Elias slammed his laptop shut. He rubbed his hands through his hair in exasperation then, after a beat, opened it up again.
‘She can’t be serious,’ he said, muttering under his breath.
The screen was still black. The laptop years old; slow to load, unlike his rage at her. How could she write such an article.
That’s the trouble with Mallory, though. Her self-righteous, pious attitude coupled with the power of the pen. Well, in her case, not so much a pen. More well-marketed social media accounts and highly followed blog. An influencer. Christ, how he’d struggled not to laugh when she proudly stated her title. Being her partner became more than he could stand. No one could love Mallory more than Mallory, and her views on so-called white-male privilege kept them constantly bickering. Their last fight, before he stormed out, she’d said he needed to unpack his knapsack. Whatever the fuck that meant.
The screen comes to life. The page loads and the article Mallory wrote is still there. Of course. Elias didn’t really expect that simply shutting it down would delete a published post, especially given her blog’s nation-wide audience. He took in her words, this time thoroughly reading.
The problem with white males is their inherited entitlement. And a total lack of awareness of their unconscious bias. I’ll give you a personal example: Recently, during an argument with my then-boyfriend, I suggested he might like to unpack his knapsack. You know, the imaginary knapsack blokes carry around that contains all their assumed biases, and their sense of entitlement. My ex—let’s call him Erich—flew into a wild rage, adamant that he held no such thing. It’s not enough to say ‘not all men’ anymore. Because, if you’re a male, especially a white male, then you’re complicit in your own privilege. And I won’t apologise for this. Nor will I attempt to quell my anger with a blanket of meaningless excuses. Erich couldn’t handle it. That’s fine, most men can’t. They’ve been raised as pussies who demand their needs be met at all costs and now that women are fighting back, they’re whining and sulking.
Elias couldn’t read any further. He breathed deeply, taking time to calm down. After five minutes, his heart was still racing; burning embers lit him from the inside. Briefly, he remembered reading about someone who spontaneously combusted. He’d thought at the time it was impossible, but now, Elias he wondered if it could actually happen.
His thoughts on dying, being found days later burnt to a crisp, puzzling the fire department were interrupted by the trill of his mobile phone. He walked to where he’d left it.
‘Mate. You right?’ It was Benny, his best friend. They’d been next-door neighbours as kids. Went to the same kindergarten, primary school. Different secondary schools—Ben went to the local public high school, while Elias’s parents sent him to the most elite private boys’ college in Melbourne. They’d maintained contact during those years, even after Elias and his family moved to a more affluent suburb, closer to his school.
‘I guess this means you’ve read it hey?’
‘You reckon there’s anyone who hasn’t read this shit?’
‘For sure. Heaps of normal people wouldn’t have read it,’ Benny said. He paused, whooshed out a breath. ‘Listen, come out for brekkie. Me and Harry are meeting at Smashed Avo in twenty. Come with.’
‘Nah, don’t feel like going out.’
‘Exactly why I’m inviting you,’ Benny said. ‘Mate, come on. Don’t hide.’
‘Yeah, you’re right. Why should I cower indoors?’ Elias already felt his rage subsiding. ‘Thanks Benny. Pick me up?’
‘See you in 15.’