March 2, 2003
Reyna awoke feeling strange. Her stomach felt crampish, her body felt like lead, and the area between her legs felt damp. Crawling out of bed, she gasped when she saw a pool of blood in her sheets and staining her pajama bottoms. “Dunstan!” She yelled out in fear, her voice cracking with panic. “Dunstan, I’m bleeding!” She called out again when her master didn’t answer right away. Kneading her shit with her fists, Reyna shifting her weight from one leg to the other, not sure what she should do.
The sound of her door creaking open caused her to spin around. Dunstan stood just inside her room with a concerned look. He surveyed her form for any injuries and grimaced when he saw the stain on her shorts. Glancing quickly at her bed, he nodded to himself and then pursed his lips. “You’re, ah, you’re not bleeding, Reyna.”
“Am I dying?” The young girl asked, her words blurring together as she struggled to get them out.
“Ahh, no, you’re not. Just—just get a new pair of underwear and shorts and ah—here,” he conjured a green plastic package from Reyna didn’t know where with the word ‘always’ written on the side, and handed it to his ward, “there’s instructions on the side. Now go to the bathroom, clean up, and put one of these on. I’ve got to make a call.” He began to walk out of the young girl’s room before pausing, “And throw everything that’s be ruined out, okay?”
Reyna sniffled and tried to calm her breathing but to no avail. Doing as she was told, she grabbed a new pair of underwear and shorts and headed to the bathroom. She read the entire back of the Always package and seemed to understand what she was supposed to do. Stripping herself of her bottom clothes, she put on her new underwear and attached the sticky-diaper-thing to the inside and pulled the garment all the way up. It felt uncomfortable, and the wings that helped keep the thing in place rubbed her thighs raw.
After washing her hands and changing out of her pajamas and into day clothes, Reyna made her way downstairs with the ruined fabrics. She threw them all away in the large garbage can Dunstan kept in the utility room. It was only taken out for garbage day once a week, so Reyna thought it was the best place for the items. Feeling the need to wash her hands again, the sorceress then found her Dunstan waiting for her in his study. “It’s all cleaned up, then?” Once she nodded, he grunted and started for the front door. “We’re going to visit a friend of mine today so grab your coat.”
Doing once more as she was told, Reyna shuffled into her coat and then followed Dunstan out into the streets of the city. They grabbed a cab and after Dunstan gave the driver an address, rode for an hour in dead silence. Reyna kept her gaze on her hands in her lap, too scared to look anywhere else. Dunstan still hadn’t told her what was happening to her. Had someone cursed her? Was she really dying? Reyna didn’t want to die. She had just started making Dunstan proud of her with the improvement in her magic lately, and Marcus and her had been getting along really well since the two had met, visiting each other almost every weekend and talking on the phone. No, Reyna thought, she most definitely wasn’t ready to die. She’d only just started to really live.
The cab pulled up to a house in Newark, New Jersey. The house was white, with dark green trim, had a front porch and a three story window-like-tower connected to the side. Reyna always liked those types of windows and often imagined what it would be like to cozy up against one of the windows with a good book, looking out at the street. Dunstan’s curt voice brought her out of her imagination, telling the cabbie to wait there. The two walked up to the house and just a moment after Dunstan knocked on the front door it opened revealing a woman.
Her hair was brown, like the bark of a tree, and it was short, cut similarly to Lokesh’s and Marcus’. Her skin was as pale as Reyna’s and Dunstan’s, maybe even paler, but Reyna couldn’t be sure unless she put her hand right next to hers. Reyna wished she could see the woman’s eyes, but she was wearing sunglasses, which the young girl thought was strange considering she’d been indoors on a cloudy day.
“Dunstan,” The woman said by way of greeting, moving aside to let them in. Closing the door, she led them deeper into her house until they came upon a dining room. The woman fluidly sat down and looked in the general direction of her guests. “So what do you need?” She asked as she took off her sunglasses. Reyna gasped, seeing that her irises and pupils were clouded over so much they looked milky white. If the young girl looked closely enough, she could see that her eyes were actually a light blue, maybe soft gray color.
“Sybil, this is my apprentice, Reyna. Reyna, this is an old friend of mine: Sybil Line.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Ms. Line.” Reyna politely greeted her.
“Sybil is fine, dear. Now Dunstan,” she said, getting back on track, “What do you need?”
“Well, ah, you see . . . the matter is a little, um, delicate. It seems Reyna has gotten her—her period.” Dunstan coughed out, not looking at either girl.
“So?” Sybil asked, not understanding what he brought the young girl here for.
“So,” he continued, “I need you to explain to her what that—what it means, and to, um, look after her while this thing goes on.”
“What?” Reyna shrieked. He was just going to leave her here with this stranger when she needed him? After being given a stern look, Reyna realized that was exactly what he was planning on doing. Tears sprung to her eyes. It was like her parents all over again, she thought, she was being left behind. Again.
“You want to leave your apprentice here with me for a full week, just because she has her period?”
“Not just because she has her period,” Dunstan objected, choking on the last word, “This has also made me realize that Reyna needs a female role model in her life. You’d be a good one.”
The woman let out a snort, “Sure,” she drawled, not for one second believing Dunstan’s bullshit. “What about clothes? You two didn’t bring anything.”
Dunstan made an arm movement, and a fully packed duffle bag landed at his feet. Sybil made a humming sound, seemingly thinking the matter over before nodding her head, “All right, she can stay.”
