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25

On June seventeenth the PTA gave us a farewell party in the gym and none of the sixth-grade girls wore socks. I wore my first pair of sheer stockings and got my first run in them one hour later. All I could think of was I’d be in seventh grade in September and I was growing up. My mind knew it-even if my body didn’t.

The party in the gym was a lot like the Thanksgiving square dance. Mrs. Wheeler and Mrs. Fishbein were chaperones but this time they were dressed in regular clothes.

Our class presented Mr. Benedict with a pair of silver cufflinks that Gretchen’s mother had gotten wholesale. He seemed very pleased, because he cleared his throat a lot and sounded like he didn’t know what to say except thank you-and that although we hadn’t started out to be the greatest sixth grade in the world, we’d come a long way. And thanks to us, next year, he’d be an experienced teacher-very experienced! Then we all laughed and some of the girls cried but I didn’t.

Nancy, Gretchen, Janie and I had lunch downtown by ourselves and talked about how it would feel to go to Junior High. Janie was afraid she wouldn’t be able to find her way around and she’d get lost. Gretchen said probably the teachers would all be mean and Nancy said suppose we weren’t in any classes together and then we all went home and cried.

Later that day my mother started packing my camp trunk. I watched her put the stacks of shorts and polos into it. Then I heard the lawn mower. Moose was back. First I got excited about seeing him and then I got mad, thinking about Laura and those stories he helped spread around.

I ran downstairs and outside and yelled, “Hey Moose!” He didn’t hear me because the mower made’ too much noise. So I ran over to where he was cutting and I stood right in his way so he’d have to notice me and I shouted again. “Hey Moose!”

He shut off the mower. “You’re in my way,” he said.

“I want to tell you something,” I said.

“Go ahead.”

I put my hands on my hips. “You know what Moose! You’re a liar! I don’t believe you ever took Laura Danker behind the A amp;P.”

“Who said I did?”

“What do you mean who said it!”

“Well, who?”

” Nancy told me that Evan told her that you and Evan-“ I stopped. I sounded like an idiot.

Moose shook his head at me. “You always believe everything you hear about other people?” he asked.

I didn’t know what to say.

Moose kept talking. “Well, next time, don’t believe it unless you see it! Now if you’ll move out of my way, I’ve got things to do!”

I didn’t move. “You know what Moose?” I asked.

“What now?”

“I’m sorry I thought you were a liar.”

“You know what Margaret?” Moose asked me.

“No, what?”

“You’re still in my way!”

I jumped away and Moose turned the mower on again. I heard him singing his favorite song-about the Erie Canal.

I went back into the house. I had to go to the bathroom. I was thinking about Moose and about how I liked to stand close to him. I was thinking that I was glad he wasn’t a liar and I was happy that he cut our grass. Then I looked down at my underpants and I couldn’t believe it. There was blood on them. Not a lot-but enough. I really hollered, “Mom-hey Mom-come quick!”

When my mother got to the bathroom she said, “What is it? What’s the matter?”

“I got it,” I told her.

“Got what?”

I started to laugh and cry at the same time. “My period. I’ve got my period!” My nose started running and I reached for a tissue.

“Are you sure, Margaret?” my mother asked.

“Look-look at this,” I said, showing her my underpants.

“My God! You’ve really got it. My little girl!” Then her eyes filled up and she started sniffling too. “Wait a minute-I’ve got the equipment in the other room. I was going to put it in your camp trunk, just in case.”

“You were?”

“Yes. Just in case.” She left the bathroom.

When she came back I asked her, “Is it that Private Lady stuff?”

“No, I got you Teenage Softies.”

“Good,” I said.

“Now look, Margaret-here’s how you do it. The belt goes around your waist and the pad-“

“Mom,” I said. “I’ve been practicing in my room for two months!”

Then my mother and I laughed together and she said, “In that case, I guess I’ll wait in the other room.”

I locked the bathroom door and attached a Teenage Softie to the little hooks on my pink belt. Then I got dressed and looked at myself in the mirror. Would anyone know my secret? Would it show? Would Moose, for instance, know if I went back outside to talk to him? Would my father know it right away when he came home for dinner? I had to call Nancy and Gretchen and Janie right away. Poor Janie! She’d be the last of the PTS’s to get it. And I’d been so sure it would be me! How about that! Now I am growing for sure. Now I am almost a woman!

Are you still there God? It’s me, Margaret. I know you’re there God. I know you wouldn’t have missed this for anything! Thank you God. Thanks an awful lot…

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