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Thriller Inspirational Teens & Young Adult

“Knives”

I have this recurring, 3-second long flash of a woman carrying me and guiding a child behind a door. The woman moves, blurry, in auburn swinging strands that wash across my visual field. I can make out a warm glow on the crest of the wall above the door frame. The light wipes in from the hall, as the door hinges open, leading to a black room. The child shifts in her lace-y white gown beneath wavy, copper hair that dances like springs in a communal hopping, toward the dark wall. Through the light, the woman’s wobbly voice grips to a guise of “calm”, narrowly concealing a fear for her life, for mine and for the child’s.

For as long as I can remember, I have had this overwhelming fear of knives. Even now, when I walk in on my spouse cutting squash for supper, I have these horrible visions of the blade slipping. I waver between chaperoning the affair, the cutting, and closing my eyes to all that I might see. All that I do see. Inside my over-active and vivid imagination, snipping at vegetables is a terrifying act to witness. 

I grew up in the “system” and traveled from broken home to broken home, until I was 16. I have no recollection of my biological family. And they have no memory of me. That’s because they’re all dead. At least, that’s what I have been, vaguely, told. I pestered my guardians for years to give me just a hint of my early life. None of them would. None of them could. Whatever happened to my family, it was kept secret from all of us.

In the house I lived in when I was 7-8, there was a hole in the wall of my closet, which opened to a 2-foot passageway of oak beams and slits of light. I would escape the chaos of 8 children living in a 3-bedroom house, by slipping into the wall and exploring the hidden space between the beams. In the wall, I closed my eyes and lifted my face to the yellow slivers misting in from the floorboards above. Inside my mind, I wandered among colorful mushrooms and flopping toads that squirted out from the roots of magnificent trees. Occasionally, a toad would land on me. “Ewww!” I’d let out, loudly, opening my eyes to water or apple juice leaking down from the cracks above. Everyone in the house became quiet, pausing to search for the source of the squeal. Afraid that someone might discover my secret spot, I rushed out of the wall and shot onto the floor. My guardians would walk in on me laughing maniacally and tilting around on the carpet, like I was a spinning top. It was a distraction, but they must have thought I was a lunatic. 

My last daydream in the wall ended in a terror caused by a silver flicker that fell from the sky. One day, I was walking through a bioluminescent cavern, when the cave walls were crumbled by a “ping” and a “whir”, which followed a scream that came from the room above my head. The glowing wildlife and plants were suddenly replaced by a plummeting glint. I stood, frozen, as I looked down to see a small silver blade, attached to a dark wooden handle and smeared in red. A knife had fallen through the space between the neglected floorboards, and now lay in my path to the only exit. 

I couldn’t move. I stepped backward and sat, curled, against the furthest corner of the corridor. A piercing cold fluttered up my spine and into my shoulders, settling into a paralysis. I sat there for minutes, that felt like hours, before I heard one of my guardians calling for me to join everyone for our 4 o’clock snack. Too afraid to move past the “sinister knife”, I began sobbing. Some of the kids heard me crying and revealed me in the space beyond the hole in the wall. After that, the hole was sealed up, and I never ventured inside of a wall, again.

My fear had festered out of whatever I don’t remember from before I was 2 years old, and it began to breed with all the unknowns around me. Now, I was afraid of everything: the insides of walls, unopened doors, closets, drawers, boxes, the space below the floors... Sometimes, when I go to open a present during the holidays, I pause, praying that what I reveal will not be a gruesome display of some unknown terror. When I enter a dark room, I briefly close my eyes, unsure of what I might see when the lights come on. I am constantly in fear that my reality is just some sick joke. Like someone is watching me, waiting to burst out in laughter as I unsuspectingly stumble upon a scene of insufferable horror. That is how I live my life, standing at the space where light breaks into dark, where the cliff ends. Just a step further, and I might succumb to the rocky valley, below. Unless, by chance, a bird would find me in my descent and carry me back home.

Every day, I pray for a bird. I don’t know what shape this bird might take. I don’t know if it will have feathers or scales or flaps of skin. I don’t even know if it would see me, if I should fall toward the rocks. But, I have hope. As I'm writing these thoughts, I go to put my pen down. I look up, and there, in the butterfly bushes on the other side of the window glass, is a small nest made of straw and twigs. Inside, there’s a pastel-periwinkle egg, not much bigger than a marble, reflecting the morning sunlight toward my eyes. For now, it’s just an egg, but as winter ends, a new season is sure to begin. And we all know the source of those joyful melodies we hear in our wake, at the dawning of each Spring…

Written by Admirer Cyan 

Prompt:

“Write about someone who doesn’t remember their past — and doesn’t want to.”

January 08, 2021 02:35

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13 comments

Claudia Morgan
19:16 Jan 14, 2021

Woah I loved this! It’s suspenseful and eerie! Well done.

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Cari Rodriguez
23:35 Jan 30, 2021

I'm so happy, thank you!

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Claudia Morgan
00:12 Jan 31, 2021

No problem!

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A. Nelson
17:01 Jan 14, 2021

You actually sound like you’ve been writing for years!😍 I Loved this ! I can’t wait to read more of your future stories😇

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Cari Rodriguez
23:34 Jan 30, 2021

I've been writing poetry for 13 years, now. I never thought I'd be able to write an actual story. Thank you for your kindness and support!

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Patrick H
14:33 Jan 14, 2021

Hmmm.. I have to wonder; is the knife in the floorboards real? If it is, one has to wonder how it got there and how it was smeared in red. My curiosity is piqued.

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Cari Rodriguez
23:32 Jan 30, 2021

Hmmmm..(:

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12:50 Jan 14, 2021

This may be a short short story... but that never means it's bad! I love the poetic feel throughout the entire story. It feels like there's more, but more in a sequel way. I would love to see her opening up more of her story slowly, figuring it out until it all comes back to her at once at the worst/best moment. "My fear had festered out of whatever I don’t remember,". I don't think people realize how much this is true.

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Cari Rodriguez
23:32 Jan 30, 2021

I began writing as a poet! A lot of this is actual self-reflection shoved into some fiction. Makes it easier to keep that realistic, psychological quality, I think. Thanks so much for your feedback!

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K. Antonio
20:53 Jan 14, 2021

Ugh, I loved how dark this story was. The way you explored and extracted so much out of one single thing and made it last an entire story was great. The story is very very short, I actually kind wished it was longer. It to me felt like the appropriate length of a single chapter in a much longer body of work. Great job!

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Cari Rodriguez
23:26 Jan 30, 2021

I appreciate the feedback! I would love to insert this into a more expansive story detailing the narrator's life. I love your stories that i've read, too. Thank you!

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21:21 Jan 13, 2021

“Knives” had me on pins and needles! Your descriptive skills are amazing. I’m looking forward to seeing more of your stories (if you write more)!

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Cari Rodriguez
23:23 Jan 30, 2021

Thank you so much for your feedback and support!

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