Matthew had every intention of promptly waking on Tuesday. Getting an earlier-than-usual start would guarantee breakfast and the chance to drive himself to school. When he hit snooze on his alarm the second time, he knew he was screwed. The clock read 7:10 am. National Women's Empowerment Day had begun ten minutes earlier.
Before he turned eighteen, he didn't have to take part in the legal and social role-reversal between genders. But it was only for twelve hours once a year, so how bad could it be?
He dressed and ran downstairs, but the usual bacon aroma was missing. He'd never cooked for himself, so he just grabbed a Pop Tart. His mom – usually busy with laundry or cleaning by now – was sitting on the couch with her feet up, coffee in hand.
"Can you give me a ride?" Matthew swung his backpack over his shoulder.
She kept her eyes on the morning talk-show. "Take the bus, honey."
"I missed it." He sighed.
Shaking her head, she stood. "Fine. Let me put on some clothes."
By the time they pulled up in front of the high school, he'd missed all of first period. "Can you come to the office so I don't get an unexcused tardy?"
She laughed. "You made yourself late, sweetheart. Now go in there and take it like a man."
The rest of his day was all downhill from there.
The attendance secretary not only wrote him up for lateness, but also for his t-shirt being too tight. Finding a sweatshirt for him to cover up with, the old woman mumbled something under her breath about male morals before sending him away.
His English teacher – the usually pleasant Ms. Jones – first appeared not to see his raised hand although no one else was volunteering. And even when he provided a lengthy answer about the social influences to George Orwell's writing, she barely nodded. Oddly enough, she had heaped praises on Jennifer for just mentioning Orwell's buzzword newspeak without even knowing how to define it.
After school, Matthew planned to hang out in the local coffeehouse and read. It took him forever to get to the counter, constantly being pushed aside by women who had "other places to be." One even slapped his behind with a wink when he let her cut in line. Only when he put in his order for a tall latte and tried to pay did he realize he didn't get cash from his mom.
"You're so handsome," the barista noted as he turned his pockets inside-out for every bit of loose change. "But you really should smile more."
Finding enough money for the bill, he grabbed his drink and walked home. Dejected, he stayed in his room until the smell of roast chicken began wafting through the house.
"Can I set the table?"
"But it's past seven," his mom observed.
"I know. That's exactly why I asked." He smiled. "And tomorrow maybe I could even help you cook, too."
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Glass Houses [The Handmaid's Tale] | ✓Short Story
Having reached legal adulthood, eighteen-year-old Matthew must now participate in his first National Women's Empowerment Day. In present-day America, this is an annual, twelve-hour event of legal and social role-reversal between genders where men te...