It is May of 2022. My brother and I are travelling to New Orleans to see our mother for Mothers’ Day. He shows me the book he has brought for the plane rides there and back: The Handmaid’s Tale.
He especially likes his copy–the title is right along the spine. Ever the social daredevil, I find my brother’s gesture to be nothing more than insufferable liberal posturing. While a wonderfully written social commentary, Atwood’s novel is nothing more than fictional hyperbole. It is not prediction.
I do not understand.
It is fall of 2020. I am visiting with my aunt–a proud, liberal woman. Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s seat is now vacant. It is to be filled by an incompetent, a crook who had failed to lead his nation through crises both social and public.
My aunt is afraid. She is worried about Roe. “We can’t go backward,” she says. In spite of the above, I dismiss her feelings as overreaction.
I do not understand.
It is spring of 2018. I am a junior in college, visiting with a dear family member. It is a casual, friendly day. Drinks are had. By the end of another glass, she lets slip something suggestive. She knows I caught it; she can see the look on my face. She tells me.
A miscarriage, not too long ago. She’s fine, she says. She was lucky to be where she was, living in that state she did. I do not understand.
I later learn that in some instances of failed pregnancy, hemorrhaging can be so severe that the fetus must be removed via abortion to save the mother’s life. In some states, this procedure cannot be performed, in the off–off–chance that the baby might survive.
I do not understand. I do not know how something so medically practical, so morally obvious, could be contested.
It is fall of 2011. I am 14 years old, and sexually precocious. My girlfriend has missed her period. Our first instinct is termination. We are scared, stupid animals–and now, I understand.
It is June of 2022. Time is moving as it shouldn’t. Old ways are new, lessons long past to be learned again. The clock ticks back.
I cannot stand still. The hands must be reset.
We only have forward to go.