“ I want to come home!” Father was on the other end of the phone. It was Thursday and I wasn’t due home from school until Friday night. “Please send a car!” I was eleven years old.
“Are you alright, Addy?” I could hear the worry in his voice.
“I’m alright.” I lied. “Just a little sick.”
“I’ll come myself.” Father hated to see his little girls hurt and always took great care of us when we were ill. “You lie down, I’ll come in and pack your things when I arrive.”
“Thank you.” I whispered, hanging up the phone and bursting into tears. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I was bleeding and had no earthly idea why. A pile of laundry was crumpled up in the corner, I didn’t want Father to see the blood stains in my pants and panties, so I stuffed them underneath my bed. No matter how many baths I took, I couldn’t make it stop. I finally stuffed toilet paper in my panties and called home in desperation for a ride.
Father gathered my things, took my arm and led me out to the car. “Does Anna know you’re coming home early?”
“She won’t notice.” I mumbled, spreading my jacket on the car seat and sitting down.
“Do you think you have the flu? I can call Dr. Bridges over to the house if you want.” I didn’t think I had the flu! I thought I was dying.
“No, I just need to go home. Mama will take care of me.” For some reason I knew that Mama was the person to turn to, especially since Father didn’t even have the part of me that was bleeding.
“She’s not home, honey. She and Penny went on a shopping trip.” Father said with concern and a slight bit of sadness in his eyes.
“Well, I’ll feel better after a hot bath.” I had no idea what I was going to do. I couldn’t tell Father, couldn’t tell Dr. Bridges, and highly doubted that Maria would know how to save my life, after all she was just the maid.
After a nice long bath, I realized that toilet paper would not do. I had ruined another perfectly good pair of panties. I found a tube sock, folded it inside itself so it would be thick, and placed it inside of a fresh pair. Even without knowing what in the world a period was, I instinctively knew the basic concept of absorbing the blood.
“I brought you some soup,” Maria brought a tray into my room just as I climbed into bed. “Your Daddy call your Mama. She said feel better and she be home on Saturday.”
My heart sank. I didn’t know if I would still be alive Saturday. I ate the soup, set the empty tray aside, and curled up in a ball to die. Father came in and checked on me throughout the night, feeling my head for any signs of fever, and offering to call Dr. Bridges a million times. I didn’t need a doctor, I needed my Mama.
On Friday morning, I realized that I probably wasn’t going to die after all. Even my eleven year old brain knew that if it was going to kill me, that I would already be dead. I came down from my room room, still wearing the same sock, and helped Maria cook breakfast.
“You feel ok?” she asked, sprinkling pepper in the eggs as she scrambled them.
“Mmmm hmmm.” I nodded, handing her the salt. I wondered if I would bleed for the rest of my life, or if I had cancer like my cousin Victoria. Maybe she died from the same symptoms.
I wandered aimlessly around the estate, inside and out. Waiting patiently for Mama to return from her trip. I knew that if she had known I was gushing blood, she would have been there in a heart beat, but she didn’t know. Father checked on me every chance he got, but I assured him that I would be okay-- knowing that it was a lie. I had no idea whether I would be okay or not!
“How are you feeling?” Mama crept into my room late Saturday night. She had a wrapped gift for me and was smiling warmly. She probably assumed that I had been homesick or had a tummy ache, I could only imagine the devastation she would feel when she learned that I was slowly bleeding to death.
“Mama, I’m dying.” I cried, not even bothering to open my gift-- which was usually the first thing that I did when she got home.
“I’ve been bleeding since Thursday and I didn’t even get cut!” I exclaimed, feeling a little better just saying it. I wasn’t going to die alone after all, and with Mama around I might not even die at all!
“Oh honey, come here… Let’s talk.” Mama pulled me closer to her and we spent the rest of the evening talking about eggs and babies and times of the month. Turned out that every woman had one, and that they even made pads for people to use instead of ruining socks. She took me into her room and gave me an assortment of products to use, gave me a warm bath in the claw footed tub, and apologized for not warning me before. For some reason she thought that I would have heard about it at school, but I hadn't. As expected, Mama had known exactly what to do and to my relief, I wasn’t going to die!