Click here to Download The Handmaids Tale PDF Book by Margaret Atwood English having PDF Size 1.6 MB and No of Pages 327.
We slept in what had once been the gymnasium. The oor was of varnished wood, with stripes and circles painted on it, for the games that were formerly played there; the hoops for the basketball nets were still in place, though the nets were gone. A balcony ran around the room, for the spectators, and I thought I could smell.
The Handmaids Tale PDF Book by Margaret Atwood
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Faintly like an afterimage, the pungent scent of sweat, shot through with the sweet taint of chewing gum and perfume from the watching girls, felt-skirted as I knew from pictures, later in mini-skirts, then pants, then in one earring, spiky green-streaked hair. Dances would have been held there; the music lingered, a palimpsest of unheard sound, style upon style.
An undercurrent of drums, a forlorn wail, garlands made of tissue-paper owers, cardboard devils, a revolving ball of mirrors, powdering the dancers with a snow of light. There was old sex in the room and loneliness, and expectation, of something without a shape or name. I remember that yearning.
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For something that was always about to happen and was never the same as the hands that were on us there and then, in the small of the back, or out back, in the parking lot, or in the television room with the sound turned down and only the pictures ickering over lifting esh. We yearned for the future. How did we learn it, that talent for insatiability?
It was in the air; and it was still in the air, an afterthought, as we tried to sleep, in the army cots that had been set up in rows, with spaces between so we could not talk. We had annelette sheets, like children’s, and army-issue blankets, old ones that still said u.s. We folded our clothes neatly and laid them on the stools at the ends of the beds.
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The lights were turned down but not out. Aunt Sara and Aunt Elizabeth patrolled; they had electric cattle prods slung on thongs from their leather belts. No guns though, even they could not be trusted with guns. Guns were for the guards, specially picked from the Angels. The guards weren’t allowed inside the building except when called, and we weren’t allowed out, except for our walks.
Twice daily, two by two around the football eld which was enclosed now by a chain-link fence topped with barbed wire. The Angels stood outside it with their backs to us. They were objects of fear to us, but of something else as well. If only they would look. If only we could talk to them. Something could be exchanged, we thought, some deal made, some trade-o, we still had our bodies.
That was our fantasy. We learned to whisper almost without sound. In the semidarkness we could stretch out our arms, when the Aunts weren’t looking, and touch each other’s hands across space. We learned to lip-read, our heads at on the beds, turned sideways, watching each other’s mouths. In this way we exchanged names, from bed to bed: Alma. Janine. Dolores. Moira. June. The Handmaids Tale PDF Book
I think of the others, those without. This is the heartland, here, I’m leading a pampered life, may the Lord make us truly grateful, said Aunt Lydia, or was it thankful, and I start to eat the food. I’m not hungry tonight. I feel sick to my stomach. But there’s no place to put the food, no potted plants, and I won’t chance the toilet.
I’m too nervous, that’s what it is. Could I leave it on the plate, ask Cora not to report me? I chew and swallow, chew and swallow, feeling the sweat come out. In my stomach the food balls itself together, a handful of damp cardboard, squeezed. Downstairs, in the dining room, there will be candles on the large mahogany table, a white cloth, silver, owers, wine glasses with wine in them.
There will be a click of knives against china, a clink as she sets down her fork, with a barely audible sigh, leaving half the contents of her plate untouched. Possibly she will say she has no appetite. Possibly she won’t say anything. If she says something, does he comment? If she doesn’t say anything, does he notice? I wonder how she manages to get herself noticed. The Handmaids Tale PDF Book
I think it must be hard. There’s a pat of butter on the side of the plate. I tear o a corner of the paper napkin, wrap the butter in it, take it to the cupboard and slip it into the toe of my right shoe, from the extra pair, as I have done before. I crumple up the rest of the napkin: no one, surely, will bother to smooth it out, to check if any is missing.
I will use the butter later tonight. It would not do, this evening, to smell of butter. I wait. I compose myself. My self is a thing I must now compose, as one composes a speech. What I must present is a made thing, not something born. This washroom used to be for boys. The mirrors have been replaced here too by oblongs of dull grey metal.
But the urinals are still there, on one wall, white enamel with yellow stains. They look oddly like babies’ cons. I marvel again at the nakedness of mens’ lives: the showers right out in the open, the body exposed for inspection and comparison, the public display of privates. What is it for? What purposes of reassurance does it serve? The Handmaids Tale PDF Book
The ashing of a badge, look, everyone, all is in order, I belong here. Why don’t women have to prove to one another that they are women? Some form of unbuttoning, some split-crotch routine, just as casual. A dog-like sning. The high school is old, the stalls are wooden, some kind of chipboard. I go into the second one from the end, swing the door to.
Of course there are no longer any locks. In the wood there’s a small hole, at the back, next to the wall, about waist height, souvenir of some previous vandalism or legacy of an ancient voyeur. Everyone in the Centre knows about this hole in the woodwork; everyone except the Aunts. I’m afraid I am too late, held up by Janine’s Testifying: maybe Moira has been here already, maybe she’s had to go back.
They don’t give you much time. I look carefully down, aslant under the stall wall, and there are two red shoes. But how can I tell who it is? I put my mouth to the wooden hole. Moira? I whisper. Is that you? she says. Yes, I say. Relief goes through me. The sitting-room door is wide open. I go in: so far no one else is here. The Handmaids Tale PDF Book Download
I don’t sit, but take my place, kneeling, near the chair with the footstool where Serena Joy will shortly enthrone herself, leaning on her cane while she lowers herself down. Possibly she’ll put a hand on my shoulder, to steady herself, as if I’m a piece of furniture. She’s done it before. The sitting room would once have been called a drawing room, perhaps; then a living room.
