At the low end of eleven, I have shiny shoes and shiny hair. I have six pairs of lace edged socks and two pink training bras. Boys snap the bands on the back when I bend over at the water fountain.
I do not tell the teacher. She will tell me they are mean because they like me.
I do not know how to use the can opener. I do not know why my mother is crying behind closed doors. I do not know where I will be going to middle school. I do not know when I will stop being scared of what my grandmother calls “becoming a woman.” I do not know if I will ever figure out what this means and why people always whisper behind their hands about it, going back and forth like fans, futile at cooling the coming pressure system.
I am not supposed to shut the door because I share a room with my sister, but sometimes I do when she is out on someone else’s stoop, with a boy whose mouth is like Moscow in mid November, knocking her teeth together, leaving pedestrians chilled.
When he puts his hands on her, she shivers down like snow.
If he put his hands on me, I would cut them off.
The boys in my class make fun of my best friend because she is afraid. They make fun of me because I am not. I punch Austin Miller and get sent to the principal. Nobody seems to appreciate the knuckle blood but me.
I stop skipping rope and start skipping breakfast. With closed fists and an open face, I count the swirls on my ceiling. Half past twelve, all the tremors and ticking do little to tell me what this time is supposed to be.
There are mosquito bites on my ankles, razor knicks on my heart.
My mother always warned me about things growing back thicker.
I, like every girl, worry while I wait.
About the author:
Laura Ingram enjoys most books and all cats. She's a tiny girl with big hair and bigger glasses. Born and raised in rural Virginia, she entertains herself with stories and attends a regional governors school for the arts. Prior to publication in Gravel, she received four Scholastic Gold Keys, two Scholastic Silver Keys, was third place winner in Sierra Nevada College's Creative Writing Contest for High School Students, and is featured in the Winter 2015 edition of Barton College's The Crucible. She is eighteen years old.