I’m super busy with finals. I wrote this short story for an Ethnic and Women’s Studies class final, and I figured it would be cool to share on here. It’s fairly long, and in all honesty I was really uncomfortable writing it because I have not experienced any of this first hand, but I like how the product turned out. There’s some secret drama near the end that I added to try to add depth to the story. Let me know what you think! Here it is:
Crimson and Waffles
Red, red dripping down my leg. It was so embarrassing. I was in the middle of class. And I just…started…bleeding. I didn’t get it. As it would be explained to me later, this was my first period, but at the time I just sort of panicked. I raised my hand.
“Can I go to the bathroom,” I asked in a bit of a whimper. My teacher, Ms. Ceres, glared at me for interrupting me, but her facial expression quickly changed. I must have looked very distressed. I could feel my eyes pooling and my face was getting red. She let me go, and I got up and sped out to the bathroom.
I got to a stall, pulled my skirt off, which was ruined by the blood. I really liked that one too; it had little flowers around the edges. That’s when the pain set in. I thought I was dying at first. First I was bleeding, now I couldn’t stop gripping my sides, trying to keep the pain in. It felt like someone had taken scissors to my insides. I must have been in their for quite a while, because Ms. Ceres came in the bathroom and knocked on my stall.
“Everything ok in there?” I sobbed, everything was a blur from the crying.
“Y-yes” I said, though I was sniffling so I didn’t sound very believable.
“You don’t sound ok, little missy. Do you want to talk about it? You missed the rest of my history story.”
“How bad is it? A cut doesn’t mean you should just leave class for this long. I’ve shown you all how to clean a bandage.” She sounded annoyed
“No, I’m bleeding-,” I cringed from the pain, “I’m bleeding from my…um…my special place”
“Oh. That’s natural. Does it hurt?” Her voice softened a bit.
“YES,” I shouted, more out of sudden pain than anything else.
“Ok. Well this is something that all girls have to go through.” What? What was she talking about?
“No it’s not. None of my friends have had this happen.” My mind was racing.
“Well you are a little young, but everybody is different. Are you still bleeding?” I looked down. The bleeding had stopped.
“No. But it still hurts,” I rubbed my eyes so that I could see clearly, “I cant put my skirt back on though.”
“That’s ok. I’ll talk to the nurse and see what we can do.” Her voice was a lot sweeter. Like when one of the boys in class brings her a flower to put in her hair from recess. She walked outside. As I waited for her to come back, my breathing slowed, and my heart stopped racing. A few minutes passed by, and my hands had wrapped around my knees, pulling them up so that I felt like a ball, and I hid my face from the rest of the world. Why did it have to happen to me? Why today? Why on my skirt? The door of the bathroom opened.
“Hey, you still in there?” Ms. Ceres shuffling was matched with someone else, “I brought the nurse, and she can talk to you about some of this stu—”
“I want my mom”
“Your mom isn’t here right—”
“I WANT MY MOM” I yelled. This was infuriating.
“OK. We’ll call your mom and have her pick you up. But while I do that, will you talk to Mrs. Persephone?” I didn’t answer. “Well? I’m not calling your mom until you talk to me.”
“Fine!” I said angrily. Ms. Ceres walked outside.
“Hello. How are you doing today?” Mrs. Persephone’s voice was sweet yet firm, like a pomegranate. I didn’t answer her.
“I have some cloths for you. How are you feeling?” She draped the cloths over the stall as she talked, “you know, every girl has this happen to her. It happens about once a month. It’s part of getting older.”
“But it hurts!” I exclaimed. I took the cloths and looked at them. The underwear was clean and black. The pants were black too. They both had a thick lining in them.
“I know it hurts. But think about when you’ve been hurt in the past. Sometimes you get bruises, or scrapes, but those all go away right? And when you get back up from a fall, you’re a stronger person that you were before you fell down.” I put the pants on. They were snug and warm. It was kind of nice, better than I felt when I first ran in the bathroom.
“Are you ready to come out?” I opened unhinged the latch and pulled the door back so that I could walk outside. Mrs. Persephone was smiling down at me. She had long brown hair and a smile that could make flowers bloom.
“Is my mom here yet?” I asked.
“Not yet, but I’m sure Ms. Ceres will be back any—” the door swung open and Ms. Ceres walked in, “Ah, well speak of the devil” Mrs. Persephone smiled with a chuckle.
“Your dad is on his way,” said Ms. Ceres. I furrowed my brow
“I wanted my mom” I glared.
“Your mom is in New York for a conference, she said she would be back this evening” Oh yeah. Mom away for work. “Class starts in 5 minutes. Mrs. Persephone can you walk her to the office?”
