by Roberta Beary

My first time, we drank rum and cokes in my basement. For dutch courage, Wolf said. I called him Wolf because that’s what everyone called him. Not his mom, she called him Arthur.

— Look, little one, only two red drops. Carol bled like a stuck pig, Wolf said.

— It didn’t hurt at all, I said.

Hymen: noun

1) a fold of mucous membrane partly closing the orifice of the vagina

2) the Greek god of marriage

The mattress had belonged to my grandma. Wolf never asked me to touch his thingy, not even the second time. When it was over my eyes traced the furry patches on his knuckles.

Hirsute: adjective

1) hairy

2) covered with coarse stiff hairs

He blew smoke rings like the guy in the TV commercial.

I could smell the mothballs all the way from the mattress. When I was a kid, sitting in church, my grandma’s coat always smelled of mothballs. I got up, still buck naked, took her coat from the rack. And inhaled.

Nostalgia: noun

1) the state of being homesick

2) a sentimental yearning for a former time

I waited for Wolf every day at the schoolyard. On my birthday, I saw his car and ran over. I knew he’d remember my sweet sixteen. His friend Gerry was at the wheel.

— Hey kid, why are you hanging around? Him and Carol took off in her old man’s T-Bird.

Stupefy: transitive verb

1) to make stupid, groggy, or insensible

2) astonish, astound

After that I hated the name Carol.

I was like clockwork. But I kept checking my undies, waiting for my friend to come. On the first day of summer break, I went to the same place I’d had the test. My mom thought I was at the James Bond double feature.

Mendacious: adjective

1) given to or characterized by deception, or divergence from absolute truth

2) false or untrue

A nurse with a long hair growing from a mole on her cheek pushed me into the exam room and threw a gown at me. The metal stirrups made my teeth chatter. My feet kept slipping out until she tied them for my own good. The doctor’s furry paws spread my knees and the nurse held a light down there. That’s why I couldn’t tell when the blob got sucked up.

Monstrosity: noun

1) a malformation

2) something deviating from the normal

I was sopping wet and the nurse gave me a pad. It wasn’t any good. I used up all their toilet paper and the tissues Mom put in my gym bag. I wore it twisted so the Mary Immaculate side didn’t show. The nurse held my arm and walked me to the exit sign. She handed me a wooden rosary.

— Pray next time you’re tempted. God willing, you won’t be back.

Sanctimony: noun

1) affected or hypocritical holiness

2) obsolete: sacredness

I made it onto the bus before the cramps began. I stood, hugging my arms tight to keep from bawling. This old lady shuffled her shopping bags and pointed. It turned out she was going all the way to Utopia Gardens too. After a few stops, my head fell against the fox on her shoulder. She didn’t say anything. I closed my eyes and let the smell of mothballs wash over me.


Roberta Beary identifies as gender-fluid and writes to connect with the silenced, to let them know they are heard. Their work appears in RattleThe New York Times Modern LoveBest MicrofictionBest Small Fictions, and other publications. They divide their time between USA and Ireland. 

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Footnote: All definitions taken or paraphrased from (February 2022)