Knifepoint

by Andrew Males


I felt her strong grip as she pulled me sharply out of my home, eagerly anticipating what work lay ahead. As she pushed down on me, I saw flashes of green as I cut through the plants lying on the surface below. Back and forth, again and again until we’d reduced them into small piles of their former selves. I was her favourite knife, and we made a great team.

I loved the different textures that tested my strength, but none were a match for me, whether they were the hard orange sticks, long, green cylinders or the red, almost hollow objects that we set to work on. The bright colours finished, from a tight angle I spied the next task. I felt the cold, fleshy meat either side of me as I sliced easily through, creating many from a whole. As she laid me down on the counter I could see her smiling and I knew I’d done a good job.

She stepped sideways, pressed something with her slender finger and I watched with excitement as the spark came followed by dancing blue flames that reflected in my long, mirrored blade. Compared to the limited palette I saw daily, blue was almost magical. Soon, I was in my familiar watery place, and the stains I had shamefully acquired were scrubbed off until I was magnificent — no, perfect — again.

Tonight I had the pleasure of watching her eat as I was propped up on the sink drying. I had only a narrow view, but enough to see her as she sat and stared outside, alone as usual. I watched her as the food we’d prepared disappeared into her smile, wondering what it would be like over there with her.

* * *

Today was different. Different would usually be fine, but I always worried when new things appeared to be happening. We’d worked harder this evening and even the other knives had been out, busy doing the things that were obviously too trivial for my great powers. She had been preparing a lot of food, which was unusual, albeit fun to participate in.

An hour later, I saw the reason: a tall man carrying coloured plants had stepped through the door and was now opposite her at the table. It had been a long time since I’d seen anyone else in the house, even if I didn’t have much of a vantage point for most of the time. I could see that smile again, only wider, and one on him too! I wondered who he was and how long he would stay.

* * *

This was strange. I’d seen him many times in this room, but now here he was using me to cut up some more plants. He was slow, very slow, and not nearly as adept as she was. The pieces are not nearly small enough and my usual perfect job is ruined.

Chop. Green. Chop. Green. Chop. Red. Red? Where did that come from? It dripped slowly down my edge onto the brown board below. I looked up at him but saw an inverted smile. Seconds later, I was flying through the air before landing heavily in the sink. It wasn’t my fault, I know it wasn’t. I hope she doesn’t let him use me again.

* * *

We’d been busy as normal, but for the third night in a row there had been no smiles from her. There had been ample food for two people, but tonight, her food long devoured, she sits alone as the room’s bright yellow walls gradually fade to grey. Finally, he appears in the doorway. At last he’ll sit down and eat what we had so painstakingly prepared.

She gets up and places a plate on the table and goes to get the dish before spooning the food onto it. Walking over to the plate, he grabs a fork and prods it into a piece of meat, inspecting it closely before roughly throwing it back down. He waves his hands at the plate and pushes it towards her, but she’s not happy and places it back in front of him. He grabs it and... my blade quivers as the plate breaks up into many fragments from the impact against the side just below me; the beige tiles covered in our work. He storms out as she sits, water running down her face. I preferred things before, when there was no water.

* * *

It’s been a while since she’d used me. She still came in here most days, and sometimes he did too, but mostly I was left untouched. I think the small cupboard in the corner with the light had the most usage now, spinning the objects around before going dark and being opened. Today, we were just cutting for a short while but I could tell she’d changed. Her face was more coloured, like the squashy red things we sometimes slice and the strange purple ones which seem to stain so well. We struggled to cut — was my power weakening? She laid me down and for a moment we stared at each other.

* * *

Today is a good day. She has just spent ages striking me against the long, silver pole, back and forth many times whilst watching the strange rectangle on the wall with its ever-changing images. I feel fit and ready. All the colours were back again and it was just as it used to be as we chopped and sliced through a selection of fine items.

The small white ones were taken out the blue tray and were soft and easy to slice. My favourite was the curious round item that we cut, she peeled, and we cut again and again until there were many, many small white pieces. Sometimes I’d see water on her face, but even so she never seemed sad.

The yellow light had come through the window and lit up the room earlier, but now it was dark and small white specks gathered on the window peering inside. A flickering red stick had been placed in the centre of the table and dark shapes crept along the wall. He should like this tonight, I think.

There was now quite a crowd on the window, but there’s been no action here at all in a while. Suddenly he appears! He walks in and puts a crumpled white paper bag and large cup beside me. She stands up and points to it. I notice the yellow and red shapes on them and a long, clear narrow tube coming out of the top of the cup.

I can see their mouths moving rapidly as she grabs the cup and throws it down in front of him. I see thick liquid — as pink as the pretty plants he used to give her — fly out the cup and down onto the floor. He takes a step back and then swings an arm towards her, sending her stumbling backwards towards the corner. Something tells me this isn’t right.

Her hand is on her face now as she moves back towards him, but he grabs her hair and forces her down beside me. I can see the sadness through her watery eyes as she stares at me from her unfamiliar angle. I want to help but all I can do is cut food. Her face suddenly changes as she reaches towards me.

* * *

This is a strange view now. The rectangle is no longer black and is showing its multitude of colours and moving pictures. She is sitting at the table, staring at it, finally eating the wonderful food. The stick no longer flickers. I study her face again, but it is still; no water and maybe a slight smile. I can see the cup now on the floor, its pink contents now being invaded by a lot of red slowly surrounding us.

From my upright position in this unusual warmth, I look down on one side and see his legs stretch out towards the door; on the other, his head angles to his right, unmoving. So much red, everywhere. I watch it seep over the tile edge and follow a line down, stretching out, exploring the floor. Maybe tomorrow we’ll dine on our own.


Copyright © 2008 by Andrew Males

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