The knife was raised high, its blade glinting in the glow of a floor lamp. It was a chef’s knife and well looked after. With a black sculpted handle that sat firmly in the palm, it had never slipped while dicing onions or slicing through chicken breast. The blade had been recently sharpened. A droplet of orange juice had flung off the curve of the blade and two hands gripped the handle, the tip of the knife pointed menacingly downward.

The woman wielding the knife had ragged fingernails and work-roughened hands. She’d seen thirty three birthdays but deep worry lines and a perpetual frown aged her. Her thin lips were drawn back from her teeth in a snarl. The salmon-coloured cardigan she wore sagged in the place where she’d stretched it over her ample bosom until it lost its button. She was overweight, a lifetime of verbal abuse taking their toll, but she wasn’t soft. Muscles bunched in her arms as she readied to plunge the knife deep into a man's back.

The man was slightly hunched over as though he sensed the approaching finality of his life. A television remote was held In one hand while the other balled into a fist. Greying hair stuck out haphazardly on his head, messed by the pillow he’d left moments before. His stained singlet reeked of alcohol and the cigarette clamped between his downturned lips leaked ash where he stood. He’d been unemployed for eight years, cast out of the workforce by an accident caused by employer neglect. The settlement had been a windfall and celebrating had produced the son over which he now stood.

The boy on the floor lay on his side, propped up on a pointy elbow while the other skinny arm warded off the man above. As much as he would like to forget the man or this moment, he would never manage. He would see more of his father in the mirror with every passing year. His eyes were averted, looking towards the window where he could see their next door neighbour’s face.

The teenage girl recoiled from the window, her mind catching up to what her eyes were seeing. Her brunette ponytail had flicked upward from the movement. Dressed in jeans and a black long-sleeved tee, her clothes were designed for skulking. She’d snuck out to hang around with friends her family didn’t approve of. Her eyes were wide and her mouth was open; the glint of the knife had caught her eye.

 

© Delia Strange 2015, All rights reserved.