"I read it in the shop," she mutters.
"Don't I have enough control already? Forget the girdle. You're doing a great job."
Holding the girdle by its suspenders, I dance toward the radio.
Biddy's lips are all pinched and tight. "Stop jigging about half-naked," she says. "And put the girdle in your underwear drawer. Look after it nicely."
Turning the radio down, just a touch, I hear the soft thud of footsteps.
"Your father's coming upstairsquick, cover yourself, Kate. He shouldn't be seeing you like this."
She points at my chest and moves her finger in circles.
"You mean Dad mustn't know I've grown breasts?"
Biddy picks up her shopping bag. "Don't be disgusting. You know what I mean."
Well, I suppose I do know what she means. Dad did look a bit upset last week when Aunt Shauna said, "Tom, will you just look at Kate, sure hasn't she got the loveliest little figure, and won't she be turning boys' heads soon?"
Friday September 17
Five months later, and my Cross Your Heart bra still doesn't have
enough to lift or separate. And the girdle kills, especially now,
chafing the tops of my thighs as I climb up Bryre Hill Lane.
Me and Moira had to stay for detention after school because Father Flannagan caught us eating communion wafers during altar-cleaning duty. Moira didn't know what the fuss was about. Nothing had been consecrated. "It wasn't as if we were snacking on the Body of Christ, miss," she told the headmistress.
For that remark, we were awarded an extra hour.
Still, being late home has its advantages, because Barry Finch was on the same bus and he's walking up the lane right behind me as I speak. The fab Barry Finch, I should add. What are the odds Moira will phone as soon as I get home, dying to know if he spoke to me?
But damn, fat chance of that when I'm wearing a green blazer, pleated skirt, and tie.
"Hey, nice uniform," he drawls.
"Huh," I reply, finding it difficult to remain aloof when I can feel my stocking tops approaching my knees. I told Biddy the girdle was too long. I'm the third shortest girl in my year, for God's sake.
"Hoighty-toighty, aren't we?"
He's walking alongside me now. Heat creeps up my neck, and, oh shit, I'm turning red. Keeping my head down, I study the scuff marks on my Mary Janes so he can't tell.
"What's life like at Snobhurst Girl's School?" he asks.
He wears drainpipe jeans, a leather jacket, walks with his hands in his pockets.
"Very funny," I say. "Shawhurst Roman Catholic School, actually."
"For girls." He winks a green eye.
Green eyes, black hair. Thick eyebrows, dark skin. A Romeo, a Montague. No, on second thoughtlike Tony in West Side Story.
Reprinted from Cover the Butter by Carrie Kabak, pages 1-13, with permission from Dutton, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Copyright © 20054 by Carrie Kabak. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced without permission.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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