewan."

"But we're not even on the same continents! It's not fair. And we only ever find out what we are told in school. But you know. You were alive in 2329, before it happened. Can't you tell me?"

"I'm not sure I should." He looked at his son, unsure whether or not to proceed

"Please, dad...Please," and Ewan looked at him with a look in his eyes that tore him apart inside.

"What do you want to know?"

"Everything. I mean I know that the reason was because of AIDS and TLSCV..."

"TLSCV?"

"Sorry, that's our teacher's shorthand for The Last Sexually Communicated Virus."

"Oh right"

"But what I want to know is...what it was like before Segregation. What do women really look like? Have you ever met one?"

"Yes. As a matter of fact, I have."

"Really?!"

"Yes. In fact my best friend when I was little was a girl named Lorraine."

"Your best friend was a female!"

"Yes. I..." He turned as Nik came hurtling towards them

"What is it, daddy?"

"Well, do you remember asking when you'd get a little brother?" He exchanged a glance and a smile with Ewan. "Well you've got one."

"Yippee!" Nik jumped up and punched the air. "When's he coming?"

"He'll be here on next shipment." Nik ran up to him and hugged him and then Ewan before running off to tell his friends.

"…So, anyway, I said to her that she should just send it away to the other continents right away. No point in taking too long. I mean you do hear about women getting attached to them and wanting to keep them."

"Could you imagine keeping a boy?! I mean it's absurd."

"I don't know. I think I'd quite like it."

"Lorraine!" The two women looked at her shocked.

"Look ignore me. I'm not feeling very well." Lorraine smiled weakly and sat in silence

"You're a strange woman, Lorraine"

Lorraine sat back and watched as the two women chatted, afraid to speak out in case they reported her to the authorities for crimes against state laws!

"Speaking of strange women have you seen the state of that Shelley down the road?!" Rosie asked.

"I know. The shame of it."

"It's her mother I feel sorry for. I mean, imagine trying to run away to the other continents."

"Why would she want to? That's what I want to know." Ann-Marie shuddered.

"Oh and speaking of shame, do you know that Elizabeth McKenzie…"

"Who?" Ann-Marie looked confused.

"Oh you know, the one they all call Libby."

"Oh yes"

"Well do you know they say she hasn't even tried once!"

"What at her age?! She must be at least twenty!"

"I know, it's terrible."

"Terrible. Anyway Rosie. How are your girls?"

"Well, while we're speaking about men…" they shuddered, "…you'll never guess what Lisa asked me this morning."

"What?"

"She asked, 'Mummy why don't women see men anymore? 'cause our teacher said they once did'"

"So what did you say?"

"I told her that 'Men's inferior brains couldn't cope with the superiority of women.'"

"You mean you told her the truth at such a young age!"

"Ugh yuck, Libby." Katriona shuddered and looked back at the pregnancy building as if it offered her support.

"It's so...mediaeval, so..." Sari and Katriona looked at each other, "...icky!" Libby sighed.

"And besides," Katriona looked straight at her, "men are so stupid."

"...and completely unnecessary after they've donated."

"How do you know? Have you ever met one?"

"Well...no…but I've heard." She looked at Sari for support

"And besides it's common knowledge."

"But don't you ever wish we all lived together? That we could fall in love? That we were all..."

"You mean we actually thought we were superior to women!" Ewan looked at his father in disbelief!

"Well the ancients did but slowly some men began to think they were equal to us."

"Did a lot of men still think that when you were little. I mean that women were," he gulped and whispered, "…inferior," hoping no one had heard.

"Yes."

"Wow! Dad what did that feel like?"

"I don't know... it felt like it was wrong."

"You mean that it was the women that were superior?"

"No, Ewan," he looked down at his son, "Like we should all be..."

Lorraine could stand it no longer, "Have either of you ever even seen a man?"

They looked at her.

"We don't need to," Rosie looked at her with superiority in her air

"No, I mean even the men know they're inferior,"

"But what's to say you're wrong. What's to say we're not all..."

"Equal"

feedback at karenrose_davidson