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Thread: The Ceremony

  1. #41
    Ofjonas & Commander Jonas Morgan



    Albany, New York
    Republic of Gilead


    The first time Paige said she was happy, neither man could hear her over Bryce's coughing. The second time she said it, Jonas believed her but Bryce didn't. He didn't truly believe his stepmother was happy but his opinion didn't count in this house. Even before there was a Gilead, it didn't seem his opinion had counted much. At least, not with his father. Bryce missed his mother very much but...Perhaps, Rebecca Morgan hadn't been made for this type of world. Bryce could never see his mother allowing what was going to happen to Ofjonas to happen.

    Jonas' opinion was the only that truly mattered here and he took Paige at her word. He had never taken the time to truly know her. He had no idea he was married to probably the only woman in all of Gilead that didn't want a baby. If he did, it wouldn't have been good. His other Commanders would mock him and Jonas Morgan had never liked to be mocked by anyone in his life.

    "I'm glad you are."

    Jonas replied, kissing her hand again. Taking her at her word, as he always did. She always told him what he wanted to hear.

    "And I know that, but a good husband always does what is necessary to keep his wife happy. Happy wife, happy life, after all."

    Jonas said with a smile, missing the fact his son rolled his eyes. In the Morgan household, it was happy Jonas, happy life. Jonas and Bryce ate the rest of their meal and Jonas could barely contain his excitement for the Ceremony.

    -------------------------------

    Once dinner was over, Amanda knew there was no delaying the Ceremony. Of everything a Handmaid was supposed to do in Gilead, this was the most important and to Amanda it was the worst part of it. It was time and she was scared. The mock ceremonies that Aunt Mary made her go through the Red Center did not truly prepare her for this. Nothing could. Her hands were shaking as she put her dishes in the sink. She couldn't stop shaking. She had planned to clean her plate for Luna but almost broke it, instead. Luna, who did feel awful about what was going to happen but also knew there was nothing she could do to prevent it, told her quietly.

    "It's okay, I got it."

    Amanda nodded her head to the older woman and truly felt like a lamb being led to the slaughter. After the dishes were clean, Jonas led them all into the front room. The Ceremony had an order of events they had to follow. First there had to be the prayer. After all, this was supposed to be God's will and the only way for a sinner, like Amanda, to get salvation. The God that Gilead's faithful believed in wasn't the one that Amanda had learned about as a child. Jonas had Amanda kneel down in front of him with Bryce and Luna behind her. With Paige by his side, he got out his bible and read from it.

    "....And she said, Behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her; and she shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her."

    Jonas read a story from Genesis, the story of Jacob, his wife Rachel, and her handmaid Bilhah. The story was what Gilead based the whole Ceremony on. To justify what they did to the Handmaids. A Commander was Jacob, his wife Rachel, and the Handmaid got to play the unfortunate role of Bilhah. They all said 'amen', even if they didn't feel it. Jonas was probably the only one that truly did. Amanda got to her feet and followed Jonas and Paige to the master bedroom. Bryce and Luna shut the door behind them and it was just her with the couple in the room.

    Once Paige was in her place, Amanda got onto the bed. Her knees felt weak as she did it. She wanted to run, she didn't want to do this. She even imagined hitting Jonas, but she didn't. He was too powerful in Gilead. She couldn't fight him, she wouldn't win. He'd beat her or worse...Send her to the Colonies. Maybe even put her on the Wall. Either way, she would never see Adam again. Wanting to stay alive for her son was the only reason she got onto the bed and laid her head on Paige's lap. Her hands were still shaking as she lifted her arms up for Paige to grab. She stared at the ceiling as Jonas took his place and lifted her skirt up above her knees. She had to bite the inside of her cheek to keep from screaming when he pulled down her underwear and she heard him unzip his pants.

    'Please be over soon.'

    She thought as it began. She wanted to scream, cry, kick at him. She wanted to fight Jonas, stop him, but she didn't. She couldn't. She dug her fingernails into Paige's arms and stared at the ceiling. It felt like it took forever. The Commander didn't touch her with his hands or lips, it was supposed to be forbidden for a Commander to do so. That didn't make it any easier for Amanda, though. The Ceremony...it was even more awful then she imagined it could be. Finally, he was done and she felt dirty. She wanted to run to her room but she couldn't. She was supposed to lay there for about ten minutes. It was supposed to help her increase her odds of conceiving.

