The blade that cut the cord

They came to the door at sunup, November rain dripping from hat brims and shoulders. So many of them – neighbours, friends – eager breath rising like fog.

Father stood in their way, but one punch and he hit the flagstones, the wind and fight knocked from him.

The leader sent two aloft, the ladder creaking under them. Hay dust sifted between the boards, speckling father’s blood stained lip. He could only stare and wait.

A scuff of boots, a thump.

Then my brother Gabe, screaming, weeping for our dead mother, for Father, for me. An animal howl tore from his lips. I blocked my ears, praying God I could unhear that sound.

In moments they were gone – with Gabe, with the rusty blade he’d used two nights before.

Dust stung my eyes, ground between my lips and teeth.

Our father wept.

***

From a story prompt suggested by Patsy Collins over at Womagwriter Blog.

For any of you interested in writing for women’s magazines, Patsy’s blog really is THE place to go for magazine guidelines, submission tips and links. Absolutely invaluable.

20 thoughts on “The blade that cut the cord

  1. Chilling, though I feel as confused and upset as the story’s narrator: the reference to the cord has me flummoxed, though I’m guessing many possible scenarios.

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    1. It is a sideways reference, isn’t it? I was thinking the blade has been responsible for dispatching not only the murder victim but also separating the young lad from his family – cutting the cord between himself and his family. I’m clearly being far too obscure! Sorry for the confusion but so glad you found it chilling. Thanks for reading ,Chris 🙂

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  2. As always, I’m in awe of how you use description of little details of the scene to heighten the emotion. And what a power punch — pun intended — that the father tried blocking the way but fell at the first hit.

    But I’ll confess that I’m confused about what Gabe did. It seems like the mob is hauling him off to hang for something serious, like murder. But it doesn’t seem like he killed his mother with the rusty knife,,, or did he?

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      1. Yes, absolutely! That blade tore the whole family apart. I wanted to see the criminal from a family viewpoint, from a loving sister who sees her brother before she sees a killer. Thanks so much Chris

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    1. Thank you Joy for the lovely comments. You’re too kind.
      I think I’ve confused you mentioning his mother. She’s long gone, but he calls for her anyway, made a child again by terror. Yes, he has killed, but I think a sweetheart, not family. A longer telling could have been clearer perhaps? Hope your summer’s going well 🙂

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      1. Ah, that makes more sense. And yes, my summer is wonderful — at least this little chunk of it, as I’m writing from my holiday in Frankfurt, having just spent four days tooling around Medieval sites in Burgundy and eating like a queen. 🙂

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  3. I’m thinking along the same lines as Joy. But I’m happy and willing for you to tell me I’m wrong. I know, when in a life-threatening fix, men especially will call for their mum.
    And the entirety is … just so well done.

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    1. Ah, thank you! Yes, he’s been made a child again, calling for a mum who’s no longer there to hear him. But I think his victim was a sweetheart, killed in a fit of jealousy perhaps, like in one of those old murder ballads so popular in the 18th and 29th centuries – beautiful girl, jealous sweetheart, a blade in the moon light (so often a blade, not a gun – is that because it’s so much more intimate?) I remember reading The Ballad of Charlotte Dymond by Charles Causley and it always stuck with me. It’s a 20th century poem based on a 19th c crime, but is in the murder ballad tradition. Vivid and creepy

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      1. While the blade is more intimate, I think also it’s not so messy. The truth of a bullet hole is horrific. Besides which, the knife has a long history, the gun is quite modern

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      2. Al very true. And as far as crimes of passion are concerned, many young men would have carried a blade for other uses – not many would have carried a gun. And a blade is quieter too of course, if you’re killer is planning to make a run for it

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    1. Hope the explanations in other replies clear things up. I think it’s a sweetheart he’s killed, not his mother – he’s just afraid and crying for anyone to help. Thanks so much for the kind words

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