In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Civil War
  • Loria Taylor (bio)

Casing the knives.

It’s such a wicked pleasure.

I assess them with a critical eye: too dull, too little, too ordinary. Regular silverware isn’t the best place to look, but it’ll do. I get a surge of hope looking at steak knives. Sharp, serrated edges. Butcher knives seem too bulky and overdone. So unnecessary. Paring knives are most alluring, and I find myself drawn to them. They slice through red apples with an assurance that is self-contained. This is what I need: a sure blade for a not-so-sure hand.

So far, no luck. I test them against my skin, closing my eyes and breathing deeply. I think my choice will be intuitive, that I’ll just know which one is right.

The telephone rings, and the moment is broken. I’m starting to think I have a problem with commitment. I sigh, though I’m feeling content. It gives me an inexplicable pleasure to horde thoughts of suicide. There’s always tomorrow.

I am a transparency, a sheet of atoms barely held together. Light and sound cut through me and will destroy me.

I find myself in a restaurant with old friends. My friends don’t seem to notice I’m any different from them, as the waves of sound and light go around and envelope them. I haven’t seen them in ages. They smile and nod and say I haven’t changed a bit. I have. My whole being aches. Laughter is painful. A woman next to us cackles suddenly, and I feel ripped apart. I want to scream at her.

Why are you doing this to me? Don’t you know you’re killing me?

I want to reach out, tell my friends. I can’t endure this thing in me. Everything good in my life is being sucked down into a pit. Each afternoon I wake, something else has been stolen from me. I have read about people diagnosed with cancer who struggle to cope [End Page 19] with bodies that have turned against them. What about minds that have turned against themselves? My mind is destroying me.

It’s a civil war in here.

Major Depression. The diagnosis is just a label. A necessary one at that—it denotes patterns I share with many, many, many others. I get it. With this one tag, I can bypass dreadful conversations: Hi Mom, just wanted to let you know: I’ve been suicidal, I have strange, strange thoughts, I sleep a lot, I generally feel like crying when any demands are put on me, I have a fixation with death, and I hate that you gave birth to me.

It’s a lot easier to just say, I’ve been diagnosed with depression.

I know there’s a perfectly good explanation for things if I look hard enough. My parents never understood my emotional sensitivity. My brother was the favorite child. My father is terminally ill. I am a failure. I have no coping skills. I chipped a nail. My email won’t work. I’m out of sugar. Take your pick.

My therapist, having heard about me feeling as though I am transparent, as though other people’s laughter and voices rip through me, as though I were designed to be wounded by happiness and anything good, tilts her head to the side and says, “Doesn’t that sound chemical to you?”

We are both mental healthcare professionals. We know the dance. The difference between us is that I’m in the “patient” chair. The truth is I don’t know what’s chemical and what isn’t. These days, I doubt any piece of knowledge I have ever gained. I just know that I have opened up to this counselor and have proof now that I really do have strange thoughts. Apparently, imagining death and torture in every corner of your life is not normal.

I have been obsessed with death for as long as I can remember. I have wanted out of this life far longer than I have wanted in it. My thoughts are incessant. I daydream about death. I wonder what...


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pp. 19-24
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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