The pops rang loudly in the tense silence.
The twinkling strand lights tacked around the walls illuminated the dim room. Jo looked up at them. She sank onto the futon and dropped her cheek into one hand, now staring at the open books on the table in front of her. It was hard to read the words on the pages with only those small bulbs to see from but she didn't care. Jo had told her dad that she was going to take a nap, but now all she could think about was reading.
And her dad had told her not to go looking for something she wasn't ready to find, yet that was exactly what she was doing. The lights were a ruse; she always napped with them on. Maybe he wouldn't come snooping.
Jo's mom had been dead sixteen years. That's what she was told. But she wasn't really gone. Jo had seen her last year. Turns out, her mom had been one of the things hunters take care of all the time; her mom had become one of the monsters that she could put to rest with one hand tied behind her back. Her mom was a ghost.
But why had her dad not put her mom to rest way earlier than this? Jo fingered a page that she hadn't read yet. She knew why. He couldn't bear it. He still loved her. Jo almost snorted. She wanted to think that she could burn any of her mom's possessions and not feel sad because the action was something she'd done many times in her life...
The tickling on the back of her neck forced Jo's gaze around to the back of the futon. Her mom's blanket was draped lovingly across the top. Jo shook her head. Her mom had been cremated by her friends in a bonfire when she'd died. The only physical connection left, that Jo was aware of, was this blanket. If her mom had known that her daughter would inherit this piece of her, why would her mom not insist that it burn with her?
Had she wanted to come back?
Wetness was trickling down Jo's cheeks. She wiped the tears away with shaking fingers. If she was going to help her mom then she had to start digging deeper; she flipped back to the first page of the chapter. Her dad couldn't know. Jo didn't know if anyone should know.