My mom keeps telling me it’s no big deal. I don’t need to get so cranky about it.
“It’s just part of being a woman,” she says. “We’ve all been there. Me, your grandma, your aunt, your cousins, and even your sister, although you know how embarrassed she gets about her ‘personal business,’ so she’d never say anything!”
Mom laughs; I don’t join in.
“It’s nothing to be scared of. Sure, the first time you wake up covered in blood is pretty freaky, but after that it’s just an inconvenience. You clean up and move on. And you learn to count the days a little more closely,” she said pointedly, nodding her chin toward the calendar on the wall.
“It’s gross, Mom,” I say. “I’m not scared. Jeez. It’s just gross.
“Nah, it’s just a girl thing. Just part of the curse,” she teases, drawing out the words like one of those cheeseballs you see on the late-night movie.
She smiles, and leaves my room to go save dinner from Dad. I scowl at the calendar, where (despite her nagging) I have dutifully marked off the days carefully in red.
“Just part of being a woman,” I remind myself. “No big deal.”
Of course, that’s all fine and good, until I wake up later that night, soaked.
“Not again,” I groan.
I roll out of the mess in the sheets and head to the bathroom. I am scrubbing blood off my hands and seething under my breath when my mother walks in.
She is bleary-eyed with sleep, but she raises an eyebrow and says wryly, “I told you to watch the calendar.”
“I did watch it,” I snap. “You know it doesn’t regulate for the first few years”
She nods; she knows, but she likes to make fun of me. She leans back to peek into my bedroom.
“All over the bed?” she asks. “How’d you manage that?”
“No idea,” I say through my gritted teeth.
“Well, I’ll help you clean up. Get in the shower,” she sighs, and in that moment, I love her. A little.
I turn on the water, strip, and toss my torn pajamas into the corner. Since I turned thirteen, it’s the third pair to get turned into dishrags.
All the blood used to scare me, but (and I’ll never admit this to her) Mom’s right. After the first few times, it’s just a drag. It’s amazing what you get used to it when you become a woman.
I jump into the steamy shower, the water immediately going bright red like licorice. I scrape a hank of blood-darkened hair off the back of my air and spit a tooth onto the shower floor. It’s not mine.
My mom clucks over the remains in the bed; whoever he was, he’s past identification now.
What can I say? The Curse makes me cranky.