The Handmaid’s Tale – Part 3

The Handmaid’s Tale

– The Really Veiled Version –

by Bo_Emp

Back to part 2.

Part three – Wife

10.

We still make love in my mind when the car stops completely again. I feel the seat belt being unbuckled making me move to the side to be guided out. I’m guided to walk, and walk for several minutes. Something is wrong. It’s not a long entrance path because the more rough outdoor tiles were only to be seen for less than half a minute. If it was the Commander’s house, the largest in his compound, I would have walked all the way through the house and crossed the back porch as well by now. I can’t imagine a ‘small’ house being larger than the Commander’s. But finally my guiding stops and hands at my neck make me lift my head for my padlock to be reached and for me to see the apron of a Martha. Being bright white and winkle free it can’t be Rita or Cora as they have had theirs on at least since the Ceremony at the Commander started. I am of course at my daughter’s home which is confirmed just after as the Martha moves to the side and I see a magenta shape in front of me. But it’s a magenta cloak and not a skirt, cape and veiled hat. Her having told me she has never met another Leah it can’t be anyone but her, Wifeethan – Jill. Meanwhile the Martha has pulled my hood backwards until it’s tight around my face. The zipper stops under the chin so pulling the hood backwards makes it get stuck as its outermost end is smaller than the cross section of the face and the hat. Like this the long hood front doesn’t hang down and I can look straight ahead and around. Wifeethan’s hood is fitted the same. The Martha taps my side and gestures for me to take a hand, one at a time, out of the neck opening to remove my gauntlets. Then the zipper is pulled up to the sternum and she leaves.

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Wifeethan comes up close to me and she presses the leather of her mask where her mouth is against the leather cheek of my mask on both sides. Next she leans over my shoulder and to my surprise is able to speak with the mask and, I assume, the double voice modesty scarf. What I hear clearly tells she is wearing the voice modesty scarf but the mask doesn’t seem to make it worse. Just like in the Commander’s bathroom I have to concentrate to perceive what she says.

“Blessed be the fruit. Fold your hands please” are her first words and although my hands are hidden inside the cloak I comply.

“We thank the Lord that he has listened to our prayers and united mother and daughter. Amen. – Welcome to my home dear mother, Wifenick. Now we are on equal terms, both being Wives and Leah’s, we can be together as much as can be justified considering one of us has to leave her home. I know you wonder that I’m able to speak, being masked in leather in addition to the voice modesty scarf of course. In here you may unbuckle the lower tie of the mask then, holding a thumb between the mask and the chin, is sufficient to let sound out. But you need to hold the chin rather than the mouth to the ear of the listener.”

While I unbuckle I notice that I hear the sounds of the room quite clearly making me conclude that pulling the hood backwards has also removed the padding, or lining, from my ears. I pull at the edge of the mask at the chin and put my thumb into the slit to hold it open. Then I lean towards Wifeethan’s ear with the head tilted a little backwards to have my chin touch the side of her head and say, speaking loudly for just a low muffled sound to come through

“May the Lord open. Wifeethan, my daughter, thank you for bringing us together and a thousand thanks to Ethan for all that he has arranged. You advocating sex segregation I would like you to bring on my wholehearted thanks to him – no doubt Nick is thanking him as well. I had expected we would be taken to our new house where I would have liked to have a bath directly after the drive. Are there problems? What are the plans for today?”

Wifeethan motions me towards a small two seat sofa and as we sit I find that the visual impression is wrong; it’s very comfortable but we sit close up against each other. Wifeethan says

“This sofa is made for a woman speaking very modestly like me, now you as well, to be able to converse with another woman. With you it’s especially wonderful to sit this close. First of all there is absolutely nothing wrong to my knowledge. The house should be ready to move in to. There should be food in the kitchen and clothes in the closets. You have been outside the City? – I wasn’t aware of that. You have to get used to that when being really decently covered you are always hot and you sweat easily; we’ll have some liquids in a few minutes. The reason you have been brought here is that we had to meet as the first thing, and doing it at your house meant I had to go out and your Martha’s had to cook and serve in a house they didn’t know. Now we can have a late lunch here, your Martha’s can meet our Martha’s without having to work and they can learn about how we do things here, where to shop and such. Then, when Ethan and Nick find it’s time, after a cup of tea I assume, you’ll be driven to your house to do what you want to do for the rest of the afternoon and evening, and night I suppose. Providing you have no objection, tomorrow is planned as well. You’ll accompany Nick when it’s time for him to go with Ethan to the Burns headquarters. Then you stay all day until they come back to learn the life of a Wife as I live it. Tomorrow we can also see each other, if Nick permits, and you can also meet your grandson. I don’t think he’s old enough yet to understand if seeing us like this, and when there is a man outside the close family in the house I like to be totally non-feminine by wearing cloak and mask.”

I say “I’m glad that everything is all right. And it’s a good idea that I come to visit you tomorrow for you to correct me if I don’t behave as you think a Wife should. If you won’t remove the cloak and mask it’s clear I can’t see you. Considering I haven’t expected to see you in many months I can’t complain about one day. I was just going to ask about Enoch. Is one of the Martha’s taking care of him while we are here?”

Wifeethan says “Yes and no. We have a nanny until Enoch is old enough for boarding school. She is classified as a Martha and dresses like one except for the colour, but has only taken care of babies, three before Ethan, so she has more experience as a mother than me. I promised you some liquids and I have waited for my lunch because of you and now I’m getting hungry. I’ll call a Martha. Just a moment.”

Wifeethan gets up and waddles across the room to bow and push a button with her leather covered forehead, and then to waddle back and seat herself again.

I ask “If we can remove our masks, and perhaps our cloaks, to eat why do we have to stay masked and cloaked now?”

Wifeethan says “We stay in cloak and mask because the religious scholars say the totally featureless cloak, where there is no risk of showing hands or feet either, better helps a woman not to tempt men outside the close family and, in addition the woman, by looking up into her hood or having the hood opening face the fabric of the cloak doesn’t get to see a man not sufficiently closely related to her. I can’t imagine you don’t know that Ethan and Nick are strange men to you and me respectively, as close male family is only husband, father, sons and brothers. We eat like we are. The meal has been adapted …”

There is a knock on the door and Wifeethan turns away from me to put her face in her lap. A few seconds later a Martha opens the door. She hesitates just after closing the door, evidently in doubt as to who to address when seeing two identical Leah’s. But seeing one bowed and the other facing her she goes to tap the one bowed on the shoulder. She bows herself to be at the right level when Wifeethan straightens and puts her chin to the ear of the Martha. After a short instruction to the Martha, Wifeethan again puts her face in the lap staying like that until the Martha has closed the door from the outside and signalled she has done so by a single knock.

I have to say “Excuse me Wifeethan, I already find it wildly exaggerated having to dress close to public just because there are ‘strange’ men in another room of the house. They wouldn’t dream of coming near this room, not to say opening the door. But then hiding your masked and veiled face just to show as a cloak for the few seconds the door is open is so .. – that I haven’t even got word for it. There is also a very, very small risk, but probably much greater than Ethan or Nick would come here, that some psycho climbs the garden wall and peeks at you through the window.”

Wifeethan says “You are in favour of seat belts in cars, aren’t you?”

It’s so obvious to me that instead of nodding I have to turn my head to say “Of course I am. They have saved thousands of lives for decades. Isn’t it out of topic?”

Wifeethan says “I’m happy to wear a seat belt too, although it’s annoying. Are you aware that you have to ride two hundred million miles to be involved in an accident where the seat belt makes a difference? I feel having strange men in the house is like going for a ride. I like to cover as prescribed even though the risk of me meeting them is very small. Then for much better reasons than a psycho I have long been considering replacing the standard Wife outfit plus the cape with something better, but Enoch has made me hesitate.”

As what makes people feel safe is a very individual thing that can’t be argued. I go on to a new subject by saying “Now that we are going to have plenty of time together …”

The door is knocked and Wifeethan leans back to with her head push my head forward. In a flash I realise that I’m voluntarily wearing her strict Wife clothes. I have not objected to still being masked and cloaked and in the wider perspective if I choose a more liberal lifestyle I may cross a point where she turns against me, and I can’t do that because Ethan and her practically own Nick and me, so we both put our faces in our laps. After being tapped on the shoulder I straighten to see a Martha standing in front of me and holding a large cup with a lid and a straw through the lid in her left hand, but apparently Wifeethan has stopped her. Wifeethan says

“The cup is held into your neck opening where you take hold of it. I only loosen the voice modesty scarf to get the straw to the mouth, but as it then no longer as tight we stay silent while we eat. When you’re full nod or if you want more shake your head. Now fold your hands – We thank you Lord for our food, we pray may we in turn do well today. Amen. Enjoy the meal.”

Wifeethan faces the Martha and nods making her pull my zipper sufficiently down to hold the cup inside my cloak, and when I have taken it, a little to my surprise, the zipper is fully closed. Then Wifeethan is handed a cup likewise and we bow to the lap while the Martha leaves the room. While I make the cup stand in my lap to have both hands available for loosening the scarf and pulling it just below the lips it occurs to me that the zipper has been closed because there is now no need for an opening for sound to come out. Next I take the cup in my right hand and push my left hand up under both the veil and the mask to make a path for the straw to my lips. I suck and am positively surprised. After Rossana’s meal of home made products not that many hours ago I’m not feeling that hungry, but the cup contains a really fresh mix of blended vegetables that are so delicious that some or all of them perhaps, are home grown. I suck on the straw with delight for a couple of minutes and then without thinking about it lean towards Wifeethan saying

THANK YOU it’s a wonderfully fresh meal.”

I have spoken with just the leather of the mask attenuating my voice and immediately realise my error and make it fade, and halfway through Wifeethan mutes me completely by squeezing her hood against my lower face. I get up from the sofa and down on my knees in front of her to bow my head to the floor. When looking up again she nods and I seat myself again leaning against her to make the good mood between us return. As just after I entered here she puts her masked mouth to both of my cheeks and I do the same to her. We then continue drinking but sit directly facing each other. I just look at a leather surface roughly sculptured as a face and coloured magenta with the pinholes for the eyes and the breathing holes so small that nothing behind is revealed. I haven’t seen the adult person inside this magenta outfit, but just knowing it’s my daughter I can’t help loving this alien creature. And tomorrow I’m going to see her, touch her and our real lips are going to meet.

Despite the wonderful taste I’m very full when the cup is empty and, with a hand, I make my cloak bulge over the stomach while nodding. With the mouth area of her mask Wifeethan pats my mask at the mouth and shakes her head, and then she gets up to waddle to the button. I can only assume that this button in some way summons a Martha. She has hardly seated herself again before the door is knocked and we face our laps. Being patted I see the Martha has brought two similar but smaller cups. When it’s exchanged for my empty cup I sense it’s hot. We face our laps again and after the knock I can put the straw to my lips to learn we have been served tea. While we drink we again face each other and Wifeethan slowly moves her masked face towards mine until our noses meet. She brushes her nose against mine and lets the leather of her cheek brush my leather cheek. It’s like I was a baby and she my mother. But it feels nice and I feel her affection despite we are far from skin contact. After about a quarter of an hour she nods her head towards the door. I nod and get up to waddle across the room and push the button. We wait for something like a minute before a Martha knocks the door, and not much more than a minute later we can straighten after she has left again, having cleared away our cups and left our zippers a little open for speaking again.

Wifeethan starts by saying “Not to leave any doubt: You are completely forgiven for forgetting your mouth wasn’t covered. In any case it’s you who have sinned. I’m very happy, and am going to tell the Martha’s that you enjoyed the vegetables, but I think one reason you found them so fresh is that you were really thirsty. Although this is the best part of the city the soil is still too polluted for eating its produce so I assume the vegetables are from Milk and Honey.”

I say “I love how we got closer while drinking despite the layers actually separating us, and, almost, without saying a word. This leads me back to what I was about to say when being stopped by the meal. I’d like to learn how your life has been since we separated, that’s almost as far back as you can remember I guess, and I hope you would like to hear about my life as well. It doesn’t need to be right away or tomorrow as we’ll have plenty of time together now. As our lives have been very different I would perhaps better understand your account if I had met your adoptive parents and seen their house. Do they still live in the same house as when you stayed with them? Oh, and then your adoptive father – although I’m your mother I’m not his husband, so I’ll never be able to meet him, right?”

Wifeethan says “I think you understand that I don’t like the word ‘adoptive’ being used all the time. I was fostered by Dan Woods and his Wife. And yes you are right, you’ll only be able to communicate with him through Nick. And to your other question, yes, they still live in the same house, but me staying with them is only partly right as you seem to forget that all, or unfortunately, rather the few, children in Gilead attend boarding schools and only live with their parents during Summer, Christmas, Easter and some weekends. Finally visiting their house is the only way to meet Wifedan. I think you’ve been told she is even more pious and adherent to the principles of Gilead than me, and her devotion and reputation has made her worthy to be deleted from all lists for summoning Wives to official events, so she no longer participates in public Enlightenment and Unity meetings, trials or births so as to be able to stay at home all the time. Not to spoil that very special honour she has attained it’s always me who goes to her, as it’s not spoiling as much for me as it is for her, because you know, or you would never had reached me, I’m summoned for public events from time to time. Lucky for you the usual visiting interval of about a month is about due so we can visit Wifedan within a few days, and as she is always at home I only have to ask Ethan for the car. Let’s decide tomorrow just before you leave if it should be the day after tomorrow or – if you need a day more to learn to live like me – in three days.”

I reply “I certainly am looking forward very much to meeting Wifedan, so in that regard in two or three days is very good, but on the other hand with her being so rigorous I fear she make not take a little mistake like the one I made during the meal as forgiving as you did, and if that is the case perhaps I’d better wait.”

