I stood and looked out of the window, stretching my back and rubbing my eyes after the intense study. From my vantage-point, I could see the women, accompanied by the older girls, setting out for their allotted duties that day: some to work in the herb gardens or orchards or vegetable plots that surround our house, grounds which supply medicines, and fresh fruit and vegetables in their season. Others were traveling further away, to the fields held in common by our commune, fields set to wheat or beans or oilseed, or as grazing for cows or sheep.
A few of the women carried their babies, declining the opportunity to leave the child in the crèche and preferring to take the infants with them in pouches and harnesses slung from shoulder or hip. All were chatting and gossiping with their close friends and closer rivals - sometimes it is hard to tell which is which - about who has succeeded in some endeavor, who is pregnant or has given birth, who said what to whom, and all in a good-natured way with successes emphasized and failures glossed over or tempered with laughter.
It was an idyllic scene and, I was now convinced, one that our ancestors specifically intended for our society. Judging by the hints and suggestions in the old book, our forebears wanted stability and harmony in the new colony, and to avoid wars - what a struggle I had trying to understand that word! One way they chose to arrange that outcome was to keep the number of men to a minimum, and to ensure those that are alive distracted by the demands of near-continuous sex.
Only a few boy-children are born each year, a situation which has been so for many generations. Our society, run for and by women, was now rich and stable. There was food enough for all, even with the population doubling with each generation, and everybody had leisure time to enjoy family and society and all the arts - and deeply fulfilling sex on a regular basis.
I now knew that it was possible to force oneself to bear a male child; it was an ability buried in our genes by our insightful forebears, and the knowledge to trigger that capability was buried in the library itself. We needed more men in our lives, I decided. More menfolk around would increase the length of most women's fertile cycle, and the concomitant increase in the pleasures and releases of sex available to all. I would bear a boy-child in my womb - a rare and special thing in our society.
I closed the old book carefully and returned it to its allotted space on the shelves. I looked around at the sunlit space of the library, taking in once again its atmosphere of dry history and dusty learning. This would not change much, I thought.
I walked quietly back to my own room, still deep in contemplation, to bathe and prepare myself. Today, though, I dressed in the newest of my workaday clothes, rather than the flimsy robes I would normally have donned on this day of the month. Then I made my way upstairs to the master bedroom. I could feel the phase of the moon singing in my head and, in a much more direct way, as an ache warming my belly and already moistening the opening between my legs. It was an ache I knew I had to resist, at least for a while.
Quietly, I let myself in to the master bedroom. Kathryn had left, finally, no doubt with her own hungers and desires satisfied at last. John was asleep, dozing fitfully in the half-light with the shutters closed against the brightness of the day. A tray with the remnants of his breakfast - dry-cured meats and newly-baked bread and fresh fruits - lay on the dresser to one side.
I sat on the bed gently, so as not to wake him just yet, and just looked at the man of the house. His muscled body was so strong; we could really use somebody with that strength in the fields and the workshops on occasions. I could see that men could be useful in many ways, but it would only be possible if their every moment was not focused on sex, and on the propagation of the species.
I drew myself into a light trance, set in my own mind the states and conditions that the ancient tome had dictated, and reprised the steps and actions which had to be undertaken once John was awake. I was sure that my child, my first child - perhaps all of my children - would be male.
Finally readied, I rubbed my hands over John's naked chest, feeling the curve and set of his musculature tense under my practiced ministrations. He woke slowly, stretching luxuriously even before he was truly awake, then opened his eyes - hugely, brightly blue - to look me straight in the eyes.
"Let's make a son," I said, smiling.
John's eyes lit up, and he grunted his assent - no, his enthusiasm - for the proposal. He reached for me in a most direct way, one which hitherto would have had me responding equally directly and responding with unthinking, unbridled passion. Instead, I took both his hands in my own and held them firmly.
"Let's go for a walk," I suggested, "Just for a while."
He stared at me blankly for a long moment, then nodded. I helped him slip into a long loose shift which covered his nakedness, then took him by the hand and guided him out of the apartment and down the main stairs. We emerged blinking into the bright sunlight and stood for a few moments on the steps. John looked bemused; he really did not get out very much these days.
John's grip on my hand tightened suddenly.
"Talk to me," he said hoarsely.
I was astonished to realize that, in all of our encounters, I had never before heard John speak - at least, no more than the occasional monosyllable - and I had, quite unconsciously, assumed he was not capable of speech. I was at a lost as to what to say for a moment but, as we set off in the direction of the lower pastures, I prattled on about the crops and the beasts in the fields.
John seemed happy, relaxed, as if a weight had been lifted from his shoulders.
"Do you like it out here, John?" I asked suddenly.
"Yes," he replied haltingly, "It is warm, and the sun is bright. Too dark indoors."
We reached a willow copse rarely visited by the working women. I guided him into the shadow of the trees then, with an urgency I could by now barely contain, tugged off his smock.
"Take me, here, now," I urged, turning my back on his naked and erect form and arching my spine provocatively.
From endless experience, he knew what I needed at that moment. In an instant, I could feel him fill me from behind, long and slow and deeply fulfilling, eventually coming inside me, under the light of the noon-day sun. Soon, in a generation, we would have a new world.
If you have enjoyed this story, why not explore the other stories in the Fantasy and Science Fiction collection?