Crocodiles Don’t Have Hair

by Rebekah Burcham - 

The zoo smelled hairy. Lacey smelled camel hair and lion hair and zebra hair and giraffe hair and bear hair and monkey hair, and she was sick of it. “I’m going to cut off all my hair,” she declared.

“Shh,” her mother said. That is adult for “How would you look without hair?”

“I’ll be bald like Uncle Mark. My head will be shiny. We’ll throw away all my brushes and buy a hundred hats.”

“Shhh.” That is adult for, “I’ll buy a pair of scissors from Acme on the way home, darling.”

Her mother cooed over a ring-tailed lemur that also smelled like hair. He shimmied from plastic branch to plastic branch, shaking his fur all over. Lacey sneezed on a zoo map. “Excuse me,” she said politely. Then on the map she saw a picture of a crocodile. Crocodiles don’t have hair.

"Let’s go see the crocodiles!” Lacey shouted.

Many other mothers looked at Lacey, and one nasty boy stuck out his tongue at her. She stuck her tongue out back, because the boy’s mother wasn’t paying attention enough to do it herself.

“Behave yourself!” Lacey’s mother put her hand on her hip. That is adult for, “Or else!”

Lacey followed her mother past all sorts of hairy mammals until they finally came to the crocodiles. The crocodiles were swimming in a pond that ran under a wood bridge. They were green-gray and yellow with gold eyes and toothy jaws that twisted like smiles. They had no hair, because crocodiles don’t have hair.

But Lacey could still smell hair even though smiling hairless crocodiles were swimming beneath her. They were too far away. They were bored, floating like logs. They would be exactly like logs if logs had teeth. They wanted company.

She jumped in.

“Lacey!” her mother shouted, which is adult for “You’re going to get wet!”

Floating bits of grass tickled her nose and elbows, and she sneezed and paddled and swallowed slimy mouthfuls of water. She hadn’t exactly learned how to swim yet.

The crocodiles stared at her...

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