That’s what my wife said to me after we’d finished eating the lovely meal she’d prepared and polished off a bottle of wine.
“I’d deflect it with my martial art skills and send it flying over the other side of the room, get you in a headlock and ask why’d you want to stab your amazing husband.”
“Your martial art skills? Please. You went for like, six months?”
“That’s longer than you ever have.”
“Sure, but a knife’s a knife.”
“That’s a bread knife.”
“Still, it’d do the job.”
In a slightly drunk stupor, she staggered over and put her arms around me.
“What reason do I have to stab you?” she smiled.
“I hope nothing.”
“As long as you stay on your good behaviour, you have nothing to worry about.”
She slapped my ass and said she was going to bed.
I woke in a cold sweat. Small abstract snippets from my dreamworld invaded my mind, though any sense that they carried was soon lost as consciousness rose. I looked over, seeing Sam sleep soundly next to me, almost purring.
My mouth was parched, so I quietly got out of bed and slipped downstairs. The vinyl floor in the kitchen shocked me further awake, opening the fridge, the light poured out and a quiet hum emanated from within. I pulled out a jug of milk and chugged. I loved downing milk straight from the bottle. I stood for a moment, then a glint from the metal blade of the bread knife caught my attention.
What would happen if I picked up this knife and stabbed you right now?
I thought about what she said and laughed it off, before that voice in my head said, “what if?”
You know that voice, it’s the one that tells you to not get too close to the edge of a tall building because, just maybe, “why don’t you jump?”
I hated that voice. It always wanted to undermine me. It’s the one that told me that everyone was going to laugh at me when I make presentations. That voice that tells me I’m a failure, that I’m a fraud, no one loves me. Usually I’m confident enough to ignore it, it’s pushed to the back of my mind with all those thoughts about winning the lottery. But that night, standing half drunk, in the dark kitchen, “what if?”
I returned to bed, and pulled the cover over the top of me.
Sam muttered to herself as her arm flopped on top of me and grasped my chest hair. She let out a nocturnal snigger.
“Are you awake?” I asked.
“I could kill him,” she said.
She laughed, so loud I could swear she was awake.
“Sam!” I shouted.
She awoke, startled.
“What’s wrong?” She asked.
“Were you sleeping?” I asked surprised.
“I think so,” she responded groggily, “what’s wrong?”
“Never mind,” I said, not wanting to bring up what she had said in her sleep.
She rolled over, and fell back to sleep as soon as her head hit the pillow.
I didn’t think about it for a couple of days. It was one of those things that people say when they are unguarded and drunk. She was such a sweet person, wouldn’t hurt a fly.
I sat at the dining table. Something was off. It was lost on me to start with. Like if someone had come into your house and rearranged photos and books, not something you’d recognise at first glance, but that lizard part of your brain is on alert.
That’s when I realised the food that sat steaming in front of me was home cooked. Not a ready meal. Sam sat opposite me, waiting for me to say something.
Her face was anxious and longing.
“Did you cook this from scratch?” I asked.
Her expression changed, as if she peeled off the old one and revealed a new, fresh, smiling version of herself.
“I did!” She stated proudly.
“Do I have to have a reason?”
“I guess not.”
She poured wine into my glass and then into hers.
My initial excitement dissolved, as she picked up the bread knife and began cutting into the artisan bread she bought. She never bought bread like that. As the blade sawed back and forth, I wondered how I’d feel if I was lying down and she plunged that knife into my abdomen and began cutting. An irrational fear took hold, born from the seed the other night.
“Is there something wrong?” She said, obviously upset, blade stopping mid saw.
What if she’s poisoned your food? That voice again.
“Do you mind if we change plates?” I asked nervously.
I saw her face drop.
“I’m just not that hungry, you always give me more.”
“That’s because I love you, and you deserve more.”
“I appreciate that, but can we swap?”
“How about I take some of your potatoes and meat.”
I put my hand out in front, as she leaned in.
“No, we can just swap.”
“I’d prefer if I take some off your plate, it’s easier.”
She’s poisoning you.
Impotently, I allowed her to do it. She began to eat. I watched, waiting for her to pick up a piece of meat or one of the potatoes she had taken from my plate. Though she ignored them with a purpose that almost looked practised, so natural.
I drank some wine, as if stalling for time.
“Did I do something wrong?” She asked, as I hadn’t begun to eat.
Are you really going to eat out of politeness? the voice in my head said as I picked up the fork and plunged it into the beef.
I placed it in my mouth and chewed.
“This is really good,” I said, wondering what poison would taste like.
She told me what happened in her day, about a man called Ryan who was going for the same promotion as her. Slowly but surely, I continued to eat.
Are you feeling a little off?
I wasn’t, I was fine, but that God damn voice wouldn’t shut up.
“He’s nowhere near as qualified as me,” she said, sinking her fork into one of my potatoes.
I waited as she brought it to her mouth.
“I’d cut his brake cables if I knew how. Do you know how to do that?”
“No,” I said, surprised by the dark turn the conversation had taken.
Her shoulders deflated. She looked at the potato that hung from the fork, as if thinking about eating it. She then picked up her knife and forced it off. I jumped as the potato hit the plate. She picked up some unsullied meat and continued to eat.
“I wish he was dead,” she said, stuffing the beef into her mouth.
I told you…
I pushed my food around the plate, feeling my heart thump in my stomach.
“I think he’s been stalking me,” she continued, “would you protect me if he broke in?”
“Of course,” I said, “you’ve never mentioned this before.”
“I try to fight my own battles. But he’s worrying me. I think we need some sort of defence, just in case.”
“What do you mean?”
“I think I’m going to take this knife up to bed tonight, just in case.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
“Why not?” She snapped, “Do you want to see me dead?”
