in her mouth. Her armpits were bushy hairy. It spoke to me of not only changing perceptions of beauty, but feminism and strong women. I cannot grow armpit hair and I reflect in her my own oddity, but the other side of the coin. A photograph that provokes so much thought and feeling is certainly going on my wall. I finished homework, practiced speedreading, then turned out the lights and went to bed. My room was pitch dark! That would not do, so I got up turned the lights back on. I can’t sleep in a pitch-dark room, I got frights about Mother’s burial.
Above my bunk was one of the small windows that circled the ground level in the basement. They all had levers at the top to turn and open them and hinges at the bottom to swing them down. Someone had painted the window above my bunk black for privacy, I assumed. Edges of the black paint peeled back and bits of light shone through from a street light. I looked around the room and found a small piece of brass pipe that Papa had cut to fix my sink and used that to scrape, then turned the lights off and scraped just enough paint for some light to shine in from the streetlight onto the floor. It was perfect. I had a night light!
It was Friday. We got up and came into the living room on our way to the kitchen for breakfast and found that Mama bought us new backpacks for the middle and elementary school kids. It was like Christmas tearing into the paper stuffing and taking off tags. They were all the same, a brown deerskin color. We all took out the name tags from the slots and put our names and address on the little white cards that came with it and slid it back in. I planned to bedazzle mine so I could tell it from a distance.
I’m catching up in all the classes except Social Studies and English and it’s because of my reading. I’m a whiz in math and science, but I’m still slow reading. The English teacher makes me read out loud. I think she just wants to see how I’m progressing. I tolerate it fine but I stumble over words and she corrects me, then the kids snicker. That hurts my heart. She suggested that I get a dictionary because the pronunciation guide is next to every word. That guide thing next to the word where the word is all busted up and the letters are sometimes upside down looks like Russian to me.
The craziest thing happened after PE. I went in to the coach’s locker room to shower had to fend off advances from the lesbian basketball coach. The athletic department office usually has someone behind the desk but not today, so I walked straight back without asking permission. The door to the coaches’ locker room looks like a bathroom door, only is has a deadbolt lock. It was open so I went in. There was a dressing area with a few lockers and a couple benches. There was one single stall shower, small and cozy, with two shower heads. It looked like two people in there would bump butts trying to bathe. The tiles were pinkish and modern looking and the lockers and benches were all new. For an old school from the outside, there were a lot of new things on the inside. I undressed, got the water hot, got in the shower, and pulled the curtain closed. Suddenly, someone opened the curtain.
There was the coach! She was tall with salt and pepper gray hair cut short and permed into a curly bob. She had a large wide mouth. I turned my back to her quickly and hoped she didn’t see my front. I told her who I was and that I had permission to shower here. She said she read the memorandum on me but did not know me by sight. She just stood there staring at my ass. I stood there frozen with my arms crossed over my boobs. I turned a little and showed her some side-boob because I knew she was curious about my condition and I had to show her I was a really a girl. She said she heard about my medical condition, but I looked like a regular girl to her. I was