|Cecil was going through her usual preparations for bed when nature called. She did her business, then happened to glance down at her jeans and caught sight of the gusset of her knickers.|
She gave a cry and pulled her jeans up, before running to her bedroom and calling for her sister.
Her sister, whose bedtime was a quarter of an hour later, was sitting on her bed, reading. She marked her page and came running.
"What is it, Cec?"
"I...I think I've contacted something serious."
Cecil sounded panicked, so Felicity tried to rationalise the situation.
"Why?" she asked calmly.
"Where?" asked Felicity. She couldn't see any blood.
"Umm..." Cecil sheepishly pulled down her pants and showed her sister.
"Err..." Felicity went red. "Have you told Mamma?"
Cecil went equally red. "I don't want Mamma knowing about this!"
"Ah." Felicity sighed. This was going to be complicated. "Well, Cecil. There's something you've gotta know."
"What?" asked Cecil, feeling a rising dread inside her.
"Sit on the loo and don't pull your pants back up." said Felicity urgently.
"There's this thing." said Felicity awkwardly. "It's called..." She took a deep breath and steeled herself. "Puberty."
"What is it?" asked her sister, wide-eyed.
"Well, you get it, well, girls get it between the ages of..." She wrinkled her nose in concentration. "I think, eight and twelve."
"Do boys get it?"
"Yes, but later - eleven to fourteen - and some of it's different."
"What is it, though? You haven't told me what it even is!"
"It's a stage." Then, seeing Cecil looked puzzled: "In your growing up."
"Right." Cecil sounded unsure.
"Well," continued Felicity, "it's basically when you go from being a kid to being an adult."
"Don't interrupt. You're throwing me off. Anyway, it's basically ten changes or so. One of them is..." She broke off and buried her face in her hands. "Well, some of them aren't that bad. They don't happen all at once, there's no knowing when you're gonna get them and in what order."
"Start with them ones, then." said her sister, then added impatiently: "Just as long as one of 'em explains why I've got blood on my knickers."
"All right!" cried Felicity. "But that's one of the awkward ones."
"OK, then." said Cecil. Felicity had just opened her mouth and taken a deep breath, ready to begin, when her sister added "Take it away."
Felicity glared at her. "Well, the first one's not too bad. Number one: You sweat more."
"Shut up. It means you have to wear deodorant. In your pits."
"Grand. Sounds lovely."
"That's just the tip of the iceberg. Number two: leg hair. Not nice. Most people shave it off. I do. I have a special razor."
"I know. Again, pretty much everyone shaves it off. It traps the bacteria in the sweat and makes you stink like nobody's business."
"So, just to recap: basically, I'm becoming a stinky, hairy, sweaty gorilla."
Felicity shot her a grin. "That's one way of putting it. What are we on now? Number four?"
"While we're on the subject of hair," continued Felicity, "number four is greasy hair. Solution: wash it more."
"We're halfway now." Cecil said reassuringly. "Number five."
"Spots. Solution: none, but it may be better to eat less chocolate. Maybe." She grinned teasingly at her sister.
"No, that's what Papa always tells me to do!"
Felicity decided that it was better to move on. "Number six: you get very fine hair above your top lip."
"A 'tache!" cried Cecil joyfully.
"No, not a 'tache!" giggled Felicity. "Though it can look like one if the hair is dark."
"Yay!" cried Cecil. "My very own 'tache!"
Felicity shook her head. "You're crazy."
"I know. I'm crazy and I've got a'tache!"
Her sister sighed and rolled her eyes. "Number seven." she said loudly.
"Yeah?" Cecil switched back to concentrating once more on Felicity.
"Is the fact that your torso grows faster than your arms and legs. Makes you look weird."
"This puberty thing sounds a great lark." said Cecil sarcastically.
"I know." said Felicity with a heavy sigh. "Everyone waits for it impatiently, but when it comes, it's really not all that great." Then, she realised. "And we haven't even got to the awkward ones yet!" She buried her face in her hands again. "But we've run out of not-awkward ones."
"What's number eight?"
"You get..." Felicity blushed again and gestured vaguely to her chest. "I mean, you have to start wearing a..." She dropped her voice to a mortified whisper. "Bra."
"Oh, is that why?" Cecil looked curiously down at her own chest, then subconsciously reached round and felt the strap under her jumper.
"Yeah." said Felicity. "It happens. Then they hurt if you don't wear one."
"Which stinks." said Cecil, "A lot." Seeing Felicity looked puzzled, she added "It's the most uncomfortable thing I've ever had to wear."
