Last night. The family gathers around the dining room table for dinner. TC and M talk. Z stands on her chair, singing. D butters a slice of bread.
D: (Casually) Mum, do you still get your period?
M: My what?
D: Your period.
M: (Pause) What do you mean by period?
D: You know, it’s when a little blood comes out of the vagina.
M and TC exchange a subtle glance.
M: (Perplexed) Yes… well, no… actually, I don’t get it while I’m pregnant, but after the babies are born it’ll come back. Why?
D: Just wondering.
M: How do you know about periods? You must have been talking with somebody.
D: K, at school.
M: She has her period?
D: No, but she has an older sister.
M: Oooooh. The older sister recently get her period?
D: Yeah. K said that all girls get it.
M: As far as I know, yes.
D: How old do you have to be?
M: I got it when I was eleven, but A just got it and she’s thirteen. It’s different for everyone.
D: How old will I be?
M: We’ll have to wait and see. We can ask H how old she was when she got it. Maybe you’ll be the same age as her.
D: Does it hurt? The blood?
M: No. It doesn’t hurt. It’s perfectly natural, absolutely nothing to be afraid of, I promise.
D: More salad, please.
The next morn. M in shower. D brushes her teeth.
D: (Calling out) I have a question, Mum.
M: Go ahead.
D: Can you feel the period coming out?
M: Sometimes you don’t even know you have it until you go to the bathroom and wipe.
D: (Doubtful) And the blood doesn’t hurt?
M: The only thing that happens is sometimes the belly gets cramps, like sore muscles. But not like a cut or a scrape.
D: How long does it last?
M: Oh, a few days maybe.
D: Where does all the blood go after it comes out?
M: I use tampons. You put it just inside the vagina, when you’re much, much older, and it soaks up the blood. It doesn’t hurt at all.
D: What do tampons look like?
M: Like a little white cotton thing with a little string attached to it–
D: Yeah, yeah, yeah! I know what that is!
M: They’re right in the drawer if you want to look at one.
D: No, thanks. I’ve seen them before. (Pause) Mum?
D: I’m gonna be thirteen when I get my period.
M: That’ll be very exciting, won’t it?
M: In the meantime, I reeeeally like six.
D: Me too. (Pause) Can I wear my clogs to school?