Author : Terri Monture

The funeral cortege rolled smoothly down the boulevard, the faces of the witnessing crowd somber and drawn in the grey light. It had stopped raining but was damp and cold. Amanda shivered and pulled Sylvia and Clarice closer into her body. “Mama, what is that?” asked Sylvia, her shrill little girl’s voice querulous as she pointed at the immense funeral bier, the sleek black coffin strewn with white flowers.

Amanda swallowed, licking her dry lips. “That’s your father,” she answered.

Sylvia, her youngest, looked up at her mother, uncomprehending. “What’s a father?” she asked, her huge blue eyes solemn.

Amanda looked at the massive coffin as it rolled on past. Women of all ages, all bearing the same stamp in their faces – the thin aquiline nose, the full lip, the elfin chin and black hair – all vaguely the same, all hunching their shoulders against the cold in the same fashion. Jacob Lastman – not so ironically named, as it turned out – had fathered them all. He had been the last fertile male left on the planet, his precious sperm the last viable option for the human race. And now he was dead.

There were only females left on the planet now, and their numbers were dwindling.

Amanda had born seven of his daughters in the age-old way, the lucky meeting of sperm to fertile egg, and provided countless ovum to the frantic attempts to preserve humanity. She was also probably one of the last women on the planet to have actually lain with a man, to know his weight upon her and feel the shuddering spasm that fathered her two eldest daughters until it was realized that he was becoming too old — and his heart too fragile — to withstand the rigours of normal fertilization. And after his final heart attack, all of their advanced technology unable to correct the last defects — they had wrung out every last precious drop of him and were even now impregnating the women who would carry the end of their species.

Amanda hugged her smallest child. “Do you remember the lesson yesterday, we watched the clips about how people are born.”

Sylvia looked confused but Clarice glanced up at her mother, her bright blue eyes narrowed in concentration. Amanda knew that glance — she had seen it in Jacob, seen it replicated a thousand, a hundred thousand times in the last twenty years. All that was left. “Oh yeah”, she chirped up. “I remember. It said that boys are extinct. Something about the fragile Y chromosome.”

Amanda nodded. “That’s right. Turns out the environment became too polluted for the Y chromosome to survive. The only male left could father children, but just girls.”

She glanced around the crowd, all of them related, all sisters. She remembered her own father only vaguely, and had never known any brothers. Her grandmother had told her stories of the old days, about inequality and domestic violence and something horrible called rape. All of that was over.

Women had decisively won the gender wars. But it was very lonely.


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