Felicity shrugged. "I've never really had a problem with them. It's the last one I hate."
"What's the last one?"
"Whoa, hold your horses, Cec, we haven't even had the second-to-last one yet!" Then, she took pity on her impatiently curious sister and pointed to her bloody knickers. "That."
"Hey, why's the one I really want to know last?"
"'Cause it's the most awkward and Sciencey."
"All right, then! What's number nine?"
"It's called..." Felicity blushed, buried her face in her hands once more and tried again. "It's called..." She took a deep breath.
"Third time lucky!" grinned Cecil blithely.
"It's called..." Felicity sighed heavily and put her head on her lap. "Oh, it's no use, Cec, I can't do this!" She straightened up and gave one last valiant effort. "It's called..."
"Whisper it." suggested Cecil.
"All right." answered Felicity. "It's called..." She leaned over and put her lips to her sister's ear. "Pubic hair." she whispered, just loud enough for Cecil to hear.
"Phew!" grinned Cecil. "That took a lot of effort!" Then, she decided to drop her sister in it, and added mischievously: "What is it?"
Felicity glared at her. "It's hair, you douche!"
"Yeah, but what makes pubic hair different from normal hair?"
"Umm...it's to do with where it grows."
"So, where does it grow, then?"
"You don't wanna know." responded Felicity darkly.
"Yes, I do." said Cecil stoutly, folding her arms across her chest. "Otherwise I wouldn't have asked."
"You've got some." whispered Felicity in her ear. "You know, down there."
Cecil looked down automatically and eyed the thatch of curly black hair, now covered in blood, as though it were a bomb about to go off.
"Can we move on now?" she asked awkwardly. "What's number ten?"
"It's the last one!" cried Cecil coaxingly.
"Yeah, but it's really, really awkward and needs loads and loads of explanation and, well..." She tailed off.
"Oh, come on, surely you can tell me!" said Cecil crossly.
"All right, keep your hair on!" cried Felicity. "It's called being on your period. It is very annoying and messy, and frankly, it stinks."
"Where does all the blood come from, then?"
"Have you ever seen what's down there ?"
"No, why? We're not supposed to, are we?"
"No, we're not - they call it our "innocence" - but people are waking up to the fact that these changes do happen, and middle and upper class kids shouldn't be sheltered, we should know about these changes, and about what they mean - as in, why they happen. Times are changing, Cec, I know, they've started giving the Sixths lessons on it at school. But back when it started - the School, I mean - well, people would've been horrified if Mamma'd known all this at your age - or even mine."
"So, what even is down there?"
"A hole." said Felicity, then blushed again.
"I don't have a hole in me!" cried Cecil in surprise. Then, as her sister gave no indication that she was pulling her leg, she added doubtfully: "Do I?"
"I was like that when I first found out. Yup, you do. It's all true. Scientific word is the vagina. I'm saying no more."
"And why does blood come out?"
"Sheesh, Cecil, give me a break! Well, you've got your vagina here." She stabbed the air in front of her. "Then here" She moved her finger up, drawing the sketchiest diagram in the world in front of her face, "you've got your womb, where babies grow. Here and here," She moved her hands out to the sides. "you've got your fallopian tubes, and on the ends of them, you've got eggs. When you get to a certain age - in your case, fourteen - the womb starts building up a lining for when a fertilised egg - you release an egg every month or so, you start doing that when you're born - for when a fertilised egg comes up the fallopian tube and ends up in the womb. A fertilised egg grows into a kid, by the way. However, most of the time - in fact, all of the time save for maybe a couple - the egg doesn't get fertilised, unless you're Mamma, so the lining breaks down and drains out. Onto your knickers. Not good. And it stains them."
"So, how do you stop it staining?"
"Wait a sec." Felicity slipped out, returning a few minutes later with a thin, square package.
"Stick this in your knickers. It absorbs all the blood - like a sponge."
She pulled off the wrapper and helped her sister fit it in her knickers. Cecil pulled her jeans back up, shut the lid of the toilet and sat on it, reaching up casually to pull the chain.
"This means, of course, that you have to wear pants in bed."
"Just so you know, you can get some in that corner shop down in Breisau. Teens pads. Brand is Softabsorb. Get some day and night ones. It's dead cheap."
"What's the difference?"
"Night ones are bigger and absorb more. Get up early and you can sneak down without anyone noticing. Len told me that. We all call it toothpaste, between the pack of us. The only one who's not one of us who knows what toothpaste really is is Mamma. I'll bet she never gets it! But she understands. You don't really expect anything else from Mamma. By the way, is there anything else you want to know?" She mentally crossed her fingers that the answer would be no, but she was out of luck.
