Love | By: Josh Harlan | | Category: Short Story - Other Bookmark and Share


“Cut me,” she says, and offers an outstretched arm. In her fist is an old carving knife. My knife. Her arm is a pale beam of pronounced veins and quivering sinew. I contemplate her offer of self-sacrifice for a moment, and gaze upon her wrinkled skin, upon the withered and thin blue highways that lead to her heart. For a moment, I tell myself that I could.

I search for something in her cold gray eyes, something pronounced. But all I get is a tired, bloodshot stare.

“No,” I say, and take another pull on my beer. Our fridge is broke and the beer has been on the kitchen table for a week. I drink it still, even though it’s warm, flat. I want to see something in her eyes, and I want to offer her something profound with my own. But all I can offer is a tired, bloodshot stare.

“What the fuck is wrong with you?” She screams and slams the knife onto the table. The knife belonged to my grandfather, then my father. Now it’s old, dull.

“Don’t you even care anymore?” She seeks something, with that. “You used to love me, you used to care.” Her lip curls in a snarl. “Now you’re just a tired old fool.”

“Yeah,” I say.

Her makeup is smeared from sweat, from sex. She trembles with anger, with guilt. Her blouse is wrinkled and torn. She’s not wearing a bra. I look down her blouse as she leans over me like it’s the first time, like it’s new. Like she doesn’t belong to me. Which, I suppose, is the only truth in the room.

“Why won’t you do anything?” She screams, again. She’s in a rage, having a fit. I almost want to laugh at her, but I stay silent and still. “You’re pathetic,” she says quietly. “Call me names. Call me a whore,” she hisses. I suppose she wants to feel justified, with that. “If you loved me you would cut me.”

“No,” I say. I’m surprised at myself. I suppose I should be the one in a rage, in a fit. But all I feel is old and wasted. I take another pull on my beer without breaking my stare. I want to see something in her. I want to see the woman I married. I want to remember the woman I loved. But I can’t.

“No,” I say again. “If I loved you I would fucking kill you.”
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