“The perfect woman?” Brooke asked as she arched an eyebrow, studying the pamphlet that her editor had set down on his desk. Inside was a sales pitch describing a training seminar promising to improve all aspects of a woman’s life. Looks, diet, work ethic, marriagability, and even sexual skill.
The editor nodded, “These sorts of training courses have been common in religious circles for a long time if more informally. Learn to be the duitiful wife, that sort of thing. Now it’s being pitched at corporate America. The story would be what it is, and what it means for gender dynamics in the workplace.”
Brooke frowned, “It is some Handmaid’s Tale bullshit.”
Her editor nodded vigorously, “Exactly. So you go, the paper pays for it. You expose that and your first month here you do a deep dive feature.”
Just out of grad school Brooke knew that these sorts of opportunities were rare. So far she’s been covering traffic accidents, which was neither fun nor likely to result in a big story. This could be good.
“Okay,” she said, “Sign me up. I’ll play Stepford Wife for the day.”
Two weeks later Brooke was signing into the convention. It was in a hotel, with various seminars happening in different meeting rooms through the hotel. Since she wanted to avoid people knowing that she was from the paper she had registered with a fake last name, to thwart a Google search.
Soon she was filing into a the main conference room and taking a seat, a sticker on the front of her shirt with her first name on it. The room filled with about a hundred women, all between the ages of twenty and thirty-something. Each looked a bit nervous, and many seemed unconvinced.
A redheaded woman sat next to her. The woman sighed. When Brooke asked what was the matter she replied, “Just annoyed. I couldn’t get my boyfriend to go to couple’s therapy. So I figure I’ll try this.”
Like Brooke herself she seemed skeptical about all the promises that the seminar was making. And as the lights dimmed and the music faded Brooke turned her attention to the stage that was at the front of the conference room. The words ‘The Perfect Woman’ appeared on the screen and out walked a man in a pair of jeans and a polo shirt wearing a microphone.
“Thank you all for attending. I’m sure some of you are a little unsure of what this is about. I mean what’s perfect? Nobody is perfect but we can all improve. I know I can. We may never reach perfection but you can strive for it and if every day you get closer to what you want to be, to being the person you want to be, then that’s just a smidgen closer to perfect. A step a day. That is all anyone can do,” he said to the crowd, “So today is about giving you the tools to take that step a day. You’ll start by defining what your goal is, and then we will help you with a plan for how to get there.”
Brooke glanced around. Skeptical faces were still there, but so far nothing seemed odd. If anything it sounded like a reasonable program, if still a bit sexist being geared towards women.
On stage the words that had been the convention’s title had been replaced with a silhouette of a woman that was now slowly rotating. The speaker said, “You each got a schedule when you signed in that was designed based on your goals you said you had when you registered. How you want to improve. So after this you’ll go to your first session and at the end of the day I’ll see you again.”
The silhouette of the woman spun lazily. For some reason Brooke found herself fascinated by it. Words seemed to appear on the screen but they were gone too quickly to read. On stage the man paused, then after giving the audience a few minutes to absorb everything he left the stage. A moment later the lights came up and the screen shut off.
Brooke blinked, her eyes adjusting to the light. It turned out that her redheaded seat mate was in the same class as her next. So they went together. Brooke learning the woman’s name was Heather.
This class contained six women, including the two new friends, and a female instructor who explained that it would focus on defining what ‘perfect’ meant to them. The first excerise was to write down five things they wanted to improve about themselves. Brooke wrote down that she wanted to eat better, workout more, write better, get a hobby, and succeed in her career.
After this the woman leading the workshop called on them to read their lists out. She picked Brooke to go first. After listening to Brooke read out her list the woman said, “So let’s dig into these a bit. The first two seem to be related. So let’s combine them into ‘Improve Body’.”
Brooke shook her head, “It’s more about being healthier.”
“Improving your body is healthier, isn’t it?”
“I guess but that makes it sound like a looks thing,” Brooke argued.
“Healthier people are more attractive than unhealthy people,” the woman said.
“Well okay but,” Brooke began but the woman cut her off.
“Now let’s skip to hobby. You should replace that with ‘Learn to Relax’ because isn’t that the goal of a hobby?”
Brooke conceded that it was and found herself writing a new list with Improve Body and Learn to Relax on it.
“Now you have improve writing and your career. You are a children’s author right?” The woman said. Brooke nodded, knowing that’s what her editor had filled out for career so as not to alert the conference that she was an undercover journalist.
The woman nodded, “So really these can be simplified as ‘Please My Editor’.”
Brooke went to object but decided not to argue. She saw the weird logic. If she pleases her editor she would get more published and thus do better in her career. She added that.
The woman moved on helping to simplify the other women’s lists. Heather’s was simplified to ‘Please Boyfriend’ and ‘Improve at Sex’.
The lists were simpler now, the woman explained. Simplifying the lists helped clarify what ‘perfect’ meant to each attendee and would help them focus on their new goals.
Brooke’s next session was called “Leanring to Deal With Stress” and there were twenty other women in it. It was in a larger room with a screen at the front. The same logo of a woman’s silhouette spun lazily on a screen at the front. Brooke noticed that none of the women were chatting with one and another but rather everyone just sat watching the screen waiting for the session to start. Firing off an update to her editor she took longer to look up and when she did she noticed the woman was replaced with a spiral. Looking around surprised she noticed nobody else seemed to have reacted. The other women were sitting there, glassy eyed staring at the screen.
Brooke felt alarmed but wasn’t sure why. It seemed like hypnosis, but that was a crazy science fiction thing to worry about. She stood, better safe than sorry.
“Can I help you?” a man said approaching her as she tried to leave the room.
“Yeah I just have to make a phone call,” she said.
“We really don’t recommend leaving a session midway through. You miss so much. Wait until after the session,” he said, gesturing back towards her empty seat.
Brooke tried to push pat him, but he grabbed her. Placing a hand over her mouth her turned her head towards the screen and the spiral. Trying to fight her way out of his grasp she kicked at his legs, trying to look to see if anyone was paying attention. The other women however were passive and watching the screen. Brooke’s eyes went back to the spiral. It spun around in a clockwise pattern. It seemed to swirl and pool into the center. Spinning.
She relaxed and let the man guide her to a chair. There was no point in fighting she could do whatever it was she had wanted to do later. Whatever that… spiral relax. She relaxed. That’s what she needed to do, learn to relax. Learn to relax.
Her editor blinked surprised as Brooke sank to her knees and began to undo his jeans.
“I must please my editor,” she explained, “I must obey my superiors. It’s more relaxing to obey than think.”
He was about to protest when his cock when into her warm and wet mouth. As he moaned and sat back, enjoying the sensation he wondered which other members of his staff could use this training.