While we both turn our heads to change from speaking to listening and vice versa the door is knocked. When I, after being tapped, lift my head the Martha holds up a pair of gauntlets – my pair of gauntlets. Both Wifeethan and I get up and as both her and the Martha stop moving in a few seconds I realise I have to buckle the lower straps of my mask. Then I face Wifeethan directly which first makes her lean shoulder to shoulder with me for a little while and then she ‘kisses’ my cheeks, followed by me ‘kissing’ hers. Then I turn to front the Martha who quickly pulls my long hood full forward, pulls the zipper sufficiently down to fit my gauntlets, closes the zipper fully and applies a padlock. I’m then guided through the house and outside and to the limo again. I only get to think of that I’m now with Nick, Rita and Cora again on our way to our future home. Imagination never sets in because although we are driving slowly the trip only lasts between two and three minutes.

It’s also a short walk before the guiding stops, the padlock is removed and the cloak fully unzipped and almost in the same movement the hood lifted off my head and the cloak off my shoulders to drop to the ground. I recognise Rita in front of me holding her hands so that she can help me out of the gauntlets. Then I unbuckle the mask and after some five hours finally pull it fully off again to get a much clearer sight so I’m able to take in my surroundings. I am in a hall somewhat smaller than that at the Commander’s house but otherwise quite similar except that there is no staircase. I don’t get time to observe much more because Nick stands right in front of me with a wicked smile saying

“The next room to see is the bedroom. Right now.”

I start speaking but then realise I have to put my veiled mouth to his ear to start again saying “I’m sorry Nick, you’ll have to wait some minutes. I have to see the tub first.”

Nick says “Since saying goodbye to Ethan I have prepared myself for being with you so we go to the bathroom together and we undress and wash together.”

Seeing that Rita has left I lift my veil with one hand and force the voice modesty scarf down with the other and then kiss Nick so that he can’t question I need him too, while some of the images from the last part of the ride go through my mind again. Coming into the bathroom he straightaway turns on the shower, takes me in a tight embrace and while our lips are pressed against each other he pulls us both under its jet. I quickly remove my right glove with the photo. Then we gradually get a piece of totally soaked clothing removed and gradually there is more skin to touch and kiss. Long before we are naked it’s clear that Nick is ready for me but he holds himself back until we have showered completely naked for a little while then superficially towelled, walked to the bedroom next door and thrown ourselves around in the large double bed for a minute.

We stay in the bed the rest of the afternoon until there is a knock on the door. Nick finds a bathrobe and goes to the door and opens it only a fraction so that I can’t be seen. Apparently the person outside indicates it’s dinner time because Nick says thank you and orders a tray put outside the door. Five minutes later the door is knocked again. Nick fetches the tray and we have curried chicken in bed.

After eating we relax for a while then Nicks asks if I’m ready again and I answer by crawling on top of him. An hour later he tries the button and we get a tray with tea. The liquid is much needed, but after the first mug we start playing again with small breaks to sip through another cup. Now that it’s legal and we can make as much noise as we like we can’t stop and don’t use the bed for its main purpose until long after midnight.

11.

We just pulled a blanket over us when realising we were about to drift off to sleep, so we are still naked when awoken by persistent hard knocking on the door. Neither of us feel clean but it’s half past seven and Nick says the driver is going to be here at half past eight. A shower helps and a tray of breakfast which we eat while still naked in bed. While we eat Nick says that we, as a sort of honeymoon, should do as yesterday when we come back from the Burns’ house for the next two days, but then we should start living like other couples, notably the Burns’ and the Woods. As I open the closets to get dressed I notice that there are more white items than the chemise and underdrawers I’m used to wearing, but there isn’t that much time, not even a driver should have to wait for a Wife, and also I’m too tired to start an investigation. I simply put on fresh items identical to what I took off yesterday, and then directly walk to the wardrobe in the hall where Cora is ready to help me into my public clothing.

This time I’m only mute, practically blind and close to deaf for less than twenty minutes. I wait for the limo for ten, we drive for three and I’m guided through the Burns’ house for several minutes. Just before I am guided inside there is a short break where I’m just able to hear the voice of Nick at my ear saying

“You are hereby permitted to show yourself to Wifeethan. Have a nice day.”

When the guiding stops, my cloak is opened and fully removed. The Martha pulls my gauntlets off and I remove the mask to see that I’m in a bedroom twice as large as our own and next to me is Wifeethan without mask and cloak like me. We embrace shortly and then she leans to my ear to say

“Blessed be the fruit, and good morning Wifenick. Do you like your house?”

I say “May the Lord open, and good morning Wifeethan. I like what I’ve seen of the house Wifeethan, but yesterday was actually our wedding day so we didn’t do much else but consummate the marriage. I’m a little tired I have to admit.”

Wifeethan says “Oh, I’m sorry that I forgot you were living in sin until the plan was set to work. It was so emotional that we just met yesterday that I didn’t think of all what you had gone through to come here. Congratulations. It sounds to me as if the two of you have gone further than a couple where both have attended a Gilean boarding school would do, but with you now being married it is righteous, and the first couple of days it is by nature not possible to do it right. I remember how Ethan and I spent the first days exploring what one of the opposite sex was like until finding out what the teachings meant and how to follow the recommendations from school and the Matrimony Council. I’m still sorry I forgot yesterday but then we’ll have a special lunch today to make up for it. Just a minute.”

Wifeethan leaves and I look around. The old style four-poster bed unfortunately reminds me of when there was a second part to the Commander’s ceremonies, but the rest of the room is nice. I notice there are only two double closet doors, but perhaps there is a separate dressing room behind the other door in the room. I walk to it and consider if Wifeethan would mind that I take a peek when she returns. At my ear again she says

“It’s the right door if you need to relieve yourself. If not you may take a look anyway.”

I open it to see the largest most luxurious bathroom I’ve ever seen. Then I close it again to say “When I need to go to the bathroom I would like to go there. It’s the size of a house just for this.”

Wifeethan says “I was overwhelmed and a little outraged when coming from the Woods house where modesty is also applied to the material world, but Ethan just told me that everything was only three quarters the size of his parents home, and there are a dozen homes in Gilead larger than this.”

I say “At least there are no more closets than in our bedroom.”

Wifeethan says “Well there’s the same number of doors and very likely Ethan has no more closet space than Nick, but behind these doors …”

Wifeethan opens the doors to show a corridor about thirty feet long. It’s a gigantic walk-in closet. Several sections are empty, perhaps because unlike with old time aristocrats in here there are basically only three sorts of clothes in three plain colours. Underwear is white, home clothing and public clothing which are both mainly in magenta but with some blue as well.

I ask “Who wears blue?”

Wifeethan answers “About all Wives but the two of us. I have some fitting Wifedan, although she never comes here. It’s all in case visitors get their clothing stained or torn. There is not that much, only about a dozen of each item where one size fits all, and perhaps one or two skirts, jackets and shoes, each in half a dozen sizes. But look at the underwear. I think there are different items than you are used to wearing. Ethan told me not to include underwear in the box he sent, because he was afraid you would suffer too much during the long ride. I assume that right now you are still not wearing more than you are used to, unless half asleep you have put on everything that is in your own closet this morning. Just like with the visible home clothing Wifedan and I cover more underneath. We believe that all of the body is sexy and private, and thus we cover comparable to that most people cover what they feel is their private parts. In addition we don’t indecently show skin in case a part of the outer layer lifts or is torn, and we can also show to our husband in underwear without exciting him like in normal underwear where large parts of the body are uncovered. But before you are going to cover truly, we are both going to uncover in each other’s company. I assume that you have got permission from Nick?”

I say “He gave it just as I entered this house, and witnessed by Ethan I assume. What do we do? Remove our hats, gloves or more? We are not going to see each other naked, are we?”

Wifethan says “No far from naked. In fact I can only show my head or I would have to remove a lot more clothing. You can show your hands as well. I’ll start uncovering as doing this might produce a sound of surprise from you, and without the voice modesty scarf we have to stay silent because our clear voice is only for our husband. There is also a time limit of about five minutes. – Come I have an hourglass for this in the bedside table drawer.”

She places the hourglass on the bedside table to make it run and then pulls the hat pin out of her pillbox hat and puts it on the table. Then after her warning it’s with suspense that I watch her take both her hands to the top of her head to lift the hat off. With her warning I had not expected to see an uncovered head like I would show myself, but it’s completely covered in white cloth with the magenta voice modesty scarf on top around the head at mouth level; and then the uncovered eyes show through openings in a Venetian style eye mask. Then the voice modesty scarf is removed to now show nothing but white, as the lower face is covered by an opaque veil attached to the mask.

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Next Wifeethan reaches under her chin to untie the tight white coif that covers the entire head except the face. The blond hair colour appearing seems to be unchanged from when Jill lived with me, and as a pleasant surprise, which has to be due to Ethan’s wishes, she still has the shoulder length hair I remember and her photo shows, contrary to most Gilean women who, like I saw with Rita and Cora, has cut their hair short not to risk it shows outside the veiling. Finally the mask is untied and I see what my girl now looks like. She has become an attractive young woman, to make me for a moment feel sad Gilead hides such beauty, but apart from that she doesn’t look much different, the smile, the sparkle in her eyes and the general happy expression is my Jill.

I quickly pull the hat pin out of my own hat, remove the hat and pull my voice modest scarf down around the neck to show her with my own happy face that I recognise her; and she can see me. The change in her expression as she goes from happily smiling to the veiled face she rationally knows is her mother to actually recognise my face and express a real joy of reunion has made it worthwhile to suffer and stay alive for all these years. I lift my arms and hug her with the added pleasure of real skin to skin contact of our cheeks. Then I lean back to kiss her lips and following that pull her close again to let our opposite cheeks touch. After kissing I noticed her expression changing towards a sexual bliss with her mouth staying open after our lips parted, and now a shiver as of a sexual climax goes through her body, and then her head drops down and I have to take hold of her collapsing body and guide it down to lie on the bed. My daughter, Jill, Wifeethan has fainted.

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Am I going to get some water? Am I going to call the Martha’s? Isn’t her face much paler than when she had just removed the white mask? But then there is a little movement and she opens her eyes. She stares at me and then in both directions to find out where she is. Then she sits up and faces the hourglass and immediately takes a quick look around and then reaches for her Venetian mask and ties it to her face. This is followed by the coif and the pillbox hat. In less than thirty seconds Wifeethan is again a magenta veiled Leah. Finally as the hourglass runs out she takes the voice modesty scarf up under her veil, and shortly after I can hear the low muffled sound of her voice say

“I fainted didn’t I?”

I remember my mouth, in fact my entire head, is uncovered and just nod with a worried expression. But through the muffling Wifeethan sounds enthusiastic saying “I’m about to be able to do like my mother! Sorry Wifenick, I meant Wifedan.”

I look puzzled so she adds “Of course not growing up in Gilead or associating with Wives previously I have to explain. Please cover again, I think your time has run out as well, and then you can interrupt if you don’t understand my explanation.”

I fit the voice modesty scarf and veil my head under the pillbox hat again then listen as Jill explains

“Gilean teachings clearly distinguishes between love, which are the feelings that spouses in a good marriage have towards each other, and physical sex which is something all animals do to continue their species and as such is independent of emotions which only humans have. Men have a physical need for regular sex to maintain the level of body chemicals that make them well-functioning humans and an emotional need to confirm their strength and physical abilities. For women there are little physical benefits of sex and the emotions created are directly dangerous able to cause hysteria or illnesses of the mind, which means ideally women should only perform sex infrequently to get pregnant as animals do, but they have to fulfil their duty as wives and have sex when their husband needs it. Scientific research has solved this dilemma by finding out that Gilean women, due to always being fully covered, are very sensitive to skin to skin contact and can be trained to lose consciousness especially if being touched on the most sensitive erogenous zones and this being painless and without drugs which always have negative side effects. Being unconscious during sex not only relieves us from the emotional dangers but also ensures we are completely passive, which is an important virtue of a wife in her relationship to her husband, and as such very desirable when they are most intimate. During their last year in school, girls are taught some rules and techniques to obtain the desired sensitivity to skin to skin contact. Most Wives, like me, get to learn to faint when touched at the most sensitive erogenous zone, the love channel, which is just fine because then she faints when the husband enters her, which is the process that creates the most intense sensations. But of course being able to faint when being touched at a less sensitive zone is better, making you avoid the sensations created if the husband likes to have some other form of contact before entering. The second and third most sensitive zones are the nipples and the lips, and if leaning to faint when the lips are touched you can avoid sensing the sex act completely no matter what the husband likes to do. Wifedan, being deeply emotional, and perhaps because she reacts stronger to contact because of being even more veiled than us, is able to faint both from being touched in her vagina, on her nipples or by a kiss at her lips. My strong sensations by finally being directly physically united with you made me faint, although only for a brief time, but this makes me hopeful that I’m soon able to faint from a kiss even under less emotional circumstances.”

I say “This is very strange and disturbing to me. First fainting may be unhealthy. Second I enjoy lovemaking. I enjoy sensing Nick’s touches and the simultaneous rhythmic movements of our bodies increase the pleasure of lovemaking for both parts I think. Then it sounds to me like you enter a kind of self-induced trance that reduces the enjoyment of the experience and results in fainting at the beginning of the best part where the man gets inside you. Nick and I always start our lovemaking with kissing, and if this is combined with fainting from touching the lips poor Wifedan, and perhaps soon poor you, miss everything and your husbands are just making love to a very realistic love doll.”

Wifeethan says “You are completely wrong on this mom. First you confuse sex with love and second although there may be some nice feelings connected with sex they are dangerous. Just the fact that Ethan is eager to have sex with me and what goes on and what he says just before we physically touch is the essential part of lovemaking, what makes me feel loved and fulfil my desires. Finally men are superior to women and if this is clearly shown in bed by the woman being totally passive both parts feel at their right place and thus feel the love and respect for each other that maintains a good marriage throughout life. The more passive we are the more clearly we express we understand our position and respect our husband, and we are not love dolls; we are sleeping beauties.”

Well, the Sleeping Beauty I remember from my childhood was awakened by a kiss, not the opposite. As this is a much newer story not to be found in the Bible to a true Gilean it holds no truths. I say

“I agree that lovemaking can take place outside the bed as well. And if you believe men are superior it’s natural that they lead and have it their way in bed as well, but taking that to basically not participating in what I think of as the true love act I can’t understand, and I find it’s going way too far. I’m only happy that the fainting wasn’t because of illness. The full inner covering is to the side as well but doing no harm but causing me to sweat a little more I don’t mind following you on that. Besides I have no plans for long hot ventures in public, and perhaps the soft white cotton is better to absorb sweat than the magenta fabrics. Should we go into the closet again?”

