“I have to tell you some things about growing up,” ma says. She’s sitting at the kitchen table,smoking and setting her hair with bobby pins, getting ready to go to work. “Now’s a good time. Your brother is out and it’s just us. I stand in front of her listening. I was outside playing baseball when she called me in. I’m wearing my favorite gray sweatshirt with a red collar, like some of the baseball guys wear. I have my fingers still inside my Mickey Mantle baseball glove and want to get back outside to play.
Ma only calls me in the house to yell. She’s always telling me to get out of the house so I know I’ve done something bad. I won’t cry, it makes her madder and I won’t show her I’m scared. She’ll think I’m giving her “that look” that means I’m not happy with what she’s saying. Then I’ll really get it.
“When girls get older,” ma says, their bodies change so they can have babies. Pretty soon,once a month you’ll start to bleed from “down there,” as she points to my pee pee. It’s nothing to be scared about. It happens once a month. It’s called a “period”. I get one, Aunt Annie gets one and Rose upstairs gets one. Just let me know when you get yours and we’ll take care of it. You can go back outside now. Oh and one more thing, after you get this “period” and start to bleed? NEVER EVER let anyone touch you “DOWN THERE,” as she points to my pee pee again.
I almost don't believe what she's saying. Oh-oh. I’m scared all of a sudden. Boys have touched me down there. But I’m not bleeding yet, so that must be okay, I think, afraid to say anything to her. But I am really, really scared.
What if I have a baby? What if I bled already and didn’t know it? What if Ma finds out? I’m so scared I can’t hold back the tears. Ma looks at me and says, “has anyone touched you down there?” Through my sobbing and stuttering, I say very softly and hope she won’t hear me”….Frankie…..” There’s no sound except for my sobbing. Ma is still setting her hair and smoking and looking at me. She looks really mad. But all she says is, “Okay, you can go out and play now. I have to sleep before I go to work.”
I walk back outside with my fingers still in my Mickey Mantle baseball glove. I didn’t dare tell Ma about Frankie’s friend Georgie. Georgie comes over when no one is home and lets me wrestle with him on the big bed. I worry that we’ll mess it up, but Georgie knows how to fix the bed so it looks like Ma just made it. Georgie wrestles with me and most of the time it’s fun, except for when Georgie gets all sweaty and breathes hard on top of me and I can’t get up. He lies on top of me and sometimes I get a funny feeling in my pee pee that feels good.
I know it’s bad now, so I won’t ever do it again, ever.