Gloria Beth Amodeo
The Dominant Woman
We bleed through our pants sometimes. “Nice one!” says no one. My roommate didn’t see it coming in karate when she was thirteen. She told the teacher that she had a headache and ran to the bathroom. Scrub it off scrub it off all she had to wear was a white robe.
It’s the same when you’re a dancer. Pink tights leotard HEY. Grand battement right leg up OOOOOH SNAP hello little pool of blood. You are in a room full of women and it’s still embarrassing. Not much you can do now. You’re already wearing the most massive tampon. Did you put it in far enough?
It’s okay. I don’t know where my vagina ends either.
Maria would refer to it in all the years to come as, “The Day the Blood Spilled.” Junior year history with Mr. Grey. He said the satellites were watching us. All the time. 24/7. Government knows when you masturbate. Maria stood up in class and some girl snorted into her arm. Chortling as her fingers slapped the desk, rings on her hand going clank clank clank.
“What are you laughing at?” Maria snapped. Blood on her butt.
All the stuff your egg couldn’t use. Supposed to keep it safe if you just got the damn thing fertilized but sorry, I didn’t want kids when I was eleven. My little eggs have been so dead for so long.
They started talking about puberty in Catholic Sunday school. Sixth grade. “Sometimes I can feel my egg pop out,” Mrs. Johnson told us. “If I pay attention.”
I have never felt my egg pop out of my ovary. But then again, I have never paid attention. I have never calculated the days until my ovulation so that I could wake up and make a nice cup of coffee and spend twenty-four hours concentrating on my uterus.
I don’t even know how big my uterus is.
My heart’s the size of my fist.
My first period arrived at a school dance. I was eleven and the cafeteria speakers sang God must have spent a little more time on youuuu and I asked James if he would dance with me. He was popular and I was not but he was nice and that was enough. He said yes and that was the first time a boy put his hands on my waist.
When it ended I said thanks and went to the bathroom. Something brown was in my underwear. I must have farted and pooped my pants at a weird angle.
What if James smelled it? What if I smelled like poop the whole time we danced?
I went home and changed. Gave the underwear with the brown blotch to my mother and asked if it was possible to poop out of your vagina. My mother took it into the bathroom and turned the light on.
“You started your period,” she said. I learned how to use a maxi pad with wings.
Bethany, you told me that the dominant woman has an authoritative period, a period that begins and ends all the periods in her household. You were only half-kidding when you pointed to yourself and said, “We all know who that woman is.” I laughed and brushed your words in front of us like a bad smell.
I don’t know where you heard this from, and I don’t know what dominance is. Is it determination, is it will? Skill, strength, size? With animals it’s power born from proportions, and we are in many ways human animals. But what do you do with women when smaller is better, when thinner is favored, when muscle weighs more than fat?
Maybe it’s pheromones and my dominance is a hidden smell. Maybe I sneak attack you with pheromones every month and control your period in dreams, from a dashboard in the fourth dimension. Maybe PMS is a spiritual battle. Maybe you’re dominant one month and I’m dominant the next, our periods taking turns like we do cleaning the dishes. Maybe our periods are mimicking us like children. The children they could have been.
I am having a nightmare. I am being blamed for something I only half did. Logic says pray for some boobs. Maybe they’ll give me the power to survive.
But my boobs grow like Strega Nona’s noodles and I get an email saying that I need to put a tarp on them. People are hooked up to monitors and their brains are lighting up in the section associated with tool use, saying I want, I take, I grab and I’m not being heard.
My cleavage is turmoil. All the genders have mixed feelings. It grows the size of a country before I finally learn to chant enough, enough, genetic pot! I have my boobs, they’re nice and hot! And all the genders make a map, call the land “Cleave” and color it grey.
The weight of embarrassment sits deep in my torso, says this is your pain and I have plans for it. It will burn from your stomach into the sky. The clouds will turn dark and the sun will not rise and the trees will bare no fruit and everything you looooooove is all gonna ENNNNNNNNND…
And then I wake up. Go to the bathroom. Oh, hello, period. Sneaky little blood puddle. Making my dreams strange? Apocalypse again? Typical. You do this every month. Make me feel like shit for a day and I never realize it’s you until you’re there, in my underwear.
In chains of pain I put a maxi pad on. Three advil go into my palm and down my throat and I sit on my bed and wait.
Blue capsules, find my brain and burst. Rock it back and forth, back and forth, tell me there’s no more pain. But don’t call me crazy. Don’t make me silent. Don’t tell me I made anything up.
Gloria Beth Amodeo can eat a lot of food. She once put back 18 scoops of ice cream in 8 minutes. If you would like to challenge her to a pasta or donut eating contest, please tweet her @gloriousbeth. Her fiction, reviews and interviews have appeared in Helping Orphans Worldwide (H.O.W.) Journal, Carrier Pigeon, Publisher's Weekly, The Literary Review, and elsewhere.