    Jonas zipped his pants up and set a timer for ten minutes. Ten agonizing long minutes. He left the room and she laid there, continuing to stare at the ceiling. Staring at the ceiling was how she got through the whole ordeal, the only way how. With each tick of the timer, she felt more dirty and cold. Waiting for the timer to go off so she could finally leave the room felt even longer then it should have. Finally it went off and she sat up, pulling her underwear up and pulling her red dress down. Only feeling slightly better that she wasn't as exposed. Her voice was shaky as she asked Paige.

    "May I please return to my room, Mrs Morgan?"

  2. #42
    Paige

    Paige knew that whatever emotional anguish she was experiencing during the Ceremony, it was nothing compared to that of poor Ofjonas. That knowledge didn't make it any easier, though. As Paige sat silent and helpless, waves of flashbacks washed over her.

    She didn't know why the flashbacks happened. Jonas was her husband, and it was normal for a husband to make love to his wife. Their union was supposed to be sacred. So why had she always found it painful and terrifying? Because there was something wrong with her, she decided. She must not be like a normal woman. If she were, her reaction to her marriage bed wouldn't be a trauma.

    The feeling of Amanda's fingernails digging into her helped ground her. Paige scratched herself on a regular basis, so the feeling of nails in skin seemed like one link to reality, one thing to keep her from being overwhelmed by all the memories surging back.

    For a moment, Paige didn't react to her name. She kept forgetting she was Mrs. Morgan. When she finally realized she was being addressed, she met Amanda's gaze with eyes that were simultaneously sympathetic and haunted.

    "Oh. Um. Yes. Whatever you want to do."

    Paige decided there had to be some way of getting Ofjonas away from here. A plan was starting to form in her head. If she could just find someone to help Ofjonas get to safety... then she would take the pills stashed in her closet. A dead wife would make an excellent distraction, and then they would both be free. She just had to figure out a way out for her Handmaid first.
    "Sleep to dream, and we dream to live..." -Great Big Sea

  3. #43
    Ofjonas & Commander Jonas Morgan



    Albany, New York
    Republic of Gilead


    "Thank you."

    Amanda replied quietly back to Paige. She saw the sympathy and the haunted look in the other woman's eyes and it made her feel slightly better. She wasn't a fool, she had seen how the Morgan household was and she had the feeling that Paige had never liked going to Jonas' bed anymore then she had. That made Amanda's heart feel for her. She could only imagine how awful pleasing Jonas had to be. At least, as a Handmaid, she wouldn't have to do that for him. Not that it made her feel much better about what had happened tonight.

    With permission to leave, she had to resist the urge to run back to her room. All Amanda could think about was taking a bath and cleaning him off of her. But she knew she had to behave herself. Be a good girl, like the Aunts told her to be. It was hard, though, to not run. She walked through the house, trying to avoid everyone, when Jonas found her.

    "Ofjonas, wait."

    'What now?'

    She thought but stopped in her tracks. What more did he want from her? She couldn't stand the sight of him. She still felt him on her skin. She wanted to get sick and kill him at the same time. Before tonight, she could tolerate him, but now...She didn't want to touch him with a ten foot pole. She wished he'd get struck down by lightning.

    "I have something for you."

    He said and motioned her to come into his office. A place that his wife was never allowed in. She followed him, because she had no choice. He was the king of his house and she was just one of his slaves.

    "I assume you went to school."

    Jonas said to her as he walked over to his desk.

    "I did."

    She said quietly back, wondering why the hell he was talking to her about that. When America was still America, of course she had gone to school. Boys and girls were supposed to go. It wasn't like Gilead where boys went to school to learn the things children were supposed to learn and girls only learned domestic arts. He nodded his head and showed her a stack of magazines that he had had on his desk.

    "I figured as much. I could get in a lot of trouble if they know you have these, but I want you to have them. Paige...she lost her baby and, as you can see, she's very sad."

    "I'm sorry."

    She said and did mean that. She knew she was very fortunate that Adam had been born healthy. She couldn't imagine how painful it was to lose one's child. Perhaps that was why Paige always seemed so sad. It would make sense. Amanda didn't have her son and it saddened her, even though she believed Damien got him to safety. She believed Adam was safe and had faith that she'd see him again, she couldn't imagine losing him forever. It didn't escape her that Jonas referred to the baby as Paige's, not his. Like the baby hadn't mattered much to him. From how she seen him interact with Bryce, his living child didn't matter that much to him either.

    "Thank you. I think us giving her one will make her happy. I want to guarantee that we do all we can to make that happen. So, I want you to have these. Read up on what to do to make sure you and the baby will be healthy. Just don't tell anyone about this."

    Giving her the magazines and encouraging her to read could get him in a lot of trouble with the other Commanders. He handed her the magazines, she took them and looked at them and saw they were pregnancy magazines. She recognized the cover of the top one, she had purchased it herself when she found out she was pregnant with Adam. Of course, the magazines wouldn't be current issues, the publisher didn't make them anymore for Gilead. Women weren't allowed to read in Gilead.

