‘Blood’ by Janice Galloway

I once wrote in a short story of mine – “a woman is fluent in the language of blood”. Never was it more evident than in this visceral, almost carnal, story about a schoolgirl who starts her day having a sanitary towel jammed into her mouth to stem the bleed from a tooth extraction at the dentist and ends with her, at school, stuffing toilet paper in her underwear to stop a heavy, unexpected, period. She seeks solace in a music rehearsal room with a rosewood piano and Mozart playing, but the door won’t lock, and she hears the approaching footfall in the corridor of the students as the ‘unstoppable redness’ seeps from her, unable to stanch the bleed. 

The story is sinewy, compressed, with not one ounce of flab. Truthfully, I could have picked any of her stories. Janice Galloway is not Scotland’s best writer, she is simply the best writer, full stop.

From Blood, Vintage, 1991, and also The Picador Book of the New Gothic, Picador, 1991

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