I cram both hands over my mouth as if I’m about to be sick, drop on my knees, the laughter boiling like lava in my throat. I crawl into the cupboard, draw up my knees, I’ll choke on it. My ribs hurt with holding back, I shake, I heave, seismic, volcanic, I’ll burst. Red all over the cupboard, mirth rhymes with birth, oh to die of laughter.
I stifle it in the folds of the hanging cloak, clench my eyes, from which tears are squeezing. Try to compose myself.
After a while it passes, like an epileptic fit. Here I am in the closet. Nolite te bastardes carborundorum. I can’t see it in the dark but I trace the tiny scratched writing with the ends of my fingers, as if it’s a code in Braille. It sounds in my head now less like a prayer, more like a command, but to do what? Useless to me in any case, an ancient hieroglyph to which the key’s been lost. Why did she write it, why did she bother? There’s no way out of here.
I lie on the floor, breathing too fast, then slower, evening out my breathing, as in the exercises, for giving birth. All I can hear now is the sound of my own heart, opening and closing, opening and closing, opening."
The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood (1985)