I became a woman in fifth grade.
Before the start of school, I had felt something wet in my underwear, and when I went to the bathroom to check, I noticed that, in the toilet bowl, there were little droplets of red. My heart dropped, and my heart rate soared. Your period is something you learn in health class, not something my ten-year-old self expected to experience first hand.
I reached for some toilet paper, wanting to confirm my predicament again. Red, red, red.
Mornings were already a source of stress, but this, plus the fact that I was home alone with just my dad was simply way too much. I had never been late to a day of school, and today was not going to be the first.
“Ba Ba!” I yelled from the toilet seat. “I started my period!”
What terrible timing, I thought, and so close to summer break as well!
My father opened the bathroom door, exasperated, and reached under the cabinet to give me some strange floral plastic package. “Put this on,” he told me.
I cautiously unwrapped it, peeling the pad from its wrapper. It looked like a rounded airplane, with its long shape and flaps. The flaps were the most confusing part, and I couldn’t get them to stick perfectly flat, but I had no time to perfect it.
I remember this day so vividly because of just how awkward it was waddling around with a pad for the first time. I was constantly taking bathroom trips to adjust it, constantly pulling at the back of my pants, and constantly worried I was bleeding through. Wearing a pad for the first time felt like wearing an adult diaper, except I wasn’t actually an adult.
To many girls, having your first period is a day of excitement and stress. It marks a coming of age. To me, however, getting my first period was none of those things. When I told my mom later that night that I had bled for the first time, she showed me where her stash of pads were and explained how to correctly put one on. It was never a special occasion to be celebrated. The first day I bled was treated as the normal, monthly occurrence it was.
After a couple of years, I would later realize my dad had actually handed me a night pad and that was why it was so uncomfortable walking around with it the entire day.
Thank you for reading this short story by Angel Liang, our staff writer! Stay tuned for more works by Angel in the future and read more about her here. Stay tuned for future literary works by Angel and our other writers.