She had told and retold the story to her family: how she was split into two. 13 is an age too young to know about the existence of greedy hands reaching to catch the sway in her hips or the unwanted attention of hungry eyes observing the way certain shirts cup her breasts as if to illuminate them.
She had explained throughout dinner that she had become a woman overnight, but not in the way she thought because she’s never seen half a woman and she swears she was split right down the middle. Her father swiftly deboned a fish and she pointed at its naked half. Like that, I was split into two. When the jaws of her parents moved only to chew food, she reiterated the story again.
I was going into the bathroom and a man wearing a football jersey with the number 37, remember that number okay. Thirty. Seven. Pushed through the door and had me sit on his lap, she started. She described the dense muscle of the man’s thigh and how he also touched her thigh with hands that had prickly hairs between each finger. She said porcupine hands even if they were blank and smooth because his touch left streaks of red to remember him by. Her father raised his right eyebrow and returned under the fluorescent light of the kitchen; her mother sat at the dining table with a book, glasses resting on the edge of her nose.
Tools used to demonstrate: a hammer she found in an old toolbox under her parents’ bed, a spike nail she found at the construction site her brother works at, and kitchen shears.
She wiped the rust off the nail, staining the flowers on her white uniform blouse, placed it on her forehead, right between the dangling legs of her bangs. She thrust the base of the hammer onto the tip of the nail. Clink. Clink. Clink. Her mother didn’t look up until strips of her black hair rained down on the cream carpet like fallen leaves. The other half of her head fell next - one eye, a sliver of her nose, the chapped corner of her lips. When her mother screamed, her father peeked his head out of the kitchen.
She brought the nail to the center of her breastbone and chiseled, puncturing through her pale skin. She shattered the staircase making up the left side of her ribs, one by one. Her skin slid off her like a shirtsleeve and the fragments of her bones fell noiseless to the cloud of carpet. Her pelvic bone yielded the loudest sound: hollow echoes ricocheting off the walls. Her father was baking cookies that evening. He dropped the bowl of egg yolk and her discarded left eye watched the yellow liquid fill the cracks in the tiles.
Upon hearing the clanking of the bowl dropping to the floor, her brother shuffled down the stairs. This is when she stood. Strings of red veins hung from her other half. A kidney. Artery. Spleen. Lay homeless. She picked up the kitchen shears with her right hand and cut clean through the ribbons of veins.
Like this I was split into two. And he was wearing the number 37. Remember that number okay. Thirty Seven.