Jamey Hill Temple

Train a child in the way she should go


            Abandoning her refrain of “High expectations reap greater rewards,” Mrs. Steward passed out chocolate for proper memorization of 1 Corinthians 13, the “love” chapter.  Mary Leigh mouthed “cha-ching!” to the only other female in the class.  The three guys sat, unaffected.

            When handed her very own Dove bar, Mary Leigh had savored each velvety bite, reciting “Love is patient,” in her head, giggling.  She tried not to close her eyes as she chewed—her enjoyment could be taken away.  Instead, she focused on the Ten Commandments’ poster pinned to the bulletin board.  By the time she finished her last bite, her eyes couldn’t focus.

            She needed quiet and dark.  Excused herself to the basement bathroom—the one only teachers used. Maybe this time she could avoid another sick episode.

            She pressed the door closed, switched off the light, and slid down the cinder block wall, all the while rubbing her temples.  That’s when the zig-zag line danced on the back of her eyelids—she knew the pain and nausea weren’t far off.  She felt her way to the stall, not caring about sticky floors.

            The door clicked open.  Light flooded around her.

            “Mary Leigh?”

            “I’m getting another migraine, Mrs. Steward.”

            Mary Leigh squinted, saw Mrs. Steward kneel in front of her, then shut her eyes again when she felt Mrs. Steward’s hand on top of her head.

            “Father, take away this pain that invades Mary Leigh’s body.  Cast out any demons or thoughts that steal health.  We know you are the great physician. Please heal her, Father.  In Jesus’ name.”

            “Thank you,” Mary Leigh said, as the lines began to fade.  She opened her eyes again to see Mrs. Steward already at the door, hesitating.

            “Mary Leigh, you do know if you just believed he’d heal you, you wouldn’t feel this way?” Mrs. Steward’s pursed lips and tilted head punctuated her pity.  Before Mary Leigh could answer, Mrs. Steward disappeared through the door that clicked close behind her.

            A knot rose through Mary Leigh’s throat.

            “Jesus,” she said, covering her mouth, trying to hold back her body’s waywardness.   


Jamey Hill Temple has published prose and poetry in numerous publications, including Literary Mama, Kentucky Monthly, Kudzu, and others. Her prose chapbook, While Taking This Medication, was a finalist for the 2015 Newfound Prose Prize. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing (Fiction) from Spalding University, and she now teaches writing courses at University of the Cumberlands.  


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