Tell A Tale in 500 Words
The Best of Times By Vanessa Horn
Twenty-three drew Fourteen away from the group. Spoke quietly. “Things need to change.”
His friend raised his eyebrows. “Why?”
“You have to ask?” Twenty-three indicated the multitude of males slouching around the camp, enclouded by testosterone fug.
Fourteen frowned. “It’s not ideal, I suppose…”
“Exactly! We need to be back with the women.”
“I know - it’s been tried before. Failed miserably.”
“So… This time will be different.”
Four days later, Twenty-three stopped before the high walls and adjusted his bonnet. Taking a deep breath, he tapped firmly on the metal gates.
From the adjoining door, a woman stepped out. “Yes?”
Voice-pitching higher as he’d practised, he smiled. “Hi, I’m Matilda, from W2E Camp; I’m relocating, due to overcrowding.”
A pause while the woman looked him up and down. Twenty-three waited, droplets of sweat prickling then trickling down his back.
Eventually, she nodded. “Welcome to W3S, Matilda. Come in and I’ll show you your accommodation.”
Twenty-three exhaled, following the woman into the camp. Easy – so easy! Moments later, he looked around his surroundings with some surprise; who knew camp could be kept so clean? Or tidy? And - here he sniffed the air - pleasantly smelling, too. His time at W3S was obviously going to be agreeable. Until, of course, the others arrived… He bit his lip. Then shrugged; he supposed there was time to rectify their various personal hygiene issues before that day came.
After several weeks, Twenty-three felt he had established himself well, fitting agreeably into the daily routines. Keeping modestly clothed and maintaining his feminine voice-pitch was relatively easy, even if getting rid of his chin-stubble proved rather more of a chore. Yes: now accepted, it was time to initiate the next phase: to appeal for equality. Still disguised as a female, of course; no point in being thrown out before he’d even begun.
So. The main woman: the Deli Lima. He knew who she was, but had not ever spoken directly to her. However, knowing she was due to preside over a debate in the square later, he planned to approach her afterwards. Surely it would be easy to win her over; to persuade her that males and females could live together again? He was living the proof, after all.
On arrival, he listened to the great woman talking, her voice calm. Repetitive. Then other women responded, equally serenely. Deliberating. Debating. Twenty-three waited as an hour elapsed. Then another. The discussion continued. He gritted his teeth. For Pete’s sake, couldn’t they just get on with it – maybe settle matters with a fight?
Finally, unable to contain himself any longer, he strode away from the group. After turning the corner and coming across a large tree, he swung back his arm and punched the solid structure with all his strength. A delicious mixture of pain and relief washed through him. Release at last - God, it felt good!
It was only then he heard the gasps behind him…
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