“Certainly,” Mrs. Persephone held my hand and smiled down at me.
“Ok. Thank you.” Ms. Ceres turned and walked out.
“So how are you feeling?” asked Mrs. Persephone.
“Well it stopped hurting,” I said.
“It will probably start hurting again. And that’s ok. When you get home, you should take a bath and turn your lights down. Maybe take a nap. This is your moon time.” Mrs. Persephone’s eyes were wandering as we entered the hallway. I think she was listening to the birds.
“Moon time?” I looked at her inquisitively.
“Women are often associated with the moon. Do you know the Greek myths? All great women are associated with the moon, because our internal clocks line up with the moon. Artemis, god of the hunt and the moon, is our calling.” That sounded really nice. We walked in silence the rest of the way to the office.
When we opened the double doors of the office, the scent of mahogany swept through my nostrils. It was very rustic for a principal. The walls were a soft beige color, and the desk before me was taller than me. I had to stand on my tiptoes to see over it.
“Hello,” said a voice as I peered over the wall of wood before me, “you’re looking bigger.” It was a blond lady. Oh wait, I knew her. She was mom’s friend. She had long, blonde hair and a face that looked like the lady that sings “Shake It Off.”
“Hi Dawn” said Mrs. Persephone, “we have a little friend here that’s gotten her first period” Period? What a gross word. It was very misleading. A period happens at the end of something, and this sounded like it was the start of something new for me.
“I just got off the phone with her dad, he said he was delayed getting out of work and will be here in just a couple minutes,” said Dawn. She had a weird glitter in her eyes, like when her and mom come back from nights out. But not quite the same. Mrs. Persephone turned and bent her knees to talk to me.
“I need to get back to my office. James hurt his arm. Will you be alright here with Dawn?” I glanced at dawn. She had a friendly smile on her face. I nodded. A thin smile spread across her face, and she walked past Dawn to a room inscribed with School Nurse across the door in golden letters.
“You can take a seat there,” Dawn pointed to a wood bench a couple feet behind her desk. It made it a lot easier to see her. “How does it feel?”
“Like I got kicked in the stomach,” Dawn frowned a little bit, before reassuming her glowing smile
“Hey. It’ll be ok. Let yourself enjoy it.”
“Isn’t there anything to make the pain go away?” Her smile faded.
“Some people use drugs to keep themselves from feeling the pain, some use—”
“That sounds great!” I could feel my eyes bug out in happiness.
“It’s not that simple though. Those drugs take away the bleeding. They take away what it is to be a woman.”
“What do you mean?” Dawn’s face turned serious, though it still held the happiness that was warming.
“Well, boys don’t get periods. They have different parts. And so our bleeding makes us different from them. But in a good way. We should embrace our difference happily, and work with it to make everyone more successful,” She leaned in toward me, and lowered her voice, “you know, when adult women get those pains, we don’t get to go home. I have to bit my lip and not cry,” she leaded back and smiled.
“But that’s so unfair!” I exclaimed, “you don’t have control over it, and it’s natural, right?”
“Yes, but most of the world doesn’t like that as a reason to stop working” Dawn’s head sunk a little bit, and she took a deep breath, “still, I’d never trade my womanhood for the ability to keep a man’s work style.” She looked up and winked at me. Suddenly the door swung open, and my dad walked in. Dawn swiveled in her chair to face the door, caught off guard by the sudden intrusion. Dad glance at her and forced a quick, awkward smile. Then he turned past her and looked at me with a big smile. I was so excited I didn’t even realize I’d gotten to my feet.
“Sweetie!” He swept me up in his arms. “Look at you in your big girl pants!” Dawn laughed. He turned to Dawn, “How’s she doing?”
“Well, things have been going pretty well. She seems like she’s been feeling a bit better,” Dawn smiled at me again.
“Good,” dad set me down, “Mommy won’t be home until later tonight. We can get you a special dinner! What would you like?”
“Chicken and waffles!” I cried with joy. I even did a little dance. I LOVE chicken and waffles.
“Alright alright. Slow down little lady. Let’s get you home first,” we walked toward the exit. I kept walking out, and heard behind me dad say in a hushed voice, “she’ll probably need a nap at about 3, do you want to come over then?” I smiled. Are they planning a surprise party for mom before she gets back? I turned around, and saw Dawn glowing at dad as he walked out.
“Lets go get those chicken and waffles!” he said to me with a grin. We got in the car, it was our old truck, one we got rid of a few years later. The seats were tall. It was so old there were no seatbelts! I got to sit in the front seat in the truck.
“So how do you feel about your period?” My dad asked awkwardly.
“Well, it hurts a lot—”
“That’s natural” My dad intervened.
