Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for September 13th, 2021

Title: THE WILLING
Author: Lindsay Lees
Publisher: Indpendent
Pages: 299
Genre: Dystopian

BOOK BLURB:

In less than a year, fifteen-year-old Gypsy Capone will be considered a woman in Ovoidia, a “utopian” city-state where every woman can be approached for immediate sex by any man, where curving architecture adds weird whimsy, sporks are the only cutlery, and true intimacy between the genders is a sign of suspect subversion. After all, if a woman just plays along, she’ll also do her job and have children, with the reward of a fine home in the “Communities,” where she and the other “Mamas” live together in harmony with everything they need. Right?

The irony: Diam and Isis, the two leaders of Ovoidia, are themselves females. Fun, yes! And just below the surface, perversely sinister. They personally execute these precise sacrifices by women to establish their “happy,” absurdly totalitarian utopia, and are backed up by their chosen army of male “crusaders,” enforcing a crime-free, fully controlled society.

Men are relegated to work in the “City” where they may “enjoy”—right there on the street if they wish—any woman they want and are welcome to satisfy their sexual and emotional needs at establishments called Gaje Clubs where only the most “gifted” among women are chosen to work.

Not surprisingly, in Ovoidia women have evolved until they feel nothing of sexual pleasure. But in Gypsy’s deepest heart, she realizes her own dark secret: she is the exception. Next she discovers to her horror that her secret, if known, could result in the ultimate punishment—genital mutilation.

To save her body and even her soul, Gypsy chooses a dangerous path—to single-handedly confront this scary and absurd world. She has the support of her allegiant sister Sadie and Miles Devine, a rogue, secretly gay crusader, and also “Doctor,” a morally questionable physician to help her. But none of them fathom the levels of paradox, incongruity, and twisted evil they will soon face, and the ride becomes something even Gypsy could have never imaged.

PRAISE

“The Willing is stunning in its brutality as well as its sensitivity! Absolute must read. We all have a piece of Gypsy in us. We must consider our potential future as women now with eyes wide open.”

–Amazon Reviewer

“The Willing is an unusually deep commentary on a malignant dysfunction in our society, dressed in fishnet utopian stockings. While the premise and its sensual details push the boundaries of belief, a community that is ostensibly focused on the greater good but is governed by fear and hypocrisy fits perfectly in the dystopian genre. Gypsy’s character is flawed and immature in many ways, but her shield-like honesty is refreshing among a sea of conformists. A rather feminist piece filled with satire on the state of equality, The Willing is weighty and serious in its message, and sad in its reflection of how women are treated in our modern world. For a change from the norm, Lindsay Lees provides a gripping story that will have you thinking deeply about the importance of the relationships in your life.”
–Jennifer Jackson from IndiesToday.com

ORDER YOUR COPY

Amazon → https://amzn.to/3k2qbqC

Barnes & Noble → https://bit.ly/3yIQLZF

~ Chapter 1 ~

Gypsy

Three shrill bells blasted through the hidden speakers in the shiny ceiling tiles. A warning. Five minutes later, another three shrills will announce everybody’s butts better be in their chairs.

Gypsy took a seat in the front row of the dark, stifling auditorium for her Life Science class and wiped the sweaty auburn hair off her neck. Every time she entered the steamy classroom, she considered chopping off her hair, but didn’t dare go through with it, in fear of what everyone would say. Stagnant air lingered near an open oval window. Gypsy smoothed her denim shift against her bare legs. The sweat was everywhere. The heat had only gotten worse that year. The whole country sizzled like a frying pan on a burner without a high point.

Gypsy slid her right hand under her desk and stroked the round screws. She was in year ten of Passage school—her second-to-last year—but she had stopped paying attention when the Madams began the boring task of preparing the girls for life as women in the Communities. Life Science consisted of learning and drilling domestic life hacks and mothering skills.

Next to the whiteboard, a laminated poster of the Head Gaje family tree depicted the original Gajes—six desultory faces with deep creases around their rage-filled eyes. As the generations progressed, the Head Gajes began to look more their age, skin less ravaged, eyes less resentful. The current Heads, with the open-ended parentheticals under their busts, were on the bottom row—laughing, mouths splayed open, and lips the shiniest shade of red.

