• Vol. 09
  • Chapter 01

All the Women on Earth

Before they came, life was different. We don’t remember exactly. It’s just there is a sense of something that was different. Of something that changed. It feels like something momentous. Or no, the opposite of that. It’s more of an absence, an emptiness. Something that now is so changed that it hasn’t even left the shadow of a memory of what it was. If I try to reach for it, even my awareness that there was once a difference seems to slip away. I try to reach for it in my waking moments, when I can still feel the imprint of my dreams. But no, I cannot remember.

She chatters on about it too much. I tell her to be cautious, but she has that carelessness all young girls have. Now that she is old enough to join my work team, it worries me more and more. Our jobs are important and valuable, but we are here to serve, not to tell imaginary stories. She claims to remember when she was young, and how it was different before they came, but I am not even sure she was alive then. I haven’t seen her in the news videos that get shown on the anniversary of their arrival. I have seen myself a few times. Obviously, not in my uniform, but in the tatty, muddled, random clothes we wore before they came. Life is so much better now. They brought us calm and organsiation and tidiness. This simplicity is so much better than all the disorder I seem to remember from before.

The videos certainly reveal chaos. They tend to have been taken at airports, but some are from wide open spaces. Just wherever there was room. And a camera to film it. It seems like all the women on Earth had gone to the landing sites and were gathered round their gleaming craft. Smiling, singing, waving banners of welcome, playing musical instruments…just whatever we could do to greet them. The cameras pan from the huge, celebrating crowds down to the faces of individual women. They sometimes play the one where I was, and I catch sight of my embarrassing messy hair and clothes. At least I am smiling and clapping their arrival. I must have known they were going to make things so much better.


All the Women on Earth

I do wish I could remember what was wrong with it before, just so I could appreciate all the ways in which it has improved now they are here. I just have that sense that it wasn’t always good. That sometimes other people made me feel scared or sad or unhappy. It doesn’t make sense. That is just not what women are like with each other. I sometimes feel that sense is linked to that feeling of loss I experience in the dawn hours. But then I wake properly, and it slides away, and like all the women here on Earth, I get on with my job.