Adult Education

Thursday, and I am sitting in the kitchen shivering just a little bit. Of course, the ‘bomb cyclone’ or whatever it is they are calling it is pounding the eastern seaboard, and we have a bright sunny (if chilly) day here, so I am going to count my blessings rather than complain about how cold it is in my kitchen this morning. I have a space heater, a wool blanket, and coffee. Things could be so much worse, seriously.

Comic Con kicks off tomorrow, which will mean me rushing home from the main office so I can walk to the convention center in time to check in, get my badge, and head up to where my panel is. I don’t have to be there on Saturday, so I can use that day to run errands and do chores around the house as well as get some writing and editing done (also, US National Figure Skating championships are this weekend; we watched the ladies’ short program live last night on the NBC SN app on the Apple TV), and spend Sunday, when I am not at Comic Con, relaxing and trying to get some odds and ends finished.

My mind has been incredibly creative lately, which is not only an interesting thing–it feels like it’s been a long time–but I also find my mind wandering over to some projects that I started and never finished. Sometimes I get an idea for a book or a story, complete with an opening so strong and vivid that  I have to write it down or fear it will be lost forever.

Like this one, the opening for a high school noir about a twisted mother-daughter relationship:

Razor blades look so innocent, really. Clean, precise, glittery silver, utilitarian and oh so useful, so useful they’re tucked away inside a vanity drawer close to the sink basin in everyone’s bathroom. There were so many uses for a razor blade. They cleanly scrape glue left behind when pulling tape off glass, for one thing, and of course a razor will cut that pesky unwanted hair away from skin. How many times had she sat in this bathroom, in this bathtub, using a razor without a second thought? Soaping up her legs, pulling the razor along in a long steady motion, her mind a million miles away but careful, always careful, to make sure she didn’t press too hard so that skin would be cut away along with the blonde hairs? She always put her phone into the iHome on the counter and would hum along with Katie Perry and Taylor Swift and One Direction, it made the effort of shaving her tanned legs so the skin would be silky smooth to the touch go so much faster.

These were safety blades. Safety meant there was a metal cap opposite the sharp side so it could be handled without danger of cutting skin. It seemed crazy, a stupid obeisance to some past lawsuit where someone was too stupid to understand how carefully a razor had to be handled was rewarded by a jury with millions. Flesh is delicate and tears so easily, after all, and once it’s torn, the blood flows so dark and richly red.

She wipes steam off the mirror so she can see herself, distorted, through the moisture on the glass. Distorted. Always distorted. She takes the safety blade and sets it on the side of the white bathtub, the emerald green shower curtain pulled to the side. Steam curls off the top of the water. She drops the robe and steps into the hot water, flinching against the heat against her skin as pores pop open and sweat forms under her arms and above her lip. She pulls the long blonde hair back, securing at the nape of her neck with a pink scrunchie. She lowers herself into the water, bracing herself against the shock. Down into the water she goes until all that is left above the surface is her neck, her head.

 Her lip trembles.

I don’t appreciate your guilt-tripping me. It’s over. His voice echoes in her head.

What the hell is wrong with you? Her father’s voice, screaming at her.

No one likes you because you’re such a bitch. Her former best friend.

A single tear dribbles from the corner of her right eye.

Her nose starts to run.

She picks up the razor blade and presses it to the inside of her left arm.

Next time remember to cut up, not across. Her mother’s voice, always sneering, dripping with contempt.

Always her mother, always.

She presses down and gasps at the unexpected pain, unexpected because she didn’t think she could actually feel anything anymore.

Up, not across.

She drags the blade up towards the crease of her arm.

Blood, not bright but rich and dark.

 It runs down and drips into the water, diffusing and spreading.

The blade goes into the other hand. Presses against the right wrist.

Up, not across.

Finished, she drops the blade into the soap dish.

 She closes her eyes and waits for death.

Creepy, right?

Here’s a hunk for you as I go back to the spice mines.