The rag came early this month. Just in time for Halloween night, in fact. And here Esmerelda had foolishly believed she would be able to evade “the curse.” Which had only just arrived two months ago, back in August. When she was still “just a girl.” But, upon her thirteenth birthday on August 21st, it was as though, like clockwork, “the universe” said, “You are a woman now,” and immediately “bequeathed” her with her period. Well, if this is what being a woman meant, maybe she ought to just carve her vagina right out. She was already in “carving” mode with all the pumpkins she had hacked faces into so as to help her mother decorate the exterior of their house.
Most of the other girls she was friends with at school had already gotten it, but it didn’t make her feel any better about the matter. About her innocence lost. Esmerelda could already sense some kind of change not only within herself, but how boys acted around her. Looking at her as though they could “smell it” on her. Blood and meat go hand in hand, after all—and that was suddenly how she was being treated. In the past, she had been able to walk home from school without a worry. Her period, like the hex it was, had altered something in the men that passed her by while driving. Turned them into wolves as they howled and whistled at her because she was wearing a tank top with denim cutoffs. An outfit that, to her, looked totally unsexy.
Esmerelda was convinced that the advent of her period had done this. That it was the source of all her pain. And that, perhaps, by “ridding herself” of it somehow, things could go back to the way they always had been. Which is to say, she could exist without being ogled and sexualized at every fucking turn. Of course, she knew she couldn’t actually get rid of it. So she pushed the thoughts out of her mind, an effort that was easier to make when “Aunt Flo” wasn’t around to visit. And yes, her father grossly had the gall to refer to it as that. Because, for whatever reason, Esmerelda’s “loving” mom, Erica, was too squeamish to talk to her daughter about it, therefore sent in her husband, Steve, to “give the tutorial.” Which, obviously, Esmerelda didn’t even need in the first place, being a teenager of the twenty-first century with effortless access to anything she might want to know or see thanks to the horrors of the internet. And, needless to say, nothing on the internet could have been more horrifying than having to sit through a one-sided dialogue with her dad about menstruation.
If all of this weren’t scarring enough, the first major party of Esmerelda’s teenage social life was happening this very Halloween night and it was being destroyed by the arrival of the goddamn crimson wave. She thought it would wait to arrive until at least November 1st, and the fact that she hadn’t seen any trace of it all day was even more encouraging. But no, of course it had to show up right as she was showering in preparation to don, of all things, her Carrie White costume and makeup—which would require a lot of fake blood. Alas, now the very real blood swirling down the drain was making her sick with worry. She couldn’t tell if just seeing it was what brought on her sudden barrage of cramps, but, either way, they were there. Causing her to double over in pain.
Esmerelda turned off the water and toweled off as quickly as she could so that she might rush to her bed. It was the only thing that could offer solace now. And, just when she was about to text her friends and tell them she wouldn’t be making it tonight, one of her proverbial “besties,” Riva, messaged to tell her that the shy, anti-social boy Esmerelda had been crushing on the past year, Ty, would be at the party. How she received this piece of intelligence was beyond Esmerelda’s understanding. But she didn’t need to understand anything other than this being a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. To show herself to Ty outside of a classroom setting. Maybe even be able to talk to him about something other than the Pythagorean theorem. So she gathered herself together, popped three Tylenols (unbeknownst to her parents, naturally) and poured a glass of straight vodka for some liquid courage (also unbeknownst to her parents). After about an hour of prepping, she couldn’t tell where the period blood began and the Halloween blood ended. Because, in all her tipsy “wisdom,” she had decided to use some of her own red pussy fluid for greater “authenticity.”
At the party, it was as though all the stars had aligned to make everything more perfect that even she could have envisioned (which is why Esmerelda ought to have known better than to trust it). Not only was everyone impressed by the detail-oriented precision of her bloody prom queen costume, but the seas also seemed to magically part to lead her right into a room alone with Ty, who was dressed half-assedly as Richie Tenenbaum simply by donning a tennis headband and beige coat.
As they got to talking, the combination of alcohol and Tylenol made Esmerelda both woozy and loose-lipped. She could swear that the last thing she remembered telling him before the party host’s ferocious pit bull, upon sniffing out the potent scent of Esmerelda’s real blood, burst in from outside to bite her crotch right off (as she had recently been praying for) was that she had been in love with him for quite some time. Who knows if Ty might have actually returned the sentiment were it not for Esmerelda’s new curse of being, well, genderless? Even if many members of Gen Z found that prospect to be something like a dream come true.
In any case, Esmerelda would never know for sure how he might have reacted otherwise, and Ty pretended that she had never said anything at all after watching what happened to her that night. That night when she was wheeled out of the party on a stretcher, the period blood and the Halloween blood and the blood from being bitten all commingling into one giant red stain upon her freshly-incurred youth.