First Cut (Short Story)

Rose

First Cut

By Veronica Nkwocha

“I am strong. I’ll just pick myself up and move on!”

She banged on the stool and then moved to the mirror. She hit her reflection shattering the glass to a hundred shards.

One whole, a hundred pieces. They clung to each other refusing to let go. One mirror, crackled like a map drawn by the insane.

She drew blood. It started like a trickle from the edge of her palm and as she raised her hand to look at it closer, it made a bright red trail to her inner elbow staining her sleeve as it went along unheeded.

She grabbed the first piece of cloth she could find and after making sure there were no pieces of glass embedded in the gash, she wrapped it around and around stopping only when she had a tiny bit of cloth left. She tucked it into the flat part on her palm. She looked at her reflection, there were a hundred of her staring back at her.

“I am me. I’ll get up, again and again and again and again! I will never give up. Oh God!”

Then she started to cry.

“Why me? Why? Oh God.”

She wiped her tears and left a smudge of blood. Even as she ran her good hand through her hair, wild and sticking out in places. Her eyes were red, her mascara ran like melting wax staining her cheeks.

With quick movements, she tidied up. In a flash, the bed was made, stained bedding replaced by fresh sheets, the upturned table was back in its place and all the cosmetics and books were arranged back to their own place.

She undressed with deliberate care. Peeled off the remains of her blouse; already ripped, the buttons already popped from their holes with his violent movement. Her torn skirt was still partly ridden up her ample hips. A rivulet from his claw marks marred her soft thighs.

“Oh why?” she moaned when she saw the trickle of blood. From within her. Down her legs. She left sticky footprints.

She ran a bath. She soaked in the warm waters and imagined herself in a peaceful place.

‘If only I could lie here forever’, she thought as she immersed herself deeper into the lavender fragrance of the foam bath and into her thoughts.

But she got up. She dressed. And made up with skill in the one good part of the mirror that she could still see half a face. She smiled at her reflection as she smacked her lips. Her eyes refused to embrace her lips, they were as cold as death.

Knock! Knock!! Knock!!!

She ignored them. This intrusion into her peaceful place.

She swayed. In front of the mirror. A hundred swayed. They danced when she danced. They smiled, her pearly teeth were like pearl necklaces strewn across a dark sky glinting as they spied the stars.

A pirouette and her pink gown flared, rose petals dancing in the mirror.

She ran her fingers down her hair. She caressed her hair. She removed them. Quickly. It reminded her of him. Her countenance changed.

“I hate him”

She looked at her hands. She placed them in her hair again. And removed them.

She grabbed nail polish, she painted her nails. Bright red. Then she ran them through her hair again.

“That’s better, nothing to remind me of him.”

She pulled at her hair.

“I hate him! I hate him!! I hate him!!!”

The wet polish left red flecks in her hair.

“I hate me”

And she folded. And they all folded, her reflections in the mirror.

She lay, a dark shadow in the corner.

Knock! Knock!! Knock!!

Shouts of “Halima! Halima!”

She looked at the mirror

She spoke softly “Halima? They are calling you. Answer them”

Then she laughed.

“Which one of you will answer them? She asked the hundred Halimas.

She heard breaking. Sounds alien, from near and yet far. She crouched, in her corner staring at her nails damaged from running them through her hair.

She got up, picked up the bottle of bright red polish and went back to her corner. She imagined it her cradle. She rocked. She sang. A lullaby.

She was painting the last little finger when the door gave way.

A group of worried friends burst into her room.

“Halima!” they said worried.

“Pretty isn’t it, see my nails, they are pretty.”

The crowded around her, helped her up, and took in the scene. Her wild hair dripping with nail polish and her nails poorly done, smudged and streaky. The shattered mirror and the pristine room. Her pretty pink dress.

“Are you okay? We’ve been worried about you. It’s been two days, where’ve you been? We thought you travelled or something, you didn’t come for lectures or meals or even to Sade’s party. Ore here has been so worried about you.”

He loomed over them. Ore. They made a path for him to make a beeline for her.

She opened her arms, it knocked the mirror and the shards fell.

His arms wide open. His eyes hesitant. Knowing. Pleading. Shame faced.

She smiled, that smile that always had him wanting, needing, hoping.

Her eyes were cold, as always. Closed. As always. To him.

Her arms open, and they embraced.

“Aww, Halima and Ore sitting on a tree” some in the group sang.

She sat in his arms, on the very same bed.

He stopped. Eyes wide open. His side bearing a large piece of glass.

Her hands clutching the piece of glass. Bright red. From polish. And from his and hers. Their blood.

Halima. Singing.

“Halima and Ore. Sitting on a tree. K.I.S.SI.N.G. Halima and Ore. Sitting on a tree. K.I.S.S.I.N.G.”

A lone voice cutting through her friends’ looks of fear and confusion..

Halima swaying.

Ore, sightless in death. Ore embracing the bed. Where he drew first blood.