The Language of KnivesThe Language of Knives by Haralambi Markov
My rating: 5/5 cats
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Behind you, your daughter stands like a shadow, perfect in her apprentice robes. Not a single crease disfigures the contours of her pants and jacket. Not a single stain mars her apron.

She stares at you. She judges you.

She is perfection.

You wish you could leave her and crawl in the oven with your husband.

yet another tor short written in second person.

and yet another tor short that tries to murder you with your own feels.

“you,” as it were, are preparing your husband’s body according to the death rituals of your culture, assisted by your daughter.

A long, silent day awaits you and your daughter as you prepare to cut your husband’s body. You remove organs from flesh, flesh from bones, bones from tendons—all ingredients for the cake you’re making, the heavy price of admission for an afterlife you pay your gods; a proper send-off for the greatest of all warriors to walk the lands.

the cake is an offering to the gods, and its preparation is slow, methodical, ceremonial – entrusted only to the cake maker; your own mother’s calling and now your own, after retiring from the life of battle you shared with your husband. your daughter is a warrior like her father, and resents what she sees as your weakness for choosing a different path.

and yet here she is beside you, honoring her father’s body as though born to the task, as though she hadn’t resented the life you chose.

A part of you, a part you take no pride in, wants her to struggle through her examination, struggle to the point where her eyes beg you to help her. You would like to forgive her for her incapability, the way you did back when she was a child. You want her to need you—the way she needed your husband for so many years.

my goooood the paaaiiiin.

this is so beautifully written – it mirrors the death ritual itself in its deliberate and methodical prose, as it takes its time lingering over the body – an examination of all his parts like some blason down memory lane – a cataloging of every scar, a prolonged leavetaking of the beloved physical form, reduced to a state of purity and made worthy of a return to the gods.

You hold your breath, aching to lean over and kiss him one more time—but that is forbidden. His body is now sacred, and you are not.

even more painful than his death is the presence of your child who is grown, who no longer needs you, who loved him best, who regards you with disdain, your choices as abandonment.

You wonder how to tell her that she is your greatest adventure, that you gave her most of the magic you had left.

my eyes! they burn with emotion!

i loved this story. loved loved loved it. some people are all ‘ewwwww – choppin’ up bodies is grody!’ but there’s a poetry to this – a way to honor the body piece by piece that i thought was really lovely and if i hadn’t already planned my body sushi-themed funeral, i’d consider this as a fitting and respectful send-off.

You rest your fingers, throbbing with pain from your manipulations. You have completed the last of your husband’s tale. You have written in the language of meat and bones and satisfied the gods’ hunger. You hope they will nod with approval as their tongues roll around the cooked flesh and swallow your sentences and your tether to life.

read it for yourself here:…

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