    "I understand, Commander."

    She replied to him, feeling herself tear up. The magazines made her think of Adam and Damien. How excited she had been to pregnant with the man she loved's baby. How much she missed them both. And how awful and dirty Jonas made her feel.

    "Good girl."

    Jonas replied and kissed her forehead before she had time to react. That action made her want to cry and hit him at the same time. How dare he think he could do that to her? Especially after what he had just done.

    'Don't let the bastard see you cry.'

    She told herself. She wanted to cry, but not in front of Jonas. She was never going to let him see her cry.

    "...Good night, Commander."

    Amanda told him and he replied good night back and let her leave. She hurried back to her bedroom. As soon as she entered it, she shut the door and threw the magazines on the floor as she rushed into her little bathroom. She stripped naked and took a bath. Scrubbing her body until her skin was raw. It didn't help her feel any better. She still could feel him, she still felt dirty. She had no idea when that feeling was ever going to end.

    'I almost hope I am pregnant.'

    She thought as she gave up on cleaning her body and stared at her reflection in the mirror after she put a nightgown on. If not, she'd have to go through tonight all over again next month. And every month afterwards until he did get her pregnant. The idea of that was terrible. She reached up and touched her forehead, where Jonas had kissed her. She wiped it furiously with her washcloth. Somehow that kiss felt even more violating then the Ceremony in a way.

    "I'm going to kill him. I don't when or how...But someday I will kill him."

    Amanda whispered to her reflection. She left the bathroom and looked at the magazines scattered on the floor. Pregnancy magazines...She fell into her bed and buried her face into her pillow. Finally allowing herself to cry and trying to use the pillow to drown out her sobs.

  4. #44
    Paige

    Paige knew she wasn't going to be able to sleep after the ceremony. Her mind and body were tense and alert - and there would be nightmares, she was sure. Besides, she couldn't quite bear to be in proximity to Jonas. Once the household had gone to bed, Paige simply wandered the halls. In her white nightgown, she imagined she was a ghost. She wished she was. Then she could just fade away.

    The Handmaid's light was on, Paige noticed, seeing a faint gleam spilling under the door of the little room Ofjonas slept in. Apparently Paige wasn't the only one still awake. Desperate to make a connection with someone - anyone - Paige wondered if they could talk.

    It was silly, she knew. What would Ofjonas want to talk about to her? She probably hated Paige.

    Paige tiptoed down to the kitchen and made a cup of tea. If she's still awake when I get back, I'll knock on the door.

    She figured the light would be off, but no - Ofjonas was still awake. Not quite sure what to expect from what she was about to do, Paige knocked.

    "I made you some tea," Paige said softly.

  5. #45
    Ofjonas



    Albany, New York
    Republic of Gilead

    Crying made her feel slightly better. It felt good to release her emotions, even if she still hated what had happened and wanted Jonas dead. Amanda was sure that sleep would not come easy to her. Now that the Ceremony was over, all she could do was think about it. After crying, she picked up the magazines off the floor. She put all, but one, under her mattress. If Gilead's government knew she had them, she would be lucky if they only took a finger or two. If the magazines were discovered, Jonas would never take the blame. She'd be the one that would suffer the consequences. That's how Gilead worked. The men, especially Commanders, were almost above the law and all the blame landed on the women.

    She sat on her bed, not wanting to sleep, and flipped through the magazine. The articles and ads reminded her of what life was like before Gilead. It made her sad for that life. She heard a knock on her door and hid the magazine under her pillow. She got up and answered the door. She was surprised to see Paige on the other side.

    "Thank you. That was very kind of you, Mrs Morgan."

    She told her softly back, mindful that the rest of the household was sleeping, and asked.

    "Would you like to come in?"

    It almost seemed odd inviting Paige into her room. After all, Paige was the mistress of the house, but she didn't act like it. Amanda didn't want to be alone tonight and had the feeling that Paige couldn't sleep either.

  6. #46
    Paige

    "Just call me Paige," she said, stepping inside the room and closing the door behind her. She kept her voice soft to avoid disturbing anyone else in the sleeping household.

    "It's silly for you to call me 'Mrs. Morgan' when it's just the two of us. No need to keep up appearances. We're practically the same age, and we seem to have ended up with the same man, so we may as well be on a first name basis. What's yours?"

    She set the tea tray down on Amanda's nightstand so Amanda could fix her cup how she liked it.

  7. #47
    Ofjonas



    Albany, New York
    Republic of Gilead

    "Okay, Paige."

