What Was Stolen
Written for The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Imagine you are one of the characters in the story. Write a diary entry that reflects your thoughts and feelings about an event in your life.
Hunched over in the last stall of little girls' room, Moira felt like a teenager again, hiding out in the last stall (like no one would ever manage to find you there) doing something she really wasn't supposed to. But, this time, instead of smoking weed or pushing the current girlfriend against the wall, hoping that no one would walk in, she was up to something much more sinister. What could she say? She experimented and played around a bit (okay, a lot) in high school. But it wasn't like any other teenager hadn't. At least, they had in her day. Which brought Moira's mind back to her current situation, souring her almost-good-mood brought about from reminiscing instantly. She was there in the last stall right then not because she was a rambunctious teenager, but because she seriously wanted to try something.
Biting her lip nervously, Moira glanced under the stall to let her eyes sweep the floor yet again. The coast was still clear. Licking her lips nervously, she laid one Jezbel's napkins on the closed lid of the toilet, and smoothed it out so the papery material was as flat as she could get it.
Next, Moira reached into the overly tight fabric of shirt, fished around her bra a bit (really, she had no pockets in the damn skirt, and cleavage may as well be good for something every once in a while) before pulling out what she had been looking for: a pen pick-pocketed from one of the businessmen she had been entertaining earlier that night. She held the stolen object in her hands for moment, taking in how the harsh bulbs of the restroom made the pen's ballpoint tip (at least, she thought it was ballpoint; she didn't quite remember details like that anymore) glint a metallic gold color.
Suddenly paranoid, Moira scanned the bathroom for what was probably the millionth time since entering it with her heinous intention. But she was starting to get anxious now; the bathroom usually wasn't deserted for this long, the other girls normally took any excuse to leave their customers and use of the bathroom was one that men didn't deny them. And, while in the ladies' room, almost everyone took their time and hung around the toilets for a bit before getting back to work. Where was everyone? At this point, Moira probably would felt more comfortable with unsuspecting company rather than being alone with silence.
Alas, not one answered her silent calls. It looked like she really was going it alone. Reflecting back again, Moira realized how much missed Katherine. For all of her naivety about the world, Katie had always been around for her, encouraging and supporting Moira when no one else, not even her parents (especially not her parents, because they were devout Catholics and she was lesbian for Christ's sake). Katie always pushed Moira to be brave and courageous and lots of other heroic things, even when Moira herself didn't think she could be. Truth be told, it was seeing Katie again (even as the 'Offred' she was known as now) that had pushed her into the last stall with a deadly idea, and the tools for writing.
Pulling herself out of the flood of memories once more, Moira wrapped her fingers the pen, finding herself struggling to remember and use the right grip for writing. An act that had seemed so easy ten years earlier she was now fighting to do, like a kindergartener whose first time it was picking up a pencil.
When finally working out the right grip, her thumb and fingers positioned correctly (as close to her memories as she could match it), her pen (yes, she had stolen it, therefore it was rightfully her pen now) hovering over the napkin, she was poised to write.
…But she couldn't. Suddenly angry. Moira Dragged the pen across the makeshift paper, the metal tip ripping right through the material and creating a thin black streak upon the toilet lid. Though that was evidence of her wrongdoing (because women, who weren't allowed to write, couldn't have pens! it was preposterous!) she didn't care. She was far more concerned with the fact that Gilead had stolen something far more important than a measly writing implement from her: they stole her writing.
Throwing the now useless pen to the floor, Moira whimpered as her mind raced with the consequences of this development. She had wanted to be a writer growing up; so writing was important to her. To Moira, being able to write symbolized freedom; freedom of thought, of mind, of emotion. Writing things down had always helped her sort out her feelings before the whole escapade with the government takeover had happened, and now she had to face reality: writing, which she had always, in the back of her mind, thought herself capable of, was no longer an option. Because Gilead had denied her writing for so long, she had simply forgotten how.
Burning with rage, Moira shoved herself up from the old linoleum floor and yanked open the stall door. By the time her feet had walked themselves out of the lavatory she had been monopolizing and back out into the club, she looked so furious that several of the other girls gave her strange looks as she stalked past them, likely wondering why the hell she was in such a horrible mood and looking like she was hell bent on making somebody scream in pain.
