The Knife

After what seemed like millions of long days, hours spent at the helm of a ship with a broken rudder he called a job he finally closed the door of his apartment behind him. He slipped his boots off by the door and dropped his bag in its usual place: on the floor leaning up against the wall. He stopped and leaned with it for a moment and rubbed the aching muscles in his neck and wondered how much more he could take before he walked out. How long before the monotony got to him and the customers became belligerent enough that he just gave up, threw his keyboard and walked out the door never to be seen again.

He thought these same thoughts every night, as if it was part of his circadian rhythm and he hated it. He prayed for contentment.

Then it hit him, as it always did, that he was alone again. The people around him as well as his work kept him from realizing this fact and so he remained imbued with that feeling until he looked up from his reverie and saw the emptiness of his studio apartment. Sure, there was stuff there but stuff, he realized, only kept him so distracted. Eventually his mind would wander to places and things, not always bad until they collided with the force of a fist into a brick wall with the memories he was trying so hard to forget. Or, at least, assign them a state of analgesia so his heart wouldn’t sink like an anchor in still waters every time they surfaced.

Sweet anodyne.

“You’re only as strong as you are when you are alone and in the dark,” he told himself as he turned on the TV and sat on his bed. He knew he needed sleep if he was to survive another hellacious day at the hands of his employer and its clientele. Though it used to be a problem for him to fall asleep after it all went down, his body and brain eventually fell back into the pattern of somewhat regular rest. He liked sleep because it often offered him a reprieve from the thoughts that still haunted him and the memories of her as she was; the good times, the sweet saccharine drops that dripped into his mind, now turned bitter as saltwater. Some nights it was his only reprieve and he was thankful for the peace.

He crawled into bed and laid there, waiting for his brain to shut him down for the evening. He closed his eyes and focused on his breathing, the rise and fall of his own chest and the force of inhaling and exhaling. As he fell into a steady rhythm of respiration he began to feel his mind wind down like a toy as the battery begins to drain. He could never tell when sleep was coming, so he just maintained his soft focus on his breath.

Everything was dark for a moment. Then his eyes were open and he was on his bed, laying on his side near the edge with his left hand resting up near his face. Everything seemed fuzzy and dark, disoriented and slightly out of focus. While he was trying to understand it all he felt a hand slide up to his side. Soft hands on his skin where his shirt had ridden up and revealed the pale space between his ribs and his hips. This was all too familiar and he knew whose hand he felt; he was reliving a memory. Their chastity was a beautiful thing to him but when the view panned up he could see her lying on the other side of the bed, smiling sleepily. He was no longer seeing through his own eyes but the eyes of what he realized then to be a dream.

He felt the knife stab him in the heart again but from behind, between the ribs.

Without a thought, he reached to his back and pulled it out. There was no physical pain and no blood on the knife. He turned back to her and she just smiled and gently waived but her hands were black and dripping with it in the darkness. He held the knife blade down and shifted glances back and forth from the knife to her.

She never stopped smiling and waiving, like a programmed automaton. This infuriated him for some reason and he brought the knife crashing down through the fabric of his subconscious creation with the intent of plunging it into her heart. The rage in his eyes didn’t affect her one bit in that moment–

His eyes opened wide and he sat up. He looked to his left where the bed was empty and laid back down. He took a deep breath and rolled to his side, heart throbbing for a moment as he tried to bring himself back to the present and to reality.

“I’m fine. I’m OK,” he told himself as he drifted back to sleep. He found himself, just as he drifted off to sleep, a little disappointed that he didn’t get to make that violent strike into her chest. Not because he wanted her dead but because he wanted to find out wether or not her heart was truly made of stone.

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