SF The Gender Order

Editor’s Foreword

This story could easily be classified as “fantasy” for male readers, or “horror” for female readers.

I cross the living room to the front door, push it open slowly. She’s alone. Good. She lies in pooling sunlight, stretched naked on the autumn leaves. I see the gentle rise and fall of her swollen belly, imagine I can hear the two heartbeats even at this distance.

“How much longer?”

She raises her tawny head to look at me.“Why? Does it matter? You’ll only sell it as soon as it’s weaned.”

I sigh, and hunker down on the porch. Take out my pipe, then set it beside me. Smoke always annoys her and she’d just crawl to her nest under the house. I don’t want her to leave. I need to see her face. Our relationship is delicately balanced. Or so I tell myself. Polite as a butterfly on a leaf.

“I’ve a proposal. I’ll keep this one, would you like that?” She stares at me, her face immobile. “I’ll do this providing it’s as healthy as the first one.”

She reaches to pluck a wildflower, absently twirls it in her fingers. A sparrow darts down to sit on the post beside me. It cocks its head and flits off as she replies.

“You know better than to propose anything to me. Whatever I deliver is your property. That’s the law.”

I know she’s right but I want her in ways the law does not provide. I wet my lips. “What if you were free? I could do that for you–”

She shakes her head. I’ve said it all before, she knows it’s a lie. Several of my other females come out of their shelters to watch us. A breeze of whispers. Little wonder they are jealous. I’ve seen them poke her with sticks when she’s with child, but a Master never intervenes.

The yellow air from the city follows the southeast wind. Tomorrow it will rain. Perhaps it will be pure. We never can be certain these days.

She turns herself the other way so I can’t see her face. I give up trying, light my pipe. Perhaps I conceded long ago, before the Gender Order became law. It doesn’t matter. The afternoon gives way to shadows. I don’t notice when she disappears.


About the Author

Marge Ballif Simon freelances as a writer-poet-illustrator for genre and mainstream publications such as Nebula Awards 32, Strange Horizons, Flashquake, Flash Me Magazine, Dreams & Nightmares, The Pedestal Magazine, Story House and Vestal Review. Marge is former president of the Small Press Writers/Artists Organization and the Science Fiction Poetry Association and now serves as editor of Star*Line.


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