Menarche


A short story by

Richard E. Lewis

Copyright 2015





Margaret Baker, the headmistress of St. Mary's School for Girls and my mother's best friend from their cotillion days, clasped her arthritic hands on the conference table and said, "Your daughter is only nine years old, Mr. Elliot, and that's just too young for menarche."

I was staring out the window behind her, afraid of what was coming. I looked at her. "Menarche?"

The other two women at the table shared glances. Chantal Kieren the fourth grade teacher said, "Dewy's started to menstruate. You didn't know?"

My tension melted into confusion. "No, I didn't. Are you sure?"

"She accidentally dropped a sanitary pad from her school bag yesterday," Chantal said. "I asked her some questions, and she told me, but she really wouldn't talk about it. It embarrasses and upsets her, of course. It makes her even more different than the others."

"Dewy should have a medical checkup," the counselor said. Karen somebody.

A hundred yards beyond the window, on a court cleared of snowfall, a gaggle of girls played games. Another girl sat alone on a bench, gloved hands resting limply on a blue jacket. A red woolen cap perched on her black hair. She swung her feet, scuffing her boots in the snow. She studied the dashes they made.

"Day-we," I said. "Not dewy, like dew on grass. Day-we. That's how her name's pronounced."

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