Above the poster, Gypsy noticed several new banners on the wall. The Head Gajes didn’t normally use colorful language or curse words to empower the women of Ovoidia, but this read, in upper case letters:

—Put Peace Between Your Legs—

—A KINDER, SAFER COUNTRY:

Thanks to Our Cunts—

—SEX: Just Say YES!—

Sweat moistened Gypsy’s palms. She rubbed her hands down her chest to try to dry them off. Her boobs weren’t the biggest in the class, but they were close. She came from a big-boob family. Grandmama Goyma’s cleavage was a sight to behold, but most of the time, Gypsy wished Goyma would just put ‘em away. Gypsy’s bust made her hips appear narrow and out of proportion with her legs, which were thin, undefined, and in need of a tan. A handful of laminated brochures circulated around the room. Gypsy turned the shiny pamphlet over in her hands and sighed at the cover image of her house. Well, not her house specifically, but rather a standard “Communities” home. The drone’s angle offered a bird’s-eye view of a headless snowman, and Gypsy imagined it melting into a staircase ribcage. The brochure was titled: Welcome to the Communities: Living the Ovoidian Dream

Gypsy squeezed the pamphlet quickly into a wrinkled mess, surprising even her.

Madame Adel stepped in front of the room, her denim shift hanging below her knees, her voice already rattling on about the silly brochure. She wore thick cotton socks pulled up below the hem of her shift, revealing a hedgehog strip of black leg hairs. Gypsy thought Madame Adel dressed as though actively engaged in repelling men. The anti-Gaje. And she wondered how well her efforts worked.

Then she glanced at all the phonies around her with their stoic expressions, pursed lips, and suspicious eyes. Practically carbon copies of Madame Adel’s perennial sour face. As far as Gypsy knew, Madame Adel only had one daughter, Vegas, who had just turned sixteen and gone straight to the City for higher education, a career, or if that failed, a baby. Gypsy tried to drown out Madame Adel’s diligent explanation of the brochure for the new homes that would be available next year, when the girls in the class would make the passage into women, and then mothers.

Gypsy watched the other girls ogle at the glossy images. They were holding their future in their hands, and it was the first time anyone had seen the upgrades. Previous upgrades had included a massage chair and pinball machine; the most recent came with a tanning bed. Gypsy knew Grandmama Goyma wasn’t pleased she missed out on that one.

Gypsy raised her hand, but Madame Adel wasn’t looking her way, so she held it up until Madame Adel finally noticed her. “A question?” she asked.

“When are they going to turn the air-conditioning back on?” Gypsy asked, fanning herself with the brochure.

“Due to the heat,” Madame Adel said, “between the hours of eleven and three, the lights and air-conditioning will be temporarily turned off in the Communities to conserve energy. It’s a recent decision by the Head Gajes but they say it shouldn’t last long.” Madame Adel stepped in front of Gypsy and clasped her brochure. “And,” she said, “this is not a fan, please stop using it as such.”

“But I’m melting here,” Gypsy said, wiping droplets off her face and displaying her damp fingers to Madame Adel.

“I’ve had enough of your complaining, Gypsy,” Madame Adel said, and folded her arms. “You’re only required to be here for four hours a day, three days a week. That’s it! You’re long past the arduous twelve-hours a day, six days a week of Formation school, unlike your male counterparts, and yet you still are unsatisfied …”

Gypsy turned her face away and tried to ignore Madame Adel. She didn’t need to hear a lecture about how much better things were since she’d graduated into the Passage school back when she was eleven. Madame Adel still wasn’t finished with her lecture when Gypsy tuned back in.

“… these are not difficult lessons, Gypsy,” Madame Adel said. “Would you prefer to spend your long days with the children in the Formation School filling in the coloring books of families being held up at gun point, and depraved monsters brandishing assault rifles and shooting-up preschools?” Madame Adel walked to her white, oval desk, pulled open the drawers and started rifling through paperwork. “Because that can be arranged for you, or perhaps you’d prefer a refresher course during detention, where together, we can go over some of the history of Pre-Ultimate Revolution murderers. I’d love to hear what you remember about the horrors of Hitler, Stalin, and Mao.” Madame Adel pulled out a thick history book complete with full-page illustrations and slammed it on the desk.