We do, and standing at the shelves with white Wifeethan asks

“You are only wearing chemise and underdrawers, right?”

I nod and she starts pulling clothes from the shelves while saying

“I could leave or you could leave, but if we both leave and you go into the bathroom you can get a good look at it, use the facilities if you need, and at least you can lock the door. You have seen me put on the head covering and the rest is just as uncomplicated. Just remember the drawstrings of the chemise and the underdrawers are to be used.”

With a small pile of clothes in my arms I cross the bedroom to the bathroom, put the pile on the vanity and lock the door. I have to remove everything except the chemise and the underdrawers. When I start dressing I see that the white stockings are full length reaching the top of the thighs, so after pulling them up to the knee I have to untie the underdrawers at the waist and let them drop down around my ankles to fit the stockings without wrinkles. Then I pull the underdrawers up again and tie them both at the waist and just above the knees; the latter ties I have never used before. All this has been done while lifting the chemise which reaches just below the knees, which means I have my thighs covered by three layers of white fabric. The gloves also are full length so I have to remove the chemise, implying I could have avoided holding it up while fitting the stockings if dressing down to naked from the beginning. But the chemise is easy to pull over the head, and soon I can tie its ruffled wrists. It also has a ruffled neck opening with a drawstring, but with the principle of the other ties this has to be tied on top of the piece of clothing that overlaps it, so it has to await the head covering. It is simple to fit the mask that just has to sit on top of the nose and have its openings aligned with the eyes. The almond shaped openings are following the eyebrows at the top and as such so large that they barely reduce the field of view. Without considering my long hair I then cover the rest of my head and neck with the coif, which, if reaching a bit below, is going inside the chemise. I tie the coif under the chin; the closure visually hidden below the opaque veil of the mask that hangs loosely down to shoulder level without touching the torso. Finally I tie the drawstring at the neck of the chemise to overlap the lower edge of the coif by half an inch.

Except for showing the eyes I’m now completely covered by at least one layer of white cotton. And except for the lower face, which is easily uncovered by lifting the veil of the mask, at least one string has to be untied or the calf long chemise has to be lifted above the waist to show any skin. As the chemise is further loose fitting both over the body and arms I’m in my own opinion actually more than decently covered to show myself anywhere. Except for the colour and that the fabric of the chemise is a little thinner than the dress I’m not far from my indoors appearance as Handmaid. But now I’m a conservative Wife and have to cover in another magenta layer of thin woollen gloves and stockings and a thicker skirt and jacket with a cape on top, plus the cotton veil hanging from the pillbox hat. Both the stockings and the gloves feel much tighter now that they have to be put on top of another pair. The body itself is not covered more than before, but the difference on the head going from the loose magenta veil alone to the additional tight coif and eye mask is considerable, as the head now feels considerably warm everywhere, whereas before it was only across the mouth because of the thick voice modesty scarf. I unlock the door to enter the bedroom again to see Wifeethan lying on her back on the bed, fully clothed of course, and wearing shoes. I wonder if she is mentally training to faint, but she gets to a sitting position on hearing the door open. I then go and lean down over the bed to with glee say to her

“I found I was better covered by tying the neck drawstring of the chemise on top of the coif. With the speed you covered your head you couldn’t have done that.”

Lifting a hand to touch her neck Wifeethan says “Ooh, I think you’re right. I just pulled the coif out of the neck opening when removing it. But it’s wonderful that you have this sense of covering correctly. Thank you very much. I’m going to the bathroom for a minute to correct it.”

I sit down on the bed thinking if I could lie down on my back and remain still while Nick had intercourse with me. Despite not doing it very often we have been together so long and spending almost all our time in bed that we have tried a large number of sexual variations, so very likely at some point we are going to try one of us totally passive as well, but it’s not going to be me to suggest it.

Wifeethan returns to embrace me and say “Thank you again. You were right. I would have considered it a small sin if I had discovered that I had walked around almost the entire day like that when undressing tonight. I now think we’re ready for the next big thing, but it’s only big for you so you don’t have to worry about me. Are you ready to go and see Enoch?”

I jump up nodding. We go down a rather long corridor without doors or windows. Three quarters of the way down Wifeethan stops to lean to my ear and say

“Our house is physically three separate houses connected with covered walkways. In the section we come from I have some rooms to stay and have guests, and then there is the master bedroom where we come from. The section we are approaching contains the kitchen, washroom, the Martha’s chambers and Enoch’s room. Both these sections are women-only, excluding Ethan of course, and Gerry when called upon. Towards the front is a section with rooms to entertain male guests and containing Ethan’s study as well. Clearly we have to be in public dress there so it’s only something you and I are guided through to and from when being transported.”

We turn at the first door to the right, but with the long corridor to pass it’s not possible for the mother, Wifeethan, to just open the door ajar to check on Enoch for a minute in between other tasks. I immediately see a cute little boy playing on the floor with some wooden bricks that he tries to make into a pile. He has fair hair and actually looks so much like Jill at that age that I can’t deduce anything about Ethan’s look from him. Behind him is the nanny. She is dressed like a Martha but wearing blue where ordinary Martha’s wear green is seated on a chair knitting, but at our entry she got up to stand with hands folded in her lap.

Enoch has also noticed us and drops the bricks to look at us, at first a little unsure. Then he gets up and with insecure steps approaches me saying happily “Mama” several times. I kneel down and stretch my arms towards him, but just before I can touch him he stops, hesitates and then turns towards Wifeethan with a puzzled look repeating in a now insecure voice “Mama?” Wifeethan takes him up and holds him to her chest making him look up at her magenta veiled face and now happy say “Mama” again. Then he again looks at me clearly not understanding that another woman can look exactly like his mama, but smelling and acting differently. Wifeethan puts her mouth to his ear and very likely says “Wifenick, grandma”, but Enoch points at me saying loudly “Nanny no.” Then he tries to touch Wifeethan’s hat and repeats “Nanny no.”

Wifethan walks to the bricks and puts him down right in front of them. But he ignores them and instead looks up at Wifeethan saying “Yumyum.” Wifeethan nods towards the nanny and also points at me. She quickly goes to a closet and returns with a bowl of cookies. Wifeethan hands me one and takes one herself. Then she takes Enoch up again and slowly lets her hand with the cookie approach his, me so close I can hear her say “cookie” several times. Enoch just reaches for the cookie and Wifeethan quickly has to let him have it or he is going to stretch so much that he can be difficult to hold. The cookie is about as large as his mouth can take and crumbs fall both from his mouth and his hand. Not long after his hand is empty he opens his mouth, making some more now soaked crumbs fall out, as he has at most sunk half, and says again “Yumyum.” Wifeethan holds him towards me for me to take him saying “Wifenick, grandma.”

As I take hold of him he is still chewing so I rock him a little, but in ten seconds he puts up the most pleading face and says “Nick-nick yumyum.” At this point I’m very close to lifting my veils and kiss and caress him with my mouth, but perhaps showing a part of my face would scare him making him think I’ve suddenly become a man; and then I’m quite sure Wifeethan would not be pleased. So despite it would be right waiting I hold the cookie up for him to see. I then try to play with him, teasing him by pulling the hand back just as he is about to grab the cookie, but then he makes a forward jerk that hurts the arm I am holding him with and he wins the cookie. He eats this cookie in the same way as he ate the first cookie and having chewed about half he again says “Nick-nick yumyum.” I slowly and clearly shake my head saying to his ear “No more cookies, no, no.” He puts up a huffy expression and says in a harder voice “Nick-nick yumyum.” I repeat the shaking and my words, and then his face suddenly turns red and hurt and he bursts out crying, which sounds very loud as he is the only one in the room to make noise. Wifeethan says to my ear “I think it’s time for Enoch to rest.” She points to a cot, and her pointing makes the nanny nod her head and come to reach for Enoch. With him still crying I walk past her to put him down in the cot myself. Then I caress his cheek and chin with my gloved index finger and he stops crying. He looks at me as if to say ‘Nick-nick’ again but no sound is produced. Then the nanny bows over him with a napkin and cleans the crumbs from his lips and chin, and when she pulls away Enoch has closed his eyes. Wifeethan and I stand at the cot looking at him for several minutes. Then Wifeethan takes some steps backwards, making me follow her. I still look at Enoch while she says

“He is wonderful, isn’t he? It’s good he has appetite but it shouldn’t be satisfied with cookies and he usually only gets one each day.” I have nodded and she continues “Now that we have been through the most important items due to our reunion I think the rest of the day you can just follow me to see how a Wife, or at least me, spends her day. I would simply like you to be a fly on the wall but as you are much too big for that try to stay behind me or at least be in my field of view as little as possible. You are allowed to follow if I enter a room closing the door. Follow me and just open it a little and peek inside, and if I’m not facing the door you can enter as well. We’ll enjoy the special lunch together to celebrate your wedding yesterday, and as we don’t speak while eating I guess this is the end of our conversation for today.”

Together with my long lost daughter for six hours without communicating I say to myself. But truly just observing a person who is normally alone it has to be like this. Then I remember what we agreed on yesterday and say

“You promised yesterday to let me know just before I leave today if we’re going to visit Wifedan tomorrow or another day.”

Wifeethan says “If we’re not going it means you’d better come here again tomorrow to learn some more. I think I’ll ask Ethan to have Gerry pick you up and bring you here after driving him and Nick to work, and then I can wait to decide until tomorrow – until the last minute in fact – if we go on to Wifedan. If this settles it for now, then transform to a fly please.”

I move up against the wall straight behind Wifeethan. She doesn’t leave the room as expected but turns to face the cot, making me move along the wall until straight behind her again. The room is totally quiet and only Enoch moves a little in his sleep, as the nanny as well is standing unmoving with folded hands in front of her chair apparently awaiting a command from Wifeethan or that Enoch has to be attended to. I soon lean against the wall but Wifeethan and the nanny stand unsupported and unmoving for some time – quite a long time. I guess at least half an hour has passed before Enoch starts making larger movements and then opens his eyes and lifts his head.

“Yamyam,” he says looking at the nanny who is right next to the cot. The nanny lifts him from the cot and walks to the wall to ring a bell. Then she carries him through a door and from the sounds it seems to be a bathroom. Meanwhile Wifeethan hasn’t changed position but has turned to face the door. I move along the wall as well. The door is knocked and a few seconds later a Martha enters. She walks up to Wifeethan who speaks to her and then the Martha goes to the nanny in the bathroom. She comes out shortly after and quickly leaves the room. A few minutes later the nanny comes out of the bathroom carrying a happy babbling Enoch. The nanny sits down on the chair with Enoch in her lap and she lets the fabric of her mask caress his nose and cheeks, apparently repeating his babbling. Wifeethan has turned to face the chair and I move to stay straight behind her.

The door is knocked again and the Martha – I having no idea if it is the same one, the one named Chloe, serving Wifeethan or they are just indistinguishable when not next to each other – brings a bowl of porridge which she hands to the nanny and leaves again. Enoch is fed with a spoon and the porridge seems to please him as one spoonful follows the other rather quickly. The nanny scrapes the bowl and there is not much on the last spoonfuls, but Enoch just smiles and laughs when instead of being fed the nanny makes noises by hitting the bowl with the spoon. Enoch is given the spoon and a burst of loud noise results as he hits the bowl as hard as he can. But then he takes hold of it with both hands and looks at it while turning it in his hands. At this point Wifeethan starts turning to leave the room.

As she closes the door behind her I walk to the door and open it a little. I see a Martha passing with a tray of tea in the direction of Wifeethan’s section of the house. I look out to see Wifeethan slowly walk the long corridor. She enters the right of the two doors at the end together with the Martha who has easily caught up with her. Not long after I reach the door it is opened and the Martha is on her way out. Her tray still contains a cup with a lid and a straw which I hadn’t noticed as she passes. She hands me the cup and gestures me to stay at the door peeping in by having it open a little.

It’s the sitting room which was the only room I was in yesterday. Then I didn’t really see it because of the mask and the cloak and being preoccupied with talking to Wifeethan. There are windows facing the garden at the far end of the room. About twenty feet down, two thirds of the room, is a coffee table with one end against the left wall. On the far side of the table is the narrow two seat sofa where we spent most of the time yesterday. On this side of the table are two small armchairs and at the right end is a larger one with a high seat back. This chair is partly turned towards the windows and here Wifeethan is seated and thus facing away from the door and I can now easily look around the room without disturbing her. Not even this armchair looks as luxurious or comfortable as the one Serena had, but there is a knitting basket between it and the chair next to it. A foot tall cross hangs on the wall above the table as the only decoration in the room. The walls are painted white and both the floor and the ceiling are dark lacquered wooden boards. All the furniture is in dark wood and as I look further around the room I see a closet close to the near corner up against the right wall. It looks to me to have been a bookshelf that has had its front covered by doors, and now undoubtedly doesn’t contain books.

The cup of tea is placed on the table in front of Wifeethan but I have to wait a couple of minutes before she lifts the cup up under her veils to take a sip. Then she slowly gets up and for a moment faces the door making me reduce the opening as much as possible while still able to see and watch her cross the room to the closet. A few seconds later a male voice starts speaking and I quickly recognise a story from the Bible that was often played at the Red Centre as well. Wifeethan returns to the chair and I open the door a little more. The story lasts about three minutes. Just before it ends she leans forward to take a sip of tea and just before she leans back the voice starts on a new story. This is repeated twice more. Nothing else visible happens as she listens to each story just sitting and leaning back with her hands covered by her cape. When she leans back after a sip I take a sip as well. After the third story the voice doesn’t sound anymore but Wifeethan remains seated and keeps leaning forward about every three minutes. After about twenty minutes my cup is empty but it takes until five minutes after the tenth sip before I have to assume that Wifeethan has emptied her cup. Now she sits leaning back and barely moving for around twenty minutes. I can’t imagine she spends all this time to memorise or repeat the three stories in her mind, as even I know them by heart.

