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How You Learn Not To Break

    Ms. Cake Doll Spier climbs onto Lego Dino to get across the hot lava so she can meet Ken the Office Man for a dance in the puffy purple mountains. She does not have to look pretty for Ken to like her but she does anyway. She does not have to know better for Ken to like her but she does anyway. She does not have to stop crying for Ken to like her but she does anyway because I taught her how. She does not have to stop crying in front of Leg Dino but she mostly does anyway. 
   I explain to her that Ken will be around her, but if she wants her friends or her mommy to be around her, she has to teach her eyes to swallow the tears before they come out. I show her again right now because I have to do it a lot even though my mommy did not explain why I got replaced and she is really busy now and I asked her why I got replaced but she did not answer. She just said no a lot of times and that that was not right and I should not think that I was replaced and that my sister is not better than me but I already know she is not better than me because she does not ever stop crying and I know that you are not supposed to cry at all. When you get hurt, you are supposed to suck on it and ask for a Band Aid but then you are supposed to go play again.
   So Ms. Cake Doll Spier who knows everything by watching other people when they do not know she is watching puts on her happy face when she gets close to the end of the lava to meet Ken the Office Man. He is waiting at the end of the lava for her already so he can help her off of Lego Dino. My sister is too small to get out of her crib but she makes a bigger noise than anything I have ever heard and she will not stop until my mommy comes back.
   “It is not fair,” Ms. Cake Doll Spier says to Ken the Office Man. “Other people can cry all day and people go running to them.”
   “You are not by yourself,” Ken the Office Man says and he puts his hand around Ms. Cake Doll Spier’s hand.
   Ms. Cake Doll Spier wants to pull her hand away but she is afraid she will be alone forever if she does that, so she lets Ken the Office Man hold it. “Yeah, but I am also not crying.” She smiles really big because she is proud. “My mommy taught me how.”
   When my mommy comes into the room I have to share with my sister to wake her up from her nap, I start crying. I cannot help it. I start crying because I know my sister is going to start to cry when my mommy wakes her up. My mommy looks right at me when she picks up my sister from her crib. She bounces my sister in her arms and my sister finally stops crying but I cannot. My mommy does not look at me again but my sister does as my mommy carries her out of the room and I am by myself.
   The room starts to get really small and the walls are coming closer to me all around and I do not see the door where my mommy left anymore. I just see the hot lava coming all around me when I fall onto the bed and make sure that only Lego Dino can hear me crying.
Megan Wildhood is a writer, editor and writing coach who helps her readers feel seen in her monthly newsletter, poetry chapbook Long Division (Finishing Line Press, 2017), her full-length poetry collection Bowed As If Laden With Snow (Cornerstone Press, May 2023) as well as Mad in America, The Sun and elsewhere. You can learn more about her writing, working with her and her mental-health and research newsletter at
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