“—but everyone seems to think it is a good part of me getting bigger.” We turned down the road toward the shopping center. I could see the sign with big red and white letters that read Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles. My tummy growled. We pulled up to the restaurant and I hopped out of the truck. Dad closed his door behind me and had to do a funny walk-jog to catch up to me. When we walked through the door I was bombarded with the enticing smell of maple and chicken.
“Table for 2 please,” my dad told the hostess, who was dressed in a red and white outfit that matched the sign.
“Right this way please,” she said in a bit of a snarky tone. We walked with her to a crimson booth that was bouncy in the way most 50s diners are. She handed us two menus. “Your waiter will be with you in a moment,” she said, then turned and walked away.
“So um,” Dad paused, trying to be thoughtful, “you know, I hear that a lot of girls don’t like their periods.”
“Yeah, well…I don’t really want to have it.”
“You know there are drugs you could take to…inhibit the process.” Apparently we forgot that I was nine.
“What does inhibit mean?”
“Oh. Like stop the process. Or prevent it from happening. Does that sound good to you?”
“No,” my fingers tightened around my menu reflexively, “Dawn and the other ladies told me that this was my time to be a girl and I—”
“Ok ok, good. I was worried. Your mom takes those drugs, but I don’t like them. I think they’re just a way to keep us in line.”
“Yeah well, I’m pretty sure they were developed by some racist scientists to keep down people of color.”
“Oh. Really? Why would anyone do that?” Dad paused. I think he must have realized that this conversation was a bit too big for a nine year old.
“Well…some people think that the color of someone’s skin changes how they can function. Which is stupid, isn’t it?” He turned back to the menu, “so what looks good? You can get anything you want!”
“I want the chocolate waffles and wings!”
“Alright alright,” he signaled to a waitress, “can we get some help over here?” The waitress smiled and padded across the floor.
“What can I get started for you today?”
“I’ll take the Stymies Choice, and the little lady would like to know if you guys have any chocolate waffles.” The waitress turned to me.
“Well they aren’t on our menu,” my heart sank. I really wanted chocolate. The waitress must have noticed, because she continued, “how about I see what our chefs can find in the back? I can’t promise it will be pure chocolate, but we might be able to find something close.” I smiled back at her.
“That’ll do fine. That you very much.” My dad smiled as we handed her our menus. We sat in silence for the most part until our food came. Dad was busy texting someone with a goofy smile on his face, and I was drawing on a kids placemat that they had given me. Eventually waitress came back with our food.
“A Stymies Choice for the gentleman in purple,” she set his plate down with a smile, “and for the little lady with a sweet tooth, we brought you a bit of rainbow to go with your sunshine!” She set down a plate with golden chicken wings and the most amazing waffles I had ever seen. They were speckled with reds and blues and greens.
“What are these?!” I said excitedly. The waitress giggled.
“Those are M&M’s. I hope you like them. We can get you something else if—”
“No these are perfect!” I said as I stabbed my fork into one. The steam rose off them, eliciting the sweet smell of the batter with just a hint of chocolate. The waitress walked off. I dug like a tiger gorging itself on a recently caught prey. It was sweet, salty, and perfect. When we finally finished our food, I let out a deep sigh of relief.
“That was a lot of food,” my dad commented. He paid and we left for home. “Now when we get home, I’ll draw you a nice warm bath and then I think you should take a nap.”
“Ok dad.” That nap was sounding more and more appealing, as my full belly made my eyes droop. We pulled up to our house and dad drew a bath for me. I took my cloths off and stepped in the water. It was immediately soothing and a slumped into it until my hair was wet.
“Now I’m going to make a call, but you go ahead and holler if you need anything ok?” I nodded a yes and he shut the door. I took deep breaths, enjoying the warmth of the steam as it entered my lungs. The water was so warm. I let my eyes close and drifted off into a nice hazy half sleep. I could partially hear my dad on the phone.
“No she not as…can’t you just come over aft…I told you we…no she doesn’t get back til…” I wonder who he was talking to. Maybe Dawn? Probably setting up for the party.
The water had gotten cold, and I was getting bored being half asleep. Not restless, indeed I was quite the opposite. I just wanted to snuggle up in bed and go to sleep. I got out and toweled off, then walked over to my room. I got in my PJ’s and was about to put my head down when dad poked his head in.
“Hey sweetie. Glad to see you’re getting a rest in. I just wanted to let you know that Dawn’s going to be coming by in about 30 minutes, in case you hear anyone knocking on the door. No need to get up, I’ll get it. Also, if you feel more pain or wake up and your sheets are messy, just let me know. We’ll get things cleaned up.”
