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Authors: Donna Callea

Sundry Days

BOOK: Sundry Days
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SUNDRY DAYS

 

a novel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Donna Callea

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright 2016 by Donna Callea

First Edition ~~ August 2016 

 

All rights reserved.

 

No part of this novel may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior written permission from the author.

 

This is a work of fiction.  Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination.

 

This novel is independently published by Inlet Point Press.

 

ISBN-13: 978-1536889062

ISBN-10: 1536889067

 

 

 

 

 

Part I

 

 

 

“Remember in the forms of speech comes change

Within a thousand years, and words that then

Were well esteemed, seem foolish now and strange;

And yet they spake them so, time and again,

And thrived in love as well as any men;

And so to win their loves in sundry days,

In sundry lands there are as many ways.”

 

– 
Geoffrey Chaucer,
Troilus and Cressida

Chapter 1

Susannah

The Women’s Conference

 

 

We’re going around the table introducing ourselves, even though about half of us know each other—at least somewhat.

Mama has made sure there’s a good mix of town residents and out-of-towners at each of the five tables—ten women to a table—set up for the luncheon. Everything is beautifully decorated.  There are tablecloths and floral centerpieces.  No expense has been spared for this Women’s Conference.

“Your mother’s a hoot,” says Molly from Canandaigua, who’s sitting across the table from me. “What she said in her welcoming speech about being ‘free from the scent of men for a little while’ was right on target.”

“Yeah, but I don’t think the waiters appreciated the quip,” I note. “That dark-haired one with the cute tush looked a little sullen when he served desert.  I think my mother forgot the serving staff was in the room when she made that remark.”

Mama is quite the organizer, but she’s not always tactful. She’s the driving force behind this Women’s Conference, and well known throughout Lake Ontario region.  Some think that in a few years she’d make a viable candidate for Parliament. I think she has the ambition.  But she better be careful what she says if she wants the male vote.  In any case, my claim to fame at this table is being Anna Gardener’s daughter.

Within the Great Lakes Coalition, conferences like this are held from time to time, usually in large population centers of several thousand, like Toronto and Chicago. They’re supposed to foster a sense of sisterhood, that sort of thing. I’ve been to a couple with Mama.  She goes to all of them.  But this is this first time our town has hosted one. We really have too few people.  Syracuse would have been a more logical location. My mother, however, lobbied tirelessly for the convention to be here in Seneca Falls, pointing out that we have a strong historical claim.

Local lore has it that before The Great Flood, the very first “women’s movement” was hatched here.  Now, the only movement women are making is toward oblivion, though that doesn’t make for very pleasant table talk.

“So, what do you do, Susannah?” asks the woman to my right, Catherine from Buffalo.

“Family counselor,” I say, after taking a sip of wine. “One of my husbands is, too.  Tom and I have an office in the medical center here.”

“I could never work with any of my husbands,” someone else remarks. “Too much togetherness.”

“Tom and I do okay. Sometimes we do joint counseling sessions with families that are having problems, but usually we work alone.”

“How many husbands do you have?” asks Molly.

“Five.  Don’t want any more.”  I say this with a smile, and quickly take another sip of wine, but this is a somewhat controversial topic. Some women feel it’s their duty to juggle as many husbands as they possibly can—that it’s what The Designer expects them to do, considering our current situation. It’s also what the government wants them to do. The more husbands, the bigger the tax break, and the more generous the housing allowances. I don’t know if that’s a deciding factor for most, but it’s not unusual now to encounter families with six or even seven husbands.   And men without wives are becoming increasingly eager to join existing families.

One of my brothers-in-law has been single for almost a decade—ever since his wife did the unthinkable and left him and her other husband, as well as their little girl.  He hasn’t asked to join our family.  Not yet.  But I admit that I’m more attracted to him than I should be.  In fact, he makes me a little weak in the knees. But not enough to upset the status quo.

I don’t mention that.

Instead, I change the topic to children.  I have two: David, who’s 10, and Simon, 4.  Not much of an output for a 33-year-old like me. But I have no intention of getting pregnant again for at least a couple years.  I don’t mention that either.

The conversation then turns, not surprisingly, to the topic of girls.  Everyone is hoping for one, of course. One woman at the table, Jane who lives locally, has a five-year-old daughter.

“How wonderful!” we gush, almost in unison.

I’d estimate that about a third of the women attending the conference are pregnant.  Some women aim to stay continually pregnant, figuring it will improve their odds. Which it does, I suppose.  But at what cost?

The latest statistics, which were presented in a lecture earlier in the day, suggest that there’s now a one in six chance of conceiving a female. It used to be one in five.  Everyone is looking forward to tomorrow’s panel discussion, which will feature several experts on the subject who’ll maybe offer some tips.

After the luncheon, we break up into small group workshops and presentations.  The Women’s Conference has pretty much taken over our Town Hall for two days, but since the weather is so mild, some of the sessions are held outdoors, under a large canopy.

That’s the case with the afternoon’s most buzzed about attraction, a session titled “Pleasure Shops: A Woman’s View.” It’s packed. The presenter is Ellen Edelson, who’s eminently qualified. She runs one of the three pleasure shops in town. The best one, she attests with a grin and a wink. Most of the men I know would probably agree. All of my husbands, except Andy, knew what went where when we got married thanks to Mrs. Edelson. Andy and his brothers were initiated by Maura Larson, whose pleasure shop, I’m told, is also very nice.

At 60 or so, Ellen Edelson, exudes the kind of ethereal beauty only those who’ve been beautiful all of their lives possess. Her skin is still soft and supple, her blue eyes bright, and her silvery hair cascades in masses of careless waves around her face.

