I wrote this short piece for a Wattpad contest to tie in with The Handmaid’s Tale that I never ended up entering (I didn’t read the small print and it was only open to Canadians I think).
It’s been sitting on my desktop ever since and I haven’t known what to do with it. This week seems a good time as any to share it. I haven’t really written short stories before but I hope you enjoy it. Please let me know what you think.
The Personal Touch
I’ve never done a TV broadcast before so I’m a little nervous. Wave your hand if I go too fast and I’ll slow down – as the donor said to the Handmaid. Haha! No, not really, we reduce sedation during collections but they’re never fully conscious.
I’m ready. Are you filming now?
“Welcome to North United Reproductive Centre. I’m Greta one of the Handmaids. Our official title is Manual Ejaculate Harvester but that’s a real mouthful so we generally go by the nickname.
“If we go into the collection chamber you can observe one of the donors. As you can see he’s in excellent physical shape thanks to a diet designed to ensure quality is optimum. We don’t want substandard samples slipping through. Careful, we don’t want anyone tripping and pulling out a sedation drip or feeding tube, and definitely not the waste pipe!
“Collection was originally done mechanically but it appears to be more efficient when a woman is involved – subconscious awareness on the part of the donor perhaps. A good Handmaid can extract the harvest in minutes. Eight tugs and a squeeze is the record to beat in this centre. The Personal Touch, as our sign says. Of course there’s no actual contact; Handmaids wear gloves – very strict hygiene regulations. It isn’t a glamorous job. RSA is a problem but we have in-house physio.
“The ethics? It’s a necessary evil. Our foremothers knew that whatever the race, religion or political leanings of the perpetrator, the common factor in almost all atrocities was gender. We can’t reproduce without them so the worldwide sedation of males was deemed necessary. I’m amazed it took so long to reach that conclusion, but I suppose the pioneers had to be cautious. Secretly manufacturing enough sedative was a logistical nightmare, not to mention building storage facilities for the donors. They had to look back to 20th century farming methods for inspiration. Can you imagine the organisation involved to ensure every woman across the world received the original dose and administered it on the same night? Imagine the repercussions of being discovered! Wives, sisters, daughters, mothers; all acting as one. We owe our brave foremothers a huge debt.
“We have enough stock to last for the next eight or nine generations. Thanks to screening, no male embryos make it to the implantation stage but if supplies ever run short we’ll allow enough to replenish supplies. Perhaps our descendants will discover how to curb their violent urges and free range males can be reintroduced.”
‘Fucksake woman! Concentrate! I’m losing it.’
The harsh tone pulls Greta from her favourite daydream back to reality. Concentrating, she finishes the client off with a few dexterous actions.
Without comment he zips his trousers, tosses £20 on the table and leaves the flat. Through the window Greta watches him glance furtively around and shuffle off. She has time for a cuppa before the next one knocks on the door.
One day, she thinks, remembering her daydream. One day.