LEAVING GIRLHOOD


Fay walked toward her mothers' station wagon and climbed up onto the hood. She always craved warmth and the brown hood of the car held the heat of the sun. Stretching her legs in front of her to inspect them properly she pressed them to the cars metallic warmth. Tipping her head at an angel, she imagined another person looking at her legs. At twelve, Fay was still very petite yet her body held the muscles of a dancer, strong thighs connected to brown knees followed by calfs of a girl who loved to run with her brothers. Small hairs covered the skin and shined in the sunlight. A sigh escaped as she looked at these hairs. Until recently she hadn't given them a second thought. Yet a few days earlier she heard that girls with body hair were considered ugly.

So this Saturday morning Fay bought a woman's razor, it was sitting upstairs on the side of the tub just waiting for her. Unsticking her warm skin from the heat of the car she slowly walked back to the house, opening the screen door and to make her way up the stairs. She climbed slowly looking at her toes seeing more soft hairs and wondering if they too were ugly.

Sitting on the edge of the cool tub she began to run the warm water, unsure how to proceed. A small knot of anger sat in her stomach along with a slight bit of excitement that she would walk out with pretty legs the world would admire.

As she touched the razor to her shin she let it take an experimental glide upward. A clean path made its way up her leg, reminding her of a lawn being tended. Looking at the strange smoothness, she smiled in satisfaction and continued. Sliding the razor along the outer ankle she jumped as bright blood appeared, Fay stopped in shock tinged with a strange guilt. She tip toed over to the roll of toilet paper and grabbed a big wad and held it to her leg watching it soak up the redness and inhaled to calm the nervous shake of her fingers. Her movements now had a much slower pace, pausing as she hit her thighs to consider. Why would you just leave those hairs? Wouldn't that look stupid? Up she went, removing all traces of simple girlhood.

The screen door slammed as Fay walked back out into the sun and climbed back onto the hood of the car. She looked at her legs, her scraped ankles and smooth skin that now felt ugly and too exposed to her, as if she were a plucked chicken.

Tears filled her eyes and for a moment her legs sparkled as they had only a few hours ago.

She felt the separateness from her brothers and already missed them.


©Lucy Hamel