Gag Order

by | Aug 11, 2020 | Fiction, Issue Sixteen

silence.

you promised.

lips pressed thin.

don’t tell, you think.

but—the heaviness of it.

the weight of words distended, when

once upon a time you oozed innocence,

unblemished and soft, trailed by truth like perfume.

light exploded through your pores, your dreams, your teeth.

now that it’s gone dark—snuffed out, a flame—everything swells.

it starts somewhere below your feet, firmly planted, surging from the roots.

it pushes up, the force enough to peel skin from bone, like stripped bark, like rotting leaves.

it pushes up and in, compressing skin to stomach to spine, squeezing drops of resolve from your blood, wringing dry your soppiest bits so that what’s left is wizened and cynical and choked, the purest snow of you melted into muddied water, strained, sifted from the dirt.

it pushes up and in and through, thrums against your tongue until your mouth splits open, a tentative slit at first, that’s all, then a yawning cavern, wider, wider, until your chin dangles slack, until both eyes bloat to bursting, until the hollows of your cheeks stretch rubbery, until your jaws crack off at the hinges, until every secret squirms toward that gaping vacant space, wider still, widerwiderwiderwider until the songs go muffled until the freight train fades until the tornado spins mute until the sirens drown out until the only sound slicing past this putrid suffocating air is that voice that voice screaming

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