There's a Knife in my Back

Submitted into Contest #152 in response to: Start your story with a character saying “I can see it now.”... view prompt


Contemporary Drama Teens & Young Adult

There’s a Knife in my Back

           I can see it now. They stood together next to the fire, her clutching the red solo cup filled with brandy with her eyes admiring his lips. He spoke softly through his smirk, waiting to deliver the punchline I’d seen him use on dozens of other women. At first, I was happy she wanted to meet my friends, especially Harrison, well, Harry, because we’d been the best of friends since our bike riding days. We’re the typical foils where opposites attracted, he the extroverted, charismatic playboy and I the bashful head-case. Thanks to one fateful summer day when I had an EpiPen on hand, saving Harry’s life post-bee sting was the origins of our friendship. He retells the story as if we were on the beaches of Normandy, far from the quiet cul-de-sac in Greenwich.

           While me and Harry’s friendship perplexes outsiders, introducing Kate as my girlfriend initiates a double take every time. You’d think she was living the plot of “13 going on 30” or “Freaky Friday” every day, where she’s trapped in the wrong body. Kate has the body of a constellation and the soul of Mother Theresa. I believe it’s Mother Theresa’s charitable traits that makes Kate pity me enough to be my girlfriend. She was the second girl I’d ever kissed (the first was in a spin the bottle game in 8th grade with Yvonne Sawyer and was equal to kissing a Great Dane) and on the cliché of prom night was the first girl I’d slept with. Kate had just begun her senior year at Mount Holyoke, on pace to graduate with a degree in Journalism. She had an internship already lined up with the New York Times and was planning to move into the city next summer.

           When you’re with someone long enough you begin to pick up on their idiosyncrasies. For instance, when I’m bored in a conversation, I begin counting the freckles on someone’s cheeks or the tiles in the floor. Kate eats flaming hot Cheetos when she’s stressed. Harry sticks his thumb into the corner of his mouth when he’s nervous. Kate puts her hands in her pockets after getting her nails painted so I have to ask about them. Harry’s eyes begin to swell and shut when he’s had too much to drink. Kate leans on one leg before she kisses. Harry can’t stop licking his lips when he’s about to go in for a kiss.

           A few loose embers have singed the dry grass around the fire pit. I focus on the burgeoning forest fire a few inches from Harry’s foot that he inconspicuously puts out when he steps back while laughing at one of his own jokes. There are about thirty people at the party, a going-away deal for an old high school friend who has decided to quit his landscaping job and join the Peace Corps. In honor of his courageous decision to selflessly donate his efforts towards building housing in another country we’ve collectively gathered to get shitfaced and leave him a yard full of beer cans and plastic cups. Harry brushes Kate’s arm and heads inside presumably to grab another drink or stare into the mirror like Narcissus. Kate looks down at the ground, smiles briefly then turns her head around, combing through the crowd until our eyes meet. Her smile fades and begins to walk towards me. While she strides towards my perch on the picnic table, I can’t help the bowling ball from forming in my stomach. No longer is she the unblemished angel I’ve come to love, but rather the other half of our dying relationship. My unrequited love has made me her “ball and chain” and the countdown has surely begun until she has formulated a good enough excuse to break up with me. I’m sure her speech will be fantastic with endless promises of remaining friends and having me come visit her in the city once she’s settled in. The only image I can picture is one of me knocking on her apartment door, bouquet of her favorite flowers in hand, with hopes of winning her back, only to have Harry answering the door.

           “Hey sweetie. Whatchu doing all alone over here?”, Kate asks as she sits on the bench next to my feet, grabbing a hold of my leg.

           “Why Harry?”, I ask bluntly.

           “Why Harry what? Are you talking silly because you’ve had too much to drink?”

Her coyness enrages me but is understandable. I’m not one to ever make a scene in public and while the booze has given me a dose of liquid courage to become confrontational, I still have enough wits about me to wait until we’re in the car ride home.

Kate continues to stroke my leg, resting her drunken head on my knee. Harry has remerged from the house, pointing back towards the deck leaving a crowd of laughter behind him.

“Tommy boy! Take a walk with me won’t ya?”

Harry extends a hand as an invitation for me to leave my sanctuary. I don’t take his hand but oblige to his request and we begin walking towards the street, away from the party. He wraps his arm around my shoulders and chuckles to himself.

“Man, you are one lucky fella! Kate’s a hell of a girl. You outta put a ring on that one before she knows what’s good for her.”

“Harry, can I ask you a serious question? And please just be honest with me.”

“Shoot me Tex.”

“Why’d you have to sleep with my girlfriend? Did I do something to offend you? Did you just have to prove one last time how much you’re better than me? You felt I wasn’t good enough for her, just like everyone else? Or let me guess, you just happened to be around one random night when she needed a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen to her. I know we’re not as close as we used to be, hell I don’t even know why we still talk to each other. If we didn’t grow up in the same neighborhood and you were too afraid to go home, we’d never have talked to each other. So please, just take the knife out of my back and leave me alone Harry. Take her too if you want, lord knows she’s already in love with you. You could’ve had anyone and yet you were too much a son of a bitch to not take the only good thing I had.”

By now the tear had begun to swell and a few precocious drops leaked down my cheeks. Harry had glared at me a bit awestruck but now was turned away like a beaten dog. A long pause held between us, the quiet rumble of the party behind us and my sniffling the only sounds accompanying the tangible ringing of confrontation.

“Look Tommy . . .”, Harry’s apologetic thought trailed off as he contemplated lying and pretending to empathize.

“Save it, Harry.” I’m not sure what came over me, but I hugged him strongly for one last time. As much as I hated him in this moment, we had shared too much to end on a spiteful “Fuck You” verbal tennis match.

“I’ll see you around, alright.”, I mumbled as I wiped my face with my sleeve and walked towards the back of the house. Pausing before opening the side gate, I took one last longing gaze at Kate. As beautiful as she looked in the glow of the fire, she represented a siren whose beckoning call would only lead to my emotional demise. I breathed a heavy sigh and unlocked the car. Gripping the steering wheel, I neglected the sound emitting from the radio and pulled onto the highway. With no concern on where I was headed my mind drifted towards whatever distraction it could muster. A heart circling a “K and T” began scarring on my heart, mirroring the scar of the knife wound on my back. 

June 30, 2022 15:42

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Richard Seven
15:43 Jul 07, 2022

Nice story! Lots of attitude and action. Might want to shorten your paragraphs and rely more on action and less on the narrator's reflections. I know that's hard to do when writing first-person. But you have your style and it was fun to read.


Nic Silvestris
15:35 Jul 11, 2022

Thank You very much for your comment Richard! I appreciate the advice.


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Olivia Snead
21:49 Jul 07, 2022

Your story does grip the reader. However, I was confused with the chronological events; you will need to read it aloud to see what I mean. The element of good writing is there, but I would rate this a different genre than young adult because of the coarse language and the irresponsible intimacy.


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