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Twelve Things I Can Tell You about Cutting

Story by Kathryn Lipari (Read author interview) June 15, 2015

Art by Ashley Inguanta

1)    I don’t believe in angels, and certainly not singing ones, but when you cut yourself they sing. And not in a heavenly fashion.

2)    There are twin crescent moons above my left nipple­–from broken glass. I told an aunt I walked into a branch while hiking.

3)    When I say cut, I also mean burn: cigarettes, those old car lighters–most recently an iron.

4)    Being drunk makes it more likely, but it also makes you numb. It’s when you’re sober that seeing your blood bead up jolts you with that sickening, euphoric shock.

5)    Burning my inner forearm with an iron, then burning the burn did not stop me from meeting a man who is not my husband in a hotel room downtown.

6)    The first time was at boarding school. The exciting thing was how bright the Puerto Rican girl in the stonewashed jeans’ eyes got as she watched.

7)    My husband and I both just assumed that love and babies would stop me.

8)    They did, until I found the feverish letter he had written to my oldest friend. He broke the bedroom door in. I waited for him to go to sleep.

9)    Forget what I said about angels. Everything gets absolutely quiet as you approach your own flesh with a blade.

10) I once caught my mother’s gaze on the crosshatched skin of my thigh, before it flew back to her quietly sweating wine glass.

11) The first person I told was a bike messenger, shortly after I gave him a blowjob. He was twenty-three, I was fifteen. He said he would take care of me.

12) The iron was not the last time. The last time was with the tip of a metal hanger my kids had roasted marshmallows on; while they ran in front of the dipping sun I branded the hollow beneath my ankle over and over.

About the Author

Kathryn Lipari writes and reads in Portland, OR. Her short fiction has appeared in journals including Typehouse Ink, Marathon Literary Review and Women’s Studies Quarterly, and is forthcoming in The Puritan and Hypertrophic Literary. A member of Full Frontal Writing Collective and smallsalon.com, Kathryn is currently pedaling a manuscript, Run Don’t Run, and working on another—as yet, untitled.

About the Artist

Ashley Inguanta is a writer, art photographer, installation artist, and holistic educator. Her work has most recently appeared in Atticus Review, Santa Fe Literary Review, and the anthology The Familiar Wild: On Dogs & Poetry. Her newest chapbook of poems, The Island, The Mountain, & The Nightblooming Field honors a human connection with the natural world.

This story appeared in Issue Forty-Eight of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Forty-Eight
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The SmokeLong Quarterly Comedy Prize 2021!

This competition is no longer accepting entries. Watch for the long list coming soon! The four winners of the competition will be featured in Issue 74 of SmokeLong Quarterly coming out near the end of December.