But they didn't realize what she had realized she had lost. She had lost her writing, the only thing she had really valued besides her friendship with Katie in this awful world, and god, it was painful. Katie had rarely talked about her daughter at the Red Center, saying it was painful to remember her and her loss, and now Moira could really, honestly sympathize. It felt like she had lost a limb, or something else vitally important to survival.
She breezed through room after room of the club, looking like just another wandering hostess, trying to make herself look more busy and less angry, so she wouldn't stand out as much. By the time she reached the very back of the club, where no one except the couples (and sometimes groups) would entertain themselves, she had only been pulled aside once. Striding up to the guard at the top of the basement stairs, Moira didn't miss a beat as she delivered a swift punch to the temple. Stupid Guardian, he hadn't been expecting that from one of the help, and was consequently down for the count after only one hit. Moira felt proud of herself. Even if she had lost her writing, it appeared she hadn't lost her street fighting skills.
Knowing she couldn't turn back now, Moira headed down the stairwell, toward the circuit breakers that were on her left side immediately after she got to the bottom of the landing (the last time storm had knocked out the power she had been one of the lucky ones that went with the guards to fix the circuit, though she and the other girl were mostly there to carry the tools that didn't end up being needed). Grinning wickedly, not quite with a stable expression, she wrenched open the breaker box. Flipping all of the power switches from 'on' to 'off', she was satisfied to hear the ensuing screams of shock and panic from somewhere above her.
Scooping up one of the random tools scattered on the basement floor, feeling its heavy weight, Moira then viciously smashed it into the mess of switches and wires. There would be no fixing the circuits this time, and in the darkness and confusion, Moira could hopefully punish a few of those responsible for her loss. No one took her writing (her last shred of freedom) from her. No one.
Disclaimer: I do not, nor will I ever, own anything to do with The Handmaid's Tale. This is just something I wrote for my English summer work.
Comments: This turned out long. Whenever I tried to end the thing earlier than this, it just refused, and so it finally came out to this.
Also, I hope it was at least vaguely interesting. It only fits the prompt in the most basic of capacities. Because of its length, I worry about how a reader would feel about reading something totally introspective that is about two and a half pages long.
Next, I feel that I have to explain why Moira acts the she does throughout the story, considering most of her behavior is based on my interpretation of her while I was reading the book.
Firstly, Moira's background is completely invented, since the novel doesn't supply us with that information about her. During the book, I got the impression that Moira would have been a pretty wild teenager, so to kind of characterize that here, I took things that I heard about or seen and put them in the story as things she had done.
Secondly, when Moira mentions that her trying to write a was a deadly idea, that was something I invented as a rule for Jezbel's. Because the women there weren't under the control of the Gileadean government (not really, at least, considering Jezbel's technically wasn't supposed to exist in the first place) and almost all of the women there had lots of education from their former lives, I felt that they would have much stricter rules. Whereas a Handmaid like Offred would only suffer a whipping (or something similar) for trying to write, Moira, because of her position as a Jezbel's entertainer, could be beaten to death for it.
As for Moira not being able to write, that came from watching one of my cousins, Alexis, try to remember how to tie her shoelaces. She had learned when she was younger, but she had worn slip-ons and Velcro sneakers for so many years that, when putting on a new pair of sneakers that did have laces, she realized that she'd forgotten how to tie them. The foundation of Moira's inability to write came from watching this.
Lastly, Moira's anger over her inability to write caused her sudden emotional eruption. As explained, Moira viewed her ability to write as the one freedom that Gilead couldn't take, even though they had taken everything else; her money, her ability to move freely, her ability to choose, ect. She always believed herself capable of writing, but in actually tryingt, it dawned on her that she couldn't, despite what she had believed. It was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back, and the final thing that was needed to break her. What then followed could be called (hopefully temporary) insanity.
All in all, this wasn't how this was supposed to turn out. I had wanted to stage a death scene for Moira because we never find out what happened to her in the actual book. But I guess, subconsciously, I wanted her to go down swinging, just like Offred did.