Day 3: A Dystopian Tale

“Good. We’ve got them locked in. Don’t let them out,” said the older one, William, who sat down against the red door, fanning himself with his gun.

The two men, one young and one old, wore black suits with long red ties.  

Inside the Red Door lounge, the two dozen women were quiet as they were told to be. They rested against one another. A feeling of hopelessness,

“We’ve got the IWQC on lockdown,” said Jackson into his blue tooth.

You see, the year was 2019 and the IWWG, the International Women’s Writing Guild, had become the IWQC, the Interior Women’s Quilting Club. Guilds were not allowed, but clubs were. Women were no longer allowed to write. Newspapers and websites were banned any way. And so the writing guild had become, ostensibly, a quilting club.

Although it was only three years after the new administration, women were no longer allowed to gather for any reason but to beautify their homes. They were required to stay in their kitchens, laundry rooms, or jobs unless they had a craft that they wanted to practice, such as quilting .

Jackson had tipped off the government when one morning he collected his family mail. You see, men were the only ones allowed to use the postal service, just as they were the only ones allowed to access health care.

His mother’s printed newsletter had arrived in the mail. It said the conference would include a gathering of leaders at the Red Door to proceed to a final session at the nearby Rose Garden. Jackson had become suspicious. And he wanted to impress the older men. He had pressed his mother who finally admitted this group of quilters were more than they had appeared. These women at the Red Door were the heart of the Resistance.

Now Jackson’s mother Jill stood by the door where her son was holding her and the other women hostage.

“Honey, Jacky, this lounge here is getting too hot. And we are getting cranky.”

See, the women, although they had been held hostage, had still managed to form a circle to develop a group process over how to deal with blame each other the thermostat malfunction. Hours earlier, Elizabeth, a menopausal woman in the throes of a hot flash, had pushed up the AC up so high that the system had shut down completely.

“Please let us out, sonny.”

“I will,” Jackson said, required to lie. Required to lie to everyone, he could only tell the truth to his fellow white men who wore long red ties.

Jackson himself, reminded of how hot he was, loosened his red tie.

“Are you lying to me?” his mother asked.

“Maybe,” he admitted.

“Honey, you never liked wearing a tie. You always liked a bow tie. Remember that black checked tie you used to wear with the pastel checked shirt? You even wore that to the President Obama celebration in Millennium Park. How old were you then?.”

Jackson smiled. “I was eight. Yes, that was great.” He remembered the beautiful diversity of the evening, so different from the current gatherings he’d had to attend, only white men in their long red ties with their suits too big, in attendance.

“Did his bow tie look like this?” Paula, the club’s president, who had been eavesdropping, asked. She dug into her basket of fabric. Paula knew they had to get out of the Red Door Lounge by midnight when the March for Justice would begin.

Jackson looked through the window in the red door at Paula’s handful of fabric.

“Yes, it was just like that!” he exclaimed. “Geez, I’d love to have a bow tie like that.”

Paula knew Jill’s son Jackson had always been a little vain. “You can have it!”  Paula shook the black checked fabric, as if were a red cape before a bull. Jackson glanced at the other red-tied man, William, who snored peaceably, slumped against the wall.  

Jackson opened the door a crack to reach for the fabric. But Paula thrust her small trimming scissors into his hand. When he pulled back in pain, she kicked open the red door.

Paula grabbed the older man’s gun. She fired a shot into the ceiling.

“C’mon ladies, some of you stay and tie them up. The rest of you follow me to the Resistance! We meet at the Rose Garden.”

Several women descended on the two men, tying them with quilting fabric onto the chairs. The women bound the men’s hands with their own long red ties.

Roaming the campus of Muhlenberg College now, the women quilters were free to be writers once again. They high-fived one another. They ran down Chew Street to the Rose Garden. There, the women met other women, immigrants, people of color, children, people with disabilities, all gathering there to take back the night. And the country.

For her part, Paula threw the gun in the Rose Garden fountain. A little later, Jill freed her son Jackson. She led him to the gathering by his hand.

Years into the future, Jackson would remember the beautiful diverse scene at the Rose Garden in Lehigh Valley. He would never forget that he played a part in the Uprising of Women Quilters, a day almost as historic as President Obama’s Election Victory Speech in Millennium Park.

I started this in Paula Scardamalia’s class on Writing as a Goddess and nearly finished it in Anne Walradt’s Creating with Comedy. (It’s still not quite done!) Mom gave me the idea for the story, but instead of the narrative being comical, it took a Handmaiden Tale twist. In any case, I turned my fears for America into dystopian flash fiction.