It all started with a little drop of blood.
I know. Disgusting. Why couldn’t it have been something else? I’m only thirteen. Sure, most of my girlfriends started when they were eleven and one even at nine. Her breasts are huge, by the way. Huge! I don’t want that to happen to me too. I’m just not ready.
Maybe if I cross my legs real tight together no more will come out. I put as much toilet paper I could down there, but it feels icky now. Oh, gawd. What if it seeps through my pants? Everyone will know. What if I leave a big red stain on my chair? I can’t wait to be out of this classroom.
I look up at the clock for the fourth time this minute, it still doesn’t register to me what the time is. I’m scared to ask to go back to the bathroom. I’ll draw attention to myself, and then everyone in class will surely see it.
How much worse can this day get?
I walk briskly along the street with Cyndi and listen to her stories from the day.
“What’s wrong, Lauren?” she asks, biting and opening up the scab on her bottom lip. I must look distracted.
“I… I started today. Can’t you tell?” I answer.
Cyndi leans back and cranes her head to look at my butt.
“Nope. Can’t see a thing,” she admits. Her laugh is almost a mock.
“For reals?” I say stretching my head around to look at my backside.
“Yes, silly!” Cyndi giggles.
I laugh with her uncomfortably.
“Why didn’t you say something? I could have given you a tampon,” she says, punching my arm.
I push her and chuckle as she loses her footing, but she regains it quickly and slams me into the fence with a grunt.
I massage my arm for a moment and wince at the tiny bruise forming. Cyndi teases me with a cheap imitation of crossed legs, crossed arms, and a pathetic pout. I punch her hard on the arm as payback, ending the pretend fight.
We turn onto our street.
We’ve been neighbors for as long as I could remember, but we didn’t become friends until halfway through elementary school cuz she’s a bit of a snob. Now life is pretty much perfect when she’s around.
“I’m gonna study for that history test, Cyn. Did you want to join me?” I ask her.
“Boring!” she says.
“Fine. You can fail then, snobby ho.”
She laughs and waves as she enters her yard. By the time I reach my door, she is already walking inside hers. Her voice carries across our yards, “I’ll be over at 7!”
I smile and enter my home. Without a word, I rush to my bedroom and then the bathroom.
Mom’s ears are crazy good. She knocks on the door and asks, “Are you okay, dear?”
I grunt a yes and wait for her to shuffle away before I take a shower. Maybe she doesn’t know, and I can avoid the “talk”.
Only I can’t. Once I leave the bathroom, Mom’s standing at the end of the hallway with a concerned frown.
She opens her mouth to talk, but a scream stops her mid-breath, and we race outside.
“You can’t do this!… Daddy!” Cyndi is being escorted across the front yard pavement while her father is being held down by police officers at the door.
“Please, don’t take my baby girl. Please!” His voice is husky, melancholy.
I race across my lawn towards Cyndi ignoring the yells from my mother.
I can’t think. I scream but no words come out. What’s happening?
They push her inside a car, and a police officer stands in my way, arms out in a T.
“She’s safe now. Don’t resist,” he pleads.
What do they mean? I don’t understand.
Cyndi cries as the door closes and locks.
“He’s been hitting her. You know that, right?” the officer says.
The message barely registers, though. All I can think about is Cyndi. Where are they taking Cyndi?
I try to push through the man anyway. My arms stretch towards the car. If only I can touch the door, they won’t take her away from me.
The car engine turns on, though, and I watch in horror as the wheels start turning. A hollowness fills the pit of my stomach, and I collapse on the cold concrete.
It all started with a little drop of blood. Just not mine.