Shyla Jones is a Black writer and educator from the East Coast. She is the editor-in-chief of superfroot mag and a collector of nostalgia. Her work can be found in SmokeLong Quarterly, Los Angeles Review, Fractured Lit, and others.
SLUSHIE by Shyla Jones
Monday, 15 November 2021
- My mother bought slushies the night after the fire. There were no flames, no burnt tinder or ash. There was no fire, really. Just the glitter of broken mirrors, our faces split into tenths, my mouth smeared with red lipstick and hers stained with wine. My father was dead and the boy I’d been dating was too old for me. She called me a fuckup, I told her she’d never loved anyone but herself, never loved my father either. The mirrors slipped from the walls like silk dresses and my voice was toothpaste, sticky in my mouth and grainy against my teeth.
My mother was a dancer once. Or was she an actress? I can’t remember. She did both of these things around me. I learned everything from her too, from the way she danced around the house, her body twirling from mine as if she’d smell something on me that she’d passed down. She performed the best when other people were around—Barbie smile, that’s what my father said. Watch how easy it can tug the hearts of a small town. Anyway, my mother never loved me, and I never really loved her, not in the way I was supposed to. I slammed my head against glass. She called the cops.
- My mother was a self-proclaimed narcissist, and she always had her dark hair cut in a crooked bob. She didn’t believe in hair salons, so she did it herself with scissors from an at-home manicure kit. No one else could know what looked best on her. Mirrors were all over our house to show her what she looked like doing everything— above the stove, on the wall across the toilet, above the sinks, in the closets, above the washing machine, beside the television. Her favorite was the one in the entryway, heart shaped and bordered with gold, the one that told her, yes, she still looked good when she came home.
- My mother and father got married out of high school when their faces were still ruddy and the world was semi-promising. She was a vegan with a superiority complex, and he was a dud with a cigarette addiction and greasy hair. They married because it was easy, because my mother enjoyed the aesthetic of fixing someone she deemed unfixable, because my father just needed someone to love him. They had me after three months. They named me after her, gave me a middle name that I went by instead, to drive home that I would never be my mother.
My mother pushed the convenience store door open with her hip, her bangles clanging with her movements. In her hands were two slushies, neon blue like a motel sign—though she didn’t eat sugar. My head was damp with blood, but she unwrapped the straws like we had the time and took a sip before handing me one.
- I broke all my mother’s mirrors. I punched them until they were shards, then slammed my head into her favorite one. I drank the slushie like this was something traumatic, like I’d burned down the house. I wondered what it would’ve been like to do that, watch the house and all of its ghosts turn to soot. My mother slurped beside me. Her lips were tinged blue, her hair ballooning with fly-aways. When the sheriff’s sirens broke through the air, under the wash of blue and red, I saw her makeup smudged to her chin. She’d never looked so unkempt.
My mother sipped her slushie like it was hot coffee, both hands around the paper cup. Moths fluttered by the store light. My vision swayed. The slushie tasted like sour electricity and coated the flesh of my tongue with a grainy film. I remembered that I used to cry a lot. My mother would press rabbit foot gloss applicators to my lips before I went to school, and I would argue because it was the only times she was close to me, and I wanted her to stay there. Make me proud, she’d say with urgency, like she knew I wouldn’t.
- Published in Issue 22