Author Archives: alanaicapria

February 7, 2016 – Excerpt

“Grandmother was soaked in rubbing alcohol to remove the old stench from her skin. The alcohol dried her skin and when she was lifted from the bath, her arms and legs flaked. Bits of her floated around the basement and gathered on mother and father. Sister, brother, and I joined mother and father at the preparation table. We felt prepared for grandmother’s body. After seeing grandfather’s corpse, we knew what death looked like. Although seeing a body was not the same as smelling one, we were more comfortable now. Mother and father washed and brushed grandmother’s hair.”

February 4, 2016 – Excerpt

“Mother sounded the funeral bell. The bell was louder than grandmother’s screaming. We assembled in the living room and looked at grandfather’s body. Everyone was quiet now. Grandfather was a pale white-blue color now. His lips were the same color as the rest of his face and seemed to disappear into his skin. Mother rang the bell again. She announced the cleaning ritual. The funeral guests bowed their heads. Father splashed grandfather with a capful of distilled vinegar. Grandmother screamed.”

February 1, 2016 – Excerpt

“Grandfather was dead. Mother and father dragged grandfather from the pantry where he died and laid him across a table in the basement. The table was never used and so there was no fear of cross-contamination (people were often squeamish at the thought of human corpses touching their dead but cooked animals). Mother wiped her eyes constantly, proving she was a devoted daughter to the end. Grandmother remained upstairs in the moth ball-smelling bedroom she shared with grandfather, screaming until her voice was hoarse. Mother and father banned sister, brother, and me from entering the room grandfather lay within.”

January 31, 2016 – Excerpt

“The telephone rang. The telephone never rang. The telephone sat on the wall in the hallway between the kitchen and dining room. Mother, father, sister, brother, and I stood in front of it. The telephone moved upon its hook. It rang loudly. Its shrill brrrring sound echoed down the hallway. Upstairs, grandmother shrieked that the telephone was ringing. Grandmother loved the telephone although she was not allowed to use it. Grandfather mumbled about the telephone. He had difficulty understanding the difference between speaking on the telephone and to a person standing in front of him.”

January 28, 2016 – Excerpt

“Grandmother screamed at grandfather. Grandmother was always screaming at grandfather. Grandmother called grandfather an old goat and grandfather called her a cow. Every night, they tried smothering one another with pillows but neither was strong enough to hold the pillows down forcefully enough. Grandmother and grandfather quivered. Their limbs were weak from atrophy. They could not get out of their beds and so had to settle on reaching an arm across the bed to smack the pillow against the neighboring face. Grandmother and grandfather’s room smelled of old person.”

January 26, 2016 – Excerpt

“Mother went crazy in the midst of butchering the evening roast. She held the carving knife in one hand, the serving fork in the other. She made an elaborate pattern of crosshatches and breaks. The meat bled onto the plate and it was deep red blood that came pouring out. We all sat at the table—mother and father and sister and brother. We watched the meat bleed. It took us some time to realize the meat was still alive. It squirmed beneath mother’s knife. It bucked and attempted to throw her off. But mother did not react to the meat’s movements. She dug the knife in deeper. She twisted the knife one way, then the other. She opened the meat up so that the insides were exposed to the air. Mother spilled what was best to cook first.”

January 22, 2016 – Excerpt

“A thin man came into the dining room and introduced himself as Jesu. He said, I am Jesu. The dinner guests shouted, HELLO, JESU. Most chairs at the table were empty. Jesu chose to sit in the chair to my left. He seated himself heavily, reached for a platter of meat, and served himself several handfuls. His hands were bright red even before touching the meat. Jesu chewed with his mouth open. He smiled as he chewed. He would not stop smiling. Jesu opened his mouth wide, showing me the chewed up food stuffed inside.”

January 20, 2016 – Excerpt

“There I was in the dining room, all the unhappiness of the house piled upon a plate set out in front of me. Mother and father would not stop screaming for me to eat. But the meat squished when I touched. It leaked onto the plate, onto me. I felt very cold. When I looked down at myself, I recognized nothing. This lap was not mine. Those knees were not mine. My hands were not my own. That godforsaken meat covered everything. The meat was half-rotten. I could smell how the meat had turned.”

