It Only Hurts When I Smile by T. L. Sherwood

It Only Hurts When I Smile

Pictures tell lies just as awful as those that drop out of some people’s mouths. Jill and me, we were never that fierce. Aunt May and Uncle Bob were visiting that day. We were forced to wear matching dresses. Our cousin Jon brought his new camera. Said he was going to be a pho-to-journalist when he grew up. Told him he’d be lucky if he made it out of seventh grade alive.

“Show me how your Daddy looks.” Jon grinned while he looked through the viewfinder.

“When?” I asked. “Before or after he’s had a few?”

“You be the Mom,” he told Jill. She picked up a matted-haired doll and let it hang in front of her belly like Mama did with Buddy when Daddy came home from the bar.

“I need a cigarette.” I sprinted to the trailer and grabbed a lit one from the ashtray. I was in and out before the screen door shrieked close. I ran back and stood there looking like I was getting ready to beat the shit out of Jon for his own good. That he needed to learn his place. That my whomping his ass didn’t mean I didn’t love him.




T. L. Sherwood is the Assistant Editor at r.kv.r.y. Quarterly Literary Journal and also works at Literary Orphans. Her blog is called “Creekside Reflections” and she is the 2015 winner of the Gover Prize.


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