At 14 I start bleeding

by K. Clark
But really, it started the summer Hobie found the underwear. I remember the procession, the slow, hot walk to the palm tree, the pink lace stuck on a branch– the wrong fruit. He plucked them, spread them between his fingers for us to see but, blood. So dangerous, so dirty, so he drops them, shrieks, runs for water. 
It can’t be any of us girls because we are still boys. Silas says they can’t be Sam’s because she wears tampons, he saw them in her trashcan when he was peeing at Hobie’s house & Grace, who spits, tells him to steal one next time & maybe they’re Mitchell’s sister’s, she’s in college, but Nadia thinks it has to be Liz because she had sex with Everett’s brother. This is news to everyone but no one admits to the not knowing of it. 
The underwear became our very own myth, morphed into every teenage girl we didn’t really know after all. Hobie did steal a tampon, brought it to us in a sandwich bag, but it didn’t solve anything. Something unspeakable had shifted. Our spit got heavier in our mouths. We saw everything through pink lace. Us girls became girls & unknown, & we didn’t know either. 
No one has explained this part. How do they do it? Grace and I look at ourselves self naked in the mirror & can’t understand where it will come from. I try to imagine the pink underwear growing around my waist, my body sprouting more body in new, nearly familiar places. We turn the lights off, we spin three times, lights back on, I think I can see it, I almost do, we stay up all night in a twin bed breathing through our mouths.
For weeks I rode by them after dinner, my bare feet sticking to the pedals of a teal beach cruiser. I never stopped, just circled the neighborhood again & again, pretending I wasn’t in orbit. 
I don’t know what happened. One day they just aren’t there anymore. Maybe someone took them. Maybe they walked home, called their friends, went to bed at 11. The mystery eventually faded into something too real to guess. 
So then there’s you, then there’s that dock in Connecticut & you diving off of it, & your underwear slipping off of you, & you letting it, & it drifting off with the current,
& somewhere there’s a group of ten year olds who will be swimming or standing on the shore & someone will see them & someone will wade a little deeper & someone will hold them up & someday they’ll know.