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Photo attribution: Mathias Klang, http://www.flickr.com/photos/wrote/
Denise DiFulco is proud of herself for getting this #JudyBlumeProject post in right under the wire...and then we moved the wire, to an as yet undetermined time! Keep them coming, folks! With great stuff like this, we couldn't possibly stop now!
Here's everything you need to know about the #JudyBlumeProject, including GUIDELINES to submit your own piece, as well as all the wonderful contributions to date.
It’s the period book. Everyone calls it that. They never say its awkward, seven-word title. But also, that’s what it is: the period book. The one where the girl gets her period. And a bra.
I am 11 years old. I have neither my period, nor a bra. But I want to read the period book. Everyone is reading the period book. All they talk about is the period book. If I don’t read the period book, they certainly will talk about me.
Mom hasn’t yet pulled me into the basement, as she one day will, to talk about “it.” Not the just small “it”—the period “it”—but the big “it.” After a conversation where I declare I know what “it” is, she won’t say we need to talk about “it.” Instead she’ll tell me, “We need to talk about the birds and the bees.”
I know nothing about birds and bees and what they have to do with “it.” What I do know, I’ve learned from the other book. “The Book.” The one about the big “it.”
Finding “The Book,” the big “it” book, isn’t so easy. It’s not in the school library. It never would be in the school library. There are two copies at the public library.
This I know.
They sit atop a revolving rack—steps away from the librarian’s desk—some corner of their covers shorn away, spines bowed into an arch. On the front, a picture of a locket, suggesting the secrets within. I spin the rack, inspect the book about the fat girl, glance toward the desk. She’s looking down. Another turn. The locket reappears. A second check to be sure, only this time she smiles. I walk away.
Weeks pass and the girls at school are whispering and giggling in the halls. I, too, want to trade in whispers and giggles. I want to know what they know.
One day as I arrive at my fifth-grade desk, a friend shoves her hand into my knapsack. “Here,” she says. “Don’t tell anyone.”
I peer inside. It is “The Book.” The book about the big “it.”
The locket is half torn from the cover, but the contents are intact. I tuck it inside my desk to read the first page, then the second, then the third. Class has begun. I draw my loose-leaf binder over the lip of the table, the bottom edge of “The Book” resting on my thighs. The teacher is speaking, and the class learning something, I am sure. I am learning, too.
Next day I re-establish my cover: Binder pulled out, book beneath, resting on the edge of the tray. Its spine is so well-worn pages seem to unfold themselves. I am opening with them— following the words into another room—so when the teacher calls on me, I don’t answer. She walks around my desk, and as I realize this, I allow the binder to slip over my lap. She does not see.
Yes, I am learning.
Next time I’m more careful. I raise my hand. Answer questions. Look down thoughtfully. Continue my education.
By the time the bell rings, I, too, can whisper and giggle, trade in information so precious and rare no one dares speak its name. Somehow I am changed, though real change is far away. Many questions answered and so much yet to know. Like the noises. What are the noises?
I know they are important. There is no one to ask.
I'm SO very grateful to Denise for allowing me to share her story here!