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  • 2050. Following a massive global depression, the gender roles have been rebalanced, as men everywhere agree that women caused the problem in the first place. Now read on:

    I was nervous, and dressed carefully for the interview. Black, long, fitted dress. Amber necklace, turquoise earrings.
    He was relaxed. Tie loosened, knees apart, he lounged in a low leather easy chair. The huge window – or glass wall – at his side overlooked a large sunny garden where children were happily playing on a climbing frame.
    I perched on a hard wooden stool.
    “You understand the requirements? Exactly?”
    “Maybe not exactly…”
    He sat forward, elbows on knees, hands clasped.
    “I have most of what I need.”
    “I need something – extra.”
    I became more nervous, but managed not to show it, except for a slight dampening of the armpits which I hoped would not show.
    “I hope I have a lot to bring to this position,” I began, but he interrupted me.
    “The role of women has changed,” he told me. “Women can do everything now. It’s not like the bad old days when they tried to have it all, which meant having nothing at all. What you have to understand is that this is freedom. But it means you don’t tell me what you bring – I tell you what I need.”
    “Of course,” I said. “What do you need?”
    “I already have a high earner, a housekeeper, a cook, a mother, a nanny, a DIY expert, a sex specialist and Mrs Jenkins.”
    “Mrs Jenkins?”
    “She’s the Controller. Keeps the whole thing running like clockwork.”
    “So what is it you need?”
    He leaned further forward and looked earnestly into my eyes.
    “I write poetry,” he said. Then he paused. Was he embarrassed, or expecting me to be impressed? I couldn’t tell. “About love, and stuff,” he added. “I need someone who can – stimulate my poetic impulse.”
    “I see,” I said. I didn’t see.
    “A muse, a geisha, a courtesan… someone who stimulates my mind and my soul… do you play a musical instrument?”
    I wondered if being able to stumble through the first movement of the Moonlight Sonata counted.
    “Yes,” I lied.
    “Good, good. And you can read aloud to me in French and Italian?”
    “I can recite… Là, tout n'est qu'ordre et beauté, Luxe, calme et volupté...”
    “That’s enough. I’ll take you on a trial basis,” he murmured. He half closed his eyes and lay back in his chair. I sat more upright on my stool. “Go and see Mrs Jenkins. If all goes well, I’ll marry you at the end of the month.”
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