Showing posts from July, 2022

Mom Says it's My Turn in the Body - Zoe Leonard - THIS IS TOO TENSE

  Mom Says it’s My Turn in the Body Zoe Leonard   From the inside of your head you ask, “Can I play now?” “I just started playing,” your sister says in your voice. She is deconstructing your Lego starship and sticking the pieces back together at odd angles. You try to keep a mental tab on the bricks so you can fix it when you have control of your body again, but she’s tossing pieces all over the carpet. The Legos halo around your crisscrossed legs like shrapnel. Mom says she can play with any of your toys, and you can’t complain because she’s your sister, and you were so sad when she was dead, so now you should be happy.  Before Milly came back, Mom spent all day laying on the couch, looking at her phone. She wouldn’t talk, and most nights, you’d have to microwave EasyMac for dinner. Mom didn’t eat very much.  One night your stomach was growling, so you snuck out of your room and saw Mom in the dark at the dining table. She was reading something on her laptop and hold

She Lurks in Your Dwelling - S. J. Walker - THIS IS TOO TENSE

  She Lurks in Your Dwelling S.J. Walker   You’re faced with two options. You can continue living under her tyranny, or you can try to move out while risking her wrath. When you moved into this godforsaken apartment building in the city, you couldn’t have known it was inhabited by a demon that lurks within its halls. You’re watching television, cooped up in your bedroom because it feels more private than the living room. You hear the creaking of footsteps across the wood-paneled floors. Though invisible, her presence can be felt. She hovers outside your door to make sure you’re still here and that you haven’t snuck out through the window. “I haven’t gone anywhere.” “I know,” she says. “I hear your breathing.” She’s lonely and wants company, but at your expense. She is okay when you leave in short bursts like for practical purposes, grocery shopping, work, etc. Her anger is provoked when you leave your dwelling for too long. Forget those late Friday nights partying wit

Chalk Dust - L. P. Ring - THIS IS TOO TENSE

  Chalk Dust L.P. Ring   Tapping out the numbers one to ten, you become aware of the ripple of whispers and giggles behind you. You are exposed up here, your existence but a fleeting, inconvenient incursion into their teenage stream of consciousness. You turn, chalk in hand, wondering what reaction your fingernails running along the board would get. You’ve never done that. Not even once. That would have everyone’s attention – albeit briefly. Before the histrionic whining would start. “Number one?” Some eyes flicker towards the board, others drop to their books. More just continue as they were. Shoma is staring gormlessly out the window. Kanako is playing with Tomoko’s hair again. Should you ask about the split ends? It would be easiest to just pick from the front row, but instead you resolve to search in less cultivated – and less voluntary - places. Your eyes drop to the attendance sheet, the rows of ticks – remembering the answers of ‘Hai’ at the beginning of the class

Now You See It Clear by Mathew Gostelow

  Spiny thistles grow through cracked slabs. Lads in hoods push past you on the piss-and-concrete stairs. You hope your car is safe. Curtains twitch in your peripheries. You knock the door, fists tense for the fight to come, the gift pulsing in your palm. You exhale loudly, wait, watching waves of coloured movement through the textured safety glass. * “Dee mah sek ray ah.” Ancient words are thorns in your throat. “Dee mah sek ray ah.” Louder this time. Your reflection stares back, pupils dilated wide to drink the candle's feeble glow. Offerings sit in the calabas bowl; a bottle of rum and a string-trussed rabbit corpse. “Dee mah sek ray ah.” Your tongue burns mustard-hot with incantation’s fire. You blink and black blood tears run down your cheeks. It is working. * Your son looms around the door, stretched gaunt and haggard. A mockery of the fine young man who hugged you six short months ago, aglow with hopes for university. His pasty skin shines oily, bristled.

NEON MONKEY by Oli Jacobs

  As you shut the door behind you, you hear the rain lash against it. In the background, the overground train shudders along the raised track, echoing against the alleys and streets around the building.   You don’t remember riding it, but you remember how it felt. The flat air, the monotonous rumble in the tunnels. The leering man at the end of the carriage.   And then the rain. It has soaked through you. It clings to your skin, moist and slimy.   You look at your reflection in the door. The hamburger costume you wear for your job sags off your shoulders, wet and mouldy.   You take it off right there and then. It hits the floor with a pathetic squelch .   Behind you, the CCTV whirrs and turns to face you. From the speaker below, you begin to hear the automated voices of the other residents.   HI JEN.   HELLO JEN.   HEY JEN.   HELLO JEN.   You look up and smile at the camera, giving a little wave. Already, the stiffness of the building makes you sweat. You can feel i