By Jacquie Phelan
Once upon a time, back when girls weren't supposed to get dirty or yell like boys, a very loud little girl got delivered by the stork to two rather surprised young people named Jack and Doreen. Jack was so anxious to have a boy in the house that, even before the stork plopped down the bundle, he declared, "We're naming him Jack, after me. Little Jack is going to make me very proud. I'll be sure of it because I won't allow him to make any mistakes." Jack was perhaps a little bit of a control freak.
Doreen said, "No mistakes, eh? We'll see about that". Then the cloth bundle wriggled a little and they undid the knotted fabric at the top and discovered a girl inside, yelling like there was no tomorrow.
"Well, well, well!" the slack-jawed recipients of this new baby bundle said. "Well." The loud little bundle's name would be "Jacquie" because that's the next best thing to Jack.
When another bundle arrived a year later, the parents made sure to peek inside before making any assumptions.
"It's another girl"
"We'll call her Jill" Jack said. "A nursery rhyme playmate."
And for all their subsequent lives, the sisters endured being "Jacquie and Jill", who were supposed to be together up and down life's big hills. Nothing could be further from the truth: they split up as soon as it was humanly possible, starting with a big curtain running across the middle of their shared bedroom, and ending up with an invisible wall covered with electric shock wire extending around Jill's family life, so dreadful was her life with Jack and Doreen.
Jacquie's life on the other hand, although no picnic, was always an open book because that big loud voice was hard to miss. Loud girls definitely get people's attention. Sometimes she had listeners. Sometimes she didn't. For years, she struggled in a kingdom where boys and men were loud and proud, and the girls and women were quiet and polite, and got a big kick out of helping everyone else. Jacquie got a reputation for being... "selfish".
She decided to roam the kingdom, and got a small crowed of other misfit girls and women to agree with her that being loud and proud might be selfish, but for now, selfish was going to have to do. There had been enough eons of quiet and meek to prove that those characteristics didn't improve the situation of all the little pink packets of joy delivered throughout the kingdom. So this band of merry, loud people who didn't mind a little mud and a lot of volume and didn't mind taking up serious space trekked about the realm, calling themselves the "Girls Selfish Team". They taught the old ladies how to fish. They showed the moms how to ride bikes so they could be out with their kids and pound on the hoods of all the cars in which the busy women talking on their cell phone drove THEIR bundles of joy to and from their many daily appointments, classes ad play dates.
The Selfish Team was spreading a rumor about the kingdom: on a bike you can steal time, and keep the profit (which is fun) even if you were just going to the store--or to work-- on a bike. The kingdom was a bit crowded-- overly large cars, trucks really--were filling up the roads with angry drivers, and the air with toxic fumes which tended to make the girls and women develop nasty tumors in their breasts.
This condition, called "Cancer" when someone else had it became known as "My Turn" to these furious, fleet women. The GST were gliding through the Gordian Traffic Knot using their almost perfect invisibility (which sometimes proved lethal when they weren't extremely careful) stealing minutes and hours because nothing held them up in their movements. They were appallingly efficient.
The one small drawback to all this freedom of movement was the smoldering envy of the trapped people ...Jacquie realized that something might backfire here, especially if the Selfish Team gloated too openly about their perceived superiority.
"We need to think about what we're doing" she told a selfish friend.
"There have been too many 'lesson-crashes' lately". Those are tragic encounters between pissed of car-people teaching the bike women who's boss in the kingdom. The results? Grievous body damage, sometimes death, to the rider, and usually fender damage to the car).
"We gotta get ourselves a lobbyist".
It didn't take more than a couple of want-ads in the Kingdom Tattler and the Selfish Team had their very own lobbyist in the Realm's Hall of Power. Thanks to the loud women's team, the bike people were given special privileges like Permission to Roll Through Empty Intersections Without Punishment, and Being Taken Seriously By A Cop When Doored. In fact, the lobbyist was a Policewoman who had flipped over a few too many doors , and once even sideswiped by a person arguing on their car phone who claimed not to have even seen the Cop. The driver's defense, which failed in court, was that all bike people are invisible. According to the law of the land, drivers, although they couldn't see the bikes, should navigate AS IF THERE MIGHT BE a bicycle out of their limited range of view.
It wasn't a hundred years, maybe it was 75 or so, before the laws of the land finally protected the humans from the machines, and even the bodies of the humans were able to slowly recover from their scary 200 year exposure to the Residues of Progress, and it was all thanks to the Girl's Selfish Team.