Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Clumsy (Flash Fiction)

I remembered in the fifth grade after her mother died how she was clumsy, falling down stairs or putting her arm against the stove or sometimes even cutting towards herself with knives and slicing her hands. I never saw her do these things, but she told me when I asked her about the evidence on her arms and hands and face at lunch time.
We went to the same high school after that, but I rarely spoke to her. We both remembered playing regular kid games in the elementary school yard before it wasn’t cool to play with girls anymore, but somehow those times were over. I did notice that the bruises were still there, but I was older then and had a few things figured out.
I came home after university to figure out what I was doing and found out that her alcoholic father had died. She showed up to one of the church groups and I thought we were really connecting again, but she had this new boyfriend who didn’t know she was going to the Bible study. We couldn’t do anything together because of him, though I would have liked to and I thought she might have wanted to as well. I noticed that she always wore sweaters and turtlenecks and that her hands were pretty rough, and I was even older and thought I had a few more things figured out.
One night she was quite upset about something and she let me take her home. We were lying together on the couch in the dark when she finally told me that she wanted to leave her boyfriend but was scared. I told her that I would take care of her and we were married a few months later. The lights were out that night but I could still feel the smooth burns and rough scars. I thought I had understood something.
Three years later, I’m lying in the hospital and have no idea if either of our children will survive because she set the house on fire, and I wish I had known that she had started cutting herself the day after her mother’s funeral.

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