I Never Cry When I Fall
Mary Baader Kaley
I was born addicted to heroin. But I was fine, raised by my granny who slept all day. I remember thinking it strange at the playground when the kids would take a tumble off the monkey bars and go crying to their mammas -- when they could just brush off and keep playing. Sometimes I pushed them.
Then I saw the news about the boy who fell eighteen feet into an ape exhibit at the zoo, hitting his head on concrete. A mamma ape picked him up, caressed him, and kept him safe from the giant apes that would have harmed him. I wondered why something like that never happened to me.
Miss Jessup, my third grade teacher, she knew somehow. Said I was a good girl, always looked me in the eye, saw inside my head. She came to me the day I tripped at recess and scraped both my hands so badly I couldn’t even hold a pencil in class. Brought me to the sink and washed my burning skin. I didn’t cry when the soap stung me, or when she dried my hands so gentle, my palms pink and swollen. She wrapped my wounds with bandages and then she wrapped me in her arms, caressed me, and said it would be just fine. That’s when my tears came; and she held me and said “Okay, honey-child; okay, honey-child,” over and over again.
Mary Baader Kaley has an M.A. in Counseling, and enjoys writing short fiction and poetry. Her work can be found in Salome Magaine, The Shine Journal, Stymie Magazine, and is forthcoming in The Linnets Wings. She is currently working on a young adult novel.