Vine Leaves Literary Journal Issue 17

Page 42

The Knife

I cradled the knife, it’s sharp eye glinting, and dialed my mother.

by Jade T. Woodridge The knife was heavy in my hand, but not at all crude. It was the nice kind of knife; the kind with the leather handle, a bottle opener, scissors and a nail filer that folded neatly up into it. The leather handle was soft against my palm, a striking contrast to the cold silver blade, the knife tapering to a point that caught the light. turned it this way and that, pressing the tip gently with my finger, but it drew blood. Just a little bead of red. The knife was too heavy in my hand, but I could not put it down. I cradled it as gently as a baby, sometimes flipping its other tools out. But they never caught the light quite like the knife did. They never provoked the sense of precariousness. My husband had given me this gift with no words. It was presented in a fine box resting on a soft pillow of pink silk. How did he know that I wanted such an item? How did he know that I would never put it down? I sat in the living room with it now, resting in my hands, the faint sound of an infant’s wail in the back of my mind. It rarely quieted. I sang to it and hushed it but only momentarily did it silence, and the cold sense of dread welled up inside of me. Cold and terrifying like this knife. It always happened that at these moments my heart would ache terribly. My breath would come short and I could not help the crippling pain that assuaged my body. I was going to die. I was splitting in two. The screaming pain and fear I felt— I thrashed and writhed and suddenly, nothing. My husband whispers to me, “It’s a girl” and I hear her cry, then silence. Darkness. I wait for the pain to start all over again, but it gives me a little reprieve. Time to ponder. Time to forget. I should not have forgotten, but I cannot remember. Something should have been different. Something should have filled the silence and the emptiness. Normalcy choked me. From the couch I watched my husband read his newspaper, watch the T.V. The house, I cleaned and cooked and hummed to myself. At these moments of normalcy, I would hear her crying. I would follow the cry— that need-filled cry— arms aching, mind screaming along with her in pain. How did he know to use pink silk? 42

“I had a baby. It’s a girl” I said at the sound of her voice. She was silent. “Where is she?” I asked. “Oh, sweetie…” she said, quietly. Why could I remember nothing but that cry? “Its best that you don’t remember.” I was angry, then. I wanted to yell at her; to demand she tell me what she had done with my baby girl. “Get some rest,” she said, and I felt like a child again. I felt the smallness, the fragility, the helplessness, and I hung up. “It’s a girl” I told my husband. I remember his voice, the excitement in it as he announced this. A dream perhaps. It echoed over and over, bouncing off the pink padded walls of my mind. Why don’t I remember her? My husband does, I know it. Often would I see the illusion fade in his eyes; grey reality dragged his features and sucked his joy, but never knew why. He expected something, waited for something, listening for sounds that he’d never hear. He never looked at me or anyone the way he had in the past. It was as if the moment I opened my eyes and emerged from the darkness, he was gone from me. “It’s a girl” I repeated, and he looked away without a word. Silence was our life. Silence and emptiness. There were so many things that I did not understand. So many things that I should. There were no answers to her wailing in my head, or the ghost of pain from that other life. I was happy once, I remember. My husband lies in an ambient slumber in the bedroom and the knife is heavy in my hand. I hear it cry and I shush it. I hear it screaming louder and my heart aches. I am in pain and my soul aches. I want nothing more than to lift this blade and thrust it deep into my breast.

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