Or maybe it’s a parlour, the kind with a spider and ies. But now it’s ocially a sitting room, because that’s what is done in it, by some. For others there’s standing room only. The posture of the body is important, here and now: minor discomforts are instructive. The sitting room is subdued, symmetrical; it’s one of the shapes money takes when it freezes.
Money has trickled through this room for years and years, as if through an underground cavern, crusting and hardening like stalactites into these forms. Mutely the varied surfaces present themselves: the dusk-rose velvet of the drawn drapes, the gloss of the matching chairs, eighteenth century, the cow’s-tongue hush of the tufted Chinese rug on the oor, with its peach-pink peonies. The Handmaids Tale PDF Book Download
The suave leather of the Commander’s chair, the glint of brass on the box beside it. To be a man, watched by women. It must be entirely strange. To have them watching him all the time. To have them wondering, What’s he going to do next? To have them inch when he moves, even if it’s a harmless enough move, to reach for an ashtray perhaps.
To have them sizing him up. To have them thinking, he can’t do it, he won’t do, he’ll have to do, this last as if he were a garment, out of style or shoddy, which must nevertheless be put on because there’s nothing else available. To have them putting him on, trying him on, trying him out, while he himself puts them on, like a sock over a foot, onto the stub of himself, his extra.
Sensitive thumb, his tentacle, his delicate stalked slug’s eye, which extrudes, expands, winces, and shrivels back into himself when touched wrongly, grows big again, bulging a little at the tip, travelling forward as if along a leaf, into them, avid for vision. To achieve vision in this way, this journey into a darkness that is composed of women, a woman, who can see in darkness while he himself strains blindly forward. The Handmaids Tale PDF Book Download
She watches him from within. We’re all watching him. It’s one thing we can really do, and it’s not for nothing: if he were to falter, fail or die, what would become of us? No wonder he’s like a boot, hard on the outside, giving shape to a pulp of tenderfoot. That’s just a wish. I’ve been watching him for some time and he’s given no evidence, of softness.
Serena Joy grips my hands as if it is she, not I, who’s being fucked, as if she nds it either pleasurable or painful, and the Commander fucks, with a regular two-four marching stroke, on and on like a tap dripping. He is preoccupied, like a man humming to himself in the shower without knowing he’s humming; like a man who has other things on his mind.
It’s as if he’s somewhere else, waiting for himself to come, drumming his ngers on the table while he waits. There’s an impatience in his rhythm now. But isn’t this everyone’s wet dream, two women at once? They used to say that. Exciting, they used to say. What’s going on in this room, under Serena Joy’s silvery canopy, is not exciting. The Handmaids Tale PDF Book Download
It has nothing to do with passion or love or romance or any of those other notions we used to titillate ourselves with. It has nothing to do with sexual desire, at least for me, and certainly not for Serena. Arousal and orgasm are no longer thought necessary; they would be a symptom of frivolity merely, like jazz garters or beauty spots: superuous distractions for the light-minded.
Outdated. It seems odd that women once spent such time and energy reading about such things, thinking about them, worrying about them, writing about them. They are so obviously recreational. This is not recreation, even for the Commander. This is serious business. The Commander, too, is doing his duty.
What should I take? Something that will not be missed. In the wood at midnight, a magic ower. A withered daodil, not one from the dried arrangement. The daodils will soon be thrown out, they’re beginning to smell. Along with Serena’s stale fumes, the stench of her knitting. I grope, nd an end table, feel. There’s a clink, I must have knocked something. The Handmaids Tale PDF Book Free
I and the daodils, crisp at the edges where they’ve dried, limp towards the stems, use my ngers to pinch. I will press this, somewhere. Under the mattress. Leave it there, for the next woman, the one who comes after me, to nd. But there’s someone in the room, behind me. I hear the step, quiet as mine, the creaking of the same oorboard.
The door closes behind me, with a little click, cutting the light. I freeze: white was a mistake. I’m snow in moonlight, even in the dark. Then a whisper: “Don’t scream. It’s all right.” As if I’d scream, as if it’s all right. I turn: a shape, that’s all, dull glint of cheekbone, devoid of colour. He steps towards me. Nick. “What are you doing in here?”
I don’t answer. He too is illegal, here, with me, he can’t give me away. Nor I him; for the moment we’re mirrors. He puts his hand on my arm, pulls me against him, his mouth on mine, what else comes from such denial? Without a word. Both of us shaking, how I’d like to. In Serena’s parlour, with the dried owers, on the Chinese carpet, his thin body. The Handmaids Tale PDF Book Free
A man entirely unknown. It would be like shouting, it would be like shooting someone. My hand goes down, how about that, I could unbutton, and then. But it’s too dangerous, he knows it, we push each other away, not far. Too much trust, too much risk, too much already. “Why?” I say. Is it so bad, for him, that he’d take the risk of coming to my room at night? I think of the hanged men, hooked on the Wall.
I can hardly stand up. I have to get away, back to the stairs, before I dissolve entirely. His hand’s on my shoulder now, held still, heavy, pressing down on me like warm lead. Is this what I would die for? I’m a coward, I hate the thought of pain.