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Knife and Heart

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When I was eight years old I took my father’s knife in the middle of the night. It was resting on the same shelf that it was always resting on, the one above the stone fireplace that we used to heat our home. We lived in a simple house with three rooms and a loft. My brothers slept in the loft, my sister and I in one bedroom and my parents in the other. That left the third room as our combined kitchen and living space.

I had watched my father place the hunting knife on the mantel above the fireplace for two weeks before I finally gathered the courage to take it. He always left the knife in the same spot. He put it there every day when he came home for dinner. He would walk in, say hello to everyone, take off his jacket, put his bag in the corner of the room, and set his hunting knife on the mantle. I remember how my father used to always smile as he entered – back when he didn’t know. His eyes would twinkle as my youngest brother ran up to him with one hand stuck in his mouth, plodding along. I remember how my father used to smile at me.
After finally deciding to take the knife, after those two weeks, I delayed for two nights more. It wasn’t until the third when I was sure that everyone but me was asleep in the house. The sky was dark with a covering of clouds obscuring the moon and stars. The only sound was the rustle of branches outside and the soft breath of my sleeping family. Only then did I sneak out of my room, cross the expanse of floor and reach up to take the knife.

I remember how the flames whispered softly to me. How the wooden floor was so cold on my feet. I remember how I grasped the sheath he kept it in. How my fingers slipped up to curl around the hilt. The hard wood, engraved with a simple design, had felt good in my hand. It felt solid, and it made me feel strong. As I gripped the wooden handle my inhibitions melted away as if they had never burdened me at all. I pulled the dagger out of the sheath with one movement. It came out soundlessly, and the eeriness, the deadly silence, called to me.

I crouched down and turned the knife over in the firelight. I watched the flames flicker on its metallic surface. I saw the edge, rippled with tiny jagged points, almost too hard to see. I trailed my fingers over the flat part lightly, feeling the cold surface in contrast to the warm flames. I placed the knife against my open palm. I felt the tiny prickles of the edge. Then I closed my hand and applied just the slightest bit of pressure with the knife.
I felt the blade break through my skin and let forth the blood hiding in my veins. I felt the blood drip down my hand. I watched the streak slide down my wrist. The little drop of blood moved steadily down, leaving a wake of red in its path, where more blood followed, fed by the knife still digging into my hand. It ended at my elbow, where there was not enough to make it flow any longer.
I pulled the knife back then. I gazed down at it, turning it once again so that the fire illuminated the red liquid staining the metallic surface. I recall smiling vaguely. I looked at my hand then, and closed it into a fist, feeling the tiny grains of pain. I held the knife in my other hand, refusing to let go.
I remember thinking how much power was held in that knife. How that knife had the power to break open skin and send a river of blood across the ground. I remember thinking how the holder of that knife immediately gained the power of the weapon. How it was all in that little blade.
As I think back, I realize that I only cut myself because of the need to cut something. I had the knife; I had to do something with it. It called to me in a voice I could not ignore. I only cut my hand because I was not yet ready to cut someone else.
I have also decided, upon looking back, that it was on that night, in the darkness beside the crackling fire, when the demon first truly settled inside my heart.



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