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Mike and the Kitchen Knife

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“Hand me the milk, will you?” I ask. He won’t turn around though – won’t even acknowledge my presence. “Mike, I know you can hear me.” I cross my arms and stare sharply pointed daggers into his back. But his hands remain clenched to the edge of the yellowing tabletop. I tap my foot against the tiled floor, making a hollow thudding sound along with the incisive point that I’m not going to leave the issue unsettled. Not to mention the milk on the kitchen table that will surely sour in the next ten minutes.

“Get it yourself,” he murmurs through tightly clamped teeth. The veins in his neck protrude out of place like a daffodil growing in a patch of snow.

“Can we at least talk about it?” I ask. I try to keep a light tone to my voice – maybe that will keep him from breaking out of his cage.

Sarcasm oozes from his voice. “Sure, let’s talk.” He shoves the table away, sending it screeching four or five inches over the floor, and turns around in a tight, rigid motion. Mike’s usually spring-like green eyes are polluted with hatred and cynicism. “Want to say you’re sorry for ruining my relationship with Anne? Or maybe for making Mom and Dad hate me?”

“Mike, you ruined your own relationship with Anne! She deserved to know the truth. Besides, her soul is ten times better than Angela’s!” I cry. But I regret it less than a second later.

He grips the edge of my t-shirt sleeve and pulls me so close that I can smell meat sauce and garlic bread on his breath. “How dare you!” He screams with outrage. His eyebrows rise to the top of his widow’s peak as he lifts a bear-like hand.

“No!” I cry. He brings his hand down with weeks of pent up force, but before it can strike my left eye, I throw my hands up to block my face. His arm hits my wrist and I feel the pain instantly sweep through my body. I whimper and stumble backward, unbelieving of what just happened.

I look up at Mike with the eyes of an abandoned puppy. Instead of remorse and comfort, he smiles maliciously. He takes a step forward, and I hold my breath. Mom and Dad had to be coming home soon – it had already been two hours since their escape from Mike’s rash behavior.

But he doesn’t move another step in my direction. Instead, he turns ninety degrees clockwise to the granite-topped island. The same evil and bear-like hand sweeps over the wide array of kitchen knives shoved into the wooden knife rack.

“M-Mike?” I whisper. Blood trickles bit by bit from my face, and the aching in my wrist vanishes as I watch him grip the end of the biggest knife in the block.

A smile spreads across his shadowed face. He lets a small laugh escape from his upturned lips. “Janie, Janie, Janie,” he says my nickname with threefold the malevolence each time. He grips the edge of the knife tightly and wrenches the long glinted edge from its slot. Mike slowly glides his fingers over the sharpened edge as I try to swallow fragments of fear. I search my brain for any remembrance on how to move, but nothing I find can unfreeze me from my standstill position mere feet from Mike and his evil mindset. “Now would you like to apologize?” He speaks to me like a preschooler that stole a classmate’s Snack Pack.

I try to scream bloody murder so the cat hoarder next door can hear, but my tongue keeps my mouth glued shut. I make inaudible sounds and mumbles as he takes one step, and then another.

Finally I remember how to unclamp my jaw. “M-Mike. I-I’m sorry,” I stutter over the words, but it’s the best I can do with a butcher knife pointed at my heart.

Mike twirls the blade around his head as he lets out a humorless laugh. “Too late.” He closes the gap between us in a millisecond and before I can react, the blade is at my gut. I gasp at the mere sight of it – and the thought that my life could end in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor in moments.

I wrench my eyes from my stomach to his face. Mike’s round cheekbones and ruddy complexion have been painted over with a menacing expression. But his brow is creased and his eyes are clouded with confusion. This could be my chance. “Mike…” I say as clearly and as slowly as I can, “Please… please put it down.” I watch him intently, waiting for his muscles to relax in surrender or tighten as he thrusts the knife into my gut. Fear rises and bubbles throughout my body, sending my teeth chattering and cold sweat to penetrate my t-shirt. A small trickle of blood seeps into my shirt where the tip of the blade pokes at my skin.

“I could end this right here,” Mike whispers to himself more than me. I open my mouth to speak, but I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what will persuade him from doing the inevitable. He looks into my eyes and instantly I remember all the happy memories we shared. The times he held my small hand to cross the street, the times he played house with me, even the times he gave me boy advice. But then the bad memories kick the good ones from their pedestal. I remember the time he pushed me off of my bike and left laughing as blood soaked through my jeans. I remember when he tricked me into touching a burning cookie pan, and the time he forced birdseed down my throat. But could he really do something this horrible?

“Mike, I’m your sister. Anne isn’t worth killing me for,” I say cautiously.

He scrunches his brows together and his eyes dart back and forth. His mind moves a mile a minute as he weighs the pros and cons of running a knife through my stomach. Mike’s twisted expression relaxes and I let out a sigh of relief as I think he’s going to put the knife away.

But then everything happens at the same time. Every inch of terror in my body rings in unison like the climax of a suspense scene as I watch his grip on the black handle tighten. I scream desperate pleas and apologies as he slowly brings his knife arm backwards. “NO!” I shout as he drives it into my gut. But before I feel the staggering pain and sticky mess of hot blood, the backdoor slams shut. Mike gasps and looks down. The blade is less than a centimeter from my stomach, and his hand is shaking uncontrollably.

“Mom, Dad!” I cry out as their padded footsteps echo throughout the house. Mike fumbles with the knife as he tries to quickly slide it back into the wooden rack.

“Jane!” Dad says with enthusiasm as he walks into the kitchen with Mom behind him. “Mike,” Dad looks at Mike sternly, but then breaks into a wide smile. “We’ve decided to forgive you for throwing spaghetti at Jane, but only if you say you’re sorry,” he points his head to me with his eyes still on Mike.

“Um, sorry?” Mike says to me almost as a question.

“B-but, Dad!” I cry, “He tried to kill me with a kitchen knife!” Even I don’t believe myself by midsentence. I sound like a pouting child that just found out the world isn’t fair.

“Hon, don’t be silly,” Dad says.

“False accusations aren’t nice, dear,” Mom says firmly as she takes Dad’s arm and pulls him out of the kitchen. I watch them leave with my mouth agape and tears swelling in my eyes, but I can’t let Mike see my hurt.

I turn around and give him the iciest and most demeaning look I can muster, but it isn’t enough for even a hint of remorse to pass across his features.

Instead, Mike chuckles to himself. “Did you hear that sis? They don’t believe you,” He pats my arm as he walks past me. “That was fun. Let’s play again sometime.”

I crumple to the floor when he leaves the kitchen and barely breathe as I replay my near eminent death on repeat. I can’t remember how long I stay in this position, but it isn’t long enough to make the night disappear. By the time I recover, I come across a horrid realization: The next time Mike gets furious, I probably won’t get so lucky. And no one will be there to help me. I gasp at the thought, and it sends a stream of tears down my cheeks. But then I think of something else, something that gives me power to heal from the panic and stand back up: Next time Mike threatens me I’ll be ready.



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