Period Story - Hannah Berman

Updated: Mar 22

“Log log log! Ladies who log regularly are more aware of what’s going on down there.”

It has been 96 days since my last period, a record. My period tracking app sends me notifications every day, but it seems not to have noticed that I’ve spent just over a quarter of a year not logging data.


“Check out the real talk in Eve: What would you do if you hadn’t had sex in a year?”

97 days. That means I’ve missed three, at this point.


If I were still on birth control, that would mean I had missed about five, since birth control made them come twice as frequently. I’m not, anymore, though.


If I were pregnant, that would mean that I was a third of the way through the pregnancy. I would have a fetus inside me, a little thing, 3-4 inches long, weighing about 1 ounce. My clothes would be tightening around me, my gut pronouncing itself slightly more than before. I would be starting to think about names, knowing me, even though I’m in no position to be raising a child. I’d be stressing every single day about making the decision whether to keep it.


I’m not, though. Pregnant, that is.


“Are you a vagina sexpert? Take our quiz to find out!”

98 days. A quick lesson on the blood:


For those who don’t know, it’s not really blood. Neither biologically nor in spirit. When you pull down your pants on the first day, it’s a slightly discolored mucus, more brownish than reddish. Technically, it’s a bunch of cells—part of the uterus, which is leaving since it’s not being used to, you know, grow a baby, or whatever. You stuff some shit up there, or line your pants with something, and try all day to forget the drip, drip, the sliding of more goop out of your body.


“Get n’sync with bae… in bed!”

99 days makes me think of


Sex, for the first time. With him I slept;

Immediately after I obviously wept.

I don’t really remember it.


We discussed beforehand,

a single condom was bought

and he felt so little a man

that he genuinely thought

he couldn’t tell anyone about it.


If my friends find out

they’ll try to fuck you too.

We were together, though, and

I almost loved you

(But forget about it.)


What was important was that there was no blood.


Not then, not later,

not for 56 days;

I check my panties between classes

avoid questioning gazes

and my heart breathes in and out

on the rhythm of

no blood, no blood, no blood, no blood

still, there’s no blood.


Essays on the American dream

Walking off the soccer team

Cafeteria lunches, pushups and crunches

pulling my hair out in bunches and bunches

(there’s no blood)


Mom’s intolerable, she’ll only get mad

and I’m now a woman? I can’t talk to Dad

(there’s no blood)


At last I sit for a new kind of test

in a public bathroom in Providence

I pee and I wait and

I dispose of the evidence.


Sex, for the first time.

What was important was that there was no blood.


“Touch him, tease him just. like. that.”

100 days since my last period, and another inane period tracking app notification. I roll my eyes and press delete. What horny bastard got hired to write this shit? And do they honestly think that people who menstruate really want to read it?


“HIS BODY 101: Learn all about his eggplant in the latest gem. He’ll thank you later!”

101 days. I don’t think I know what a penis looks like.

What do you mean? You’ve definitely seen a penis.

Well, when I did have sex—like, with a penis—I didn’t look at it.

Jill, what?

I just feel like I cannot picture a penis. In my mind’s eye.

I mean, you’ve, like, seen pictures, right?

For sure. It’s just, like, maybe I try not to look at it. Maybe I really don’t want to see it.


“COMMUNITY CHAT: ‘I found my husband in bed with my best friend, what do I do?’”

102 days. I stopped taking my birth control pills because when I was on them I cried every day and turned round at the edges and couldn’t control myself. Now, I have sharp angles again, and everything is a little duller, a little less intense. It suits me. When I was still on birth control and my boyfriend left me for that more-angular woman, I did all sorts of embarrassing things, like go on hours-long walks in the small chance I might see him, write him a book of poetry. Now, I have no birth control and no boyfriend, and life has been broken into little faded pieces, more manageable, less embarrassing. I get more done in a day and my diary is empty.


“FIRE moves that no guy can resist. More into girls? We’ve got that covered, too!”

103 days and all I can think about is blood.

Everytime I have sex, I bleed. It’s normal, honestly.

You cannot be serious. EVERY time?

Lyra, you’re joking.

Yeah, I bleed every time, but since I know it’s coming, I just put down towels, you really don’t even have to worry about it.

