My Arm Throbbed (Story by Risa Peris)

I cut my arm with a butcher’s knife. The knife was a cast off of mother’s when she cleaned the garage after dad died. They were Cutco knives. I remembered that. My brother was recruited to sell Cutco knives. It was his get rich scheme in high school. He only sold a set to mom. He tried Aunt Agatha, but she sipped vodka through a pineapple shaped cup, laughed during the whole presentation, and then gave my brother $20. My brother slunk home and went back to buying beer for his friends with his remarkable and expensive fake ID. 

Why did I cut my arm? It wasn’t to kill myself. It was to feel something. The numbness sunk in five weeks ago after a week of tears and self-pitying. My husband left me for his secretary. Cliche. Jesus. What a cliche. You could have lifted my story right out of the 1950s. 

Friends and family coddled. They got tired though and went back to their lives. That’s when the numbness settled. I couldn’t read, I couldn’t watch TV, I couldn’t eat…my life had flipped aa 180 degrees. I got letters from a lawyer and burned them all in a bonfire on the beach. I lived in San Diego and surfers and hippies joined me. They heard my story and started chanting, “Death to Bill. Death to marriage.” It was funny because I was high on marijuana. 

And now sitting on my mom’s back porch, I cut myself. It hurt and the blood was effusive. Alfred, mom’s Golden Retriever, licked at the blood. 

“Go away,” I said. But I was happy I could feel something. It was cathartic to hurt. 

“You happy now?” Mother was towering over me. 

I looked up. “Can you pay for therapy? I don’t have a job and all that. I think my husband ended my health insurance.”

Mother tapped her right foot. “I’ll pay. Get inside so I can doctor that cut.”

She cleaned me up at the kitchen sink. 

“Happy?” she asked. 

“No. Will I ever laugh again?” 

Mother frowned and then started laughing. Alfred farted and then mother started laughing louder. “I think your blood gave him an upset stomach.” She continued to laugh and then I began laughing. I didn’t know why, except I felt the creep of feeling. Baby steps. But fuck! It was progress. Maybe I would be alright. Mother hugged me and I cried. Divorce doesn’t have to end your world, rather it beckons you to a new life. Hope filled me as my arm throbbed.