Somewhere far beyond our playground, women took back the night, read Mary Daly, celebrated sisterhood and the ancient marriage of women and the earth. They went braless and grew soft hair in their armpits. But here at the Waltham Academy blue bars, we fourth-graders had new reasons to dread our bodies.
“My sister Gretchen is teaching me how to shave my legs,” said Claire, “with a hand-razor.” And the rest of us felt under our pant legs for the downy fur we, too, wanted to lose.
“Wooowww,” we said.
“My mom bought me cream deodorant,” I said.
“Mine, too,” said Abbie, and we waited for the others to respond. “Is yours in a little white dish?”
“It is! Secret! Like the commercial!”
"Y'all, I'm starting to worry about the unpardonable sin." Justine announced the topic in response to a Bible verse that had been read to us in chapel.
"Me, too," said Claire.
"It seems like we could do it accidentally."
"But do what?" I said.
"Nobody knows exactly," said Justine. "That's why we have to be careful." Abbie's eyes widened.
"But if we don't know what it is, how can we avoid it?" I said.
"I think it's the hardening of the heart," said Claire.
"No, it's saying, I don't believe in you, Jesus," said Justine.
"Just saying it?" I said. "That's unforgivable?"
"Yep," said Justine.
"Well, maybe we should ask someone," said Claire. "My sister said it's when you let your conscience be seared, as with hot irons."
Abbie squinted. "So if we let our conscience be seared with hot irons, we just go straight to Hell?" she said, as the whistle trilled the end of recess. The four of us climbed down the blue bars, troubled.
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