Jesus.

Does the guy freak out? Usually, I mean?

Well, I try to make sure the lights are dim.

So he just doesn’t NOTICE?

This is part of why I want to start trying to date women more. But, like, it’s really not a problem. Honestly, guys.

Doesn’t it make you like it less? Sex?

No, I don’t think so.

I’m jealous. I wish I liked sex enough that I would knowingly bleed for it.

Well, not all of us get to pick and choose whether we have sex, you know. Some of us have to work for it.

But you don’t need to do that! Especially if it’s painful.

I’m telling you it’s not!

How can you bleed without pain?


“Master these HOT moves to get an A+ ... in you-know-what!”

104 days, and still Eve has not noticed that I haven’t begun to bleed! Shouldn’t she at the least be congratulating me on a nonexistent pregnancy, or something? I imagine her, a robot with rouge on her cheeks, a steely, nippled bosom, and a malleable ass, powering up each day around 11:05am to hunt me down and deliver salacious advice.


I’m brushing my teeth when she peers around the shower curtain. You’ll never be as hot as you are right now, she croons, and HERE’s how to make sure your man knows it. She giggles. Or woman! You never know!


I don’t care about your sex tips, I scream. Just tell me when I’m going to bleed.


Blood IS sex, honey, she says. At least, that’s how the big men in charge explained it to me. She winks and wheels off to the kitchen, where she will prepare us a nice, home-cooked meal, and wash all the dishes by hand.


“Love your body right, girl. Here’s how:”

She’s only 11, but she’s big. Bigger than the other kids in the class. Her breasts bloom early, she doesn’t know what’s wrong, she beats down the nipples that poke through her t-shirts with a big book that she keeps by the bed. They poof inwards and then expand outwards again, a growth that she can’t control, a cancer.


She’s 11, but she’s fast. She can run faster than everyone else in the grade, girls and boys, with those long legs that make her the tallest with no competition, and she can solve math problems in her head without showing her work. So when she goes to her first health class and learns about bleeding, she knows without knowing that it will come to her soon, faster than everyone else in the grade.


She’s 11, but she’s strong. Stronger than her mother, at any rate. She can lift her father’s weights, and when her mother feels too weak to carry the grocery bags, she can do it, no problem. She doesn’t want to be a girl, she wants to be stronger than a girl. Will she be as weak as Mom when she grows up? How can she stop that from coming, stay like this forever, strong and happy?


She’s 11, but she’s smart. She only gets As, as a rule, and is quiet when the teachers talk, sometimes even shushes the other kids in the class when they’re being rambunctious. She even won the first round of the spelling bee a couple weeks back. It’s because she’s so smart that she realizes that she is on the precipice of weakness, that she has maybe weeks, maybe hours, before she becomes a woman. She hates the word because she knows what it means. She can’t talk to her mother about it, though, so she writes her a letter, hand whizzing over the page, requesting a supply of pads for the bathroom, signing off with Please never mention this letter to me or anybody else out loud. The pads appear magically in the bathroom just in time, but she still manages to ruin several pairs of panties with blood that her mother does not teach her how to scrub out.


“Oh. My. GOD! This new position is better for him—”

105 days and I wake up to sludge in my panties. They’re one of my nice lacy pairs, and the sludge is browner than usual, and grainy—but it’s there, and that’s what matters. I hug my roommates, I sing out loud as I fold my laundry in full color. Maybe I’m okay. Maybe everything will be okay.


My phone pings with another notification from the horndog period tracker so I open the app, for once. I click on the calendar and I put in the start date of my new period, happy, proud. The screen blushes a girly pink and the calendar fades, replaced by a loading screen that reads,

EVE IS GETTING SMARTER…

EVE IS GETTING SMARTER…

EVE IS GETTING SMARTER…

 

Hannah Berman is a Brooklyn-born freelance writer and a recent graduate of Wesleyan University's English department. She is previously published in Tilde, Mangrove Journal, Blue Marble Magazine, Wanderlust Journal, and Allegory Ridge. In 2018, she won the Region 1 competition at the Kennedy Center American Collegiate Theatre Festival, and she is a 2020 recipient of the Olin Fellowship. Read more of her work at hannah-berman.com.

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