Her Feels by Matthew Robinson

January 21, 2013 Comments Off

She holds it up. She brings it down. It’s so goddamn shiny.           

I’m just trying to eat my breakfast.           

It isn’t sharp though; sharpness implies an intended result. My sister? She lacks intent. She’s all action. Well, action and feeling. When she was small, she used to call her feelings her feels. People would ask how she was, and she’d say, “My feels are good, thank you,” or, “My feels are sad.”           

So she’s holding a butter knife, and she brings it down. Skin gives but doesn’t break. It’s dull and shiny, the knife, and her feels are sad. The knife has those shitty teeth like it might belong to the serrated-knife family, but really it just gnaws impotently at crusts of bread, pads of butter, and my baby sister’s too-tight skin.           

I’m buttering my fucking toast.           

Earlier, years before, we shared a room. Just kids lying in our bunk beds. ‘I hate my body,’ she’d say, ‘it doesn’t fit.’ 

‘That’s stupid,’ I’d say, and she’d tell me I was stupid. Then later she’d say, ‘Maybe it’s me that doesn’t fit.’ 

The knife in my hand is greasy. I bite bread, and it crunches, dull with fat. 

When Dad sees the bruises left by her hard work, he holds her hands and kisses the insides of her arms. They’re wet when he lifts his face. Somebody asks, ‘Why?’ but I don’t know who. 

Mom’s arms are folded akimbo, and her face is gray stone. She doesn’t kiss my sister. She stands miles away. Watching. Shaking a little. Dad looks to her. My sister looks to the floor. ‘Go to your room,’ Mom says. 

I drag my greasy knife across more toast, spreading jam, dragging red. Some falls to the table. I leave it. My stomach aches. 

Later, I’ll ask my sister, ‘Why?’ 

‘Why what?’ she’ll say.

‘The thing with the butter knife,’ I’ll say. 

My sister, she’s peach-colored with brown hair and eyes. Her smile is soft, except she doesn’t smile anymore. ‘Just testing,’ she’ll say.

I think she means our parents — that she’s testing our parents. 

My bread is mangled; my hand is red and sticky. I put down the knife, and it rattles in my shaky hand against the plate — quiet, like a family secret. 

She holds it up. She brings it down. It’s so goddamn shiny… 

And it’s sharp now. She’s cutting lengthwise. Something is still wrong. Her everyday still hurts. Dad is still crying, Mom is still miles away. My baby sister’s found intention, and it’s spilling out now, all over the goddamn the floor. 

I’m just trying to eat my breakfast. 

© 2012 Matthew Robinson 

Matthew Robinson lives and writes in Portland, OR. Sometimes he studies at Oregon State University, so someday his list can read: lives, writes, and works.

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