Then she very slowly, as if she was old and not eighteen, gets up and I’m prepared to close the door and move into a corner when she approaches. She doesn’t turn but instead walks to the windows and looks out into the garden. Now I can only see her back but it doesn’t look like she is doing anything but standing. Well perhaps she is observing something or rather checking something outside, because gradually, taking about five minutes, her head turns left until facing the left edge of the windows, and then right to the right edge. The cycle is repeated for at least twenty minutes. But then I’m interrupted.

Both Martha’s and the nanny carrying Enoch have arrived, and one Martha rolls a trolley with food and tableware. One Martha comes to me, closes the door and gestures for me to wait for a few minutes. She follows the other into the adjoining room. Not long after I’m guided into the room, which shows to be a dining room about the same size and parallel to the sitting room, also with windows towards the garden at the far end. In this room the furniture naturally consists of a large dining table centred in the room with five chairs on each side and one at each end. Surprisingly it’s laid for five which is all the people currently in the house excluding Enoch. The two covers are placed opposite each other at the far end and the three others at the near end. The nanny stands at this end holding Enoch and to her right is the other Martha, while the Martha taking me in follows me to the far end. Shortly after Wifeethan arrives to go to the chair opposite mine and gestures me to sit down. She then sits herself and finally the three at the other end get seated, the nanny now with Enoch in her lap. The lunch celebrating my wedding has started.

Wifeethan folds her hands clearly visible above the table and I repeat the prayer for the meal yesterday to myself. Wifeethan and I have sandwiches that don’t look that special and festive, but they are with salmon and sliced beef which I have only tasted rarely in recent years. The Martha’s get something in a cup with a straw of course, and Enoch gets something to eat with a spoon from a bowl again. And instead of water we all get cherry juice so it is a special meal.

After eating for a few minutes Wifeethan taps her glass with her fork and we all stop eating to face her. She stands while gesturing for me to remain seated and the Martha’s to stand as well. Then she holds both her hands out wide and three times lifts them with palms up to cheer me. Next she holds her glass up towards me, and with her left hand gestures the Martha’s to come close bringing their glasses. I touch glasses with each and they all hold their glass towards me and finally we all drink. Then they all sit down again and we continue the meal. This is the cheering possible at the female side of a Gilean wedding. No speeches for the bride. No speech from the groom or the father’s, but if there had been a male celebration at the same time that might have been conveyed to the women. The bride and the groom kissing each other in front of the guests or just waltzing is not going to occur but it’s the thought that counts and I nod, we all nod to each other, while taking good time to eat.

Long before the adults have finished Enoch has been playing with his spoon. When my plate is empty and I shake my head when urged to have more Wifeethan gestures the nanny to come with Enoch. It is clearly another way to celebrate me when she gestures the nanny to put him down in my lap. It makes me warm to see that he likes it and starts pulling at my right glove clearly having understood that it’s something that can be taken off but he isn’t able to even loosen a finger. He loses his interest in the glove and he looks up at my face and says “Nick-nick yumyum.” Does it mean he is still hungry after emptying the bowl or is he smart enough to ask for a treat?

Anyway his pleading is fulfilled when a large glass is placed in front of me. It’s a chocolate smoothie with a topping of whole chocolate pieces and cream. Wifeethan takes Enoch’s spoon and feeds him a spoonful of cream. Then she hands the spoon to me and I feet him two more spoonfuls. He doesn’t open his mouth to the third spoonful as he has noticed the chocolate pieces and wants to have one of them. It is not for his age, and with a cookie the nanny has just what can turn his attention elsewhere. While he puts the cookie into his mouth she takes him back to her seat at the opposite end.

Wifeethan and I both have a spoon and a straw to consume the smoothie. Of course the Martha’s only have straws and I notice there are no whole pieces of chocolate in their smoothies. We spend fifteen to twenty minutes sucking and nodding. Of course the Martha’s have ensured not to fall behind Wifeethan and me because when Wifeethan decides the meal is over, it’s final. The two of us finish our smoothie about the same time but she continues nodding, and we all continue nodding for some minutes more.

Enoch has fallen asleep in the nanny’s lap. Wifeethan looks at him and gestures sleeping by holding both hands to her chin and tilting her head as if the hands were a pillow. To my surprise it makes a Martha get up and Wifeethan acknowledges her reaction with a nod and by pointing at herself. The Martha comes to stand waiting just behind Wifeethan’s chair while she puts her hands up under her veil fitting the voice modesty scarf. Her action reminds me to fit mine as well and I’m just ready to answer as Wifeethan gets up and walks around the end of the table wondering if she is going to speak to me this afternoon after all. However all she does is just pat my back and from behind, touches cheek to cheek while her hand gestures if I liked the festive meal. While nodding continuously I turn and give her a hug where our cheeks touch again. While still nodding she gestures to the Martha to follow her. It’s clear I’m back to being a fly on her wall, and wait until they pass the doorway before rising from my chair.

A few moments later peeking out the door it confirms that she really meant sleeping herself as they enter the bedroom. The Martha doesn’t close the door behind her clearly for me to peek inside and watch. The Martha is standing hands folded awaiting her Mistress who has continued into the bathroom. When she comes out a few minutes later she climbs into the right half of the bed fully dressed including shoes. While Wifeethan has got into a comfortable position sitting upright the Martha has come to her and now pulls the hat pin out of the pillbox hat and lifts it just free of the head to turn it half a circle, press it down on the head again and replace the hat pin. Now the eye mesh is at the back of the head leaving Wifeethan in complete darkness and as such ready for her nap.

But then, while the Martha walks to the foot of the bed, Wifeethan lifts her knees to spread her legs as much as the skirt allows and this makes her head come down on the pillow and she folds her hands on the chest. But it’s the Martha that catches my attention by pulling at her right latex glove and I assume it comes fully off when she takes her hands inside Wifeethan’s skirt. The movements I am able to see match what I learned here in the bedroom in the morning. The Martha has to untie the drawstring at one leg of the underdrawers to be able to get her uncovered hand up to Wifeethan’s crotch. Here she starts using her fingers which results in a slight flexing of Wifeethan’s body which after not much more than ten seconds leads to a small jump and then she becomes totally limp and the Martha quickly retracts her hands as the legs slide down to become straight again and the hands slide down on the mattress. It’s quite surprising, because Ethan is not present, that Wifeethan won’t even take a nap alone without living up to her ideal that a wife has to be unconscious in bed.

Apparently the procedure has also affected the Martha because it seems she has forgotten me and I am able to watch an uncovered delicate young hand being gloved. Next she takes a step to unfold the cape of Wifeethan to make it cover her hands. That she hasn’t noticed her own error becomes fully clear when she comes around the bed pointing from me to the empty half of the bed and holds her hands to her chin to mimic sleep. I shake my head knowing I wouldn’t be able to just flex a little if being fingered and even after it stopped I would probably spend most of the nap doing just the opposite of what Wifeethan would want. The Martha gestures ‘whatever you like’ and then goes to open a drawer to take out a large hourglass, which she holds to make it start running, and then draws a full circle on her left wrist with her index finger to again point to the empty half of the bed. I shake my head again this time emphasising my decision by making my lower body move back and forward very clearly to make her nod. I then make a mistake by making a movement around my right hand as if pulling my glove off and then point to her. She lifts her hands to her forehead and runs out of the room as fast as her rubber boots permit. With the Colonies haunting all Martha’s, and Handmaid’s, that makes a mistake I know I have to catch her before she does something that would make it spread to the other Martha and the nanny. Fortunately the corridor is long and I chase her making as much noise as possible with the shoes on the wooden boards. Three quarters of the way down she stops and turns.

I take her hand and pull her back towards Wifeethan’s section of the house and into the sitting room where I close the door and immediately put my mouth to her ear to ask “Are you Chloe?” She nods, and I am relieved because this makes it much easier as I can continue saying

“I’m very happy that we can have this moment alone together where I can thank you for making my life worth living by bringing me the news that my daughter was alive and well; and most likely reuniting with her has saved me from a short miserable life as well. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. With that in mind I still feel I’m in debt to you even if we agree that your hands stayed inside Wifeethan’s skirt until the glove was fully on again, which means I never saw the skin of your hand. Do we agree?”

She nods very clearly while kneeling down to take hold of my right wrist and press her masked mouth against my hand. I realise that she has been even more scared than I would imagine and pull her up to say

“I would never ever do anything that would cause you, your colleague or the nanny, harm Chloe. Just two days ago I was a Handmaid and except for my womb being valued less than a Martha, meaning in a few years when I can no longer fill my womb I would be scrapped. I would never bring any other to that point. Before Gilead I’ve had colleagues of all professions that were friends as well. I would like to be friends with you, the other Martha and the nanny as much as customs permit. But even if you think we are too far apart to become friends you can always come to me, all of you, if you get into serious trouble. How do I recognise you from the other Martha if possible? And I would like to learn her name and that of the nanny as well at some point.”

Chloe points to me and gestures drinking and then directly opens the door and very insistently guides me out and motions me to follow her. We walk down the long corridor to enter the kitchen. As everything else in this house it’s much larger than what I have seen elsewhere. There are two separate work tops, each with a sink, at right angles to each other, and two kitchen tables. The larger with eight chairs doesn’t even take up a third of the floor area, and in the right corner is an ordinary table with four chairs. The other Martha is working at the sink of the largest table top, but on seeing me enter stops to face me and bow to keep standing facing me with hands folded in her lap. At the corner table the nanny is seated holding a glass of water in her lap. On seeing me she gets up while putting the glass on the table and then bows as well to also keep standing with hands folded.

Chloe directly crosses the room gesturing for me to follow and opens the lower right hand cupboard door of the larger work top. It is filled with bottles of juice and she one by one takes a bottle out temporarily for me to see the colour and the drawing of the fruit on the label. I count nine different flavours. She then gets up, leaving the door open, and walks to the other work top to open a high cupboard door. In here I see lidded metal cans that she also takes out one by one removing the lid to let me see and smell the tea inside. I recognise the two usual sorts from the Colonies, but of the best quality, and then there are two other very fine flavours I think originate from one of the hostile continents. After closing the last can Chloe points to the tap to say I can of course also have plain water. While going through the juice selection I figured out that by asking for something that could only be fully explained by showing me Chloe had to take me to the kitchen instead of just bringing my order, so to get some time to learn more about the three women here I have to choose tea which takes the most time to be prepared. Chloe, while showing me the selection, tells the others through gestures that it’s me who is with them and not Wifeethan having abstained from her nap.

With me just waiting for the hourglass to run out I hope it’s not inappropriate to spend a little of the time until the tea is ready here where there is some activity to look at instead of just looking out of the sitting room windows, so I tap the can of unknown origin with the smell I liked the best and then cross the floor to sit down at the large table, sitting so as to be able to overlook the room. Showing my choice immediately makes the other Martha produce a kettle and start filling it. A few moments later after she has put it on a heating plate I gesture all three women to come, but the nanny shakes her head. I put my mouth to Chloe’s ear and ask

“Is the nanny not allowed to communicate with me?”

Chloe puts her mouth to my ear and says “I assume this means I have permission to speak Mistress. Sarah is very reluctant to move away from the door where she can listen for Enoch.”

I get up and walk to the corner with the small table where there also is a door partly open. I look to see a small corridor leading to Enoch’s room, and I guess the door in between leads to Sarah’s chamber. I sit down here and make the three of them move their heads down close around my face and say

“You are all permitted to speak. Sarah was right in choosing to stay where she can hear Enoch instead of obeying my call. A one year old baby should not be left unattended for even a minute. I have taken care of a baby as well you know, although it’s about seventeen years since she was at Enoch’s age. Now her name is Wifeethan and it’s you two Martha’s who takes care of her. I would like to know both of your names and how to tell you apart. I know it was Chloe who brought me here, but looking through the door and putting my attention on Sarah for a little while I’m no longer sure which of you two is Chloe.”

The head at my right turns to put its mouth to my ear and say “My name is Esther Mistress. I’m half an inch taller than Chloe, but even when we are in the same room I know it’s difficult to tell us apart.”

Sarah says “I’m glad you didn’t scold me for disobeying you Mistress, and it’s most kind of you to move over here for me to take part in the conversation. First of all Esther rules the kitchen and Chloe is mostly the one to serve Mistress Wifeethan. Second Esther always walks with a slow calm gait as if her rubber boots were half submerged in water, whereas Chloe walks with small fast steps even when she doesn’t need to hurry.”

Chloe says “Once, coming home from a trip, I was close to revealing my neck to my Master and Mistress because I got the pin that holds my shawl caught in the scarf and the pull tore the back corner of the scarf where it is held to the head with a pin. Since then I’ve always folded the corner before fixing it with a pin to have two layers of fabric to tear before the scarf gets loose.”

Chloe and then Esther pull a little away from me and turn to show me the back of their heads, and in what at first sight just looks as windings of the same green fabric of the scarf, where you hardly notice the corner and the small similarly coloured scarf pin, knowing what to look for the difference is clear and may be observed at more than ten feet with my current eye meshes. Esther then moves away to pour the boiling water into the pot, and I wait for her to return to say

“I don’t mind strong tea that has drawn for six to seven minutes. My Martha’s, Rita and Cora, were here yesterday to learn a little about how you handle things, as my husband and I want our household run much like yours is and following what is customary around here. I have a hunch that they are somewhat older than you, but more life experience doesn’t guarantee they cannot learn from you, on the contrary they may just go on with old bad habits, so perhaps I would like to bring them, at least to start with, every second or third time I visit Wifeethan.”

Chloe says “You now live a different life Mistress where you are not supposed to leave the house more than once a week on a regular basis, and you have to arrange with your husband or Wifeethan with CEO Burns, to get a car to drive you here. But in fact one of us is going to meet with Rita or Cora almost every day as we go to the same shopping area, and your house is only a two minute detour from the route for our shopping. It may seem complicated for you having to dress and undress for public and wait for the men to move between the houses, but if you send Rita or Cora here to learn from us the walk is just seven to eight minutes. Wifeethan has already instructed us and we told them yesterday that they are welcome here at any time. If we are busy they are just sent home again to only have wasted fifteen minutes, and the trip is so short that they can come here to borrow a bowl of sugar or just ask one question to be answered with yes or no.”

