The West |


by Peter Orner

edited by Kara Levy

San Francisco (1997) She’d hurt herself in small ways. Nobody knew about it. She’d take a knife and slowly deliberately gently slice her thigh. She’d cover it with a towel. She’d watch the blood soak through but it wasn’t the blood she wanted, only the feel of the knife and the proof that she could do it. She was in her thirties. She wasn’t lonely. This had taken her a long time to understand. A feat really, given the circumstances. What were the circumstances? She couldn’t have answered this. Can one’s life be summed up so easy? Other people can sum our lives up for us, but not us. She was so and so and she lived at so and so address. Wasn’t there more to it than this? Shouldn’t there be? She liked to feel a little actual pain once in a while. This was opposed to the pain she couldn't feel? Was this the point? Alone in her room, her desk lamp on, its small circle of light. She felt like an old-time surgeon. Who was the patient? Who the doctor? She was not lonely. Mom, I am not lonely. The soft skin of her thigh. She liked to think of that moment after you get past the rind of a cantaloupe when the blade goes easy. The meat of the fruit. It wasn’t like that. Skin was easier. To cut, just cut. Cover it with a towel and let it bleed. Then she’d sleep.