January 15, 2015 – Excerpt

“Once upon a time, something I thought I did not want was taken out of me. Because I did not want it, I did not lament the loss. I closed my eyes and counted, then it was over. There was barely any pain. There was a slight fever like standing outside during a hot day for too long. But that heat passed and I felt cool once more. What was taken out of me was placed into a jar and sealed.”

January 11, 2016 – Excerpt

“They were all in a frenzy around me: mother and father and all the dinner guests. They chewed without looking at anything in particular. Their faces were blank but their minds were working. They chewed and gnawed and slobbered. Their faces were gray with food waste. They ate while their stomachs grumbled and their throats tightened. They choked on their food, letting it come up into their mouths, then choking it back down so that the taste was rich with acid. As they chewed, they mumbled with stuffed mouths, Hungry, hungry, hungry. Sometimes they said other things and those other things were always in reference to a corpse that was not yet within the dining room.”

December 30, 2015 – Excerpt

“A man sat in a house all alone. He played with his hair for an hour, then lit a candle in his fist. He looked out a window that was always dirty no matter how he rubbed the glass with his fists. The man walked all through the house and sometimes he wept silently, and other times he turned the faucets on. The house was always dark no matter the season or time of day. It was gray in the morning, black at night, then gray again. The man scratched at himself. He felt that there were little things living within his skin that he could remove if he just scratched quickly enough.”

December 17, 2015 – Excerpt

“A withered man said he would love to eat some of the funeral meat. The only problem was that he no longer had any teeth. The old man thought I did not believe him and so he opened his mouth, showing me the emptied gums. The tiny tendrils of flesh that were once his nerves twitched, then coiled back towards the top and bottom of his mouth. The old man looked at the serving platters longingly. He took a small piece of meat from one plate, then a second piece of meat from another. He put both pieces of meat into his mouth and sucked, drawing out the fluids stuck inside the fibers. The man spat out each piece of withered meat, then left them on the table for mother, father, and me to look upon.”

December 10, 2015 – Excerpt

“We forgot where we were. It was more than that. We forgot who we were. We forgot what the house was. We opened our eyes and everything was strange. Although this happened enough times for us to feel that we should be used to lapses in identity, we always felt frightened. How could we grow used to the sensation that we were unrooted? During such confused episodes, we found that the rooms we were in were too large or too wide or too bright or too small or too loud or too quiet or too fetid or too sweltering or too cold. We looked at the rooms that we were assured were ours but they were not our rooms at all. We knew our rooms and these rooms were not them. We sat in our beds clutching at blankets which were too wet or too dry or too itchy or too thin and we breathed but found that breathing did not come easily. And so again, we were pained. If we looked to the sides of our beds and saw someone tucked into the covers, we became overcome with the strongest sense of déjà vu. We thought we knew the people beside us but we did not remember how we knew them.”

 

My story “Valet de Chambre” was published in and/or’s volume #5 http://www.and-or.org/issues.html. If I remember correctly, the story was written at the end of 2012.

December 7, 2015 – Excerpt

“I walked up and down the stairs. The house had many staircases and some leaned too far to one side and others creaked with each step and even more did not have banisters that could be grabbed when tripping. Each staircase had a door that looked within and those doors were kept locked from the inside. No one in the house ever saw what was inside those rooms and those who wanted to know did not ask. There were fifteen steps that led to the basement and then seventeen steps that led to the second floor and then fifteen more steps that led to the second floor from a different direction and then three steps that led into the house from the back and seven steps that led into the house from the front and five steps that led into the house from the side. There were twenty-nine steps that connected the second floor to the attic and fifty-seven steps that led directly to the attic from the ground floor.”

December 4, 2015 – Excerpt

“In our safe little house, we sat together smiling. No one felt sad. We avoided the windows because we did not like seeing out. Seeing out did not make us happy. Seeing out made us the opposite of happy, which was sad. We liked being happy and so we did not look. We smiled until our mouths hurt. We smiled even when our mouths hurt. We smiled while looking at one another. We smiled while our cheeks shook. Sometimes we thought we could not possibly smile anymore and then we did smile more. We smiled until we felt numb and then our smiles grew wider. It was so easy to smile when within the house. We had everything to smile about, as long as we did not look out the window.”

