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"Laugh All You Want but I See the Truth" by Keely O'Shaughnessy

I can sense the sceptics. Those who are only after a show, something to tell their friends, a story for their blog post: Ten Most Common Clairvoyance Tricks, Exposed.

I take my time turning their cards allowing my desire to ferment. They ask to take photos and keep their phone on the table.

I fiddle with the tassels on my silk headscarf. Make them wait. Tell them the universe is listening. That it knows what they’ve done. I show them Ouroboros: the serpent devouring its own tail and make my things-look-grave face.

But, when I take their palms in mine and trace the lines of fate and life that snake and coil over their flesh, that’s when the hissing is at its loudest. That’s when I guzzle in the threads of their life. The arm broken falling from the rope swing over the creek. The club house in the woods. Uncle’s leather belt.

They snigger when my eyes roll back in my head but carefully, I unspool their minutes and hours and sup on hazy nights, spilled drinks, slick cobblestones. Knees crusted with grit. Screams hurled into the dark.

I wind each moment around my tongue savouring the taste of the forgotten, the repressed. White hospital walls. Skin cool to the touch. A still healing wound. A mewling new-born swaddled tight.

And then when they’re split open completely, no longer laughing, I dim the lights. Tilt the table to-and-fro. I speak in tongues and in the darkness, while they’re sniggering, I shed my skin, unhinge my jaw, and swallow them whole.

KEELY O’SHAUGHNESSY is a fiction writer with Cerebral Palsy, who lives in Gloucestershire. Her stories have appeared online and in print. She’s been published by Ellipsis Zine, Complete Sentence, Reflex Fiction, Emerge Literary Journal and (mac)ro(mic), among others. She's a Pushcart and BSF nominee. When not writing, she likes discussing David Bowie with her cat. Find her at or on Twitter @KeelyO_writer.

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