I am now convinced that I am indeed a monster.
A brown, rolly-polly, big-boobed, hairy unibrowed Sasquatch with good hair. I know I have good hair (on my head, that is) because that's what everyone compliments the most. Oh Estela, they say, what lovely hair you have. I'm so jealous! I have wash-and-go hair, which I suppose makes it good? I have no idea. I accept the compliment gracefully, like Tia taught me, and then suck in my little belly rolls to see if I get compliments on my figure like Moo does. The only person who noticed was my uncle Tio, and instead of the compliment that I'd been seeking he asked me if I had hemorrhoids because my face was scrunched up so tight. He then told my aunt to make me tacos because I looked too thin. I suppose it was a compliment in a round-about way.
I know I'm a monster. And it's not just because Darren Silversmith called me a brown cow today. I know because I look in the mirror and see this hideous, freak with lots of wavy black hair and big lips staring back. Instead of crying over the hairy, rejected reflection, I decide to take a bubble bath. Filling the old claw-foot tub in Tio and Tia's bathroom with apple-peach bubble bath, I grab one of Tia's sexy romance books that she hides under her bed and drop my brown, hairy body into the bubbles that pop against my skin.
I only read a few pages before tossing the paperback aside and sinking low beneath the apple-scented bubbles. In the silent hum of the water, I think about all the reasons Darren would have called me a cow in front of everyone. First, I am brown--nothing I can do about that as my family is from Mexico. Second, I am hairy just like a cow--thick black hair has been sprouting all over my body (armpits, arms, legs, pubes, and even on my stomach). Third, I do graze and snack on food all day, and sometimes, if I'm sick, I chew with my mouth open and food falls out. Fourth, I don't rush anywhere--I move very slow, unless I'm with Moo, who trots around like a mythic unicorn on long spindly white legs.
Tia says that we're supposed to change the things we can change and forget about what we can't. So, I can change a few things on my list--and I know just which one to start with. I push myself from the water and emerge like a rising giant, soapy droplets of water rolling down my hairy arms and even hairier legs. Leaning over the cool lip of the tub, I grab for the big cordless phone that I brought in with me and use wet fingers to dial Moo's number. After a moment of debate on whether or not it would electrocute me and fry my brain, I press the phone to my ear. It rings twice before Moo's whispered voice enters my ear.
"I need you," I say. "Tia's bathroom--pronto."
"'K," Moo whispers before hanging up. She arrives two minutes later and closes the bathroom door behind her. When she finally sees me, her lips fall open in shock and her cheeks turn pink. "You're in the tub!"
"I know!" I'm rooting around blindly beneath the bubbles for the washcloth that's been floating around so I don't see how she responds to this.
"Duh! Help me shave my legs."
I'm not supposed to shave until I'm fifteen--two years from now. Stupid rule. Snatching the washcloth, I drape it over my chest and look back up at Moo. She's standing very still, her back to the bathroom door, wringing her hands in front of her. She's wearing the same blue jeans that she wore to school, designer and skin tight, in a fashionable, not slutty, way. She's wearing Nike tennis shoes and a cream-colored cashmere sweater. Moo can stand with her feet together and still have a slight gap between her thighs--Tia calls that malnourished, Moo's mother calls in perfection.
"But you're naked, Estella!" Moo says again.
"You've seen me naked before."
A couple of years ago, while Moo was spending the night she dared me to take off my clothes and run up and down the sleeping hallways of my house. I did it despite the humiliation that made my skin very warm. Then to make things fair, she did the same dare. I think we were silently comparing each other during that time--things were changing, my boobs were growing, her entire body was stretching, I was getting hair down there.
"A little warning would be nice, is all," Moo said as she shook off the shock and came toward the tub. "So you're going to shave?"
"Yes, I am a beast," I say pulling my leg from the water. Brushing the suds from my skin I point at the hair. "Look at this! I might as well be a man!" Moo giggles as she drops to her knees by the tub and looks at my leg closely. It's disgusting--two hairs shoot out of each pore and they're super long. They lay smooth from where my palm brushed them all in one direction. "I can't wait any longer--really I can't. I've gotten my period, which means I'm a woman now, so I should be able to shave my legs."
"They're not that bad," Moo says.
"It's almost summer--I'm not wearing jeans all the time like last summer. It sucks swimming in jeans plus I had a horrible tan. So, I'm going to shave. I need you to teach me."
Moo's mother--Hilter's sister, I think--has had Moo shaving since she was eleven. Now she's a pro at it; all silky and smooth and clean looking. Moo didn't really need to shave--I could hardly ever see her baby fine auburn hairs. For a while, I was convinced that she shaved her arms too, but when the sun hits her you can see the hairs. They glisten as if she was dusted with copper flakes. Me: my hair is thick and coarse and manly.
Moo doesn't warn me that I might get in trouble for this. I guess she can sense my desperation. She finds Tio's razor and shaving cream and gets to work. I watch with wide eyes as she shakes the red can of Gillette and paints my leg with a foamy white line. She tells me to rub it all over. Clutching my armpits down to keep the washcloth in place, I lean forward, curl my toes to the rim to keep my leg from slipping and rub the cream all over so that my leg is covered with it.
"You move the razor with the hair," Moo instructs. "So, knee to ankle, 'k? And don't rush." I watch in amazement as she slides the razor down my leg slowly leaving a smooth, hair free stripe of brown in its wake. She washes off the blade in the water and then does another swipe before handing me the razor. I follow her instructions to the T, moving slow around my knee and the poking bones at my ankle. "Don't forget your toes."
