By: Frances Luongo
“Eve, as the wife of Adam, bears the burden of feminine evil on her shoulders. She fell in with the Serpent, she tricked Adam into eating the forbidden fruit, and she disobeyed the Creator. Her punishment was Earthly pain and entropy, which we all must suffer as a result. However, Eve’s transgression was stupidity, not malice; she was foolish and chose pleasure over discipline.”
Vivian Shears knew herself pretty well. She had no excuse not to, she had been living with herself for eleven years, going on twelve. She knew she broke her pinky when she was eight because she stuck the tip in a drain. She dislocated her elbow trying to grab hidden cookies from the pantry. She crushed all the bones in her foot when her dad rolled over it with the car. Vivian knew herself pretty well, knew she was accident prone, and knew she had a high tolerance to pain. And she was almost positive that, in that class, at that moment, she was dying.
“The originator of Sin and Evil in the Earthly realm was Lilith. Lilith was the first wife of Adam, created from the Earth as her husband was; this gave her a false sense of equality. She was willful, and obstinate, and she chose free will over peaceful servitude.”
Vivian lay pale and inebriated on her desk, arms folded and head resting in the crook. She let out the softest of moans, lest she evoke Sister Mercy’s wrath. She didn’t fear death nearly as much as she feared the nun.
Sister Mercy was a towering woman who could move with elegance and speed. She was more wraith than human, in both physicality and disposition. The nun could hear a pencil drop from across the room, and snap the offending stationary seconds later. She put the Fear in the Fear of God, and shit in the young girls’ pants.
Sister Mercy was educating the girls on the role of women.
“Her independence angered the Lord, and she was thrown from Eden. She conspired with Lucifer, and together they wrought horrors onto Paradise,” the nun droned.
Vivian hid her face from the old nun. The pain in her abdomen was unbearable, like she was constipated, but not quite. She did not want the old windbag to see her cry.
But the Sister knew all that happened in her classroom. She could sense that not all attention was on her. Someone had lulled, and she scanned the room.
Her eyes narrowed at Vivian. The nun grabbed her cane from the desk. She floated down the aisle, filled with the wrath of the Holy Spirit. But her anger did not curtail her words.
“Foolishness in a woman is unfavourable, but excusable.”
The girls trembled as the nun made her way down the aisle.
Sister Mercy stopped at Vivian’s desk, but the girl was too far gone to notice. She rapped the cane against the wood top, sending out a loud “crack” into the universe. Vivian shot upright.
“Insubordination is not.”
Tears were running down Vivian’s face.
“Stand, Shears,” the Nun boomed.
All the girls silently prayed for Vivian. She stood up, and with that motion, she thought she’d pissed herself.
A solitary drop of blood trickled down Vivian’s leg and landed on the tip of the nun’s shoe.
Vivian sat in the cramped stall, her underwear and skirt hanged by her ankles. She had been sent to see Sister Grace, rather callously by Sister Mercy. She had insisted that, “Grace deals with these things better than I do.” But Vivian dashed for the bathroom instead.
The young girl had no idea what was happening to her. She sat on the toilet as a slow stream of blood trickled from out of her.
She decided that dying took too long for her liking. Every so often, a sharp cramp would overtake her, and she would lurch forward whilst blood gushed out of her. Vivian was not sure if she believed in the Sisters’ God, but she begged him to help her. And if he would do nothing, she looked to the Devil, as well. Anyone who could ease her suffering.
The most violent of cramps rippled through Vivian’s tiny frame. She couldn’t breathe, every ounce of her body contracted and pinched downwards. She bled profusely, a steady stream flowed from her.
Vivian’s organs began to settle, and she was able to inhale. With the ensuing exhalation, her uterus fell out from in between her legs, onto the floor.
Vivian was more curious than terrified. She examined the organ, no bigger than her fist. Attached to it were her fallopian tubes, long and spindly, and ovaries attached to those. Her womb pulsed rhythmically, independent of her own heartbeat. She peered into the cervix, and saw three or four rows of needle-like teeth.
“What the heck?”