Gypsy remembered the text from her early history lessons. By the time students completed their formative education, they understood that the world outside of Ovoidia was filled with monsters. Only, to Ovoidian children, monsters were real people.

“No, Madame Adel,” Gypsy said. “I’ll be quiet and listen.”

“I’m so glad to hear it,” Madame Adel said, and turned to face the class. “Now open your brochures and we’ll go through them together.”

Gypsy opened her brochure to a young Ovoidian woman with harp-shaped cheekbones and buttery skin, holding two babies on her narrow hips. In the picture, she held a set of keys in the air and had the biggest smile Gypsy had ever seen. Gypsy quickly skimmed the text and flipped it over, looking for an answer to a question she’d been wondering. Unable to find the information, she raised her hand and when Madame Adel noticed her, she asked, “What if I want to live by myself?”

The class giggled.

“Communities’ homes are reserved for women with children,” Madame Adel said, clearly unamused. “You know this, Gypsy. If you want to live alone there’s always the City. I’m sure the new Head Gajes have made it much nicer for all the new women they’re expecting.”

“That’s not fair though,” Gypsy said. “What if I can’t get pregnant? There could be something wrong with my uterus.” She stared at her navel and shrugged. “I don’t know yet, and then I’d never be allowed a home in the Communities?”

“Come now, Gypsy.” Madame Adel said, wiping the sweat from her upper lip. “The chances of that happening are slim to none. Ovoidian women are extremely fertile.” Madame Adel rolled her shoulders. “But, if that is the case, the City does provide housing for women, including barren women. There’s really no need to be paranoid though. You’ll have ample opportunities to get pregnant and most of the time, it occurs much faster than you intend.”

Gypsy wasn’t concerned that getting pregnant was going to be a challenge. She had entered the last year of her childhood and began to wonder how mature those girls really felt the first time they were approached.

Then she thought of Sadie, and Madame Adel’s voice slowly faded to mute. On Monday, her older sister would turn sixteen and become a woman. In Ovoidia, the day a girl becomes a woman, she travels to the City alone for the first time. It wasn’t meant to be a ceremonious occasion; girls were introduced to their purpose every day.

But Sadie wasn’t just visiting the City. She was one of the new women moving there, and even though Gypsy wasn’t supposed to be worried, she kept coming back to an image that made her stomach sick—a white-domed luxury car, the driver pulling Sadie down a dark alley, a lifted shift, cold marble, supple flesh.

She hadn’t noticed her reverie until Madame Adel slapped a brochure against her palm and finished her lesson, as always, with the same admonition. “A woman’s body is her most trivial sacrifice,” she said with purpose. “You can love anyone as long as you serve your country.”

Gypsy took the steps two at a time to the house Mama Asya was given when she got pregnant with Sadie. At the top of the stairs, two lioness sentries flanked an arched glass doorway. The front room light was turned off, and the leather couches glowed in the angled shadow looking lonely, giving an illusion of vacancy. Gypsy opened the door to a familiar feeling of emptiness. The icy blast of the air-conditioning invited her inside.

A dim glow lit the kitchen hallway where Grandmama Goyma softly hummed the theme song to The Club Gajes—Ovoidia’s only reality soap opera. Even Gypsy found the melody inexplicably catchy; at times it made her want to dance around, and other times wipe a furtive tear from her eye. The music appealed to emotions; unlike the show, which followed the lives of stuck up, bitchy Club Gajes.

Gypsy climbed the stairs and found her sister, Sadie, standing in front of a round plastic container holding a pile of sweaters, red and blue sleeves spilling over her arms like octopus-legs. Her frizzy mahogany hair whipped around as she spun her head from side to side looking around the mess she’d made on the floor. Gypsy had always been the neater of the two, but Gypsy couldn’t deny she was going to miss seeing Sadie’s messy room.

“How’s it feel to pack up all your stuff?” Gypsy asked her, walking in under the oval archway.