I glance at her and see that she's got her arm stretched out and her palm facing me. Each time I move her palm dips higher or lower depending on how I move.
"What are you doing?" I ask as I swipe the razor over my big toe.
"Umm, the bubbles are almost gone," Moo says, her pale cheeks flushing pink. "And... I suppose I only want to see so much of your body, Estela." Running the razor over my knee, I glance down at the water and see what she's talking about. I feel the blood rush to my face and bark a controlled laugh.
"Yeah, we're not even going to talk about that overgrown bush," I grumble trying to sound light hearted so she can't tell how embarrassed I am. "It needs a weed wacker or something."
Moo bursts into laughter and so do I, and before I know it, my toes lose their grip and my leg plunges back into the water. A spray of water hits Moo's sweater and soaks her hair. Still laughing, I lift my leg and Moo squirts more shaving cream on it. As I smooth it over the remaining hair, I notice that the foam has turned pink near my knee and my skin is now on fire. Dropping the razor, I splash water over my knee, but the burning continues as a river of blood curled rolled down my smooth, hair free leg.
"How did you do that?" Moo asks. "Put your leg back into the water, the bleeding will stop."
I did as she instructs, but the stinging sensation won't go away and the bath water is turning pink around my leg. Lifting my knee out of the water, I watch blood seep from a huge gash of missing skin. Moo grabs a wad of toilet paper and presses it to the cut. The paper soaks up the blood and water and becomes a bloody glob of paper in her fingers.
"Gross," Moo moans. She turns her head and lets out little puffs of air from between her lips. "I don't feel good."
"It won't stop!" I cry as the blood continues to pulse out of my knee.
"I'm going to throw up." Moo says.
"Give me more toilet paper!" My heart races as the blood droplets form little ribbons in the water. "Moo?"
She is green and pale. Her head is bowed awkwardly and she begins to slump over. I watch in horror as she collapses onto the bath mat. I try splashing water on her, but it doesn't help and I can't tell if she was breathing or not. Hemorrhaging to death with Moo unresponsive on the bathroom floor, I started to scream for my aunt. One high-pitched someone-is-murdering-me scream and the bathroom door flies open, banging Moo in the head. I scream louder as Tio stumbles in with half a sandwich clutched in his hand.
"GET OUT!" I scream, wishing the wash cloth was the size of a towel instead of a tiny square that barely covers both boobs. "Tio!"
"What's going on?" Tio demands as he looks down at Moo.
"I'm naked!" I screech. "Get out! I called for Tia!"
"You screamed!" he cries defensively. I see his brown cheeks turning pink.
Suddenly there are more faces in the door: Mother, Tia, and my cousin Jorge. I scream louder at the sight of so many eyes and clutch myself into a small ball.
"What happened to her?" Tio demands as reaches for Moo. Suddenly he spots the can of Gillette in Moo's limp fingers. "What are you doing with this?" As he grabs his can of Gillette, his sandwich slips from his fingers and lands on top of Moo. The mustard side of the bread hits her shoulder while the lettuce and ham splatter against her cheek.
"I just saw Estela's boob!" Jorge cries making gagging noises as he flees from the bathroom door.
"Are you shaving?" Tio demands.
"Moo's dead!" I wail, "and you ask me if I'm shaving? I'm bleeding to death!"
Tio looks at my naked leg and sees the blood. Suddenly Tia and Mom grab Tio and push him out and close the door in his face. Mom barks at me to get out of the tub, saying that I'm fine, while Tia peels food off of Moo and pats her cheek until she's revived. I watch the blood roll down my leg to my foot. It stains the bathmat and the stinging is worse now that I'm out of the tub and shivering.
"Sit on the toilet and put this on it," Mom hands me a clean wash cloth. "You know better Estela--this was her idea wasn't it?"
Mother always talked about Moo as if she were a plague. I hated her for it.
"It was mine!" I snapped. "I'm sick of being a monster! I'm a woman already--I'm not a man. I am not a cow!"
Tia fusses over Moo's banged head and mustard-stained sweater, Mom clicks her tongue at me, muttering things in Spanish (something about me being ungrateful), and Tio shouts at me through the closed bathroom door. He was saying something about hair being a gift from God and a sign of innocence, and something about Tia not shaving--something about it being sexy. He calls me his little girl and says that I don't need to shave.
"I'm a freak!" I shout back. "Everyone else is shaving!"
"You are not everyone else, Estela!" he says. "You stay away from my shaving cream!"
I look at my half finished leg and four hairy toes. I'm even more of a freak than before. Sniffling, I watch as Tia rushes off with Moo's sweater, and while my mother grounds me for a week for disobeying the rules, Tio comes into the bathroom, plucks the razor from the bathwater and gathers up the rest of his shaving paraphernalia. He leaves the bathroom with it--probably to hide it from me. Somewhere in the house I can hear Jorge moaning: "Blinded by the boob!"
Moo walks toward me in her little lacy bra and sits down on the little bit of toilet lid that my hips aren't taking up.
"You're not a cow," she whispers. "Darren Silversmith is stupid--he doesn't know anything." I nod my head pathetically and brush away a tear. Moo puts her arm around my back and squeezes me. "And... so what if you can't shave your legs right now--it doesn't matter. We can do something else."
"Like what?" I sniff. "I'm such a man."
She smiles and reveals a pair of tweezers as if she pulled them out of thin air. "How about giving you two eyebrows instead of one?"
Laughing, I wipe my nose on my wrist and grunt an OK.
Note: Like my postings on FP, this is pretty rough. Just wanted to write a little Es and Moo for you :) Hope you enjoyed it.