"The true colour of life is the colour of the body, the colour of the covered red, the implicit and not explicit red of the living heart and the pulses. It is the modest colour of the unpublished blood."
Red. It used to be her favourite colour. Funny.
She wasn't anyone special. Just an average young woman, barely out of high-school. Average grades, average looks, average family. That was why the new regime seemed so appealing. At first.
She was drawn in by the Aunt's words. They echoed within her. They stayed with her even when she slept. She was special. Chosen. Part of an elite group of people chosen to save humanity. She was a true believer. She was quiet, unquestioning, for the longest time.
Blessed be the fruit.
She realised something.
Days passed, not like minutes, not like years. Just days. Nothing changed. Nothing moved. A red traffic light. Red. Red centre. Red dress. Red shoes. "When in doubt, wear red." (She remembered this quote. Bill Blass. )
How long would she stay unmoving? How many days? It started to irk her. Sometimes, she longed for the individuality that came with the Old Life. Then she shook her head and remembered how it used to be. Maybe when I serve a family, it will be better, maybe, she thought.
This was the name she couldn't remember.
Time passed and so did she. Onto a man. Bob. How cliché. Ofbob. It sometimes made her giggle. Only once or twice.
It was everything that the Aunts had said it would be. And the Wife... Well, the Wife hadn't made anything better. She never could remember her name. It was something foreign, exotic. She first thought she was beautiful.
5 months later.
Just kidding, she didn't last that long.
Worth a red cent.
"We are so glad you're here." Lie.
Vasundhara paused as if she was going to include a name at the end of her sentence, but she didn't know her name. Ofbob. Horrible name for a woman.
Ofbob nodded her head. "I am so glad to be here." Lie.
What did her mum used to say? "Fake it till you feel it."
They had a tree.
"I'm fine." She murmured. Tell the truth. "This is what I want." No, it isn't. "I want to bear you a child." Do you really? "It is my reason for being." No, it isn't.
He nodded contently. He doesn't believe you. He didn't. He doesn't care. He didn't. No one does. Correct.
Little '+' sign.
She emerged from the bathroom, brandishing the pregnancy test like a sword. Applause.
Go to sleep. "I can't." Please. "I can't." Why not? "Dunno, just can't." Do you want me to sing to you? "No, shut up." I can't. "Please?" I can't. I'm in your head. "I know. I know."
Hushabye handmaid on the tree-top...
"Where did she go?" Vasundhara screamed.
Clap. Clap. Clap.
A yell of triumph escaped the Commander's mouth. Vasundhara wiped a tear from the corner of her eye. The Marthas grinned and clapped their hands politely. She allowed herself a small smile. Oh, so you're happy to bear a stranger's child?
Ofbob stopped smiling. That's right. Once you have the baby, you'll have to go to someone else. She winced at the thought. It will never end. Ever.
You're doomed to live like this for the rest of your life. There is no way to avoid it.
Ofbob could think of one.
Her red shoe fell from her foot, to the grass.
The door was closed, so no one can hear them.
She didn't hear her. "Pardon?"
Vasundhara raised her eyebrows. "How dare you!"
She cringed and stumbled over her words. "I didn't hear, I'm sorry,"
Vasundhara snorted. "You will be," she muttered.
Yes, you will be.
"Shut up." Ofbob said. She didn't see the slap coming.
When the bow breaks.
Do it. Just do it. She did.
A red flag.
"When did you last see her?" the Commander demanded, trying to keep up with his Wife. Vasundhara was too out of breath to answer. "She can't have gotten far."
Vasundhara let out a loud sob; her tears were pushed back into her hair from the running. The Commander grabbed her arm and slowed to a walk, then to an eventual stop. She fell onto his chest. "It's all my fault."
"She'll be fine." He soothed, running his hands through her hair and gazing out of the window.
Then he saw her.
Hushabye handmaid hanging from the tree-top.