by Lynn Lurie
This can’t be done using rounded scissors and the ones that really cut are locked away. I check the drawer often, hoping to see the sharp silver pointed blades, the round plastic grips in blue and red. If I have the chance I will take any pair, without regard to color.
I try to scrape the red mark from my face, cutting the ragged margins with the razor’s sharpest edge. Pieces of flesh and blood clog the bathroom sink.
How stupid are you? Father enters without knocking, touches my hand towel, my toothbrush, the red stained soap. The plumber and his snake will come. I have cost Father a house call. And it always grows back.
Sister and I should have stayed in her room playing dolls, refusing to move to the next school year. We dye their hair using leftover vials of color from the Easter eggs and cut their bangs. In black pen we draw on their skin giving them nipples and pubic hair. I take the red pen and draw a scar. How could you? She pushes me away.
So sweet Sister’s pink walls and matching pink rug. She is happiest on the window seat of crushed velvet and raised stitching. I prefer the cushion at the end of the bed, ruffles and lace, held together by colored threads from grandmother’s needles. Father’s mother’s needles. I flip over her cushion and cut a series of circles from the underside. Then sew them together to make my doll a dress for dancing.
We collect remnants of carpet, cutting them to fit our dollhouse floor, colored strips of blue, egg cartons and thimbles of thread. The cardboard backing from father’s shirts and the plastic see through shapes that remind of us wings. These especially we fight over because they are scarce.
Brother pushes little-er brother’s stroller, our runny-nosed brother with swollen eyes, red ringed sadness. Brother says, best to not love the tiniest one. But he does not know, not then, that the little-er one will be cut from the family album.
Brother does a peacock dance. Our hair comes loose from braided pigtails tied in blue ribbon. It tangles terribly. Grandmother would have used a comb and olive oil to separate each strand, but Mother won’t work the knot. Instead she takes her cooking shears and cuts the whole thing out.
Our shoes full of shine tumble down concrete steps, we clutch cotton sweaters, pink plush animals. Mother keeps the wooden box of polish under the sink. When I slide the top open I breathe deeply, nothing smells so good. I cut a hole in my shoe. I want the blue pair I saw in the window. It is a color we do not have.
Sister builds a neighborhood of cards. The interconnecting corridors collapse. The cards are flat on the floor, with the queens and kings facing down. But a jack of diamonds faces up. He holds me in his stare. I have to cut off his head. I do not like his thick black hair, the colors of his coat, or the way he enters the room.
The mist turns the river milky white. We cut colored tissue paper and bunch it into balls to make the feathers. The teacher says, Gobble Gobble is the sound the turkey makes.
Sister draws me in India ink using a metal nubbed pen. She has me sit on the chair upholstered in flowers, a single braid running down my spine, the vertebrae sticking out like a bird’s tiny bones, press against my too tight leotard. Snapped shattered goodbye. She doesn’t like the way the eyes came out and cuts them from the picture. With scotch tape she secures the better ones from behind.
In the middle of the rug she knocks the bottle on its side. The black fans out into the weft staining it all the way to the warp. I try to blot it dry but it is like the tributaries of the Nile. Sister cuts out the stain. All she can do is brace for Father’s anger.
It hurts to feel fabric against the fresh scar reaching across my middle, still healing, oozing yellow and gray. Tell me doctor, what is it that you cut out of me?
I’m half dressed in the dark refusing to give him my last piece of clothing. With scissors in hand he leans forward and cuts along the seam. I whimper as the sun goes down, watching it crisscross shrubs and shallow puddles of standing water.
Sister on the toilet holding out a blot clot calls to me. As a measure of her pain she gives it her name. I tell her nothing is missing. It is a pile of cells. That word game, I say, Mother May I, let’s play. You can go first.
Her sheets are stained. The same bed she slept in when she had chicken pox, when her hair was long and she liked the color blue, mostly.
Lynn Lurie‘s novel, Quick Kills, will be published by Etruscan Press this fall. Quick Kills is narrated by a young woman seduced by an older man who convinces her she is the perfect subject for his photographs.