“Great!” Dunstan clapped his hands and turned for the door. “If you need anything, you have my number! Let me know when I can pick her up!” And with that Reyna’s master hurried out of the house and towards the awaiting cab. Reyna watched him go, trying her hardest not to cry. He said he’d be back, so she had to believe that he would be. There was a niggling feeling of doubt in the back of her mind, though. Her father said the same thing before leaving her in Central Park.
Sighing, Sybil brought Reyna’s attention back to her, “So you got your first period today, huh?”
“I don’t,” she stuttered, “I don’t know what that means.”
“What? You’ve never heard of a woman getting her period before? Jesus, kid, what rock have you been living under?” The woman shook her head and looked like she’d just eaten something bitter. Before Reyna could respond that she was not living under any rock, Sybil continued, “You’re bleeding from between your legs, yeah?”
Reyna nodded, but then mumbled out a “Yes,” as soon as she realized the older woman couldn’t see her nod.
“All right, kid. Why don’t you pop a squat and I’ll tell you all about the pain in the ass we women call the period.”
For the next hour and a half, Sybil explained all that a period entailed and what Reyna could expect for the next five to seven days. Reyna was horrified. Sybil kept telling her it was just a part of growing up, and enabled women to have children. That didn’t make much sense to her though. She was just a child. Why should she care about having children? No sense at all.
“Okay, now that the scary schooling part is over, what do you say we get cozy, eat some ice cream, and watch a movie? I’ve got a good selection in the living room and I’ll let you choose the first one.” Reyna made an affirmative noise and went to grab the duffle bag Dunstan had left her. Sybil stood and showed the young girl to a guest bedroom on the second floor. “If you need extra blankets or pillows or anything just let me know. Oh, and when you change choose pajama pants that you’re not going to miss because they will get ruined. Trust me. I have a pair of shorts and pants that I dedicate solely to this time of the month. I call them period pants.” Sybil smiled to herself and Reyna couldn’t help but smile back, even though she knew Sybil couldn’t see it.
After changing her pad and clothes, Reyna chose a movie for them to watch—The Emperor’s New Groove—and settled into the couch. Sybil came in a second later with two pints of ice cream. “I hope you like chocolate,” she said as she handed Reyna one of the pints and a spoon. “So, what are we watching?”
“Emperor’s New Groove,” She responded.
“Always a good choice,” Sybil said as she popped the ice cream tub’s lid off.
They watched the first half of the movie in silence. Reyna had barely eaten her ice cream even though it had begun to melt, and her body was still curled into a ball. “Relax, kid,” Sybil finally said, agitated by her stiffness, “Nothing bad is going to happen to you.”
“I’m just worried that I’ll—that I’ll bleed onto your couch.” Reyna admitted, blushing as she muttered the words.
“Don’t worry about it,” the blind woman shrugged, “If you do I’ll clean it. Or just buy a new couch. Really no big deal.”
Forcing her body out of the tight ball, Reyna settled more comfortably into the cushions and began to eat some of the chocolatey goop that was her ice cream. “Sybill?” Reyna asked. Sybil hummed and looked in the sorceress’ general direction. “How come you can’t see?” She asked hesitantly.
“I don’t know,” Sybil shrugged again, “I’ve never been able to see, not even when I was born. My family thinks it’s because of my ability, but I think they’re just full of it.”
“Your ability?’ Reyna repeated, not knowing what she was talking about.
“Oh, Dunstan didn’t tell you? Figures,” she muttered under her breath, “I’m a prophet, descended from the god Apollo himself. Or so my family claims. I’m only, like, ten percent Greek though, so it’s a bit of a stretch. Anyway, that’s why most people think I’m blind, because I can see prophecies and stuff like that, but I don’t know. I feel like that’s just an excuse my parents made up to feel better about themselves. There’s nothing wrong with being blind, I live my life just fine—normal, even—but most people think it’s this terrible thing that deserves pity, you know? It’s so stupid.”
Reyna just nodded and hummed, not sure what to say to her. Sybil didn’t look like she was looking for a response either, though, and turned her head back to the T.V. They continued to watch movies and eat mostly pizza and other junk food for the rest of the day. Reyna thought it was nice. Sure, they didn’t talk much besides commenting on whatever movie they were on, but Sybil always answered whatever questions came to her mind and never shushed her for talking during an important scene. It had been such a nice day, Reyna had almost forgotten about the fact that Dunstan had all but abandoned her there.
Once the grandfather clock down the hall chimed ten, Sybil made the executive decision to send Reyna to bed. Reyna didn’t put up a fight and schlepped up the stairs back to the guest room. Changing her pad for the fourth time that day, she then dug through the duffel for her stuffed rabbit. Sighing in frustration when she couldn’t find him, she waved her hand and conjured Thumper to her. She stared at her stuffed animal for a few seconds, holding his neck tightly in her hand and looking into his beady eyes before making the hand gesture again, this time conjuring a small, ovular locket. Burrowing deep into the sheets of the guest bed, Reyna held Thumper tightly to her chest in one hand and popped the locket open with the other.
Feelings of safety, warmth, and happiness filled the sorceress up. Her mind was overcome with memories of her parents and better times. After having her fill, Reyna closed the locket once more and set it on the bed side table. Tears pooled behind her closed eye lids as her mind went over everything that had happened to her. All in the span of one day.