We were sitting on the stools in the 7th grade science lab, trying to erase the smell of gas from our brains, and the face of the boy that always turned it on and laughed. Each tick of the clock brought us closer to the bell. I paid close attention because there was no time to waste. The science lab was at the far end of Central Junior High, near the pool. My next class was social studies with Mr. Temple at the complete opposite end on the second floor. The allotted 5 minutes allowed just enough time to run to my locker, change my books and be seated in the classroom. Because it wasn’t enough to be racing through the door at the sound of the bell. He demanded that you were seated, ready to learn, when it sounded, or you would get detention. Detention — the horror. The humiliation. I had never received it. And I was proud of that. So I sat in the “starter’s position,” ready to race to social studies. The bell rang and I jumped. I was nearly out the door when I heard her gasp. I turned to see my lab partner (and friend) glued to her stool, mouth open. There wasn’t time, but she looked at me so desperately. I ran back. She whispered in my ear. She got her period. I looked at the clock. Looked at her face. Took off my sweatshirt for her to wrap around her waist. And went with her to the bathroom.
The bell rang before I had even left the floor. When I ran through his door, he was standing at the front of the room, detention slip in hand. He wasn’t unreasonable. He always gave you the chance to defend yourself. I suppose I could have given the full “Judy Blume” version of it all, but the whole class was listening. I shook my head, and held out my hand to grab the slip.
We had no idea of forever at the time. We lived minute by minute. And were willing to give up 60 of them, detained after hours, just to save each other. She asked me the next day in Mr. French’s class, “Did you get in trouble?” “No,” I smiled, “no trouble at all.”