She talks about how she got into the business (an empty nest and time on her hands after menopause) and the ins and outs of single-handedly running a pleasure shop—the number of clients she sees in a day, how long she usually spends with each, how much she charges, how she finds time for her own husbands, that sort of thing.

Then she walks us through two typical visits to Mrs. Edelson’s—a young man experiencing his “first time,” and a married man with many fellow husbands and a very busy wife.

She tells us about the scents and music she uses to personalize each experience, and how it’s become increasingly important for her to keep her shop’s back room—the bedroom—dark.  Very dark.

“The less of me they can see, the better they like it.  I encourage them to use their imaginations.  So as long as I still
feel
pretty good to them, they’re satisfied,” she chuckles.

She says has no plans to retire any time soon.

“The boys need me.  The town needs me.” 

Ellen believes it’s her civic duty to stay open, especially since there don’t seem to be any women standing in line to take her place. And the truth is, she’s still amazingly attractive.

So I suppose it’s not surprising that during the Q&A, at the end of the session, most of the questions revolve around her skin care techniques, how she’s avoided wrinkles and dark spots, what she uses on her hair, and her secrets for staying so youthful.

Ellen Edelson answers all with self-deprecating good humor. She’s a good sport.

Later in the afternoon, I lead a workshop called “Strategies for Satisfying Multiple Husbands.”  I lead it because I’ve been pressured to do so by my mother, not because I really know how to satisfy multiple husbands. No one does.

That’s what I tell the other women attending the workshop.  We all just do what we can. It is kind of fun, though, when we loosen up a bit, and start talking openly about our sex lives.

Sarah, an 18-year-old newlywed who is married to two brothers, says her wedding night was a disaster.

“They both wanted to be first.  And I didn’t really blame them.  But what was I supposed to do?”

“Poor kid,” says someone.  “That’s why double weddings are almost always a mistake.”

Everyone concurs.

“I blame my mother-in-law,” says Sarah.

“Yeah.  That’s always a good idea,” I agree.  And we all have a laugh.

In my opinion, there ought to be a regulation preventing double weddings. Put three young people in the same bridal bed for the first time, and you’re asking for problems.  Nevertheless, families with sons close in age often push for such arrangements.  They think it’s cute, and saves money. I always counsel against it.

We ask Sarah what she did.

“Well, we all knew about threesome positions from our pre-marital classes, of course.  But we just couldn’t get our act together.  And the boys—they’re not really boys, one is 25 and the other is 27—couldn’t agree on who should be where. So I finally made them do rock-paper-scissors.  And no one was happy, least of all me.”

“How’s it going now?”  I ask.

“Okay,” says Sarah, not very convincingly. “We don’t do threesomes anymore.  After the first night, we set up a schedule.”

We talk about schedules for a while.  Someone asks me what I think about schedules, since I’m the designated expert.

“I personally don’t like them,” I say. “I think having a schedule in my family would put too much pressure on everyone—especially me. But they do work in some situations.  It depends on the ages, sex drives and personalities of the people involved. Generally, though, in my opinion, it’s not good to be too rigid.”

“That’s what I keep telling my youngest husband,” interjects Lyla, who’s from Kingston. “He’s rigid just about all the time and doesn’t like waiting his turn. Annoys the crap out of the rest of us.”

I’m glad for the joke. We might as well all admit that sex is a funny topic. We can either laugh or cry, and I’d rather laugh. The discussion then delves into ways to lighten the mood in bed, different ways to enjoy different men, and making sure our own needs are met.

“Yeah.  But what if you just don’t feel like doing it with any of them? Ever?” This from Beth, a young woman who hasn’t said much until now, and seems genuinely distressed.

Yep. That’s a problem—one that can’t be fixed in a Women’s Conference workshop.

“I think there are times for all of us, when we just don’t feel like doing it,” I tell her.  “Times when we need a break, in addition to the monthly pause.  But if you never feel like it, it’s probably a good idea to consult with a physician or family counselor.”

That’s not what she wants to hear.  And I feel bad about giving her such a pat response. But what can I do?  I’m not her counselor.  I’m just the leader of a workshop that’s only supposed to last an hour, and is attended by 15 women.

“Just fake it, and get on with your life,” advises Gillian, who appears to be the oldest among us. “In my experience, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to keep a man happy.  And it usually doesn’t take much time, either.  Most men are just glad to be in a family, any family, and to have access to a woman—any woman.”

Maybe she’s right.  But I don’t think it’s a good idea to underestimate men.  It can’t be easy for them.  Men aren’t meant to share women the way our men have to share. There’s never been a time in history when the genders have been so unbalanced.  And it’s the same all over. Or at least we assume it is. Ever since The Great Flood we’ve mostly been huddled around The Great Lakes.  Nobody has braved the oceans for generations.  It’s just too dangerous.

It’s also unlikely we’ll ever gain back all the knowledge that was lost when The Designer Virus—so named because theists attribute it to The Designer, and no one else has come up with a better explanation—destroyed the World Wide Web, whatever that was.  Ancient history is not my field.

All we can do is try to recover and make do with what we have. Which is probably why some men turn to other men, even if they’re not naturally inclined to be homosexual.  Men who are naturally homosexual, of course, have the easiest time finding loving partners, forming families and adopting boys—almost all of whom, unfortunately, grow up to be heterosexual.

Women who are only attracted to other women don’t have the luxury of forming bonds based on their attractions.  They pretty much have to do what Gillian advised Beth: fake it, hope for girls, and get on with their lives.

I’m lucky, I suppose, in that I usually don’t have to fake it.  Which is not to say that I like having sex equally with all my men.

Our situation—the situation that we’re all in everywhere, as far as anyone knows—is far from ideal.  It’s not good for men.  And it’s not good for women, although it’s a hell of a lot better than it would be if there were five or six women for every man.

BOOK: Sundry Days
5.96Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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