Nineteen is the number of times I stabbed my father. One in each forearm, shoulder, thigh, calves. Neck back stomach balls. Between two ribs the knife plunged and pierced one lung, two, and caught on a shard of bone, a tendon shred. Wrench tug free. I’d pictured each puncture in detail one by one. Not over and over on loop like some freak but while waiting for the bus or falling asleep I thought about the order of it, in and out and back in, the quiet shrill of it. Muscle rip against blade, bone scrape against metal.
I take the skins of the women my lover loved. I flesh them until they are paper thin. They are folded stacked in a box at the back of my closet. The box is cherry wood and the lock is made of gold. I know it should be silver, because silver contains powerful magic, and sometimes I hear the skins shifting and whispering to each other.
Think what you want.
He left me no choice.
The lake was poison. It was a disease, its infectious purples and blacks seeping from the creek and onto the ground, flowing through the grass, withering it away and replacing its luscious greens and yellows with browns and oranges. The sun didn’t help. It was red, burning everything and only revealing the lumps of garbage that loftily drifted on the lake. That lake was horrible.
He looked around. It was dark but there were a few lights on the bridge. He stood in the middle and peered over the side, down into the water. The night was still and the smell of the trees and moss made him smile. The countryside always had that effect on him, this was as good a place as any.
I hear everything: the soft cry of my mother, the beep of the heart monitor, the whispers of the nurses, and the subtle hum of the air conditioner. I feel the rough texture of my hospital gown against my skin, the cold hand of the doctor every morning when he visits, and the warm hand of my mother every time she touches my cheek. I am awake. Wide awake.
It’s all greed, really. People want what they don’t have, what they think they can’t have, what other people have told them they can’t have, because they themselves think they can’t have it, and so on. Do you follow? Do you get it? No you don’t. If you got it I could have stayed in Paradise instead of spending all of this wasted time on Earth.
Bang! It went. Bang! Bang! Bang! A whole series of bangs, like gunshots at a shooting range, echoes coming atop one another, full of alarm and the awful promise of consequence. Eleven-year old George Pearl, twelve before you’d know it, his birthday but an hour or so away, ducked his head as he walked down the dark center road of Riverside Cemetery. Shadows of stones moved around him, angular blocks of darkness set upon darkness, the ground and the shadows giving up other noises steeped with night and night things. Sounds swelled like thermals, unseen but known, catching up what was loose in the air, broadcasting strange messages that he could identify in a split second … fear, catastrophe, disaster, strange hands reaching to touch his backside, strange sounds at his ears. All around were strange things that boomed or blasted or bellowed in the night.