Author Archives: alanaicapria

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.”

October 22, 2015 – Excerpt

“It was dinnertime. The family was seated at the table. A roasted hide of pig sat as the centerpiece. It was a whole pig with crisp brown skin and open mouth gripping a wrinkled red-brown apple. The pig’s eyes were rolled back in its shriveled head. From where I sat, the pig’s blank gaze seemed directed at me. The family hummed in excitement over the meat. Pig such as this was cause for celebration. It was just the thing to eat when it was dark outside and the moon was up. Someone carved into the meat. Someone divided the meat into pieces. Someone tore the meat. Slabs of pork dropped onto every dish. My piece was still pink, with a broken piece of off-white artery in its center. I poked at the artery with my fork.”

October 1, 2015 – Excerpt

“Mother went into a rage. She swallowed sleeping pills one at a time and each time she swallowed, the action was violent. She heaved her hands towards her mouth, first the left, then the right, the pills somehow finding the way to her tongue without falling between her fingers. Mother finished two bottles of the pills and was more awake than before. She crouched in the corners and mumbled incoherently. Sometimes we heard spare words. Mother spoke endless about the house and its walls. She mentioned the hallway. She spoke of the bed. She said many things about the children. We kept our distance. We always stayed away from mother when she was like this. Each time seemed like the worst of the rages.”

September 19, 2015 – Excerpt

“The walls grew closer together. No matter where we went, mother was always there. She breathed over us. If we entered our rooms, mother lurked directly behind the door, her back to the shadowed wall. If we went into the bathroom, mother was already crouched in the bathtub, the curtains drawn around the rim, concealing her. If we thought it might be nice to take a nap in the middle of the afternoon, mother was in the attic, walking back and forth overhead, her steps falling so heavily that the floorboards seemed to crack. In the basement where we played hide-and-seek, mother stood on the clothes dryer, looming over us all. As we came up and down the stairs, she stood beneath the staircase so that we could glimpse her between the spaces in the wood. Mother bared her teeth when she grinned.”

September 10, 2015 – Excerpt

“I trimmed the man. I trimmed him like chicken, like steak. I trimmed at his fat, then at his hanging parts. I did the trimming slowly, while he slept. I took my time. I allowed the knife blade to travel around his curves and contours. I laid the knife against his skin and skimmed it across. The fat peeled away in little curls that were buttery. I hummed as I worked. The man snored softly, so that his body did not move. I trimmed his center. I trimmed what was beneath his center. I guided the knife with my fingers, then lifted my hands away so that I would not be trimmed along with him. I did the trimming so well, there was barely any blood.”

August 28, 2015 – Excerpt

“What was it the pills were supposed to accomplish? To make everything normal? To make me into an agreeable woman? A good mother? The children were still monsters. The neighbors were still missing. There was still a strange foam that seemed to go through the windows although the man swore the glass was never unlocked. The pills changed nothing. It did not matter how many pills the man piled on my tongue. There was no difference in reality. And the reality was that my children, the man’s and my children were beasts. They were rabid, feral little beasts that refused domesticity despite our keeping them in a house. They would not be house-trained. They would not be house-broken. They would not be potty-trained. They would not learn table manners. All they did was demand meat.”

August 27, 2015 – Excerpt

“I took my daily pill just as the man wanted. I woke in the morning, shook a pill onto my tongue, and swallowed. The pill settled in my stomach uncomfortably. There was a constant presence of acid in my chest. I could not breathe normally. The acid rush was too much. It was difficult to swallow. I chased the pill with several glasses of water. The end result was that my stomach felt swollen. I had to use the bathroom constantly. The man reminded me. He asked if I took my pill like a good girl. He always said girl when speaking about me. I was a good girl or a bad girl or a naughty girl. I was his girl.”

August 26, 2015 – Excerpt

“The children reached into shadowy corners and chewed. They hid various pieces of food in cracks and crevices, then fished them out at a later date. I could not see what the children were chewing. It was difficult to tell if they put meat in their mouths or various plastic-based objects. The children chewed quickly. They gummed the objects. They drooled while they chewed. They spat thick foam onto the floor. They left a little trail that went into the bathroom and out the window.”