I say “Thank you for enlightening me Chloe. I think I actually knew much of this, so the tea might be more needed than I expected to clear my mind. I’d better cut down a few minutes on our honeymoon celebrations when I get home to talk a little with Rita and Cora. I already understand why Wifeethan feels safe leaving the household to you. It makes me feel safe having Rita and Cora learn from you, or perhaps you from them. They did well at the Commander’s house I think and all Martha’s have some dishes they excel in. Rita is good at curried chicken and Cora at vegetable pies.”

Esther says “The Master loves chicken so I’ll ask Rita at first opportunity. If you could see my face it would be red from embarrassment from the praise we receive. In addition to good recipes I think we can learn much from the experience that comes from age that Rita and Cora has more of than us. You see CEO Ethan didn’t want Martha’s for his young wife so old and experienced that they could be her mother and as such wouldn’t respect her and perhaps treat her as a child, so Chloe and I are both just twenty seven, which makes it so much more flattering that you have such confidence in us. Your tea is ready Mistress. Do you want it in a cup with lid and straw to drink standing up?”

I say “Yes please. I’d better go and be ready to follow Wifeethan if for some reason she wakes from her nap before the hourglass is empty.”

While Esther leaves to pour the cup Chloe says

“It won’t happen Mistress Wifenick. Although she doesn’t stay unconscious for an hour her condition changes to a sleep so deep that she has to be shaken hard to wake and if not disturbed it would take the duration of a night before she woke on her own.”

I say “It doesn’t surprise me, but I am here to learn to be a Wife and in that regard I may already have stayed here too long and associated too closely with you considering I’m a guest here. But I hope we can talk again sometime. Thank you for your services.”

I get up, am handed the cup and get three very deep bows which I’m sure is not of servility. I reciprocate with three clear nods and leave the kitchen.

I carefully open the bedroom door just a little, but it doesn’t look like Wifeethan has moved at all and perhaps she is still unconscious. I enter the room to stand at the centre of the floor sipping some tea while considering how to spend the more than half an hour that remains in the hourglass. It would be the right time to train to be able to faint like Wifeethan which I no doubt will have to learn in the not too distant future. Although it would be horrible not experiencing Nick entering me, during an afternoon nap alone it would only mean that I wouldn’t be daydreaming, and the procedure I have just seen is not only ‘painless’ but seems to be rather pleasant as the fainting seems to be achieved by having learned to vastly amplify the sexual brain signal created by touching an erogenous zone so that it very quickly creates an extremely powerful orgasm so strong that one faints. So I would say the pious Gilean women do have a sexual experience but perhaps so short and overwhelming that it feels very different from normal sex, and then they have been taught that something that can be achieved without a man isn’t sex. Now, having seen how Wifeethan gets to faint, it is clear why most women never get any further. Being fingered in the vagina is much more arousing than massaging the nipples or being kissed passionately, no matter that the last two feel very good as well. But I haven’t yet learned how to obtain this super fast, super strong sexual climax so I swing my shoe clad feet up to lie down in the bed as it occurs to me that just two days ago it was part of my daily routine to doze on the bed for at least an hour during the afternoon, and perhaps I should continue this for the sake of the child in my womb.

Lying down in a bed immediately makes me think of Nick and recall the highlights of our many hours in bed yesterday. I notice that my body slightly convulses and that my breathing increases.

The next thing my mind registers is being shaken. A Martha stands leaned over me and I realise that I have drifted off and now Chloe has arrived because the hourglass has run out. I turn my head to see that Wifeethan is still beside me her position unchanged. Then Chloe points to me and moves her lower body back and forth a couple of times. I put a finger across my mouth and take hold of her right glove and then again put a finger across my mouth. She nods. We now both have something that should be kept secret, although hers is much more serious than mine. I was right in rejecting to lie down right after Wifeethan had been made to faint as it showed I couldn’t do it without thinking about sex and thus creating the feelings and movements that are wrong to righteous Wives, but at least I didn’t get the treatment Wifeethan did, which would have made me do tenfold wrong. Chloe’s observations on me also make me a little worried about my relationship to Rita and Cora if I have behaved like this frequently while dozing at the Commander’s as well.

Chloe takes a firm grip of Wifeethan’s right upper arm and shakes her powerfully for fully six seconds and which looks as if she is shaking a rag doll. Then she just takes a step back and waits. It takes close to a minute before Wifeethan moves her head a little on her own, and then after another ten seconds she gets up to a sitting position. Now Chloe takes hold of her, helps her to stand up and guides her blind, because of the reversed veil, out into the bathroom.

Five minutes later Wifeethan comes out looking like she did on entering the bedroom, and like a copy of me. I observe this by peeking through the just open bedroom door from the outside, and as she directly starts heading for the door, as Chloe has shown me, I quickly retract to peek out the dining room door. As predicted by Chloe, Wifeethan enters the sitting room, which is a little surprising since tea is served as she enters. I have got a fresh cup with lid and straw as well and shortly after I can stand peeking through a slightly open door as in the morning.

Like in the morning after her first sip she goes to the closet and starts the playing of the male voice. The program of the morning repeats with even the same stories being read aloud and Wifeethan sits unmoving in the high back armchair only to move about every three minutes to lift the cup up under her veils and take a sip of tea. Again it takes her about thirty minutes to empty the cup, but this time she only stays in the chair for another five minutes. As in the morning she moves as if she was old getting up and walking towards the door, and I have to close the door. But it doesn’t open and after waiting a little while longer I open it a little again to see Wifeethan is slowly approaching the windows.

After about three minutes a Martha comes up to me from behind and passes to enter the sitting room. I think it’s Chloe from the gait but I can’t be sure as the back of her head is covered by the shawl, even in two layers as it’s flipped back. In her arms I can see Wifeethan’s magenta cloak, so I assume the rest of the public outfit is there as well. It is, and a few minutes later Wifeethan is wearing gauntlets, mask and cloak, but the hood of the cloak is pulled back to have the mask show filling its opening like we had it indoors yesterday. Lastly the Martha puts on gauntlets herself and flips her shawl down to cover her face. Then she opens the windowed door to the garden and Wifeethan waddles out. The Martha turns to gesture me to come into the room and stand at the left side of the windows opposite the door and behind the drawn back curtain, then she walks out herself and closes the door.

The garden is of course walled but there is at least a hundred yards to the far wall, and the width is just a little less. But apart from being larger it’s like any other garden of well-off houses filled with flower beds for the Wife to nurse. I see four or five sorts of roses, each having a large bed on both sides of the centre path. There are four different tulips and a dozen other kinds of flowers. Wifeethan is slowly shuffling down the centre path looking from side to side. Meanwhile the Martha has brought a large watering can from somewhere to the right, and from the way she carries it the can is full. The Martha takes her own path around the garden and sprinkles frequently. Wifeethan just walks the garden paths for more than fifteen minutes apparently doing nothing but observing the flower beds, and can she do much else in her fully closed but not padlocked cloak, I wonder. Meanwhile the Martha has emptied three watering cans. Well not quite, Wifeethan stops on the centre path close to the house following the last minute of the Martha sprinkling at the leftmost front bed. Then the Martha crosses the porch to the shed I assume is to the right to return shortly after carrying a basket with tools. Just before she meets Wifeethan to my surprise the right gauntlet of Wifeethan shows through a centre slit in her cloak – a slit which I thought Wifeethan had omitted not to immodestly show her hand in some shop where a man might observe her. Or perhaps she has a special cloak for gardening exactly like what most Wives wear in public. Wifeethan takes a pair of secateurs in her gauntlet and the Martha takes one in her right gauntlet herself. They then walk down the centre path, Wifeethan leading, and now and then, somewhat at random in my view, she holds the secateurs to a twig, and when the Martha holds a not very large brown paper bag, she has unfolded from the basket, under the twig she cuts. After watching them for a while it becomes clear that Wifeethan cuts whenever the twig is within her reach without leaving the path, and where there is something to cut further into the bed it is just pointed out with the tip of the secateurs and then the Martha has to find a way to reach the twig without damaging the plants in between.

After about forty minutes walking around the paths like this, which is a very long time considering it’s a warm sunny day and as such Wifeethan has to be boiling inside the closed cloak and wearing a thick leather mask and several layers of other clothing, when they come to the porch Wifeethan holds her secateurs towards the Martha who puts them into the basket. Then I can’t see directly what goes on because Wifeethan has her back to the house, but she stays in that position while the Martha walks to the right to shortly after appear again with the watering can. This time it’s clearly Wifeethan who has pointed out some places to be sprinkled, because each time the Martha is about to sprinkle she looks towards Wifeethan and waits for a nod. For every third or fourth place instead of a nod Wifeethan tilts her head in a certain direction and then the Martha moves the can until getting a nod. When the large can is empty the Martha of course walks to the right of the house but now she appears again almost immediately empty handed to walk to the door and Wifeethan turns to follow. Attending to the garden is over for today, but Wifeethan having been out in the sun for about eighty minutes I’m curious about seeing her without cloak and mask again.

As Wifeethan passes the doorway I move up against the window in behind the curtain. I think it’s deliberate to help me to get a good view that the Martha, after removing her gauntlets and flipping her shawl back, attends to Wifeethan in a way so that she is turned as much towards me as possible without me being in her field of view. When the cloak drops to the floor there is nothing to see, but of course both the cape and the skirt hang loose not in contact with the other layers that might be wet from sweat. But Wifeethan’s immediately gestures for the Martha to instantly remove her mask instead of waiting for her gauntlets to be removed and doing it herself suggests her face is cooking. She is very hot because while the Martha unbuckles her mask Wifeethan, while still wearing the gauntlets, puts her hands up under the veils to lift them out from her head the moment the mask is pulled off her face. She stands like that a little bowed forward for about twenty seconds before taking her hands down and having the Martha remove her gauntlets. The face part of the veil, having been covered by the mask, clearly has a darker hue showing it is wet, and it makes me realise that the twenty seconds might be to regain breath as the moisture may have restricted breathing even more than the mask alone does. The gauntlets gone Wifeethan walks towards the door at the walking speed her clothing allows. The Martha is about to fold the cloak but lifts a hand to gesture me to follow.

I almost run across the room and open the door just in time to see the bedroom door close. Carefully opening it I see Wifeethan has entered the walk-in closet to appear a few seconds later, but her heading for the bathroom door and holding a fresh veiled pillbox hat in one hand makes me stay to peek.

It takes more than ten minutes before the bathroom door opens and this time Wifeethan approaches my door, but again moving very slowly I quietly close it and move over to stand behind the dining room door. Wifeethan goes back to the sitting room. A minute later, as I open the door a little to watch her she sits in the armchair again but this time she has taken the knitting. At first, because of the red colour, I think she is working on a scarf which all Wives make to support the Guardians at the front, but after observing for a little while I realise it’s going to be a shirt for Enoch. I admire her proficiency that of course comes from thousands of hours and it being a major subject in school with lots of instructions and corrections of all details. In fact she is able to sit back completely relaxed, and apart from her hands working just above her lap instead of resting under the cape she looks just like at the earlier stays in this chair. Nothing happens except the clothes seem to slowly grow out of her hands.

After something like twenty minutes a Martha arrives and closes the door. I take a step back to see it’s Chloe who points to the bedroom door and I follow her there. She opens the walk-in closet and produces my cloak. It’s time to go home. Soon I stand masked and cloaked with the zipper locked and the hood opening facing down; almost blind, deaf and mute. Apparently the car hasn’t arrived because I’m left standing to wait for at least fifteen minutes. My covering makes me think of Wifeethan’s outing in the garden, and although my face is heated by the mask at least I’m not exposed to the heat of the sun. From when I feel a guiding hand it is as usual and takes the usual time before a hand touches my chin to make me lift my head and the zipper is unlocked at home.

Nick bids me welcome with a kiss on the veil as Rita hasn’t left with my outer clothing yet. Then he takes my hand and we go to the bedroom where he says

“I’ve already ordered our dinner to be brought here so we can continue our honeymoon in the bed almost uninterrupted until we fall asleep.”

I lean to his ear and say “At Wifeethan’s I became aware of that I know virtually nothing about how Rita and Cora are running the household, and now being their Mistress and formally in charge of them I would like to have a word with them in the kitchen.”

Nick lifts my veil, about to give me a kiss, when he discovers the white veil beneath, making him let go and say

“I’m in for a surprise so to say, because it is of little surprise that Wifeethan is wearing more than you did as a Handmaid, and I assume Serena and most Wives, beneath what is visible, and that you are now completely following her dress-code. I would have suggested, as I assume you are not soaked as yesterday, that we started by slowly undressing each other to go on playing in bed, and then just before dinner take a shower together to be fresh and filled for a long enjoyable evening and night. But with the peek I just got I would like the start to be a little different by you slowly and seductively undressing and unveiling to me, and I’m sure you are able to really excite me even if you don’t wear seven veils. Rita and Cora have run the Commander’s household well for many years and they are going to do fine for a couple of days more, even if it’s a new house and there are perhaps a few details that you don’t like or that doesn’t fit into the more strict regimen of Wifeethan. We agreed upon that the first three days in this house all our time together was our honeymoon to be spent with sex games. I’d like to stay with that.”