“God no! It’s…” I stumbled for words, “you can hardly plead self-defence if you take a knife to bed with you.”
That knife’s for us, you know that right?
Suddenly she was staring at my food.
“Why aren’t you eating?”
“I’m not that hungry,” I apologised.
The atmosphere had soured. She stood up with her plate, making a big deal about putting all the left overs into the bin. Then taking mine and doing the same.
“You can keep it for later, I’ll be hungry then.”
“Why do I even bother doing anything nice for you. You don’t even care that a man in my workplace could be stalking me.”
Her phone buzzed. She took it out of her pocket.
“See! He’s messaging me now. That’s not appropriate is it?”
“Let me take a look.”
“No!” She said, turning away from me.
She held the phone to her ear.
“How many times do I have to tell you, I have a husband, he knows martial arts.”
“I’m taking this to HR.”
She put the phone away.
“I can fight my own battles.”
I got up and walked over to her, placing my hands on her shoulders. She jumped with what appeared to be shock.
“Everything will be okay.”
She relented and hugged me, before starting to cry.
“I’m so sorry,” she said, “it’s been so horrible. I want to do this on my own, okay?”
I stepped back, “sure. But please tell me if you can’t. We can do this together.”
“I promise,” she said, “I’m a bit tired, I think I’m going to go to bed.”
“No problem, I’ll wash up.”
She pecked me on the cheek.
I watched as she approached the dining table. She thought about it for a minute, then picked up the knife.
“Just in case,” she said.
That knife is for our heart.
“No, it isn’t,” I said out loud, before putting my hands in front of my mouth.
I finished the washing up and the bottle of wine. I looked over at the dining table to see her wine still full.
She didn’t drink.
The voice was right. She hadn’t. That wasn’t normal. I felt more drunk than I should, and I didn’t care. I sat down at the table and examined her glass. Surely there’d be a trace of lipstick, or a bit of food to show she had at least taken a sip. The room began to spin. I stabilised myself at the table, took a deep breath and made my way upstairs.
I barely made it onto the bed before I passed out.
I woke groggy. I realised quickly it was Sam who’d awoken me. Her arms were flailing. The bread knife held tightly in her far side hand.
“I’m going to kill him,” she muttered.
“Sam, what’s going on?”
Her eyes opened.
“It’s you, you shouldn’t be here!” She demanded, she straddled me, holding my throat with her free hand, the knife held back behind her head.
I told you. The voice said matter-of-factly.
“You don’t want to do this!” I pleaded.
“Of course, I do,” she said, pushing down with the knife, I pushed back with all my might.
“Why? What have I done?”
“You don’t love me; you want to hold me back.”
“That’s not true, I love you!”
She wasn’t listening.
Her strength was intense, exacerbated by her position over me.
“Please, I’m your husband.”
“No, you’re not, you’re nothing to me.”
I remembered one of the only things I’d learnt from self-defence. I lifted my leg up and around her chest, flipping her over and taking the higher ground.
“I hate you!” She shouted.
“Calm down,” I said trying to soothe her.
I got control of the knife and as soon as I did, her grip relented. In a flash the knife was on the floor and her body went limp.
“Christ, Sam,” I said, slipping off her to sit on the side of the bed.
The message light on her phone throbbed. I picked it up, to see ten messages waiting from Ryan. Normally I wouldn’t have pried, but she’d tried to kill me.
I looked back at Sam, who gently breathed as she’d fallen back to sleep.
One by one I scrolled through and saw the horror that she’d been keeping to herself.
I can see you’ve gone to bed. When are you going to turn the light off?
You should try that perfume out I gave you. I’m sure your husband would like it.
You know the job’s mine. That’s okay though. If you do those favours I’d been talking about, I’ll take care of you.
You don’t have to respond. I know you are reading these.
Are you thinking of me? I’m thinking of you.
Your husband is a worthless piece of shit.
If you were with me, I’d treat you right. Like a princess.
Did you bring that knife to bed like you said you were going to?
Sleep well, Samantha. I’m outside, if you need me.
“I didn’t realise,” I said, turning to see Sam sleep softly.
“I didn’t realise it was that bad. We need to go to the police.”
She didn’t wake.
I pushed her. Her body rocked back and forth.
From my position, I couldn’t see what had happened. I still can’t explain it. When I stood at the end of the bed and saw the blade glint back at me from the floor with a tinge of red, I couldn’t remember how it happened. The dark wet patch that grew on the side of the bed continued to grow larger the longer I stared. I panicked. I pulled the sheets up and covered her. I picked up the knife that lay on the floor.
I want to see you. I typed.
Moments later, a message came back.
I knew you would.
Can you come over now?
I’m outside. What about your husband?
Without thinking, in a daze, I walked down the stairs, quietly unlocked the front doors, and entered the kitchen.
He’s drunk at the kitchen table.
I placed my head on the wood. Feeling a burning sensation in my stomach.
It was little more than five minutes before I felt the cold rush of air, as the front door opened. I waited until I heard his footsteps stalk the landing. Then I got up.
He was standing in shock at the end of the bed, a mirror image of myself moments before.
I had the presence of mind to call out his name, so he’d turn around before I plunged the knife into his neck.
I placed her phone back on the night table, making sure it was clear of blood. Then I took out mine and phoned the police.
I sat on the floor, in my wife’s blood that had gathered. I held her hand, held onto the little warmth that was left.
When the police arrived, I told them I tried to protect her. That was true. I failed. They told me not to worry, they see this all the time. You never truly know someone. That was true too.
They’ll know it was you.
“No, they won’t,” I said out loud.
“Sir, did you say something?”
“I’m in shock,” I said, and I was.
The voice, it was still there, but it was no longer mine, it was my wife’s.