Sadie pursed her lips, and Gypsy instantly recognized the expression on her face. Sadie huffed and said, “Mama Asya put these out to take, but she’s crazy. They’re too thick. I’m not taking everything I own!”

Gypsy gave a half-shrug, not wanting to get in the middle. “What’s wrong with some extra layers?”

“I’ll never wear them.” Sadie raised an eyebrow. “It’s boiling outside.”

“What about at night?” Gypsy asked.

Sadie rolled her big brown eyes and dropped the sweaters into the container.

“Oh, my Gaje! Oh, my Gaje!” Goyma yelled from the kitchen. “Girls! Get down here quick!”

They rushed downstairs side-by-side, and Gypsy saw Goyma resting her chin on her perched hands, and her right ear pressed to the radio speaker due to her faulty hearing. Her light-gray hair was braided into a bun and there was an astonished look in her green eyes, the way an eager fox might look when chased away from a chicken coop. Her thin lips were sealed together and tiny bubbles formed alongside her mouth.

“What’s wrong?” Gypsy asked.

“Hush!” Goyma pressed her finger to her mouth. It was a special gesture both Gypsy and Sadie understood to mean, “I love you. It’s best if you don’t ask questions.”

The volume was on max, and the reporter’s voice bounced off the high ceiling.

“There’s not much that can be done for the young woman,” he said, and they listened closely. “It’s up to the tribunal to decide the consequences. In many ways, her fate has been sealed. We must bear in mind this form of crime is virtually extinct. Historically, the Head Gajes have a zero-tolerance policy for subversive behavior, but our current Head Gajes haven’t had to dole out punishments since their inauguration, and we’re all eager to hear their plans. The age of this young woman may result in leniency, but we’re still waiting on reports.”

Gypsy ran to the living room across the tile floors, her white sneakers squeaking. In the dark space, she stopped in front of Mama Asya’s thirty-six-inch, flat-screen TV.

Gypsy thought about the creased brochure stuffed in her backpack: the new upgrades would come standard with sixty-inch voice-automated plasmas. Mama Asya would want to see it when she got home from her daily group powerwalk, one of the many activities assiduously attended by the Communities’ women. They called it leisurcise, and Gypsy had to smile.

She couldn’t think of a time when Mama Asya had missed a day. On the weekends, hundreds of women flooded the streets in custom shifts, designed to wick away moisture, as they weaved through the neighborhood.

Gypsy flicked on the lights and pushed the red button on the remote. The TV flashed, then faded into focus, revealing Ovoidia’s anchorman, Stan Mac, sitting at a desk and staring at the camera with his sad, shocked eyes, hidden beneath black and gray eyebrows. Wisps of his feathery hair stood up in varied shades of senescent color. He had been the anchorman of Ovoidia news since Mama Asya was a baby. He wore the same suit, every day; a boring, itchy-looking affair.

Gypsy tried to imagine Stan Mac’s life outside of work, a life others were only allowed to dream of. Yet, even with the most freedom any one person could have, he was still confined to that uniform—a stiff button-up, that pinched at the neck, an area of his body which appeared more saggy by the day. It was garroted by a dull, lifeless tie; a fashion accessory that once served a functional purpose—to keep a man’s shirt together before the invention of buttons. But the tie remained, Gypsy assumed, to satisfy men’s asphyxiation fantasies.

She may have drawn her conclusions from watching too many episodes of Ovoidia’s three imported documentaries: Most Wanted Men and Women, Killer Couples, and Unsolved Tragedies. Every night at six, an omnibus ran until midnight, and Gypsy often stayed up late, glued to the re-enactments of murders and kidnappings occurring outside of Ovoidia. She was never sure where, exactly. Ovoidians weren’t taught much about foreign countries, other than information about their safety concerns, which acted as a large enough deterrent in learning anything else.

Stan Mac provided the voice over for Most Wanted Men and Woman: Depictions of the Most Heinous Atrocities Man is Capable of Inflicting. In fact, Mac opened each show with that line, while his puppy eyes reflected, “How can humans be so cruel? Feel sorry for them. Be grateful.”