I can see Nick would be very disappointed if we were not going to have sex right away, and besides he is now my husband who, in principle, I have to obey unconditionally. And finally his plan for the rest of the day is very attractive, so with a nod I lift my hand to his neck and start unbuttoning his shirt. While doing so I slowly and gently push him backwards towards the bed, and when I reach his waist I go on to unbuckle his belt, unbutton his trousers and unzip them, and finally I give him a gentle push to seat him on the bed. I then untie and remove my shoes and walk back to the middle of the floor where I make a slow spin to some imaginary seductive music. Swaying and spinning I remove all my magenta clothing beginning with the cape, followed by the skirt and the jacket, and then the stockings and the gloves to finally pull the hat pin out and remove the hat with the veil. I can see that it excites Nick that there still isn’t any flesh to touch as he is used to. The totally magenta cloth figure has just been replaced with a totally white one. But I come to him, now just sitting in the bed in his bulging underpants to, at such close range that he can’t see my mouth lift the white veil and give him a kiss, as this also allows him to clearly see my eyes shining with anticipation. I sway back to the middle of the floor to continue with the removal of the white clothing. Of course I start with the underdrawers as doing so reveals no skin but Nick now knows there is direct access to my crotch. Then I choose the coif to reveal my neck and hair that is long enough to swing a little with my seductive movements. Then I remove the chemise to reveal the body with my private parts, and resemble an old fashioned hooker in long stockings, long gloves and a mask, although all of this could have been much sexier than opaque plain white cotton. But it’s sexy enough, or it is my movements or just Nick’s longing, to make Nick jump up and pull me down into the bed and soon he is in me for the first time today.

It gets even wilder than yesterday because we are both much more rested. I was tired this morning after the late exhausting previous night but haven’t done much during the day to start with Nick almost completely refreshed. What he has done during the day I don’t know, but getting a higher position could very well mean sitting much more at a desk, at least tonight he is more agile than ever. Sometime after midnight I’m so exhausted that I’m about to live up to the Gilean ideal of the female being totally passive in bed, but Nick keeps me awake still feeling like and having the energy to go on. He takes me more times than I can remember, and the rest a man then needs after satisfaction gives me peace to fall asleep.

12.

When I awaken I smell warm bread. Nick is already dressed but climbs into bed to have breakfast with me while looking at my naked body. Although we sit next to each other he refrains from touching me, because I’m sure if he did he would have to make love to me.

Just as I have started dressing, after taking a bath, the doorbell sounds which means Ethan is here for them to go to the headquarters. I can see in his eyes that I’m still not sufficiently dressed that he dares kiss me and we just say ‘have a nice day’ to each other. While dressing I remember that I should talk with Rita and Cora, and although I’m not sure how long it takes before Gerry is back to drive me to Wifeethan I guess I have at least half an hour to talk to them.

On entering the kitchen Rita immediately approaches me and leans to my ear to say “The master has said you should stay out of the kitchen until your honeymoon is over tomorrow Mistress. Please come with me.”

Like this is also an order from Nick she takes me to the wardrobe in the hall and hands me the public mask and soon I’m waiting in my cloak almost blind, deaf and mute. I’m as sure as can be without having a clock that the expected half an hour has passed when I’m finally guided out and into a car. When the car stops after the three minute drive I’m not guided out but instead after a short wait sense someone getting seated next to me. I assume it’s Wifeethan and it means we are going to visit Wifedan. The drive is around ten minutes and, as at my own home, there is only a short distance to walk until we are inside to be unlocked, unzipped and our cloaks dropped. There are two Martha’s to help me and my companion out of our public clothing, but there is no sight of a Wife who should be Wifedan. However it is confirmed that I am with Wifeethan when she leans to my ear to say

“Blessed be the fruit, and good morning Wifenick. As you have no doubt figured out we are now at the Woods home to visit Wifedan.”

I say “May the Lord open and good morning Wifeethan. It certainly looks nice here but where is our hostess?”

Wifeethan faces the shorter Martha, who is so short that the apron is clearly too long for her, and holds her hands up folded, making the Martha nod and then Wifeethan leans to her ear and says something. Wifeethan gestures for me to follow her across the hall. At a closed door she faces me and puts a finger to her mouth. Before the door opens I can already hear a male voice. With the sound level meeting us when the door is opened it seems superfluous to be silent as our muted voices would never be able to overpower the male voice reading a bible story, but from the way Wifeethan moves into the room I can see it’s our shoes on the wooden boards of the floor that might create noise. The room is a downscaled version of Wifeethan’s sitting room and contains much the same furniture with only the coffee table being smaller despite it still is surrounded by a small sofa and two small and a larger armchair. I realise that the voice is coming from a thigh high closet up against the end wall to the right of the door, which makes me further notice that the cross placed above the coffee table in Wifeethan’s sitting room is here placed above the closet. Kneeling on a cushion in the space between the largest armchair at the end of the coffee table and the right wall fronting the cross or the closet and looking down, is a royal blue woollen shape that has to be Wifedan. I had expected a royal blue copy of Wifeethan and myself, or had I? But what I see, without at the moment being able to see the face, is a very long cape with a hood and the hood opening, now turned upwards, at the back of the head and laced shut, which means Wifedan is dressed like the Aunt’s I have dreaded looking at. While I have been staring at the inhuman figure that brought up my daughter, Wifeethan has produced two cushions, I think from behind or under the sofa. She puts them down for us to kneel on the floor behind the two small armchairs so we front the cross as well and with me close to the left wall with herself in the middle. Wifeethan immediately faces the floor and I think folds her hands to take the same position as Wifedan. In a minute the reading of the Bible story, different from the ones of yesterday at Wifeethan’s but one I know by heart as well, is over and the voice stops but Wifedan and Wifeethan don’t move so nor do I. If we had entered the room these few minutes later our feet would have sounded loud on the floor in the deep silence. I keep my body completely steady fearing shifting the weight from one knee to the other would make a board creak and disturb Wifedan in her prayers or whatever goes through her mind. We sit like that for close to fifteen minutes before Wifedan moves. She gets up but doesn’t pick up the cushion and instead almost feels her way around it, I can’t say with her feet because they are not visible as the skirt is so long it sweeps the floor all way round, as she heads for the end wall, perhaps the door, perhaps the closet or perhaps the bell button. Wifeethan gets up, having reacted so slowly that she must have been deep down in her own thoughts. Wifeethan stretches her arm in front of the chest of Wifedan to gently stop her and then leans towards her ear to make Wifedan nod twice. Then, to my surprise, Wifeethan starts guiding Wifedan making her turn around and guides her past the cushion and the large armchair and down into the far seat of the small sofa. I have of course noticed that the surface of the hood covering her face looks to be without openings and clearly without the coin sized mesh covered eye openings of the similar cape of an Aunt. The guiding further suggests Wifedan is blind, the loud level of the voice reading suggesting her hearing is reduced as well and does her nodding instead of verbally answering Wifeethan mean that she is also mute? At least Wifedan isn’t indicating she has guests but just sits with her head a little bowed while Wifeethan, after picking up the first cushion, gestures me to sit down next to Wifedan and greet her. So I lean to her ear and say a little louder than when I speak to Wifeethan

handmaids_tale_21

“Blessed be the fruit. I am Wifenick. I am so happy to meet you Wifedan. Feeling how happy Wifeethan is by being brought up by you is a great relief to me. Growing up with a father and mother is the right thing for any child, but unfortunately it doesn’t happen to all in these times of turbulence.” Like Wifeethan I only get a couple of nods as a response, but at least it shows I’m understood. Meanwhile Wifeethan has walked behind the sofa, only to put the cushions back I assumed, but she has stayed there waiting for me pulling back from Wifedan’s ear. And when I do she puts a finger to the back of Wifedan’s head and pulls at something and then she holds two fingers to the fabric to make a fold and I think squeeze. After this Wifedan turns her head to directly face me, and I’m glad that my face is veiled to hide my expression because, despite knowing I’m facing the woman who ensured my daughter had a good life for the last decade, it’s still a scary sight, reminding me of the dreadful time with the Aunts at the Red Centre. The fact that the front surface of the head now shows to have two tiny gauze covered holes for vision doesn’t really change that. The blue hooded head leans towards my ear and it is correct for to me to turn my face away to look at the table top while listening to Wifedan. Fortunately her first line is the customary greeting as I perhaps wouldn’t have caught anything more meaningful as I get another scare from the low but clearly metallic and totally impersonal voice sounding similar to an Aunt:

“May the Lord open. Welcome to my home Wifenick. I’m so happy to meet the woman who has given birth to the girl that was what Dan and I wanted most after being married. She has been the love of our lives.”

Meanwhile Wifeethan has placed a cushion on the floor between us to kneel in front of the sofa for all three of us to have our heads close and be part of the conversation. I turn to Wifedan’s ear to say

“She has always been the love of my life as well, even if for these last years we have been apart. Of course now that she has been married you can’t be with her more than some hours at a time, and due to your lifestyle it isn’t that often. I don’t intend to start a rivalry about the few days that she violates her beliefs to see you. Instead I hope we can be close friends so that I can come here at the same time so we can both enjoy the girl, now adult woman we both see as our daughter.”

Wifedan says “It’s very kind of you because even if you choose to be an even less righteous Wife and visit her in between, I’m sure her good heart would have her go to each of us alternately if it was not for your offer to come here. You and everybody else are most welcome here as long as you don’t make Dan and I deviate from practising the way we find right. Dan and I agree that it’s up to the conscience of each individual if they would relax on the recommended lifestyle during our short years in this life and by that risk missing an eternal life in Paradise. Wifeethan has chosen for herself well knowing how I do, and as least as long as she has a baby her compromise is acceptable. Would you call for tea Wifeethan?”

Wifeethan gets up and I say to Wifedan

“As I have not up until now been allowed to have a close insight in how to live as a Wife I have decided to start by copying the lifestyle of Wifeethan to be sure I would not push her away from me because of that just after we have been reunified, and to hope I would be accepted by you as well, as I see coming here as a way to learn about the years we have been separated in a way that Wifeethan perhaps never is going to be able to express in words because it’s too obvious to her. Your words of course will make me consider your stricter lifestyle, especially when I get to know it better, but at the moment it sounds like both you and Wifeethan find the way she and I dress is right, considering Enoch. And in that view I would only be able to follow your stricter lifestyle for a short period as I hope you know I’m pregnant.”

Meanwhile Wifeethan has returned and of course the order for tea had been expected and the taller Martha enters as I say my last words.

Wifedan makes the Martha wait by saying “I know. Congratulations. It’s good you prove worthy of wearing the magenta colour, and I hope Wifeethan soon is going to await a second as well.”

Wifedan nods towards the Martha who puts her tray down on the table and pours three glasses which are all provided with a straw, which perhaps is a standard here as Wifeethan and I could do without it. The Martha places a glass in front of me and what is actually behind Wifeethan, but she has turned and gestures to the Martha as she is about to take the last glass and for some reason go around the table with it. I find out a few moments later when Wifeethan takes Wifedan’s glass and holds it up under her chin with her right hand while using the left to guide the straw through the slit in her hood and find the hole inside that has to be in her metallic mouth cover. I can see from the level in Wifedan’s glass sinking a little that she is successful. It looks like something requiring practise when Wifeethan, while still holding the glass to the chin of Wifedan, turns to take hold of her own glass with her left hand and then use the straw to get both her veils pulled out so that the glass can get up under and she can drink herself. It makes me feel ashamed to be using both hands to be able to drink, while I wonder why Wifedan hasn’t picked up the glass herself or have it handed up under her long cape. After we have sipped for a few minutes both Wifeethan and I put our glasses down she gestures for me to take up the conversation with Wifedan again.

I lean to her ear and ask “Your head and body covering looks much like that of the Aunts at the Rachel and Leah Centre who I have often seen drinking by themselves, taking a glass up under their cape and threading the straw into their mouth. Why don’t you drink yourself if I may ask?”

I lean even closer to enable her to answer without turning her head and hear

“The Aunts have to move about and use their hands to perform their function for our society. As a Wife I don’t move around much and have plenty of time to do it and in addition I have the Martha’s for manual work. This means, as you have no doubt noticed, that I can wear a longer skirt and a longer cape than theirs. My function as a Wife is to support and please my husband and pray for him, for the family and for our society to prosper in general. I take this responsibility so serious that my hands are almost always in a prayer position, and when not needing or permitted to talk or see I choose to be mute or blind to better concentrate on praying and how to please Dan. Today, with you visiting for the first time, I won’t do it that much, but I often do one or either during the visits of Wifeethan. As gesturing to emphasise speaking when wearing a cape is bad manners as it shows hands and arms unnecessarily and with our facial expressions hidden we could all as well be blind while conversing.”

I say “We would have to be much more careful when turning our heads from speaking to listening but principally you’re right that when we’re all fully covered we don’t miss any information by being blind. It looked to me as if you were blind and perhaps muted as well when we entered here, but what Wifeethan did to you happened so fast I’m not sure.”

Wifedan says “Yes, reversing the restrictions is so fast and simple that it encourages using it and makes it easy to live with. You’d better try to be able to assist me as well. Please show her Wifeethan. I won’t have more tea, thank you.”

Wifeethan puts her own glass down and pulls the straw out of Wifedan’s hood and puts her glass down as well and Wifedan turns the back of her head towards me. I now notice that the lacing closing the hood ends under a small flap locked with a padlock. Wifeethan points to two loops of string overlapping this lacing but not being part of it. She pulls at the shorter one making it longer, and at the same time making the other shorter. Then she makes Wifedan face me and I see her vision holes seem to have disappeared, having now been covered by fabric identical to that of the hood. Wifeethan guides my hands up behind the head of Wifedan so I can take hold of both loops, which I now realise are attached at either side of the strip of fabric covering her eyes, and pulling the now short loop I move the strip by half an inch to where it has holes matching the eyes. I pull the loops alternating a couple of times to see Wifedan’s vision holes appear and ‘disappear’, leaving her seeing. Then Wifeethan makes Wifedan turn the back of her head towards me again and takes my hand to the back of Wifedan’s neck saying

“Grab the fabric to the right you will feel something solid. If you put a finger on each side of this solid piece you can squeeze it because it’s a spring loaded valve to deflate the rubber gag in the mouth of Wifedan. Then move your hand further forward to under the ear until you can feel a larger, softer object. That is the pump for the gag which you now keep squeezing until Wifedan pulls her head away. You can’t test that it works without hitting her so hard it would make her scream, but instead press a finger against her cheek and sense how it puffs out. Note she is voluntarily being gagged so it’s not up to you to decide when to stop, but of course she doesn’t cheat, and with the metallic cover over her mouth she is completely mute before the gag is fully inflated anyway.”

