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Fish n Knives
Fish n’ Knives
Inspired by the Poem The Flurry by Sharon Olds
BY SHARON OLDS
When we talk about when to tell the kids,
we are so together, so concentrated.
I mutter, “I feel like a killer.” “I’m
the killer”—taking my wrist—he says,
holding it. He is sitting on the couch,
the old indigo chintz around him,
rich as a night sea with jellies,
I am sitting on the floor. I look up at him,
as if within some chamber of matedness,
some dust I carry around me. Tonight,
to breathe its Magellanic field is less
painful, maybe because he is drinking
a wine grown where I was born—fog,
eucalyptus, sempervirens—and I’m
sharing the glass with him. “Don’t catch
my cold,” he says, “—oh that’s right, you want
to catch my cold.” I should not have told him that,
I tell him I will try to fall out of
love with him, but I feel I will love him
all my life. He says he loves me
as the mother of our children, and new troupes
of tears mount to the acrobat platforms
of my ducts and do their burning leaps.
Some of them jump straight sideways, and, for a
moment, I imagine a flurry
of tears like a whirra of knives thrown
at a figure, to outline it—a heart’s spurt
of rage. It glitters, in my vision, I nod
to it, it is my hope.
Char: Woman, late thirties, Italian. Possessive and controlling. Used to be in the circus as a knife thrower. Is wearing a skirt and nice shirt.
Kyle: Man, Forty, originally from Ohio. Works in a car factory. Is wearing jeans and a long sleeve shirt that covers his hands.
The unfinished basement of a middle class home. A countertop with tools hanging above it. A Board against the wall. The light is dim. It is night.
Lights come up on CHAR throwing knives
at the board on the wall. KYLE is sitting on
the countertop drinking a glass of red wine.
There is a box of knives on the floor next to
Char. The walls and floor are a dull grey
color. There are screwdrivers a small hand
saw, a hammer, and other tools hanging on
the wall behind KYLE.
You’re getting rusty.
Am not. I could still pierce your shirt if I had to.
CHAR pauses and throws another knife.
What would you like for dinner tomorrow?
Fish it is then. (pauses) Wait ,you don’t like fish, do you?
Eat what you want.
What about you?
Char you know I’m leaving tomorrow. I already signed my rental agreement.
So fish it is.
CHAR goes to try to kiss Kyle.
Don’t want to catch my cold. Oh that's right you want to catch my cold.
CHAR returns to her knives.
I shouldn't have said anything.
You probably shouldn't have.
That may be the last thing I have of you.
Stop being so dramatic.
I just don’t think I can stop loving you that easily.
Then don’t stop loving me. I just can’t do this anymore. I need to get out, can’t you understand that?
Get out of what?
But why not take a vacation. Is a divorce really necessary?
How can you just leave?
I know it’ll be hard, but it’s for the best.
The best for who? You or this family?
This family. And me. Don’t you see, we just don’t fit together anymore.
I can change.
No, you can’t and you shouldn't.
If you can change, then so can I.
I don’t want you anymore.
You don’t love me at all?
I love and respect you as the mother of our daughter.
CHAR starts to tear up and misses the board completely.
I would like to discuss when to tell Abby. I would like to tell her tomorrow before I leave.
I feel like a killer, I am. I’m the killer.
What are you jabbering about now?
By telling Abby that her parents do not love each other you might as well cut out her heart and put it in a box.
I knew you could be dramatic, but I think this is a new high.
You are telling her that love does not exist. Do you even love her anymore?
Of course I do, she’s my kid. You can’t lose a love like that.
If you can lose a love for your wife, then you surely could.
Stop this. You knew that this was coming. It's been three months. Stop these games.
What games darling?
CHAR throws another knife.
Where you use our daughter like a tool. It won’t work anymore. You will not convince me to stay again. I'm stronger.
Just think of your child. Do you really have the audacity to ruin her life? To put the stress of custody trials on her.
What custody trial?
I mean after all, how long have you been in therapy? If you keep these things up I will be forced to take action.
CHAR pulls the knife from the board to throw it again.
What kind of action?
There is no way I would allow an unstable 40 year old man take care of my daughter. You’re visitations would be barred.
You think I would give you full custody? You think this marriage can still last. Life doesn’t revolve around you sweetie. Sometimes you have to give up things. Give up thinking that I will come back. Besides we agreed when we first started discussing this that we would have joint custody.
What about money?
I still have my job. A job that can certainly support two people. It’s been supporting three for eight years. I’m actually curious what you will do?
I could give one phone call to the factory and tell them how you took tools for your own personal use.
A threat really? You’re going to threaten and blackmail me in order to make me stay?
Waving knife with the movement of her hand.
If that’s the only way I can keep you.
I’m not a dog. You can’t just pull a leash and expect me to choke.
You’ve done it before.
I guess it's time you get yourself a new dog.
I can just train the one I've got. Haven't you heard the expression teaching an old dog new tricks?
(Trying to ignore Char's comment)
My wife is gone. At least the one I used to know. I’ll worry about telling Abby, you just get a grip.
You’re the one that needs to come to your senses and remember those vows we took eight years ago.
You tricked me into believing you were different. I thought you were the woman of my dreams. Turns out you’re just a control freak.
Wait now, I’m just a helpless wife.
Except you’re not helpless at all.
Now you’re coming along.
Char. It’s over.
CHAR takes the knife that she has been gripping and stabs
Kyle's hand that is resting on the countertop.
Told you so.
CHAR exits as lights dim