At this moment on the screen, Stan Mac turned his attention to the top right corner above him. Gypsy expected him to reveal some scenario like a young woman throwing babies into the Ovoidia river or walking through the mall with an ax, hacking shoppers while they carried their bags.

“Can you tell us what you remember about the girl?” Mac asked aloud to the blank screen.

The thumbnail expanded to fill the screen with a live feed from the City. The camera focused on a dark-haired young man with close-set eyes and a squashed cherry for a mouth. He was standing on one of the marble bridges spanning the Ovoidia river. Oval skyscrapers lined the horizon. The chyron beneath his chest read, “City Man Approached Traitor One Time.”

“She was a pretty girl,” the young man said. “I remember wanting her right away. She looked fresh. It didn’t seem like there was anything wrong with her. She acted no different than most women. I figured she was shopping.”

Stan Mac appeared back on the screen and said, “There you have it, folks; witnesses claim sixteen-year-old Vegas Adel was not acting suspiciously before attempting to take her own life during the early hours of this morning. Up next, stay tuned for the weather. Some unexpected rain is on the way!”

“Did he say Vegas?” Sadie asked, turning to Gypsy. Her normally sunny complexion had gone pale.

“He’s wrong,” Gypsy said, turning the volume down a bit. “I just had class with Madame Adel. She didn’t say anything.”

Madame Adel had been responsible for preparing thousands of girls for womanhood. She taught women to believe the spirit of what was best for society. Madame Adel had tried to make Vegas into a perfect specimen. An ideal Ovoidian woman.

“It doesn’t make sense,” Sadie said, shaking her head. “Vegas didn’t want a baby. She was studying to be a doctor.”

Stan Mac’s voice came back from the screen. “Before the weather, we wish to provide this commentary.” He cleared his throat. “Vegas Adel’s fate is yet to be determined. Suicide is viewed as a form of treason in Ovoidia, which could result in a public stoning or hanging. If the Head Gajes are lenient, they may decide on a hundred lashes or a genital sealing. Based on the severity of the crime, we hope swift and earnest action takes place. These acts of terrorism on Ovoidia’s status as a utopia should be handled with the utmost seriousness.”

Gypsy flicked the red button on the remote and turned to Goyma who had followed them into the room. She had dried dough squished between the stack of rings on her fingers.

“What did he say they were going to do to her?” Goyma asked.

Gypsy had one image in her mind. A picture from a history book.

“What’s a genital shutting?” Sadie asked.

Gypsy remembered learning about “sealing” in year two of Formation School. They were performed on women as purity rituals, before the Ultimate Revolution, but Gypsy didn’t fully understand why it would be used as a form of punishment.

Goyma said, “It’s called a sealing, not a shutting,” then shrugged, indifferent. “They’re going to zip her up. Teach her a lesson. She’s going to wish she were dead. They would have shown more mercy with a stoning.”

“That still happens?” Gypsy asked, hearing her voice squeak with fear at the mere thought of the agony.

“Not technically,” Goyma told her and rested a hand on her hip. “It hasn’t happened in centuries. There hasn’t been a crime this serious for years.” She took a seat on the couch and fell silent. Gypsy knew Goyma would take a minute to consider the best way to explain certain things to the girls.

Finally, Goyma said, “When I was a girl, a few good years younger than you two, a man was sentenced to death by castration for sex with a minor. It happened at Gaje Circle, and every man, woman, and child in Ovoidia was forced to walk past him.”

Goyma pressed her pink polished finger to her lips and looked lost in a thought for a moment, then continued. “By the time it was our turn, the man had been left outside for days. A puddle of black-tar blood covered his legs and groin. A flock of crows were plucking out his eyes and rats had taken most of his tongue. It was terrifying to see, but after that, we all felt safer, grateful for all our fore-Gajes had sacrificed. That man’s body was a warning and a reminder we were in safe hands. It’s that sense of security the rest of the world has never known.” She rose from her seat. “It’s so inconceivable people can’t understand. They’re jealous of our power. Ovoidian women are selfless. Invested in the greater good. What’s best for us all is best for you.”

“Vegas believed that,” Sadie said quietly and with less certainty than Gypsy was used to hearing.

