It’s too violent, I think, watching them waterboard June, then threaten to tear her nails out. It’s gratuitous, this 4th season of the Handmaid’s Tale. But something about her journey, and knowing as I do, because of Margaret Atwood’s sequel, that she is going to survive, is enthralling, like a high. Maybe it’s just a familiar sense of hope and the desire for power that I struggled to find during the Trump era, when the orange sky and the spiking graphs of the pandemic left me wondering what was left to fight for. (Everything, the voice inside me says now. Everything.)
Oh, June! A soldier, a warrior, the one that cannot be broken. I know the story is an allegory, a metaphor for misogyny and slavery, or war and the battle for justice. But I still find it delicious when she smirks, when she tells the commander to go fuck himself. When she presses the electric cattle prod against Aunt Lydia’s neck, and I surprise myself in the silence of my living room by screaming, “Get her!” As if I can join the handmaids in their revolt, as if I am part of a group of rag tag femmes finally cornering a now helpless bully.
Too violent, I think, wondering about how Americans have become immune to this, video gamers blowing up cars, even commercials crashing and exploding. Such a violent culture. Callous. But I binge another episode because they’ve gotten out of the van now, and they are running, even with their hands tied, even with one of the Eyes dressed all in black, shooting at them, striking one of them in the back, their red capes and white hats disappearing behind the long, loud train cars. “Run!” I say out loud, “Run!” It’s terrifying and elating.
Who is this middle aged man alone in his apartment, the little belly, the silver hair at the temples? Wasn’t it just yesterday that he was a scared teenage boy who fantasized about escaping? Wasn’t it just last month that he was the twenty-four-year-old finally leaving for college? He’s still here in this shell, rooting for rebellion, joyous in seeing someone beaten down but never broken. June is back for another wild ride, and he’s already bought his ticket. He’s right there with her.
The prompt this time was the list exercise (see an explanation of that prompt here). The titles of the two lists this time were: What brought me joy/What brought me sorrow.