Vivian stuck her finger out, only to have the uterus clamp down on it. The organ growled, predatorily.
With all of the force she could muster, she shook her uterus off, teeth tearing skin and drawing blood. The womb was flung into the air; it hit a wall, and slid down in a bloody heap. But it did not stay down. Using its fallopian extremities, the uterus dragged itself towards Vivian. The girl continued to shriek, and the organ stopped to contemplate. It changed its course, and with great agility and terrifying speed, the beast scuttled out of the bathroom window.
Vivian knelt in a pool of her own blood, continuing to wail. This alerted Sister Grace, who had been hunting for her. The worried nun burst through the door, expecting the worst. Instead, she found the girl, bloodied, and with her panties down. Sister Grace was relieved.
“Oh honey, you scared the shit out of me.”
The nun scooped up Vivian, and rocked her. Vivian was confused by the Nun’s calm demeanour.
“It happens to all of us, some sooner than others. It’s scary at first, but it really is alright. Your period is just God’s way of knowing that you are finally a woman.”
Vivian looked at the nun in disbelief. She was concerned if, what had just happened to her, was an act of God.
“Are you sure,” the girl asked.
“Positive,” but the nun trailed off when she noticed the trail of blood on the window sill. Shouting erupted from the school yard, and the nun looked to the girl.
“What the fuck did you do?”
Sister Mercy sat at her desk, feet up, and with a freshly rolled cigarette. Her father had smoked one cigarette every night of his life, and she had taken up the practice once he had passed. It was the only earthly pleasure she enjoyed, apart from the tiniest bit of chardonnay at Christmas time. Still, she preferred no one to know about her solitary vice, and vowed she would take the secret to her grave.
Mercy needed the cigarette after that day. Vivian Shears was not the first girl to menstruate in class, nor would she be the last, but it was not something Mercy was ever equipped to deal with. She was not a broody woman, nor did she have the maternal warmth Sister Grace possessed. Mercy was hardened, a born disciplinarian. Besides, she hadn’t had to deal with a period since her own hysterectomy twenty years prior.
Mercy took a long drag from the cancer stick. She opened her Bible to where she left off, and read of Jezebel. She shook her head, ashes scattered to the floor.
She was so enraptured by the word of the Lord that she failed to hear the scuttling behind her. Nor did she notice the thin trail of blood from the open door to her desk. Neither would have done her much good, for Vivian’s uterus made quick work of her.
The beast climbed up through Sister Mercy’s sinful opening, and ate the nun from the inside out.
Mercy didn’t even have time to finish her cigarette.
Vivian lay trembling in bed.
Sister Grace had spoken to her mother, Vera Shears, informed her of Vivian’s “ushering into womanhood.” The nun had neglected to mention the blood trails. Her mother smiled, reassuringly, then hurried Vivian into the car.
Vera rested her head on the steering wheel for quite some time before she spoke.
“Nothing is worse than being a woman, Viv. I’m sorry to have done that to you.”
Vivian squirmed; she had never heard her mother apologize.
“No, it’s not. But not much we can do, now.”
Vera bought her pads, and then took her out for burgers. When she tucked her into bed, she told Vivian that she could stay home the next morning, if she wanted. Vera reminded Vivian that she loved her very much, kissed her forehead, and left Vivian to ponder her thoughts in the dark.
So Vivian lay trembling in her bed, terrified and confused. Was this what happened to every girl when they grew up, when they became “a woman”? If so, Vivian was sure she had no interest in womanhood or uteruses or any business of the fairer sex. She wanted desperately to go back to yesterday, when she was just a kid, genderless and without worry.
A rapping on the window caught her attention.
It was her uterus, deflated and wheezing. It was sickly, and pathetic, and Vivian thought it looked rather pitiful now, alone and scared. She let the beast back in.
The uterus timidly crawled back up her legs, nestling into her abdomen. Vivian was whole again.
The little girl crawled back into her bed. It seemed warmer, and the darkness seemed less bleak. She could hear the gurgling from inside her, as her womb emitted a soft purr. Vivian knew all was well in the world, once again.
Until next month, at least.