August 25, 2015 – Excerpt

“The man came home in the middle of the day. He said the neighbors to our backyard called him at work to complain about the screaming coming from the house. They said it sounded as though someone were in terrible pain. They said they tried closing the windows and sealing the doors but the sound still came in. They were sorry to assume that the sounds came from the man’s house but we were the only ones with infants. They said they called around the block asking if anyone else heard the screaming and at least ten neighbors stated the same. The screaming was definitely coming from our house. And so the man was forced to cross the town and find out why there was any screaming at all.”

August 24, 2015 – Excerpt

“I did not want a life with the man. To have a life with him was to slowly cut off pieces of myself, thick chunks that bled spontaneously and left noxious black splotches on the dining room floor. It would be no better than giving birth again and again, my body weakening with each fertile incarnation, until finally, my spine snapped and my uterus ruptured, became prolapsed, went falling from between my legs only to be caught in his cupped hands. What kind of life was that, his holding my sex parts in perpetuity when I was capable of cradling myself?”

August 22, 2015 – Excerpt

“The children hobbled to the front door and banged their fists against it. They hissed like snakes. They asked where the man was. They asked why he had to leave. They asked what they would do without him. They asked if they could go outside. They asked if they might visit the neighbors. They asked if I would play a game with them. They asked if we could burn one of the houses on the other side of the backyard down. They asked if they might chase the neighborhood cats. They asked if I would feed them breakfast and lunch simultaneously. They asked if the windows could break without a hammer. They asked how long until the man came home.”

August 19, 2015 – Excerpt

“The children were gnawing their thumbs. I felt so lonely. Every day, the man went to work. Every night, he returned, demanding mashed potatoes and gravy on his plate. He smelled of women’s perfume. The perfume smelled nothing like the perfume I wore. It had a more citrusy quality and I hated it. My perfume smelled like flowers. I like fragrances that smelled like jasmine and gardenia and rose. I knew floral scents were often confused with old women smells but I loved them. I wanted to smell like I spent all day sitting in a garden.”

August 11, 2015 – Excerpt

“I was a mother. That was supposed to mean something. The man said so. A mother was woman most mighty. She was human to the umpteenth reality. She was what all others aspired to be. I was supposed to be happy. I was expected to place my hands upon my stomach and revel in the children’s occupancy. Each time I touched the meat, I felt ashamed that I could not stop the pregnancy. It was disheartening. I tried to end the children through various means but none worked. The children triumphed, I lost. I felt that I could not be saved. The children had teeth and too many bones. The children already knew the ways of the world and that worldliness was intimidating. How was it possible to give birth to something that knew more than you?”

August 10, 2015 – Excerpt

“The man insisted on watching me bathe. He pulled a dining room chair up the stairs and set it in front of the tub. He would not let me close the curtains around myself. I stripped as he watched, then bent over to turn on the water. The man leaned past me and held his wrists under the stream. He adjusted the faucet accordingly. The water could not be too hot in case it boiled the children inside me. The water could not be too cold because then I might risk hypothermia. When the water was to the man’s liking, he sat back in his chair and gestured for me to continue.”

August 6, 2015 – Excerpt

“The time had come for the man to return to work. He was given one month to enjoy the children and then it was time to leave the house. The man kissed each child on the head. He did it quickly, placing his lips against their foreheads, then stepping away. If he lingered, the children would bite his face. And so he kissed rapidly, one kiss after the other until he reached the fifteenth, and then he turned to me. The man wanted to kiss me. He opened his mouth to me. He told me to touch my tongue with his. He said to kiss fast, the children were looking. I could not stop staring at his mouth. It was so dirty. The children’s germs were on his lips like dirt. The man pulled me close.”

July 30, 2015 – Excerpt

“During my pregnancy, I suffered from constant nightmares. Every nightmare took place in the same long hallway. The hallway was dark and when I stepped, there were vague spotlights that illuminated the wood just in front of me, so that little by little, I could make my way to the end. There were always children screaming in that hallway. I knew they would scream but each time, I was taken by surprise. Their screams were so loud, so high-pitched. They came spreading through the air. Putting my hands over my ears would not block out the sound. There were numerous voices, the screams piling up so that the mass voice was deafening. I could not see the children but knew they were just behind me, their mouths open and hands grasping. I was so afraid the children would bite my back.”


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