    Amanda replied when Paige told her that she didn't need to call her 'Mrs Morgan'. It did seem silly in way, they were about the same age. In another life, outside of Gilead, they might have even been friends. When Paige asked her what her name was, Amanda paused a moment. She knew what the correct response was supposed to be. She was supposed to say her name was 'Ofjonas'. Now that she was assigned a household, she wasn't supposed to have her own identity anymore. She knew that wasn't the answer Paige was looking for, though. And honestly, that wasn't the response she wanted to give either. She poured herself a cup of tea and put two spoonfuls of sugar in it.

    "It's Amanda."

    She replied quietly back as she took a seat on her bed. It felt nice to say her real name. Aunt Mary would be furious if she could see her right now. Not only was she saying what her real name was, she was calling the mistress of her house by her first name too. Yes, Aunt Mary would be angry if she ever found out. She took a sip of tea and asked.

    "If you don't mind me asking, how did you end up with the Commander?"

    They seemed very mismatched. Bryce, the Commander's son, was closer in age to both of them. Plus, from what Amanda had seen of their relationship, there wasn't much love there. She doubted Paige was madly in live with Commander Morgan or chose to be his Wife. Anymore then Amanda had chose to be his Handmaid.

  8. #48
    Paige

    "Nice to meet you, Amanda," Paige said. Of course, they had already technically 'met' - but that scarcely counted. They didn't know each other yet, not really.

    When Amanda asked about how Paige ended up with Jonas, she replied, "My family was on television before the war. Price's Priceless Blessings was the name of our show. Reality TV, they used to call that kind of thing. Not that there was much that was actually real about it except the size of our family. Women all over the world were struggling to conceive any children at all, and my mother never stopped delivering a baby or a set of twins every two years like clockwork. It was strange enough that it got us noticed, and my father made the most of it. People liked our show. They thought we seemed like a sweet, nice family they could relate to. Honestly it was all pretty embarrassing. I never liked being in front of the camera. My parents ate it all up, though."

    She sighed, and went on, "After the war, of course, there was no show. But my father didn't need it anymore. He had always said our 'brand' was about 'family values,' and he used our fame to promote Gilead whenever he could. People thought we were wholesome; they thought they could trust us. He convinced a lot of people about Gilead. So once the regime took power, they decided to reward him."

    Paige looked down and rubbed her arm. She knew a woman should be happy about getting married, but she had never felt that way.

    "It would have been silly to give my father a Handmaid. He had a fertile wife and plenty of children. So instead, they found a good marriage match for his daughter. His only daughter - I only have brothers, no sisters. I had always known that my father would pick a husband for me. But I had assumed it would be someone I knew. There was a boy at church. I liked him, and I had hoped..."

    Paige abruptly cut herself off. It was silly to keep thinking about a boy she had fancied. Crushes had never been allowed for her. He was surely married to someone else now - and even if he wasn't, she had a husband. And even if she didn't, he wouldn't want Morgan's leftovers. The whole thing was pointless and childish, she told herself harshly.

    She shrugged. "Well, it wasn't him. My father told me I was marrying Commander Morgan. So that was what I had to do. It was supposed to be a reward for the Commander, too. I was young - a lot younger than most of the Wives - and everyone assumed I would be able to have children because my mother could. But then I lost the baby and I can't have anymore, so I ended up as nothing more than a giant disappointment to everyone."

  9. #49
    Ofjonas



    Albany, New York
    Republic of Gilead

    "It's nice to meet you, too, Paige."

    Amanda replied back. Yes, they had met, but this time was different. It wasn't like when Amanda had arrived at the house. They were out of the watchful eyes of Commander Morgan and Aunt Mary. They didn't have to keep up appearances, it was nice to talk. She gave Paige her full attention as she told her the story how she ended up being married to Jonas. Amanda drank her tea and said.

    "I remember that show. I didn't watch it much, but my roommate in college, Jessica, was a big fan."

    She and Jessica had shared a dorm room until Amanda moved off campus to live with Damien. Amanda had never gotten too much into reality shows, but Jessica loved them. She was always watching them. Amanda remembered that Paige's shows had been one of Jessica's favorites.

    "Damien, my fiance, used to tease her that she thought reality shows were real. She'd be pissed to find out he was right."

    Amanda said with a smile, which turned sad as she thought of the past. It was crazy to think how much their lives had changed in only a few years. She had been in college, now women in Gilead were forbidden to read. She had been engaged and now she was a Handmaid. She wondered what had happened to Jessica. She had lost touch with her during the war. She remembered Jessica never really liking college, her parents had made her go. She had seemed more content with the idea of just finding a husband and trying to have kids. Like the Prices showed on television.

