Not going to die. Period.

The day the girl got her first period, she thought she was going to die. It was right after she got back from school and her parents were still at work.  The girl was at home all alone. In pain. Something was wrong, but she was not quite sure what. An unfamiliar pain in the stomach – extending into her lower back – the pain she had never felt before. It started earlier in the day when she was at school. She tried to ignore the pain then, counting the minutes until the classes were over and hoping that she would feel better after coming home. But the pain was only getting worse. And her anxiety was growing. Then the blood. Both on her panties and on the toilet paper. The feeling of horror that something is really really wrong.

What was happening to her? Was she dying? Life cut so short. Her parents’ expectations never met. Panicking, she tried to call her mother at work, but there was no answer. She was going to call her grandmother next. If she did not answer, she would have to call the neighbors. Oma picked up. The girl began to speak, her voice trembling and tears running down her cheeks: “Oma, I think I am dying. There is blood in my panties and it is not stopping. I am in horrible pain, too. I think I am going to die. I am afraid. I am so sorry.”

Oma responded calmly, with a smile in her voice – a smile that could be felt through the telephone line. It was the girl’s first period! “Period? What is it?” the girl asked. Oma explained. Perplexed, but finally relieved and now more relaxed, the girl knew then that she was not going to die that day. Period.

As the news began to slowly sink in, fragments of information she learned before (but never pieced together) began to slowly assemble in her mind:

 An older girl in her school choir, leaving a puddle of red blood on her seat after she got up to sing one day.          
Her little dog Čina in heat several times a year, sometimes leaving traces of blood on the floor and furniture.
An older friend refusing to swim one day when everyone else was swimming.
A ‘Soviet Encyclopedia of Young Woman’ given to her a few months before, but never opened.
Mysterious cotton pieces and pads periodically left by someone in bathroom.
Now, the girl had one too.
Not going to die.