The men weren’t at all prepared for the bird strike. They hadn’t seen the signs, though enough warnings and ultimatums had been issued across the city in the preceding months. It was a Wednesday morning when all the women got up and instantaneously thought: That’s it, I’ve had enough. There were mothers of boys, wives of husbands, mistresses of lovers, sisters of brothers, daughters, aunties, nieces, friends.
All the women of all the men just stopped what they’d done for years and downed tools.
Straight away, crockery and cutlery starts to wallow unwashed. Very soon piles of grubby linen and laundry build up. Everywhere layers of dust and dirt begin settling. But it’s the refusal to engage in personal relations that drives desperation into the men’s hearts.
Every time the men try to reach out and express affection or desire, the women move to a safe distance. Don’t fly too fast or too low, the hastily prepared guidance said. You don’t want to threaten them with sudden movements.
When the women get together, however, it’s altogether different. There are hoots and titters and chatter, a great amount of excited noise. And the colours are amazing: the women now dress for themselves, not for the men. But as the women become so bright and vibrant, the men’s attraction and misery only doubles.
The men are going spare and some are prepared to try anything. The town teams with men walking strangely, holding hats and briefcases and coats and umbrellas in odd, unnatural positions. They ache with the need to touch the women, and not just physically – emotionally too. As the women maintain a steady silence, the men lose all perspective, deprived of female thoughts and dreams.
The men call an emergency meeting. A plan is needed, but they lack imagination. They ask the women what’s to be done. Be wise: beware birds, say the women. And the men know what the women mean and are full of respect and admiration.