    She nodded her head that Paige's father had used to show's image to help promote Gilead. Not that he would need a Handmaid, since his own wife was so fertile. She gave Paige a sympathetic look when she explained being married off to Jonas had been her father's reward for being such a loyal citizen to Gilead. Jonas Morgan was a powerful man, having him as a son-in-law would be considered a great honor. Even if he was old enough to be Paige's father.

    When Paige brought up the boy she had liked, Amanda reached out and squeezed her hand. Even if the other woman didn't say it, Amanda could tell she had really liked the boy from her church. She squeezed her hand again when Paige brought up the baby she had lost.

    "I'm truly sorry you lost your baby. I can't even imagine how painful that is."

    She didn't have Adam but she believed that he was alive. Although she didn't have any proof, she had faith that Damien had got himself and Adam to Canada. That they were safe and missing her as much as she missed them. When Paige said she was a disappointment, she added.

    "And I'm sorry that they all make you feel that way. I understand it, in a way. My parents are disappointed in me too, because I chose Damien. He...He's older then me."

    Not as old as Commander Morgan, but seven years had been enough for her parents to express their disapproval. They had wanted her to chose a boyfriend closer to her own age and definitely one that hadn't been divorced.

    "It's only seven years, which isn't really a big deal, but to them it was. Especially because he's divorced."

    Since Paige shared how she had ended up with Commander Morgan, Amanda decided to share how she had ended up with him too.

    "I didn't cause it, even though that's what the Aunts say. I didn't meet Damien until after he divorced his ex-wife. I was still in high school when it all happened. He served in the Army and while he was deployed, Cora, his ex, started an affair with her co-worker. He even got her pregnant and she let Damien think the little girl was his..."

    She remembered Damien telling her how upset that had made him. He had wanted to be a father and in a world where it was harder and harder to have kids, any child was a blessing. To find out that child wasn't yours, had devastated him more then Cora's cheating. Especially, when she told him she was happy he found out so she could get out of their marriage.

    "Eventually, Damien found out what she was doing and after a paternity test proved the baby wasn't his, they got divorced. Cora didn't even wait for the ink to dry before she up and married her boyfriend and moved to England with him when his job transferred him there."

    Which allowed her to avoid this type of life in Gilead. Instead, Amanda was getting punished for what Cora had done. Life could be cruel at times.

    "Damien was honorably discharged and decided to start a new life by going back to school. He ended up attending the same college as me. We started off as friends, but eventually he asked me out. We started dated and my parents didn't approve. They thought he was too old for me and they didn't like he was divorced. I told them I didn't care what they thought and we got into a big fight. I haven't talked to them, or my little brothers, since."

    Amanda said, looking down at her tea cup. She wondered how her family was. She missed them. She wished she could tell them she was sorry for that day. She shrugged and continued.

    "Anyway, Damien and I moved into together and eventually I got pregnant. We were thrilled and we were going to get married, after we graduated college, but...That didn't happen. Everything went to hell and our marriage license got denied. Gilead doesn't recognize divorce, in the law's eyes he's still married to Cora. Even though she's probably still over in England and she's the reason the marriage ended. It doesn't matter, to them, I'm his mistress."

    Amanda made a face saying it. She remembered how many insults Aunt Mary had thrown at her for the 'affair'. She set her empty cup of tea on the nightstand as she rubbed her arm. The arm Aunt Mary had broken when Amanda had finally snapped on her.

    "We tried to run to Canada but, our son he couldn't wait any longer to come. I went into labor and...I told Damien to run with Adam after he was born. I didn't want my son growing up here."

    Which would be what happened. Damien would be have been killed, she'd still be a Handmaid, and Adam would have been sent off to be raised in one of the Commanders' homes.

    "I fell asleep as they left. When I woke up, I was captured and got sent to the Red Center."

  10. #50
    Paige

    "Thank you," Paige said softly when Amanda expressed her sympathy over the loss of her baby. It had indeed been a loss, even if she didn't particularly want to be a mother. Her baby had grown inside her for months, but she had never known him. A part of her, and yet a stranger. She wondered sometimes what he would have been like if he had lived, but found she couldn't even imagine it.

    "I'm sorry you lost them," Paige said sincerely. "But they're waiting for you. You have someone. That's good. It gives you something to keep going on for, right?"

    It made Paige all the more certain that the right course of action was to take her pills at the opportune moment so Amanda could escape. There was no one waiting for Paige in Canada. No loving husband or baby to miss her. It was an easy decision, Paige thought - giving Amanda a chance at having a life again.

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