I entered my kitchen lethargically and lit the stove. The flame flickered uncertainly, then became a strong bluish-white as I turned up the gas. I poured some water in a steel saucepan and put it on to boil.
It was early and my housemate wasn’t yet up. I walked over to the veranda and stood there for a few minutes, taking in the delicious morning air. The grass below was still wet from the night dew and smelt fresh and earthy. There was no one in the street except an old lady walking her dog at a measured pace. I followed her with my eyes as she drifted across my field of view, and then tiptoed back to the kitchen.
For a while I gazed dully at my collection of knives, feeling nothing but the strange lethargy in my limbs and brain- then breaking free with a mild effort, I picked one up. It was a medium sized wood-handle stainless steel knife which I had used- despite its unsuitability for the task- to cut chicken thighs the previous morning. I dipped the steel blade in the hot water and the same instant Jo, my housemate, announced her arrival into the living room with a yawn.
“Geez, you are up early, aren’t you!” she exclaimed and walked into the bathroom.
She hadn’t seen the knife.
“Hi Jo, you look like you just had a beautiful dream,” I shouted back. Our conversations were always like this. But I liked her. She was sweet, though not sexy. This was the first time I had had a female housemate and I was enjoying the experience. We got along as well as housemates should.
Trying not to concentrate on the soft trickling sound of her peeing, I stared at the boiling water, the knife hidden between my legs. Eventually Jo came out of the bathroom and skipped towards me.
“What are you doing?” she demanded.
“What do you think I am doing?”
“I can see you are boiling water. Why?”
“Oatmeal”, I lied.
She seemed contented with my answer and went back to her room to presumably resume her dream. I dipped the knife in the boiling water again.
I continued in my dull task for about ten minutes before I was satisfied and took the knife out. Once again I could feel the lethargy gripping me, again I broke free. I selected a spot high on my arm, and pressed the tip of the knife into it. I was nervous, it was the first time I was doing this. My skin felt soft and plastic, and didn’t break. Changing tactics, I pressed the sharp edge of the knife against my arm and pushed upwards. This time it felt like attempting to cut through a particularly resilent chicken tendon. I hadn’t realized till now how tough human skin really is.
“Don’t give up!” I told my unwilling brain, and pressed some more. Something gave and my knife went in a couple of milimetres. I pulled it out almost instantly and stared at the spot on my arm that I had mutilated. For a couple of interminable seconds it looked almost normal, then a bright red blob of liquid started forming which grew larger and larger, until it was too big to stay together and dribbled down in a thin red line along my arm.
I wiped the wound clean, put some band-aid over it, and then returned to the kitchen to cook some oatmeal for breakfast.