I keep adding to this story! It’ll never be finished.
Mary and Elizabeth, better known as Betty, sat beside one another outside of Betty’s home. They plucked feathers out of dead birds. At their feet was Betty’s father’s hunting dog. It dozed in the heat. The women of the settlement checked on the girls every few hours, but they were ignored mostly, left to do chores.
‘Mary, have you had your first blood yet?’
‘From down there,’ she whispered. ‘I had my first one two summers ago. It means you are not with child. Have you not received yours?’
‘I am definitely not with child,’ Mary said, trying to be coy in her answer.
‘You know that they say you are still a child if you don’t have one. You can’t be a woman until you’ve bled.’ The gloating in Betty’s voice now started to irritate her. Mary always felt the girl was dim-witted and not as bright as she could be, but the conviction in her voice made Mary feel that she was right about this.
‘How… do you have one?’
‘Aha! So you are still a child!’
‘How do you have one.’ She knew better than to rise to the mock.
‘God makes you become a woman.’
Curiosity got the better of Mary and she couldn’t help but ask: ‘Does it hurt?’
‘Sometimes at the start, on the top of my tummy. We hurt from the blood and from babies because Eve sinned.’
Mary nodded. According to the minister, their existence was all Eve’s fault.
‘It is because we are imperfect.’ Betty concluded.
Mary heard Betty’s voice from a distance. She watched her mother laughing with another woman by the well. Sarah smiled at Mary and beckoned her over as she departed for home with the buckets of water.
Mary took one of the buckets to help her mother and Sarah’s free hand stroked her daughter’s forehead.
‘Betty said that we are imperfect because we bleed and it is Eve’s fault.’
Sarah laughed. ‘Blood is the most important part of us. If you bleed you die, is that not so?’ She made Mary look at the beheaded bird in her hand. The pale, puckered neck was stained with dark red.
‘And we must feed our gods with blood, so that they can survive. Yes?’ Her voice was just over a whisper as they entered the house. William was with the other townsmen, helping build another home.
‘Yes,’ Mary said. ‘That is why we killed the goat in the woods.’
‘But, if we kept feeding the gods, how would we survive? We would have to kill all our animals and then we would have to sacrifice our own blood. Do you see the problem?’
‘Why are we not dead then?’
‘Because there are women. The gods allowed women to bleed without dying. We are an exception to the rule. We are the important ones. If a man bleeds, he dies. Only women can feed the gods and continue to live. Mary, don’t you see- we, women, are the perfect ones.’