Thought I’d post this on here after finding it on my laptop. It’s a creative response to Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale, giving Moira’s perspective instead of Offred’s narration in the original text. I wrote this for AS English Literature a few years back and it received full marks.
The following is a printed transcript and extract from a recently discovered diary; the writer is believed to have been a Handmaid of the Republic of Gilead, two hundred years earlier and to have escaped months before the renowned uprising. The diary was discovered five hundred feet underneath what was assumed to have been a well-known contemporary brothel. The text is below; although much is illegible, it is now being used as source material for Gileadean Studies, at Cambridge University, England.
This place is outstanding, I guess it could be said. Outstanding, not in the way in which is stands out, I mean, it’s a fucking brothel. More in terms of the immense coup pulled off by the men who run Gilead. Virgins for wives, whores for pleasure.
The wallpaper is a ghastly, vomit-yellow, peeling from the walls which enclose us. On occasion, the yellow mucus surroundings utterly implodes upon itself and begins to reveal confessions of the previous versions of ourselves, the whores who made it out breathing. Or the ones who didn’t. Black scrawls of fears and revelations of things that would horrify a God fearing nation. Ghost stories are written on these walls, those yellow pages of neglect and rape and power and desperation.
She thinks I’ve let myself go. She’s judging me. Bitch.
Her back arched with discomfort. She leant back against the mustard couch, her veins mounting to the surface, pupils dilating and the reek of anxiety from this hooker-to-be drained my nostrils. Offred. Oppressed Offred. This couch bleeds with the absence of what used to be; self-respect and dignity traded with a sickly-coated ironic façade of the Virgin Mary. The yellow couches are often smeared with blubbering weakness; tears that black smeared tissues couldn’t staunch. She is Mary and Eve. I am Lilith, cast out. Condemned.
“You don’t mean that.”
Confessions line the walls. Pages of yellow paper; peeling from the core. Black declarations and ghost stories and autobiographies. It makes me anxious. Am I next? Where do they find these black biros, to add to this log, this community, of those who pass over when that time comes? Those who couldn’t cope? I am barricaded by whores with pipes between their lips. My throat is a desert, my tongue grains of sand. If I could, I’d growl. That wouldn’t be speech, but speech is golden. Speech isn’t allowed. Men’s biology is an imposition to our mouths. We are gagged for their desire. We are gagged by it. They enjoy watching us choke.
Offred’s eyes are padded cells for examination. She’s fucking my head. I almost feel guilty.
You left. I know. Aunt Elizabeth’s clothes are still at the back of my closet. The Red Centre would kill to have me back; it’d brighten the place up a little. I’m a symbol of almost-salvation, for those Handmaids. At least, that’s what the rest say. There’s a couple who arrived in the last six months, from a centre nearby. I was just a myth to them. The woman, who took an Aunt’s clothes, tied her up and ran. Maybe they’ll be my last fucking words, a couple of years from now. My scrawls, my memoir, up in dark ink, behind the wallpaper of this haven. Ironically, I’ll be a Saint.
We slept in what had once been a hotel lobby. The citrus walls, flaking with what had once been cries for help. The hotel business was shut down around fifteen years a go. It was supposed to be cleared completely, yet a closet still stands. Some consistency remains. Scrawls of Latin, I’m guessing, engrave the base of the wood. Nolite te bastardes carborundorum. It made me smirk. Offred would’ve laughed too, had she been there then. Now, she’s sunk in this sallow chair, my mirror image, uncomfortable and exposed and violated, in this unflatteringly tight corset. Not your best look, pal. A gift from her Commander probably, with not a word to spill from her clownish red chops. I could slap her across the face. That’d give a bit of colour to those pasty cheeks. She looks starved. You never used to be able to shut her up.
I’m not Moira. Moira, full of spirit and rebellion, the mythical whore, who offers faith. I’m a replacement, a scandal. Glazed with face cream and fishnets. I’m not her anymore. I’m a thing, a symbol, a number. I’m everything I stood against. I’m an object. I’m fucking men. I’ve had Gilead force-fed down my throat. I’m choked and I’m retched and I’m gagged for the pleasure of those who dominate me. For the pleasure of those who dominate us.
She looks tired, her youthful face prematurely aged. She used to suffer from the curse of youth, particularly in college; it was a real effort trying to get her into clubs. Now she has no problem, clearly, the Commander on her arm, her first night out in years.
Luke aged her, too.
I’m nostalgic with this college girl sat beside me. I’d never let her leave the apartment dressed like that back then. She never had the legs. Bless.
You may as well be my mother’s daughter. She loves you more. No jealousy, though. A shared sisterhood.
My heart aches, memories make my mind throb; another large strip of paper peels towards us. My heart jolts: ‘…die’ is the latest word in the log of ghost stories, hidden behind yellow covers. I’m fenced in, I’m going crazy, my heart is racing. I swallow and swallow again, bile circling my gut. Offred is –
This is the last of the transcript. It is believed by those who discovered the Handmaid’s diary, that the remainders of this extract are missing and that either the pages have been torn out, or the author did not write any more.