A story about fear, womanhood, shame, triumph, and my unibrow.
  1. I was in the 4th grade
  2. My teacher, Mrs. Brown, was the scariest teacher in all of Arnold Elementary School
    She was 6 feet tall and had a blonde beehive and always smelled like cigarettes. Also if she ever saw you with your sweatshirt tied around your waist (as every child was wont to do in 1991) she would bark "SKIRT ALERT" loud enough so that every other kid would turn around just to smirk at your humiliation.
  3. She had every book in the Sweet Valley Twins series in her classroom
    I was at that time a large Persian girl with curly black hair and a persistent nervous laugh who was obsessed with the silken blonde twins of Sweet Valley (more Jessica than Elizabeth because I was already a good student and my aspirations reached as far away from my current self as possible).
  4. I checked out SVT #42 "Jessica's Secret"
  5. I read it overnight.
    Books may or may not have been my only friends, aside from my cousin who was at the time 20 years old and not in my 4th grade class (she too clearly had a touch of the weirds).
  6. I returned it the next day and asked to check out another.
  7. Mrs. Brown refused.
  8. She said I was lying and that I did not read it that fast.
  9. I insisted (in a tiny voice) that I had.
    I maybe also cried.
  10. She said "Write a book report then."
  11. I could not write a book report about Jessica's Secret.
  12. Why? Because this book is about Elizabeth getting her period for the first time.
    The title is misleading.
  13. I was 9. I would have sooner set all my Barbies on fire than publicly discuss menstruation.
  14. I got detention for lying instead.
  15. My mom was upset and surprised.
    I was a shy quiet goody two shoes. She probably imagined she'd have to buy me a prom date one day maybe but never sign my detention slip.
  16. I told her the whole story.
    Elizabeth's bloody underwear and all.
  17. She marched down to the school and yelled at Mrs. Brown.
    Mrs. Brown was scary but my mother could be downright terrifying.
  18. For the rest of the year I could check out all the Sweet Valley books my unibrow desired.