Hey everyone, finally getting the time to write again. This is a commissioned short story, though as discussions continue in the background, the plot is getting deeper and more complex than our originally planned 10 chapters will allow for, so who knows when it’ll be done.
Insert obligatory mention of my Patreon here…
Anyway, have fun with this one. There’s a little inspiration coming from The Handmaid’s Tale, except without all the rapey murdery stuff.
Fear gripped Penelope Russo as she stared at the paper on the wall. Seven years she worked at Donatello, never missing a shift, always coming in to cover other people, and her name wasn’t even on the new schedule for next week. Since the day she graduated high school, she’d waited tables there, while other girls came and went. How could this even be happening?!
“Tony wants to see you in his office, Penny.” Jacky Phillips tapped her on the shoulder, and she nearly jumped out of her skin. The girl was barely twenty, but they became fast friends when Jacky started working there. Well, more than friends on occasion… friends with benefits? But that was behind tightly closed doors, not spoken of at work or anywhere else. The look on Jacky’s face confirmed what Penny already feared; this wasn’t going to be a good conversation.
Jacky gave her a quick hug. “Good luck, hun.”
“Yeah, thanks.” Dejected, she walked through the kitchen, up the stairs, and knocked on the general manager’s door.
“Come in!” the low voice boomed behind the door, with that signature Jersey-Italian accent thick through it. She opened the door and stepped inside.
“Penny.” He shook his head. “Penny, Penny, Penny, what am I gonna do wit’ you?”
“Tony, please, you can’t…”
“Look, you’re a hard worker. You’re polite. You make sure everyone’s drink is full and their food gets out hot. But I’ve told you over and over, the guys have expectations. Parents bring their boys in here looking to get them hooked up. You know this. I know this. And the big boss knows it too, and he says I gotta let you go, because you won’t do it.”
“You need a man, Penny. You need to be home making babies for your man. Not here turning into an old spinster. The customers complain, they want their waitresses to be friendly. And young. And the girls, they flirt until they find a guy that clicks, and boom, I’m hiring a new one because she went off and got hitched.”
“Spinster, Tony! I’m twenty five, not fifty!”
“When did I hire you, Penny? You were eighteen. Most of these girls that I hire, they’re fifteen, sixteen. That’s what the customers want to see, young girls they can pair up with their teenage sons to make grandchildren for them.”
“Penny, look, I know what you are. Don’t worry, my lips are sealed. But it’s not my world, Penny. I just gotta live in it. Back in my grandfather’s day, no one would even blink over someone like you, but since the religious kooks took over, I mean, what’re you gonna do?”
Penny struggled not to cry as Tony’s words cut through her. All throughout school, she and every other girl was drilled about how the most noble profession and honorable profession for women was being a mother and wife. Only the Barren went to work, because the fertile were needed to keep the population growing. But as much as she tried to like boys, or at least to tolerate them, she lusted after other girls. Boys, they just wanted to squash her tits with their meat-hooks and then hump her like a dog until they were spent. Girls went out of their way to make her feel good, touch all her special places the way she’d touch herself when she thought about them. The dirty, dirty thoughts she had. And she hated herself for it.
“I just… what am I gonna do, Tony? As long as I’m making eggs, they won’t let me work in the factories or go to college or anything! This is all I got!”
“I wish it didn’t have to be like this, Penny. Maybe try being nicer to the boys at another place? Maybe suck it up and get hitched what they expect of you? I don’t know. Maybe…” He leaned over and got much, much quieter. “Maybe I know a guy. Maybe he can get you some of those sticks, you know what I’m saying? Maybe you make a phone call or somethin’.” He slid a piece of paper across the desk with a phone number on it.
Penny shuddered, but took the piece of paper and slipped it into her purse. One of her “girlfriends” in high school tried to get hold of the “egg-breaker sticks” - injections you could take that would turn you up as infertile when you went to the clinic to get harvested every month. But they were as illegal as heroin and cocaine. A cop showed up for her at school not long after that, and no one ever saw her again.
“Th… thanks Tony.” She hung her head, and he stood up.
“I wish you luck Penny. You’re a good kid. Take care of yourself, huh?”
She stood up as well, taking his outstretched hand and shaking it weakly.
“I’ll have your last check ready for you on Friday, okay?”
“Hey. Maybe… maybe in a few months, I might be needing a front of the house manager, eh?”
Her mind reeling, Penny trudged back down the steps and out the back door, speaking to no one on the way. Tony’s words burned at the back of her brain. Why? Why’d she have to like girls? Why couldn’t she just be normal and find a husband and have a happy life surrounded by kids? It would have been so much easier than what she’d been through since high school.
She thought about the phone number he gave her. God, if she got caught, she’d wind up disappeared like that kid Sarah! But if she didn’t get caught, that was her golden ticket! All she needed was to turn up empty at the fertility clinic three months in a row, and she’d be reclassified as a Barren. No more pressure to get married, no more being a waitress and getting groped by horny teenage boys while their parents laughed about it. She and her little circle of special friends would still have to keep quiet about their little get-togethers, but no one really cared about what Barrens did with their free time. It was only illegal for boys - If a man lie with a man as a woman, it is an abomination, was how the verse went. Girls, well, society thought it was shameful, but the Coalition couldn’t find any biblical justification to outlaw it.
But first she had to at least try to find another job. Even if she could get the sticks, she had to keep her rent up long enough to make it three months…