Part of Growing Up

This little scene was inspired by a prompt from Tomi Adeyemi’s site.  Yeah… it’s one of those stories.  Poor Henry…

**

A scream of horror echoed through the house, startling Markus out of a sound sleep.  Markus stumbled out of bed without bothering to put on his glasses and headed down the hall.  The light was already on in the room, as was the light in Henry’s room.  Johannes’s room was still dark and quiet, so he was still asleep, at least.

Markus rubbed at his eyes as he peered into his younger sisters’ bedroom.  Henry was sitting on the bed, hugging Frieda and speaking to her in a low, soothing voice.  His sister was sobbing so badly that she was coughing.  He frowned and looked over at Liesel.  “Is she all right?” he asked, his voice soft.

“I think so,” Liesel said, nodding.  She looked over at Henry and tilted her head to one side.  Then, she looked over at her brother and shrugged.  “I woke up and she was hysterically crying.  I went and got Teva.”

“Why’s she crying?” Markus asked, frowning.  He didn’t like seeing his sister so upset.  He was older than her and some part of him felt that meant he should protect her.

Liesel shrugged again.  “Terror. Disgust.  I don’t really know,” she said.  “It’s kind of a toss-up when you wake up covered in blood.”

Markus blinked at his sister’s words and turned sharply to Henry.  “Blood?” he rasped.  “Is Frieda hurt?  Should I call someone?”

Henry shook his head and sighed.  “This is just part of growing up when you’re a girl,” he said, shrugging.  He looked back at Frieda and gave her a weak smile.  “Would you like to get cleaned up?”

“I can wash, but I won’t be – be clean,” Frieda wailed.  She pulled away from Henry and bolted for the bathroom.  From there, she called back, “You shouldn’t touch me!  Why did you touch me?”

“It’s part of being a father,” Henry said, slipping past Markus.  He looked over at Markus as he reached the door to the bathroom.  “Change her sheets and put those by the hamper.  Got it?”

“Yes, Teva,” he said, nodding slightly.  He ducked into the bedroom and smiled when Liesel blocked his path.  He knew, without her needing to tell him what was wrong.  “I don’t mind, Liesel.  I can just offer prayers before I go to bed.”  He stepped forward and kissed her brow lightly.  “Get to bed, now.  All right?”

“Frieda has her blooming first,” Liesel said, as she climbed back into bed.  She scowled slightly and sat on the bed, watching as Markus pulled off the soiled sheets.  There was a surprising amount of blood for something that, ultimately, was perfectly normal for a girl her age.  “Is it because she’s older than me?”

“You’re twins,” Markus said, shaking his head.

Liesel’s scowl deepened.  “But she’s the older one: seven minutes older,” he said.  “Is that why she had her blooming and I don’t have mine yet?”

Markus frowned and then shrugged.  “I don’t know,” he said, honestly.  “Maybe it’s because she’s older.  Maybe it’s just… something else.  I don’t know what determines when a girl starts blooming.”

“I want to bloom too,” Liesel said, pouting.  She looked up as Henry escorted Frieda back into the room.  “When will I get my blooming?”

“I wasn’t ready,” Frieda murmured.  She was cleaned up, now, and wearing a fresh nightgown.  She barely looked at Markus as she climbed under the fresh sheets that he had laid out for her.  As he settled the cover over her head, she snuggled deeper, hiding from sight.  In a soft, sullen tone, she repeated, “I wasn’t ready.”

“I want to bloom,” Liesel said, as Henry stepped over to tuck her back in.  “Will I bloom soon, Teva?”

“All too soon, Liese,” he said.  Then, he kissed her brow.  He nodded once at Markus and waved him out of the room.  Then, he bent and kissed Frieda on her brow.  “For what it’s worth, Frieda, I wasn’t quite ready either.”

“Thank you, Teva,” she murmured.

Henry nodded and headed out of the room, turning off the light in his wake.  He hugged Markus lightly, pausing to kiss his brow too.  “Thanks for the help, Mark,” he said.  “Get back to bed now, before we wake Johannes, too.”

“How could he sleep through that?” Markus asked, shaking his head.

Henry shrugged and added, “I’m just glad that he did.”  Then he made a shooing motion and headed off to his own room.

Markus heaved a sigh and then glanced at the door to the room where his sisters’ slept.  He was glad that it wasn’t anything serious.  Frieda, he knew, would feel better in the morning.  Liesel was acting just enough put out that her sister got to bloom first that Frieda would come to be proud.  She had, after all, become a young woman and Liesel was still a little girl.

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