فصل 17

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17

On the first Sunday in March Nancy invited me to spend the day in New York with her family. Evan brought Moose. It was pretty exciting riding all the way to the city with Moose Freed in the same car, except the Wheelers used their station wagon. The boys sat in the back and Nancy and I were in the middle, so if I wanted to see Moose I had to turn around and if I ride looking backwards like that I get car sick.

We went to Radio City Music Hall. Grandma used to take me there when I was little. My parents always say it’s strictly for the tourists. I wanted to sit next to Moose but he and Evan found two seats off by themselves.

After the show the Wheelers took us to the Steak Place for dinner. Nancy and I ordered, then excused ourselves to go to the ladies’ room. We were the only two in there, which was lucky for us because there were only two toilets and we both had to go pretty bad. Just as I was finishing up I heard Nancy moan.

“Oh no-oh no-“

“What is it, Nancy?” I asked.

“Oh please-oh no-

“Are you okay?” I banged on the wall separating us.

“Get my mother-quick!” she whispered.

I stood in front of her booth then. “What’s wrong?” I tried the door but it was locked. “Let me in.”

Nancy started to cry. “Please get my mother.”

“Okay. I’m going. I’ll be right back.”

I raced to our table in the dining room, hoping Nancy wouldn’t faint or anything like that before I got back with her mother.

I whispered to Mrs. Wheeler, “ Nancy ‘s sick. She’s in the bathroom crying and she wants you.”

Mrs. Wheeler jumped up and followed me back to the ladies’ room. I could hear Nancy sobbing.

” Nancy?” Mrs. Wheeler called, trying the door.

“Oh Mom-I’m so scared! Help me-please.”

“The door’s locked, Nancy. I can’t get in,” Mrs. Wheeler said. “You’ve got to unlock it.”

“I can’t-I can’t-“ Nancy cried.

“I could crawl under and open it from the other side,” I suggested. “Should I?” I asked Mrs. Wheeler.

She nodded.

I gathered my skirt around my legs so it wouldn’t drag on the floor and crawled under the door. Nancy ‘s face was buried in her hands. I unlocked the door for Mrs. Wheeler, then waited outside by the sinks. I wondered if Nancy would have to go to the hospital or what. I hoped she didn’t have anything catching.

In a few minutes Mrs. Wheeler opened the door a crack and handed me some change. “Margaret,” she said, “would you get us a sanitary napkin please?” I must have given her a strange look because she said, “From the dispenser on the wall, dear. Nancy ‘s menstruating.”

“Does she always act like that?”

“It’s her first time,” Mrs. Wheeler explained. “She’s frightened.” Nancy was still crying and there was a lot of whispering going on.

I couldn’t believe it! Nancy, who knew everything! She’d lied to me about her period. She’d never had it before!

I put the change into the machine and pulled the lever. The sanitary napkin popped out in a cardboard box. I handed it to Mrs. Wheeler.

” Nancy, calm down,” I heard her mother say. “I can’t help you if you don’t stop crying.”

Suppose I hadn’t been along that day? I’d never have found out about Nancy. I almost wished I hadn’t.

Finally Nancy and her mother came out of the booth and Mrs. Wheeler suggested that Nancy wash up before coming back to the table. “I’m going to tell the others not to worry,” she said. “Don’t be too long, girls.”

I didn’t know what to say. I mean, what can you say when you’ve just found out your friend’s a liar!

Nancy washed her hands and face. I handed her two paper towels to dry herself. “Are you okay?” I asked. I felt kind of sorry for Nancy then. I want my period too, but not enough to lie about it.

Nancy faced me. “Margaret, please don’t tell.”

“Oh Nancy… “

“I mean it. I’d die if the others knew. Promise you won’t tell about me,” she begged.

“I won’t.”

“I thought I had it that time. You know… I didn’t just make it all up. It was a mistake.”

“Okay,” I said.

“You won’t tell?”

“I said I wouldn’t.”

We walked back to the table and joined the others for dinner. Our steaks were just being served. I sat next to Moose. He smelled very nice. I wondered if he shaved because the nice smell reminded me of my father’s after-shave lotion. I got to touch his hand a couple of times because he was a lefty and I’m a righty so now and then we’d bump. He said he always has that trouble at round tables. He was definitely number one in my Boy Book, even if nobody knew it but me.

I could only finish half of my steak. The Wheelers took the other half home in a doggie bag. I knew they didn’t have a dog but naturally I didn’t tell the waitress.

Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret. Nancy Wheeler is a big fake. She makes up stories! I’ll never be able to trust her again. I will wait to find out from you if I am normal or not. If you would like to give me a sign, fine. If not, I’ll try to be patient. All I ask is that I don’t get it in school because if I had to tell Mr. Benedict I know I would die. Thank you God.

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