“Jones” by Sydnee Smith

My stepmom told me it sparkled like the moon in the winter, her favorite season. I never understood why she wanted to adorn something that looked like the night. The night was when demons came to play, but I guess she was used to that.

I untangled the headphones she got me for the plane ride home. She was always thoughtful like that. We had frantically walked the aisles to find them, a shadow cast behind both of us. A shadow we both could never seem to shake.

She said it tasted the way moonshine burns down your throat. She said she liked that kind of pain. I never understood why one would ever like pain, but I guess she was used to it by now.

I carried rocks in my pockets to weigh me down because I liked to feel grounded. I thought I was special that way until I learned my stepmom carried rocks in her purse. I don’t think she wanted to be weighed down.

When I visit in the summer, I watch the back of their heads. He stares deadpan at the television; she stares deadpan at him. I think they both seem dead inside. I wonder why she lives like that, but I guess she is used to it.

She didn’t turn any fans on in the summer, but I know she likes the cold. I guess she likes the cold so much because she was used to anxiously sweating. I guess that’s why she never realized the fan wasn’t on.

I always said she was so nice; she always told me to be quiet. Every morning and every night ended with silence. So much silence, I could hear my heart beating, or maybe it was hers. I wondered why we lived in such silence, but I guess we are both used to it by now.

During the summer, my legs burned on the leather seats of her car. She told me leather seats were nicer though. I never understood why she wanted everything to look so nice on the inside, but it was probably because she was used to trying.

She always made us listen to podcasts in the car, never music. She always wanted to be educated; she thought that could fix things. I knew we couldn’t fix anything.

Once after dinner I dropped my plate on the floor, with a crash. She flinched. She acted as if she hadn’t, but I knew. I always wondered why she was startled by such loud noises. She should have been used to it, though maybe she never would be.

I stared at the plate broken into a million tiny pieces. I thought I might cry, but I didn’t because I was used to it too.

Sydnee Smith is a local writer from Sumner, Washington. She will be attending Western Washington University in the fall of 2018 to study English education. Her past work has been featured in SLAM.