I pump and pump, and if Wifeethan hadn’t said it’s not up to me I would have stopped when touching the cheek felt like touching a bone, but I pump three more times before Wifedan moves her head. I then remove my hands and look at her but as the hood is loose around the head and it’s impossible to see if she is mute or not. I then put a finger to the other cheek to sense the same hardness and hold it there while taking hold of the valve and squeeze to feel how the cheek gets back to normal again. I put my mouth to Wifedan’s ear and say

“You said the restrictions were easy to live with, but it can’t be pleasant having the cheeks inflated that hard, and even when you’re able to talk you have a piece of floppy rubber in your mouth.”

Wifedan says “Humans are raised above animals by being given a soul that creates feelings such as decency and other moral values, and to remain decent women live a covered and restricted life. I go further than most to maintain the right values, and the very limited sight and the confining of the head is more bothersome to me than my cheeks bulging. But you started by asking why I need assistance to drink. I would like to complete this demonstration of what I, for the time being, think is a reasonably pious outfit by showing you a little more. But as Wifeethan knows it all and there is no reason to unnecessarily show her, please leave the room Wifeethan.”

Wifedan keeps her eyes on Wifeethan until the door closes behind her and then leans to my ear to say

“You may lift my cape until hands and forearms are showing Wifenick.”

I lift the cape and see that she is sitting with her hands folded in her lap, fingers interlocked, wearing a pair of thick gloves made from the same blue fabric as the jacket and reaching up above and on top of the jacket cuffs where the gloves are fastened with a drawstring. She lifts her hands and turns her wrists without separating the hands, leans to my ear to say

“Look closely. It’s actually one glove as the fingers are sewn together. I cannot use my hands for much else than praying. Next you may lift at my skirt to just below the knees.”

Wifedan turns in her seat to move her feet towards me and I bend down to lift at the skirt which folds all way round having no slit. I see that Wifedan is not wearing shoes but more of the same thick blue fabric that the skirt, jacket, cape and also her special glove are made of. Her legs are covered in what appear to be a pair of harem style pants with integrated socks with blue leather soles attached that I would call slippers if they were separate. To make these integrated slippers sit tight there is a drawstring around the ankles. With the only ankle long skirt that Wifeethan and I wear we can get a little air up to our waist where it only has to pass through the cotton of the underdrawers, but Wifedan is just as confined at the bottom as she is on top. I have to ask her

“It requires a key to uncover your head. Is it the same with your loins?”

Wifedan replies “Yes, you should consider wearing these special pants that solves the problem with your dressing that if your skirt is lifted sufficiently or one looks up between your legs one sees your white underdrawers and chemise. If this happened to me I would feel affronted like it was my skin. The pants have a high waist and with that are locked by the skirt which has its closure padlocked. Of course it means I have to be very careful about being relieved when leaving the house, but fortunately it’s very rare and then at most for a couple of hours. With me almost always only speaking while seated and thus mute while moving around it would be easier if you would go and get Wifeethan back please.”

Immediately after kneeling in front of the sofa again Wifeethan says

“While outside the door it occurred to me mom, sorry Wifedan that you have probably spoken more during this visit than in the previous six months in total. Silence is a virtue of a woman. I have ordered Adah and Naomi to bring our public clothing so that Wifenick can now be shown your wonderful garden.”

“You’re right, but I think you’re more pious when coming here, as I don’t think you limit your own speaking when at home. Would you please mute me Wifenick?”

As I reach for her neck and start pumping up her gag, the two Martha’s enter, the taller one carrying cloaks and the smaller masks and gauntlets, but none of it looks like what we had on when we came. The Martha carrying the cloak holds a magenta piece towards Wifedan and holds one finger up. Wifedan bows to tap her forehead against Wifeethan’s chest, nods towards the end wall and pushes the hem of her skirt against her cushion. All this makes Wifeethan lean towards Wifedan’s ear and say

“Naomi points out that you have only one magenta garden set so you want me to stay here and pray instead?”

Wifedan nods making Wifeethan say something to Naomi, who puts the cloaks on the table and leaves. The door is opened again just a dozen seconds after being closed. Meanwhile Wifeethan has moved around the table bringing her cushion to place it almost where she was kneeling just after we entered. She steps into the cloak which Naomi has placed on the floor and is immediately covered, but she has entered the cloak turned opposite so when the hood is put over her head its long front hangs down her back. Then she kneels blind, and with the padding of the hood almost deaf as well, to be well set up for undisturbed praying.

The smaller of the two Martha’s, Adah, had used the time while I was looking elsewhere to fit Wifedan’s hands in leather without me seeing her cape being lifted. I see when being fitted with one myself that it is simply a tube of thick leather that like a muff that reaches from one mid forearm to the other by putting my hands in from both ends and folding them. I figure Wifedan first had one glove end untied, then the muff pushed over her glove, the glove tied again and finally the muff held in place by buckling a strap around it like a belt at each end, which is what is being done to me now.

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I can observe while it is fitted on Wifedan by being laced closed down the back of her head and neck that the leather ‘mask’, or ‘veil’ in this case, is a large leather hood reaching well out over the shoulders. It is just as inhuman as the hooded cape and as such they match well. Instead of small pinholes one can now see a rectangular, very darkly tinted transparent visor at the centre of the face. The moment I turn my head away from Wifedan, Naomi assumes I have seen enough of how it looks and blinds me by placing an identical magenta coloured hood over my head. Only by turning towards the windows can I see dark contours even after the visor is in front of my eyes. My head starts getting hot as with the hood fitting close around the shoulders I don’t think much air comes up from below, but there are some small holes around the head and a pattern on the sides, which may mean the hearing is not attenuated too much, but no one is going to speak to me as Wifedan is gagged and Adah and Naomi are not allowed to speak here. I have no reason to fear overheating as I assume Wifedan in her woollen hood inside this leather hood is going to get headache or feel dizzy long before me.

I’m guided to take a few steps forward and then my shoes are fitted into the straps of a cloak, which is then lifted up around my shoulders. As I sense the hood being pulled over my head it not only gets completely dark because of the long down facing hood but because it has been put on me backwards, which becomes obvious as I sense the cloak being zipped at the back of my neck. Am I to be guided into the garden blind to then have the cloaked turned around while inside it? Or is it a special cloak?

I am guided to walk, or rather waddle, and soon I feel the hard surface of the floor or a porch replaced by a surface based on soil. Suddenly I am able to see again although it’s darker and there is a yellow brown hue added to my small blurry field of vision as if I might be wearing sunglasses on top of my veils. Of course I first see the shawl covered head of a Martha, who by being at my own height, has to be Naomi. As she moves out of my field of vision I see the blue cloak of Wifedan. Like my own, it is special, having a slit at eye level at the backside of the hood which is now held open by a small rod attached to the upper edge and gripping around the lower edge. Wifedan leans forward to put her cheek to mine which I guess means welcome to her garden, and then she makes a full turn and nods towards me as an invitation to take an overview. I turn like her but much slower to find out we are standing in the centre of the garden which is about three hundred feet square and much nicer and more varied than the gardens of other Wives. There are bushes with flowers and small trees not needing that much care as flower beds. Green leafed climbing vines cover most of the walls to make them less visible and the back of the garden has shadow part of the day due to some high trees growing on the other side of the wall. But right around us the roses are dominating as usual. Wifedan starts waddling towards the back and I follow what looks like a Wife in ordinary public clothing walking backwards. After some twenty feet she stops and bows to her left to nearly have her visor touch the twig of a rose. I’m about to think she for some reason wants me to look at the deep red flower right behind but isn’t able to point it out with her large round head as the only way of pointing, but then Naomi, who has followed right behind me, steps in front of me to holding secateurs to the twig. Wifedan nods and Naomi cuts it. The pruning of this garden is like at Wifeethan where the Martha had to get to where she couldn’t reach herself but Wifedan has her hands bound unable to reach anywhere and the Martha has to do all the work.

We go on like that pruning at six or seven places more before reaching the far right corner where there is ten feet of shaded area. Wifedan lean her head fully back in the direction of the sun and then nods twice to me, I guess to say it’s nice to stand in the shade. I nod as reply and then nod repeatedly while turning the full ninety degrees of the garden to praise it. She waddles on along to the end wall and soon I see that in the other back corner is a quarter circular pool about six feet in diameter and with a white waterlily in the middle. Wifedan stops and pushes me, as I am walking almost at her side, to get me to stop with a nod towards the pool. On its edge sits a blackbird, and I can hear it singing, making me realise that the holes of the leather hood keep the hearing intact and there is no padding in the hood of the cloak, but I wonder if Wifedan is also able to hear it with her additional thick woollen hood. Between its warbles the blackbird leans forward to drink. All three of us stand perfectly still to watch it for more than a minute then suddenly, having quenched its thirst, it flies up over the wall. The explanation comes immediately as a squirrel runs down the leaves of the wall, crosses three feet of the path and then jumps up on the edge of the pool to drink as well. It only drinks for about ten seconds and looks up three times during this. Then it runs up on top of the wall again and we see it jumping over on one of the small trees and disappear out of sight. I turn towards Wifedan and put my cheek to hers to say I have enjoyed seeing this bit of wildlife. She nods and we waddle along a path towards the centre of the garden. There are frequent stops to prune. Despite the dark limited view it’s really enjoyable walking this garden which appears to be kept for a joy of gardening and nature and not just as a mean to pass time. After hearing the blackbird I have noticed other birds and sounds that suggest the garden is up to a non-cultivated area where the wildlife thrives. Perhaps I focus more on my hearing because the visor has started to moisten up. I suddenly feel how hot I am all over, but mostly at the head of course where the noon sun hits the hardest and the leather hood takes heat in but doesn’t allow the hot air out or the sweat to evaporate. Would I be able to take this if I was dressed like Wifedan?

We have been standing at the centre of the garden, where we started to have the slit for viewing opened, for a few minutes while Naomi has been pruning around us on her own when Wifedan suddenly turns towards her and starts shaking her entire body. Naomi immediately comes to her, puts her basket with tools down, pulls at the rod of Wifedan’s viewing slit to make it close and then starts guiding her towards the house with Wifedan waddling much faster than previously. It seems to be so urgent that I have been left to wait. Just as Wifedan steps onto the porch her forward movement stops and she collapses, but is sliding slowly to the floor as Naomi takes hold of her. When Wifedan is resting on her side Naomi quickly enters the house. Just like me Wifedan has suddenly felt the heat, but being even more covered she has suffered a heat stroke. Naomi quickly returns with Adah. Through the layers they get hold of her arms on either side and drag her inside. Without being blinded I have slowly advanced towards the house wanting to get out of the sun although I feel all right only being extremely hot and sweaty.

In less than three minutes Naomi is back with me, and I haven’t even reached the porch. She first shakes her body like Wifedan and I shake my head. Then she points inside and draws a quarter of a circle on her left wrist and I nod. Then her hand comes to my slit and I am blinded. She guides me inside and down into one of the small armchairs. Nothing more happens for about a quarter of an hour just as she had indicated then I feel a hand motioning me to stand and I’m guided again. Then the cloakis unzipped and lifted of my head and shoulders to fall to the floor. Despite hardly being able to see anything in the indoor lighting through the visor there is no doubt I’m in the bathroom. The hood stays on until the muff trapping my hands has been unbuckled then it is unlaced but not removed. Naomi points to some clothing on the vanity and a filled glass of water, each time requiring a nod to be sure I have seen her gestures. She then takes my right hand to the door lock and leaves the room. I turn the lock and immediately lift my hands up to remove the leather hood. My head covering, both the magenta and the white is soaked by sweat, and I realise that I had to keep the hood on fearing my covering would cling too tightly to my face to reveal too much. The fresh clothing is my entire head covering consisting of a magenta veiled pillbox hat and voice modesty scarf and a white mask with veil and a coif, but before doing anything else I just hold the veils out from my face and drink the entire glass of water.

Coming out of the bathroom I feel fresh again although only my face has been washed and my head covered in fresh clothes. The rest of my body and hair is due for a bath but it can wait until I get home. Adah is standing outside an open door where I haven’t been before and gestures me to enter. It’s the dining room and it’s time for lunch I guess although the table is not laid. Wifedan and Wifeethan are already seated at the table opposite each other and Wifedan gestures me to sit between them at the end of the table. As I seat myself Adah enters with a tray on which are three large glasses with straws. Clearly we are all going to have what Wifedan is able to eat through the slit in her hood, which I assume is fresh as it looks dry and clean but I can’t ask her right away as the lunch has to be eaten in silence due to Wifeethan and I having to pull down our voice modesty scarves to eat or drink as it is. For the first time Wifedan shows her hands as she lets her cape lift and bulge just above the table top to show it’s time to take a moment to pray and thank for the meal. Following this Adah guides the straw into the mouth of Wifedan and she leans her head over the table to get the straw down into her glass. With this signal to start the meal Wifeethan and I lift at our veils and take our glasses to our chins. I recognise the same mix of blended vegetables as I had at Wifeethan’s the day before yesterday. With Wifedan I guess often eating like this I assume it’s her Martha’s having experimented to find the right fresh and well tasting mix of vegetables, and then Wifeethan has brought it to her Martha’s by learning it by heart or she has made it herself while she was staying here. Anyway it’s still very good after having been so hot, and I point to my glass and nod vigorously towards Wifedan, who makes a thank you nod without lifting her head so much that the straw gets out of her glass. We all suck slowly taking a break now and then because the glass is very large. While Wifeethan and I put our glasses down on the table several times, it’s harder to see when Wifedan is taking a break because she remains leaning forward facing almost directly down only lifting her head just enough to get the straw out of the liquid but not out of the glass. It would be better now and then facing those you are eating with, but on the other hand sitting with a straw sticking out in the air doesn’t appear very polite either. After about half an hour both Wifedan and I have emptied our glasses but Wifeethan has not finished. It could be because she isn’t as thirsty as us not having been cooked out in the sun, but we have sucked slowly. With the first communication since our initial appraisal of the meal Wifeethan gestures me to hold at the straw of Wifedan to allow her to lift her head making the straw pull out of her hood. After that I have to keep looking at Wifedan’s faceless top, which I don’t find scary any longer but not pretty either, so as to avoid looking at Wifeethan and thus urging her to get finished. I look at Wifedan for about five minutes while she faces between Wifeethan and me. When Wifedan turns her head towards the door to nod clearly I know Wifeethan has finished. Wifedan gets up from the table about a minute after Adah has cleared the glasses. There was this one course with the drinking included, but its fine as both my hunger and thirst have been sated. There is not going to be any conversation at the dining table as Wifeethan pumps up Wifedan’s gag and pulls the string that blinds her.