“Ok,” I said, as I pulled the blankets over myself. He closed the door and I dozed off.
I must have been out for quite a while, because I didn’t even hear Dawn come over. I opened my eyes, and sat up slowly. There was a weird squeaking noise coming from somewhere upstairs. I opened and shut my door to go find out what it was. I must have shut the door too loudly, because dad came hopping downstairs so fast he was sweating and winded. Funny, my dad wasn’t out of shape.
“Hey sweetie! How’s it going?”
“I’m feeling better.”
“Good good, do you want to watch a movie?”
“Sure.” We walked over to the living room and put on the television.
“Just so you know, Dawn’s over. You’ve been asleep for quite a while. Mommy will probably be home in the next hour or so. She just got off the plane, and she said she’d bring dinner back for us.”
“Ok. Cool.” I smiled. My eyes lulled over as I was watching cartoons. Eventually, I heard Dawn and my dad come out from upstairs.
“Hi Dawn!” I smiled at her. She looked awkward. Her hair was a little messy, but she still had that happy glow to her.
“Hey there! How’s it going big girl!” She straightened herself and came down the stairs to give me a hug.
“Good,” I said with disinterest, and turned back to the television. A commercial came on for Tampons. I didn’t realize it until a woman with a sugary voice said “time of the month.” Suddenly I turned my entire focus to what the woman was saying.
“…omen often say that their periods are hard for them to endure. To keep yourself and your pockets happy, try Tampax Pearl Tampons, now with extra strength. We provide the durability for you to last through your day without the worries of leaking. Available at your local market, or shop at Target and check out our other Tampax products.” The commercial ended with a girl running through a meadow smiling.
There was a knock at the door. Mom. I climbed over the couch and ran over to the door. It swung open and there was my mom, Juno. She had bags in hand so I stood out of the way.
“Hi sweetie!” She gave me a big smile as she stepped inside.
“Honey!” I heard dad say from across the room. He walked over and grabbed a bag from her hand. With the other arm he gave her a hug and a kiss. Dawn was opening a bottle of wine, but gave mom a quick smile and a wave.
“Hey Dawn, I wasn’t expecting you over. I would have picked you up something to eat!” Mom said.
“That’s ok. I ate before I got here. I just wanted to see how your conference went,” Dawn said. I turned back to the TV, bored with their conversation. Mom brought my food over, it was a burger. I scarfed it down and let my eyes droop over again. Eventually it got late enough for Dawn to leave and for mom to tell me it was time for bed. I brushed my teeth and hobbled into my room. A few minutes after I got comfortable mom came into my room. She had changed into a silk pair of PJs. She sat at the side of my bed and turned to me.
“So I heard you had your first period today.”
“Yeah, it hurt a lot, and was really messy.”
“How are you feeling about it?” Her voice sounded concerned.
“Well, it hurt, but everyone has seemed to think that me having it is a good thing.”
“You know, a period is a good thing. It shows a woman that she is in touch with her womanhood. But at the same time, a period can be restricting.”
“What do you mean?
“Well, our periods mean we are healthy. But you’re already a healthy young woman, and so that reminder is unnecessary. At the same time, it is going to make school and eventually work much harder.”
“Harder?” I didn’t understand how my period would make me learn differently.
“Well, take today for example. You had to leave school because of the pain. Sure, it was your first time and I’m happy you celebrated it. But if you keep missing school, you’re going to fall behind everyone else. You don’t want to do that right?”
“But I like missing school” My mom smiled.
“I know school isn’t fun. But if you want to be successful you have to go to school and tough it out. It’s fine if you want to experience your period. But you don’t have to. Mommy doesn’t have her period very often anymore because she takes something to help her deal with it.”
“Deal with it?”
“Yes, I take something to help keep my period from coming as often, and it lets me focus on my job. I couldn’t have put off this conference, and if I had missed it or performed poorly, they would have fired me. And if I had been on my period, there’s a good chance I would have failed to perform well. Most women don’t like to bleed either. Not just because it’s painful, but because it impacts so many aspects of life. My Italian friends in New York almost exclusively hate menstruating. They much prefer the ability to control their bodies so that they can succeed.”
“Oh. That makes sense.”
“Yeah. It’s all about getting us women more options. You know?” She paused, “Well, I don’t want to keep you up too late,” she rubbed my back and smiled at me, “you have a big day ahead of you tomorrow. I do want you to think about what I said today though, about controlling your period.” She leaned over and kissed my forehead, and then gave me a hug, “Goodnight.” She stood up and walked towards the door.
“Goodnight mom.” She closed the door behind her, and I looked up at my ceiling in the dark. I liked my period. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. And if things were going to be harder for me, well then bring it on. I could take it.