“Impossible,” Goyma scoffed as she walked back toward the kitchen. “If she’s anything like your teacher, she just cares about herself.” She stopped and turned back around. “No wonder Vegas tried to drown herself! Madame Adel’s not an ideal role model. The woman’s too tense. She found a loophole to this life, but she’s not really living.” Goyma’s voice rose, along with her arms which started to wave. “She doesn’t embrace being an Ovoidian woman. To tolerate this existence is merely an act. A survival mechanism maybe, but such a waste of power.”

The front doorknob clicked open, and Mama Asya walked in.

“What’s going on?” she asked, surprised.

Her flushed cheeks glowed beneath a navy denim visor secured around her forehead. She wore her thick black hair pulled into a high ponytail.

Gypsy had never seen her mama wear make-up. When she was younger, with her naturally dewy lashes and plump lips the color of coral, she didn’t need it. Gypsy had slept in bed with her almost every night. It hadn’t been that long since she’d stopped, and it wasn’t because Gypsy didn’t want to sleep alone. Well, that wasn’t her favorite part of the day, but as she fell asleep, she always enjoyed stroking Mama Asya’s downy peach face—one of the first times Gypsy had connected body to mind with pleasure. She relished the tingles that pulsed down her arm and the quick, tiny thumps of her heart. She wasn’t sure if she was allowed to feel that pleasure or what that pleasure even meant.

The rules were all unclear, and nobody talked about whether or not they enjoyed touch. Over time Mama Asya’s once-plump skin deflated, and with it, Gypsy’s enjoyment of stroking it thinned.

Goyma clutched her hips, the gold coins on her turquoise shawl jingling. “Vegas put our entire country at risk,” she said. “That stupid girl wasn’t thinking about us, about how her decision affects the greater good. You girls understand how important it is to follow the rules.

Without rules we’d be living like the barbarians on TV. It doesn’t warrant thinking about.”

Goyma tucked her chin and clicked her tongue. “I’m going to finish dinner. Be at the table in an hour,” she said before throwing her hands up and walking off.

“Would they seal her up because she can feel?” Gypsy asked. She felt suspiciously unnerved, and almost panicked. Gypsy could see Mama Asya wasn’t sure how to react. She hadn’t even stepped inside the house all the way. The arched front door was held open by her hand, and her fingers were decorated with a silver band engraved with the girls’ names and a couple of the biggest diamonds she’d ever received, back when she was desirable.

Mama Asya blinked twice and shook her head as though some pesky insect had flown in her ear. “Vaginal sealings? They’re archaic,” she said, and closed the door. “There’s been no need for them. Why would the Head Gajes start using them now?”

“Vegas tried to commit suicide!” Sadie said, her face filled with disbelief.

Mama Asya caught her breath. “I knew it. Women don’t belong in the City.”

Sadie glared at her. “Well, I’m still going!” she yelled, then turned and stomped up the stairs.

“They’re going to do that to her, too.” Gypsy’s voice broke, and she held her breath to stop from crying. A woman’s body is her most trivial sacrifice, echoed in the recesses of her mind.

“Why are you so upset?” Mama Asya asked. “If it’s true, she put everyone at risk. Who do you think would suffer? We’re safe because we follow the rules, and no one should be allowed to jeopardize that, Gypsy.” She paused, then said, “The better question is why would anyone want to? We can’t call ourselves a utopia if people start killing themselves. Poor Madame Adel, she must be devastated. Her own daughter a defector. I should go call Beth and Amira.”

Mama Asya exited the conversation as quickly as she entered, and headed up, the pristine stairs in her new white trainers, meant to target areas of her calf muscle and increase caloric burn by thirty percent.

“Can I get into bed with you?” Gypsy hovered over Sadie’s bed in her oversized night shirt and bare feet. It was late, and Mama Asya and Goyma had gone straight to their rooms after dinner. Most nights Sadie didn’t mind staying up late and talking to Gypsy, but over the past few months, she’d gotten annoyed with Gypsy for falling asleep before getting back into her bed.

“I don’t think so. I need to get some rest.” Sadie stared at the domed ceiling as she spoke. The walls were bare except for an oval mirror.