November 25, 2015 – Excerpt

“The family sat silently in the living room. They did not look at anything. They looked out at the walls, at the floor. No one looked at one another. I watched them the way they watched everything. The room was too quiet and I wanted to slam a door just to make noise. The family had not spoken in nearly a day. Everyone just sat there, only moving when it came to going to the bathroom or making something to eat. Their faces were drawn and lined and grey. When a throat was cleared, it was done uncomfortably, as if it were almost painful. Sometimes I could not help but wonder if we were all dead.”

November 21, 2015 – Excerpt

“Our dreams were of the ghosts lurking in the house. They were in the hallways, standing in lines and rows, their backs to the walls. They were stuffed inside our food, their ghost bodies impacted in the oven and the roasts and the cups. The ghosts took hold of the edges of our mattresses and lifted them, flipping us over so that we fell into the small space between the bed and the wall, and became stuck. When the ghosts were near, we could not scream. We tried but the sounds suffocated in our throats. We yelped and groaned but none of the sounds were loud enough to alert anyone that the ghosts were near. We all suffered simultaneously but thought we were haunted alone.”

November 19, 2015 – Excerpt

“The house was filled with ghosts although we could not see them. We felt them in corners. There were cold drafts that moved. We walked into and through them. We were always cold. Everyone in the house wore coats and heavy sweaters. Our necks were swathed in scarfs. When we slept, we wrapped blankets around ourselves. The furnace roared and the only fireplace was crackling with embers but we still could not get warm. Even if we huddled together, there was no comfort from the cold. We stood over the stove and warmed our hands that way.”

November 16, 2015 – Excerpt

“The family ghost cried. It wailed from just outside my room. The family ghost often did this. It walked around the house, screaming and crying until someone opened a door. The family ghost never went inside the opened room; it only wanted to assure itself that the door would be opened. The family ghost stomped its feet. It banged against the bedroom door. Its whispers carried through the cracks in the door frame. I walked to the other side of the door and stood close. The wood stood between the family ghost and me. It was a thin wood panel. I heard everything the family ghost said although I could not make all its words out.”

November 10, 2015 – Excerpt

“I thought I saw the family ghost come sliding across the ceiling. The family ghost was like a spreading stain. It began in a far corner, then grew until the entire ceiling was covered and on the verge of dripping. The family ghost was above my head. I looked up, then away. I felt the family ghost looming. The room was dark but the family ghost was darker. The family ghost stayed on the ceiling for some time, its head dropped back so that it could look at me, and every so often, it exhaled, and the sound was like wind. The air it made rattled and groaned. The family ghost slid across the ceiling.”

November 3, 2015 – Excerpt

“For nearly a whole day, the staircases in the house creaked with the sound of someone walking up, then down. The creaking rattled the ceiling, causing the plaster to crack. Large chunks of plaster fell to the tiled floor, shattering into a dusty powder that needed to be swept up with a moist broom. No one in the family left the dining room. Everyone sat at the table, looking at their hands. When someone needed something to drink or had to use the bathroom, someone else went along. No one traveled alone in the house. The creaking went on and on. The footsteps stopped on one landing, then another. The footsteps clomped and slammed. The footsteps paused for just long enough that we thought they stopped, then they began again.”

October 31, 2015 – It’s a Halloween Excerpt!

“Something was wrong with the grandmother. She would not get up from the dinner table. Her old hands were gummed up with red meat and white fat. Globules of the flesh dribbled from her fingers. The grandmother stared dully towards the hallway outside the dining room. Her eyes did not move. When the grandfather spoke in her ear, the grandmother did not react. The fat dribbled from her fingers. It puddled on the spotted tablecloth. The grandmother who did not like stains did not notice how dirty the cloth was although her hands were fixed upon it.”

October 25, 2015 – Excerpt

“I stood alone in the basement. Little sounds came from within the walls. I could not hear them clearly, just as I could not hear the murmuring of the family upstairs. The basement was dark except for one corner in which the candles burned. There were hundreds of candles, most older than others, most melted down so that the foundation of the mound was made of the melted, then hardened, wax. Buried within that wax were pictures of the favorite relatives: the great-grandmother who always baked, the son who died too quickly, the niece who hanged herself in the closet. If I picked at the wax for long enough, edges of those photographs would be unearthed. Each day, the candles were lit and left to burn. When there were no more viable wicks, then grandmother would come and set new candles, then light them.”

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