Kathryn Brackett
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From Expecting Goodness

Below is an excerpt from the story "Girl Talk," published in Expecting Goodness by Hub City Press, 2009 

    I scurry around a “wet floor” sign in front of the bathroom, walk inside, and hear Katie in the stall closest to the sink. 
    I knock on the door. “Katie, honey, are you okay?” 
    “Oh, jeez, Dad!” she says in a tear-filled voice. “Men aren’t supposed to be in here!” 
    I hear toilet paper rolling. Sniffles. More toilet paper. 
    “Honey, what’s wrong?” 
    “You won’t understand.” 
    “Let me be the judge of that.” 
    Katie steps out of the stall, her face red from crying. She looks me straight in the eyes and says, “I started my period.” The whole ground seems to tip sideways. I open my mouth, but nothing comes out. “I don’t know what to do,” she adds, looking at me for an answer. 
    I rub the back of my neck, cross my arms in front of my chest, shift my weight to another foot, then say, “Well…that is…quite an accomplishment, honey.” 
    “Jeez, Dad! I never should have told you!” Katie races back into the stall and locks it. 
    My head spins. I collect myself, breathe deep, knock on the door. “I’m sorry, Katie. Please come out, or else I’m crawling under.” 
    “Promise you won’t act funny?” 
    “I quadruple promise.” 
    The door clicks open. Katie’s bangs flutter into her eyes, mixing with the tears stuck to her lashes. I glance at the box on the wall that holds the feminine condiments. It looks like a large candy machine to me. 
    “Do you need some money for a…a pad or tampon, well, maybe not a tampon, maybe that’s too much for you now, but—” 
    “Sorry.” I fumble in my pocket for loose change, handing her two dollars in quarters. She takes the money but doesn’t move. 
    “Is that not enough?” I ask. “Because I have more.” 
    Her face reddens. “No, it’s more than enough.” 
    “Do you know….how to…put a pad on?” 
    “Yes,” she says, her mouth full of the word. “I’ll figure it out.” 
    “Oh, good. Good.” 

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