“Move over.” Gypsy lifted the white duvet and pushed Sadie. “I might not be able to do this again after the weekend.”

“Thank Gaje.” Sadie smiled.

Gypsy frowned, then followed Sadie’s gaze to the ceiling. “You scared?”

“Scared of what?”

“I don’t know. Going to the City. What happened to Vegas.”

“Mama Asya and Goyma are right,” she said. “What Vegas did was dangerous. We could have all been affected. If she didn’t like the City, she should have come back. The Head Gajes aren’t forcing us to stay.” Sadie closed her eyes and smiled. “When we move to the City, we’ll live in the top floor of one of the new co-ed hives, wear designer clothes, and you know, do something meaningful with our lives.”

Gypsy held her breath and bit her lip. She was afraid to look Sadie in the eyes. “We don’t know that for sure.”

Sadie rolled over and tickled her side. “Oh no, you’re not getting out of our pact that easily.”

Gypsy curled into a ball and almost fell off the bed.

“Whoa!” Sadie pulled her back up, and they both laughed.

They sat facing each other, pretending they were a mirror, sticking their tongues out, pushing their noses up and squishing their cheeks together. They loved to make each other laugh, and when they calmed down, Gypsy looked closely at Sadie. They had similar markings in the shadowy details of their brown eyes, but Sadie always looked more worried.

“What do you think being approached is going to be like?” she asked, a slight sadness in her eyes.

“No big deal.” Sadie shrugged. “Like how they’ve said.”

“But what if it’s gross?” Gypsy asked, sitting up. “What if a guy’s got bad breath like salami or something? Or what if their hands are small and they have warts?! Or if they don’t cut their nails? What if they’re a lot shorter than you? What if you can feel it?” Gypsy paused, and then said quietly. “Maybe that’s why Vegas did it. What if she could feel it down there?”

“I won’t feel a thing,” Sadie said and chuckled. “Maybe a breeze every once and a while.” She shuddered. “That might take some getting used to.” Sadie nudged Gypsy playfully. “All women say it feels the same. We do what’s best for the safety of everyone. Don’t you think that includes us as well? Being approached isn’t meant to be pleasurable. It would be different if we could feel sex.” Sadie looked closely at Gypsy. “Think of this—if women enjoyed having sex, then being “approached” would be called “rape.” But you can’t rape the willing.”

“What if you do feel it?”

“Then I’d get circumcised, so I couldn’t.”

Sadie answered so quickly and coldly that Gypsy felt a small stabbing pain between her legs and reeled back. “And you’d be okay with that?” Gypsy asked.

“Sure. Who wants the burden?” Sadie shook her head as though casting out whatever images had appeared. “You know our ancestors were sex slaves. They got circumcised as a form of mercy. We might not like being approached, but it’s better not to feel.”

Gypsy laid there quietly and thought about her late-night talks with Sadie about what life was going to be like in the City, and how until now, they’d never spoken about actually being approached. Even if the women of Ovoidia didn’t feel the pleasure of sex, Gypsy wasn’t sure Sadie was as ready as she claimed to be. She opened her mouth to say something but turned away instead. She wanted to press her further, but she also didn’t want to show Sadie how utterly afraid she felt about her leaving. Women in the Communities were more protected from being approached, although that wasn’t the case when it came to the Crusaders.

Sadie stirred beside her. “What are you thinking about?” she asked, half asleep.

“Nothing,” Gypsy said. “Weird thoughts. They’ll pass. Of course, you’ll be fine, and if any guy hurts you, we’ll have him castrated.”

Sadie smiled and seemed to nod and drift away to sleep.

About the Author

Lindsay Lees headshot

Lindsay Lees is originally from Los Angeles and holds dual citizenship in the U.S. and the United Kingdom, and while growing up and later in college, she split her time between the two countries. Lindsay earned a B.A. in 2008 from Manchester Metropolitan University, and next an M.F.A.in Creative Writing from California College of the Arts. The Willing is Lindsay’s debut novel. She currently lives a quiet Southern life with her husband and a houseful of pets. Visit her website or connect with her at FACEBOOK and GOODREADS.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: