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we all fall down

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“I didn’t jump!”

 

Her mother only clicks her tongue, unimpressed by her daredevil daughter’s lie. “Fall, jump, it doesn't matter,” she says, peeling the (formerly) white skirt away from the bloody knee. It’s nothing more than a scratch, really, a few scrapes from the pile of stones the little girl had managed to hop straight on to. That didn’t stop her daughter from screaming for her mother like she was dying, though. “We all fall just the same.”

 

The girl opens her mouth to protest, to restate her fib, but she’s silenced by the sting of her mother cleaning her battle scar. So she bites her lip instead and watches her mother work.

 

It has always been just her and her mother, with little mention of anyone who could possibly be her father. She had never asked; her mother had never told. Of course she had aunts and uncles and cousins, more than she could keep track of. But really, it was just them. Her mother called her “her shining diamond”, and treated the girl as if she was the only thing she had in the world. Of course that wasn’t true; she had her collection of flowers and plants, her siblings, and, of course, her ability to somehow get anything to grow. Flowers blossomed beneath her touch, and the girl squeezed her eyes tight and pretended that her skin was closing up beneath her mother’s hand.

 

“You’re fine, Persephone,” Demeter scolds as she finished bandaging up her daughters knee. “It’s just a scrape. Give it a day and you’ll be just fine.” Cupping the girl’s face in her hands, she plants a kiss on top of her unruly curls. Demeter has spent her entire life in control, be it over plants or just her life in general. That had changed with her daughter. Nothing was as terrifying to her as losing Persephone, of seeing her harmed. Still kneeling in the spot where she had bandaged her daughter’s knee just a minute before, she watches as the girl runs off to play again in a field of wild flowers, running around without a care in the world. The girl is peaceful, but her mother still feels a bubbling of fear in her stomach.

 

When Persephone disappears in the same field years later, some whisper that she jumped into the hole that split the ground, while others are confident that she fell. It doesn’t matter, truly. She fell all the same.