You’ve been staring at the creek for ten minutes.
No I haven’t.
What’s bugging you?
I keep looking at the water.
Now you have to tell me.
I’m glad we’re on Alice’s roof for this.
I got mine.
I nod and look down.
What was it like?
All of a sudden there was blood in the drain, and I looked…. It was just like the book said—like I was peeing. Except there it was, and it was coming from me. You just know something big happened.
And it’s gonna happen every month!
I know. It’s so weird. There was so much.
What’d you do?
I just stood in the shower till it stopped.
Alice stares at me.
About 10 minutes. It’s so weird! I’m supposed to be a woman now. I feel different, yeah—but not like a woman. I just feel like now I have something else to deal with. I can’t even imagine what it would’ve been like without the book. My poor mother!
You don’t think her mom told her?
My grandma? I doubt it. What about your mom?
Probably. She was pretty ahead of her time. Did you get cramps?
Not really. But, you know, of course I might.
You’re so lucky you got it in the shower.
Well, yeah, but then I had to get my mom, and I was so scared it was going to come back, and I’d mess up the carpet. I’m so lucky she was home. And that you found that book. Of course, I made a lot of noise, and everyone heard everything, so she told my brothers the shower head broke and fell on me.
Alice cups her chin.
Yeah, that’d be scary. What about pads? Did your mom give you some?
She uses tampons.
I didn’t think her face could light up more. Does that mean you’ve been wearing one all week?
I sigh and smile at the same time. A lot of them. First thing we did after I got out of the shower was go to the pharmacy. She got me my own box.
She gasps. Did she take you to Eaton? What were the people behind the counter like?
I laugh again. She wouldn’t talk to any of the guys, thank God. It took a minute, then soon as one of the women knew, all of them came over. It was like a knitting circle cornered me.
What was it like… going in?
Really weird. And painful. I mean, I’m used to stuff coming out, but going in is… weird.
You’re saying you never tried putting anything in there? Really?
No! Swear. I knew it was inevitable—I mean, I know, eventually—but when I finally had to, it was… blocked.
I think it’s my hymen. It’s in the way. I had to work the tampon around it, and it hurt.
Alice exhales big. Jesus, I’m sorry. She stares off for a moment. I hope… I hope it’s not like that for me.
I hope so, too. But I can show you, at least.
She smiles at me with her whole body.
What… about your pants? Any spill?
That I feel lucky about. My mom’s a genius; she gave me these liners. They’re like pads, but just to catch any extra blood.
Oh, that’s so smart. And?
I blush. I’m really glad I had them.
Now Alice stares at the creek.
I have so many questions, but…
But I know you. And I don’t think that’s what you really want to talk about.