First Page: Untitled – Contemporary Romance (GLBT)
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Why, in the name of heaven, did this have to happen on the afternoon he babysat his niece? Sam Reynolds tentatively pushed open the door to the ladies’ bathroom and peered inside.
“Lily?” He called, “How’s it going in there? I have the… er, the things you need…”
There was no reply.
“Lily?” he tried again.
He glanced around. Apart form the one locked cubicle in which his niece had barricaded herself, the bathroom was empty. And, on a wintry Sunday afternoon such as this, the home-ware corner of the Tesco supermarket where the public toilets were located was quiet. Still, Sam couldn’t quite make himself enter that female sanctum. It was probably illegal or something. He looked around again, hoping for some more qualified assistance. Perhaps he could find some motherly checkout lady to help. It was then that a plump, dark-skinned young woman with smooth black hair cut in one of those cute, hip, androgynous styles appeared. Salvation?
A red-headed man was dithering on the threshold of the Ladies. He was one of those big, lumbering sort of men who were, in Allie Ishida’s imagination, supposed to spend their time chopping wood and wrestling bears. This one had gotten a little pudgy around the middle though, suggesting he’d exchanged his natural occupation for a desk-job and when he spoke it wasn’t with a rough growl but an apologetic, vaguely posh accent.
“Excuse me,” he said, his face reddening to match his hair, “I don’t suppose you could do me a favour could you?” He lowered his voice, “My niece, Lily, is in there. She’s just started her first, erm, menstrual cycle and, well, I have these but I don’t want to intrude in the ladies’ bathroom.”
He held up a plastic bag which appeared to contain every type and brand of sanitary napkin and tampon on the market. Allie wasn’t sure if that was rather sweet or rather stupid. When the man blushed an even brighter red she decided, charitably, on the former.
“So you want me to give these to her?”
“Oh, god, if you wouldn’t mind, please,” he said, drooping in relief and thrusting the bag into her hands.
Before she knew it she was being ushered ever so politely into the ladies. That was a first, she couldn’t help thinking with a twinge of satisfaction. The door swung shut behind her. She heard a quiet sob from the locked cubicle. Poor kid. She knocked gently on the cubicle door.
“Hey, it’s Lily, right? I’m Allie. Your uncle asked me to come see how you were doing. “
“I’m fine,” came a choked voice.
“That’s good. Would you like me to pass you these pads and things under the door?”
A long pause. “OK.”
Allie bent down and pushed it through the gap. “You’ve got plenty of choice there. I think you’re uncle went a bit mad, but can I suggest you try the pads? Tampons are great and all, but for your first time the napkins are probably a bit easier.”
“OK, thanks,” Lily replied, a wobble still in her voice.
Allie’s heart went out to her. Her first round through the gauntlet of puberty had left her with scars she was still trying to patch up and her current bout with it left her sympathetic to any fellow sufferer. Of course, when she’d been a teen she would have killed to have a menstrual cycle. The lack had been just one more reminder that there was something wrong with her, that she didn’t fit and never would.
There was the rustle of plastic and paper, but then another sniff. Her job here was done, but Allie couldn’t just leave the kid now.
“You know,” she said conversationally, “when my little sister first got hers’ she cried for hours. She can be a bit dramatic. But then she decided that actually it was a mark of her glorious womanhood, as I think she put it, and demanded a cake to celebrate.”