I follow Wifeethan as she guides Wifedan across the hall and we enter the bedroom. Both Adah and Naomi arrive moments later and Naomi gestures Wifeethan to the other side of the bed and they guide Wifedan into the bed from this side and place her directly in the middle. There is an even space on both sides of Wifedan and when I see Wifeethan climb onto the bed to fill the far space it’s clear I’m expected to fill the closer space as there is also three pillows in the bed. Unlike yesterday it’s not really left to me if I would like a nap. But if it’s like yesterday it is going to be a pleasant experience and then why not try it instead of having to kneel to pray for an hour or something like that. I climb onto the bed, and as it’s only designed for two, the three of us sit close shoulder to shoulder. Wifeethan gestures to the Martha’s that I am to learn and watch. Being dressed like Wifeethan I guess I should have been treated exactly like her at the same time as her, but now I just watch as Wifeethan has her hat reversed by Adah and then leans back to lie with her head on the pillow and her knees up and wide like I saw yesterday. Wifedan remains sitting and has just tilted her head back. As I have seen what happens to Wifeethan I keep my eyes on Wifedan. Naomi takes her hands up under Wifedan’s cape, and then watching where the cape bulges it occurs to me Wifedan isn’t completely locked up after all. I assume Naomi undoes one or two buttons of Wifedan’s jacket then removes her own right glove so that she can get her hand to the neck opening of Wifedan’s chemise to loosen its drawstring and then get a hand down inside it to touch one of her nipples. Naomi’s hand doesn’t stay there much longer than Chloe had her fingers in Wifeethan’s vagina yesterday before Wifedan makes a small jerk and her raised body drops back with the head bumping down on the pillow, the movement being slowed by the upper body for some moments hanging in the jacket that is held up by Naomi’s hand. Her hands remain under the cape until she has got her glove on again. Meanwhile Wifeethan’s legs have come down flat on the bed. Adah comes to my side of the bed and they let me watch the two fainted women’s limp bodies for about a minute before Naomi reaches for my hat. As soon as I feel the hat pin being inserted again I lie down on my back and lift my knees to almost instantly feel hands inside my skirt which makes me believe it’s Adah who is going to finger me. I do my best to move as little as possible and suppress moaning as her fingers create wonderful sensations in my body and mind. I guess my movements are a little larger than during my nap yesterday, but probably Adah and Naomi know how I am going to react when not being a trained Wife, at least it feels like she is not doing it for as long as Chloe worked on Wifeethan, and then I can relax to lie flat down as if limp although I’m still conscious. After a while I start to think of Nick and can’t keep my body completely still. Naomi and Adah no doubt haven’t left the bedroom and are going to discuss me at length on returning to the kitchen. I don’t mind, and they and the bedroom surrounding me, is on its way out of my mind as a strange dream takes over. Nick has become an oriental sultan with three wives and I am his third wife. His favourite wife is much more heavily covered than me and the other wife and is so restricted that servants have to assist her with everything and when we chat her voice is distorted, sounding like a robot. No one except for Nick and her parents has ever seen her or heard her true voice, nor is anyone ever going to see any part of her. The sultan ensures this even if all three of us are in his bed at the same time. We enter the bed fully covered and he enjoys us in sequence as his religion prescribes, usually only through slits in our covering. When he wants to have intercourse with one more than the others, he doesn’t have our eyes covered but simply fucks the other two until they pass out, and with his large tool and power they’re usually out until long into the morning, giving him plenty of time to unwrap the chosen wife and enjoy her naked, both conscious and unconscious.

I feel I am being touched but as it is only for a few seconds it can’t be the sultan starting to play with me, it being my turn. I realise the dream is over and it’s one of Wifedan’s Martha’s. I lift my head and immediately there is a hand helping me sit upright and then guiding me out of bed and out of the bedroom. I’m left with a hand on a doorhandle and when I flip up my back turned hat veil I see I’m in the bathroom and lock the door. I still felt Wifedan against my side just before leaving the bed which means I have to be quick in here for her and perhaps Wifeethan to use the bathroom as well.

In ten minutes I’m out to see that I didn’t need to hurry as both Wifedan and Wifeethan are still lying unmoving on the bed. Of the Martha’s only Naomi is present and on seeing me she leans over the bed to shake Wifedan for ten seconds and about two minutes pass before her head moves from side to side. While we wait for her to move Adah arrives with a tray with tea. The moving head makes Naomi lean down to Wifedan again and with some gentle touches she helps her off of the bed. Adah turns with a head movement for me to follow her and we go to the sitting room with Naomi guiding Wifedan right behind us. There is no washing for her right now. Wifedan and I get seated on the sofa as in the morning and Naomi gestures to me that I should open the vision slits to let her see and also deflate her gag, which I do, but I shake my head when Adah suggests I should hold the tea glass of Wifedan so she stays with us while I assume Naomi leaves to get Wifeethan off of bed. After we both have taken a few sips of tea I lean to Wifedan’s ear and say

“So much new to me has happened since we left this sofa. I thought it would be difficult to rest in bed when not trained to faint on being touched but I fell into a deep and strange dream involving Nick very quickly. But first I have to know if you are all right again after what happened in the garden?”

Wifedan answers “Yes, thank you. Some minutes with the head in the sink with cold water makes me fresh again if I get overheated. But I don’t understand why it happened today. I’m normally able to wear this outdoor covering for about twice as long. It annoys me I had to uncover my head during the day. The weather wasn’t that much different from previous days although it was clear and sunny today. The only possible explanation is that meeting you and talking too much had heated me up before we went out. We’d better take a break when Wifeethan has got a little time to have tea.”

I tell her “I’m glad you’re okay. It sounded to me as if it was almost an emergency that you removed your head covering.”

Wifedan says “Well, I don’t like to show wearing less than what you see at any time when Dan isn’t around. A few times a year his job takes him so far away from the city that he has to stay overnight in a hotel and on those occasions I spend the night in bed fully dressed like now like you have just seen. It also happens he wants me so urgently that he leads me to bed and simply gets the cape away from my body by folding it up over my head and quickly uncovers my crotch and I usually wake in the morning still wearing the cape over my head but otherwise covered in white. Normally I sleep in this layer of underwear only, to be fully covered if Dan doesn’t want sex, or more likely has been satisfied, and if he feels like it he can easily uncover any part that at the moment turns him on.”

Now Wifeethan joins us and it occurs to me that Wifedan has only been telling about her nights so openly because it was one middle-aged woman to another only, and I would have liked to hear more

Instead I ask “What does your husband do that requires him to occasionally travel? Wifeethan has said nothing to me about his occupation.”

Wifedan says “It’s because he never talks about his job at home, not even to me. He works for a government agency that maintains and organises books, so it’s completely off-limits to women.”

I say “It sounds to me as if he is a librarian.”

Wifedan says “It’s a word that doesn’t exist in the vocabulary of a Gilead woman. Please don’t ever explain it to Wifeethan.” Turning to Wifeethan she adds “While we were waiting for you I told Wifenick that you might have been right that I have been talking too much today and that may be why I got too hot out in the garden. Let’s move to the more comfortable chairs for a break, and you can get your knitting.”

Wifedan turns towards Adah to say a few words and then Adah pumps up her gag. Then Wifeethan, while getting up from the sofa, says a few words to Adah. Wifedan has got stood as well to, with a head movement, gesture me to take the larger armchair at the end of the table. She takes the smaller armchair to sit next to me and Wifeethan takes the one closest to the wall. Wifedan and Wifeethan both take a comfortable position leaned back and facing directly forward and up and simply keep sitting like that. In a minute Adah brings a knitting basket to place in the lap of Wifeethan and then she leaves with the tea set-up. Wifeethan takes the knitting from the basket and puts it with the ball of yarn at her side on the floor to start knitting on what seems to end up as a pair of green trousers Enoch’s size. While still knitting her head is soon again facing a point on the ceiling close to the garden wall, and meanwhile Wifedan has not visibly moved. I sit relaxed leaning back as well but I have Wifedan and Wifeethan in my field of view. The sound of the knitting needles against each other is very high being the only sound in the room. Their movement, and the movement of the hands holding them, are the only movements in the room. For a very long time I have been mesmerised, only gazing at the moving needles. It is easy as Wifeethan’s body and head don’t move, and Wifedan sits like a statue. I wonder what goes through her mind. She has not been blinded but apparently the only things in her field of vision are the dark wooden boards of the ceiling. I slowly tilt my head back to have the same sight on another part of the ceiling, but for a while it is as if I still see the needles moving. The vision of the needles is replaced by the face of Enoch smiling at me. This in turn is replaced by the face of Nick this morning, already longing for this late afternoon. His face fades over into the face of Joe, which fades into Father MacKenzie which fades into Doctor James. They are all smiling. The next face looks a little surprised, and it’s not facing me, but I’m looking down at its already empty eyes. It’s my last look at the Commander. I jump in the seat and get back to reality. How long has passed? Wifedan is still not moving, nor is Wifeethan except for the hands with the knitting needles. I notice the trousers have increased by between three and four inches, that means at least a half an hour has passed. As I am here to learn how Wifedan and Wifeethan associate, no matter how strange it seems I just keep on looking at them. I have no exact idea of time any longer but it feels only a few minutes later when Wifedan suddenly moves. She gets up and leans down to have let her face brush the side of Wifeethan’s head, which causes Wifeethan to stop knitting and put it down in the basket. Wifedan moves around the table to take her previous position on the sofa, gesturing for me to take mine and Wifeethan to kneel between us. I then reach for her head to deflate her gag, but she leans away leaving Wifeethan room to lean towards me to speak

“I think Wifedan feels she has today spoken enough to cover the next month and is going to leave the rest of the conversation to us and I think I can answer almost all of your questions about our lifestyle, and Wifedan can still nod or shake her head.”

The blue hood nods and I ask “Why were you sitting without moving for so long – was it half an hour? What goes on in your mind?”

Wifeethan says “Women have always lived a quiet life with lots of contemplation except for the last few decades before Gilead. This is part of our ideal of imitating the women of the Old Testament spiritually. Often in my mind, probably because of the knitting, I see the face of Enoch slowly getting older as he passes through childhood. Usually my visions end seeing him entering his own home where, with a big smile, he embraces a royal blue hooded cape. Wifedan has told me she often reviews the previous evening with dad, sorry I mean Dan, but each time he isn’t smiling this piece of the evening is replaced with that of another more successful evening. Such memories of hers of course always ends with a flash of light and then black void as she is being kissed or touched elsewhere to make her pass out.”

Having my side to Wifeethan while listening I am looking at Wifedan, but although she is clearly listening she doesn’t move her head to confirm or deny the words of Wifeethan. To perhaps get some reaction from Wifedan I then say “The garden here is the most beautiful I have seen for a very long time. Yours Wifeethan is much larger and I guess you could form it any way you wanted by just asking Ethan for some men to come and plant whatever you would like. Why haven’t you got green walls, a pool, more natural plants and trees for both shadow and to attract birds, squirrels and other wildlife?”

As I turn to hear the answer my cheek is brushed by Wifedan’s forehead, I guess for praising her garden and then Wifeethan says “I occasionally have other wives visiting and they are all impressed by my garden with the typical flowers that all Wives grow, but just in much larger numbers than ordinary gardens. Nature is not appreciated by very many and I have to think of Ethan’s reputation as well.”

It sounds to me a little as if this isn’t the full truth so I prefer to change the subject and ask “Just after our nap Wifedan told me she sleeps in the white outfit we wear innermost. What is wrong with a traditional nightgown?”

“Again you only think of tradition as a few generations back, and in addition you would still need gloves, stockings and some form of head covering to be fully covered and as such let your husband have the choice of how much of you he wants to see. Special clothing for the night is only a few centuries old, before that people always slept in the clothes they wore during the day. So clearly at the time of the Bible they did that as well, but if you get time to prepare for bed of course you can put on a fresh set of underwear, and most often we do because sweating during the day is almost unavoidable.”

I ask “Has Wifedan been covered like an Aunt all the time since Gilead prescribed a dress-code?”

Wifeethan answers “No. I remember that when I came into the Woods family she looked like we do, but in blue of course. I think it was when I came home from boarding school to celebrate my second Easter here that I first saw Wifedan in a hooded cape. Of course I congratulated her with this way of marking the festival. She said it was right to start taking this step beginning with the most holy days of the year but it was not just for the festival but her future lifestyle. I remember then I didn’t think about the hardships of being so well covered because I was used to seeing the Aunts teaching at the boarding school wearing almost the same outfit.”

I ask “Does you going further than most Wives, especially in your dress style Wifedan, also imply there is any special contact between you and the Aunts …”

At this moment there is a knock on the door and Naomi enters mimicking putting on a cloak. Wifeethan leans forward to touch cheek to cheek with Wifedan on both cheeks, and then I say goodbye in the same manner. Meanwhile Naomi has moved behind her and as I pull away Wifedan turn towards her and nods to have her eye strip turned so as to blind her. As we pass the doorway Wifeethan stops to say

“I like this garden and house very much, but I couldn’t say in there that I won’t make my own garden like this to keep longing for this place and being sure I can convince Ethan to move here as soon as my parents, sorry I mean Dan and Wifedan, are dead.”

I nod understandingly and we enter the bedroom to be masked and cloaked. Of course it takes a long while before the car actually arrives.

To my surprise Nick is at home when I arrive. As soon as my cloak and mask are removed he embraces me and takes me directly to the bedroom where he immediately removes all my clothes and me his, for us to make love naked before we both go to the bathroom to keep cuddling while bathing. Like the previous days we spend all evening and night in the bedroom enjoying each other and having food and drink brought.

Part three to be continued with part 4 on a new page.

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2 thoughts on “The Handmaid’s Tale – Part 3

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