As I sit at my desk and write these words, the light from a glorious moon illuminates the garden outside my bedroom window. The hall clock struck midnight a few seconds ago. I fear what may be lurking in the night. Terror has become my constant companion; dread drives the flutter and race of my heart. I cannot find the knife! If it comes to pass that I should not live to see the morning light, I am now resolved to record the madness of the last few months in my journal here. May I find the strength to complete my tale before it is too late!
I will start by explaining that I am counted among those known to society as the genteel poor. My husband passed on at too young an age, a most untimely fate. Though he left me able to get by, I have no spare coins for the extra appointments of life and certainly none for its luxuries. I make my home in a little cottage here on my brother-in-law’s estate. My wardrobe contains a sensible assortment of clothing and my garden helps to provide food enough to keep me hale. I’ve no room for complaint. But, oh, there are times when I do yearn for things that are new and shiny rather than well-worn and shabby. Yes. I do yearn! I was in one such yearning state of mind when my sister came to tea a few weeks before Christmas. When she inquired whether there might be anything special I would like as a Christmas gift, my yearning made me bold and eager. “A knife,” I said, “Dear Ann, I would dearly love a new kitchen knife. My old one is so worn and dull as to be almost useless. A new knife would lift my spirits immensely!” “We shall see,” she replied coyly, “Though it does sound a very uninteresting gift if you ask me.” And so we left it at that.
My sister Ann is nothing if not kind. Christmas Day arrived and I found myself opening a box that contained the most beautiful new kitchen knife – polished wood handle, hand-crafted blade and even a clever little forked tip that could be used for spearing bits of food. It was beautiful! I loved it. I took it home and nestled it in a place of honor in the kitchen drawer, a place where it would always be first to hand.
The next morning, I took the knife from the drawer with the intention of slicing some bread for my breakfast toast. I know not how it happened but the blade found my finger instead of the bread. This experience was to be repeated multiple times over the next few weeks. Always the blade seemed to seek my flesh. I began to fear the knife. Since I had no other kitchen knife capable of managing the daily food preparation, I began to wear my heavy garden gloves when using the knife. The blade eschewed my hands and sought my wrists instead. Soon I found it necessary to wrap towels around my wrists as well, clumsily moving about the kitchen like some club-handed leper. These precautions served me well for a time. The blade drew no more of my blood. And yet, with each use, I fancied I could feel the vibrating hum of its frustration. I feared the knife. I feared the vagaries of my own imagination. Which did I fear more? I do not know.
Then one night I woke up parched. Through the dark, I stumbled to the kitchen for a glass of water. Bright moonlight from the kitchen window provided some illumination and what I saw stole my breath. The knife rested half in and half out of the kitchen drawer, its sharp edge glinting as if to wink at my dismay. When my gaze fell upon it, it quivered. Dear lord, how had it managed to move? What was its intent? I wound a towel around my hand, roughly shoved the errant blade back inside the drawer and slammed it shut. I ran — ran back to the safety of the bedroom where I locked the door. Since that time, the knife has become bolder with each passing day. A few days ago, as I prepared to settle in my favorite chair with a book, I found it waiting there for me. The fear that seized my heart was almost unbearable. After that, I locked the hellish blade in a spare curio box and strung the key on the gold chain I always wear around my neck. Surely, I thought, that will keep me safe.
But not two hours ago, as I made ready for bed, I found the knife upon my pillow. I fled the bedroom like a madwoman, moaning and pulling at my hair in distress. Sometime later, I gathered up my courage and peered at the bed from the open bedroom door. The knife had gone.
I cannot find it! I have now nearly finished recounting the terror, the horror that this knife has brought into my once peaceful life. I intend to search the cottage from top to bottom. I must find the knife and destroy it. I believe it must be demon-possessed. If I succeed, I will burn this journal as my story would surely cause others to judge me insane. If I fail, I have no doubt the knife will find me. So dear reader, whoever you are, if you have followed me to the end of this journal then I am dead. I beg you. Succeed where I have failed. Find the knife! Destroy it!
This is the final journal entry of one Mary Edwards, former occupant of the house I now own. I found the journal one day while cleaning out the attic. It was in a cedar chest along with some other items, among them a finely wrought gold chain and a box containing a beautifully crafted kitchen knife. My curiosity aroused by what I read, I paid a visit to the town’s historical society. Mary Edwards committed suicide in 1897 by slitting her wrists. Though the family tried to suppress the circumstances of Mary’s death, they were unsuccessful and Mary was buried in unconsecrated ground. Poor thing! She clearly suffered from paranoid delusions. As for the knife, I don’t know if the one I found is the same that Mary wrote about. It is a good knife though and will be useful in the kitchen. I’ve placed it in my knife block. I see no need to waste such a well-made object.
© Karen Kleis – All Rights Reserved
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