Felicity sighed, resigned to her fate. "What is it?"
"Yeah. I know I'm becoming a woman and all that, but why do I need my body to change at all? I can eat and drink and sleep, and recover if I get ill, so what else do I need to be able to do?"
"Gee, no thanks!"
"But Mother Nature just assumes that all girls will become pregnant at one point in their lives. It's her job to keep the Human Race going."
"It will with Mamma here!" muttered Cecil under her breath.
Felicity heard her. "Oh, come on, now, Cecil, that's not fair on Mamma and Papa. Anyway, a baby is created by..." She broke off and blushed the deepest pink she had done for the entire conversation.
Much to her surprise, Cecil blushed even deeper. She hid her face in her hands, muffling her next words. "I know." she whispered.
Felicity, who had perched next to her sister, almost fell off the toilet in her surprise. "You know?! But who told you?"
"Mamma, well, Papa as well, a little bit."
"When I was six. I went in there because I heard Mamma making noises and I thought Papa was hurting her and I cried. Mamma had to explain everything before I would calm down."
"God!" murmured Felicity. "Six!"
"Well, you know Mamma. She always trusts us and explains things we want to know about. Think about it, Flix, all those baby brothers and sisters and she never once told us that they were found under a gooseberry bush, or delivered by the stork, even though that's what she thought at our age. She always told us that they came from inside her - although she never explained how she got them out, or how they got there in the first place."
"We all got shoved headfirst through her vagina."
"Who told you that?"
"No-one. I worked it out. The only exit to the womb is through the vagina, so how else are they gonna get out?"
"And painful. For her, I mean."
"Well, you've got an entire baby's got to fit through this tiny hole! Anyway, they tell you to put a balloon on the boy's thingy nowadays."
"Yeah, it's really called a condom, but it's basically a balloon. Except they float better."
"How do you know?"
"I've tried!" Felicity giggled. "We had to put some on bananas in our Sex-Ed lessons, and when the lesson was over, one day, we blew some up and let them loose all over the School! You saw! Well, if you didn't, where were you?!"
"Was that you, Felicity?" Cecil looked fascinated by the uncharacteristic villainy of her sister. "Oooh, naughty Flixy!" She lapsed into delighted giggles.
"Yes, it was." Felicity sighed reminiscently. "We all got into a fearful row over it in the end, though."
"It sounds brilliant!"
"Well, the Catholic religion teaches against contraception - that's condoms or anything to stop you getting pregnant. Well, it used to, I don't think anyone really cares anymore. I always thought" she whispered, leaning forwards so that Cecil could hear her "that Mamma and Papa just saw no reason to change their beliefs."
Cecil shook her head.
"Same goes for having a kid before you're married." continued Felicity. "Take Len. She and Reg have kids, no-one batted an eyelid, but if Len herself had been born before Mamma and Papa were married, well, there'd've been a fearsome scandal and they'd've been forced to get married immediately. Like I said, times are changing, Cec."
Cecil nodded silently. She looked as though she had reached her limit. Felicity slipped an arm round her waist. Cecil mirrored her.
"Same goes for our attitudes, as well, our attitudes as kids." She decided to make her final point short, to finish off. "It's actually quite fun to talk about, if I'm honest." she said confidentially. "You wouldn't have had girls in Mamma's day - or even the Trips', for that matter - talking about stuff like that - but we're never serious, mind you, it's only ever a bit of a joke and a giggle. And you get books about puberty - there's one in the Breisau library. It explains about all sorts of things I forgot about - mood swings, for instance. Go and take it out."
"What, you mean when I get up early next morning to go and buy my Softabsorb?"
"Actually, yeah. I know the perfect place to hide it." She checked the time then stood up and made shooing gestures. "And now, Cec, clear out of this bathroom, we've talked so long, it's my turn to use it now!"
Cecil cheerfully sprang up and ran to the door. She was about to go through it when Felicity called her back.
"Oh, and Cecil!"
"If you ever need any help, or you want to ask something about...you know...what we've just talked about, then you can always come to me."
Cecil smiled gratefully at her sister. "Thanks, Flix. Thanks for everything."
Not sure if this should be Mature or General, in light of some of the things they say.
Chapter End Notes:
There! Finished at last! I wonder how many words it is. I'd laugh if it's below five hundred. It seems to me as if it's at least three thousand. You'll have to look at the word count.