There was this girl at school who didn’t have any shoes. The principal and teacher, Miss Larue, got together and brought in a pair of sneakers for her. She didn’t say thank you. Lots of kids teased her about that. “Why didn’t ya say thank you, you ingrate?” I know why. Because she didn’t want the damn shoes, that’s why.
Who the hell did they think they were anyway? Calling her to the front of the class and presenting with a flourish the ratty, used sneakers to the poor little girl? What was she supposed to do? Fall to the floor and kiss their feet for trotting her poverty out in front of the whole world? Geesh, what idiots adults are.
I followed Mary, that was her name, out to the merry go round one day. She didn’t sit on it, just stood staring at it with blank faraway eyes. I like to lay on it with one foot dangling over and spin myself to space, I told her. She either didn’t hear me or she was ignoring me.
“See this,” I held up a stick I had pulled off the chinaberry tree, “See?” She saw, alright. It was right in front of her face. But she didn’t move.
That wasn’t going to stop me from yakking though. Mama said I’d most likely still be talking when I was dead and buried, I even talked in my sleep, a fact I was actually proud of. Not many people talked in their sleep and I figured that made me pretty smart. “What do I say?” I once asked Mama but she said it was always gibberish. That was even better. I had my own secret language that even I didn’t know.
“Hey, Mary, did you ever wonder if Jesus is hiding right behind that cloud up there?” I jabbed at the sky with my stick.
Mary reached over and gently took the stick from my hand. She studied the knobby little stick and then gazed up to study where I was just poking.
“Don’t poke things at the sky, Kylee,” she said so softly I could barely hear. “There’s angels about.”
“Uh-huh.” was all I could manage in response to that statement. But apparently Mary was on a roll now and had something she needed desperately for someone to hear.
Her eyes glistened with tears as she continued, “We are naught but a single blade of grass in Jesus’ garden and He loves every single blade. He sends his angels to tend his yard.”
She laid off staring at the sky and turned to me sharply, “You can’t go around jabbing at the sky, Kylee, lest you pierce an angel through the heart and he fall to the ground, crushing the blades of grass.”
Never in my whole ten years had I heard someone speak so softly and so sweetly. No one had ever talked to Mary before. How could we know? I thought only the preacher talked like that.
I, of course, in my childish ignorance had no idea what to say to this queer little girl. I guess I stood there with my yap gaping open because she pressed the twig into my hands and walked away. I peered through squinty eyes at the air around me.
Angels, huh? If angels were taking care of all the grass then where the hell were they when I had that knife at my throat?
K. Y. Hamilton, BA, MA - Copyright 2006