The Knife – by Sarah

I have a lot of good “conflict” stories from when I was a kid, but perhaps my favorite was when I pulled a knife on the neighbor boy @ the age of 6.

He was meaner than a snake, but I always played with him anyway. There were some creepy Pentecostal kids up the street who I would visit from time to time, but their parents would always try to convert me & I always left their house gripped with fear that the world was going to end at any second or that the almighty lord was going to come and take my parents for “playing cards for money and drinkin’ all the time…SINNERS!”

So, all I had was the neighbor boy. That particular day, we were at home with our babysitter. I remember him coming over and we went out into the backyard to play. He ended up whacking me in the eye with a chain from our swing-set and then, proceeded to make fun of me for crying. I have always been the type of person to take shit for the longest time…and then, one day, I’ll snap (we’re talking wind-blowing, people running away screaming, world-ending type of “snap”). This kid sent me over the flipping edge. It was ON.

I ran inside and I remember specifically picking out a steak-knife (because it was sharp). I didn’t intend to hurt him with it, I just wanted to show him that I meant business. I took it outside, picked up some leaves/dirt..etc and started to cut them up. He walked over and asked me why I had the knife. I remember looking at him and saying: “See how sharp it is? Look how easy I can cut this stuff up! You’d better leave me alone or this might be you!” Saying this scared the hell out of me, but I was tired of this kid’s I had to put on a good front. I remember feeling like the situation wasn’t real and that it was more comic-book-y/no consequences type of feeling. Which makes sense to me now when I hear stories of little ones committing crimes.

He ran off and I went back inside feeling super triumphant. I put the knife away and I didn’t say a word to the babysitter or my older sister. IN YOUR FACE NEIGHBOR BOY!!!

Well, about 30-45 minutes later, the cops showed up. His mother had called the police AND family services. I remember being completely gripped with fear and I honest to god thought that I was going to be carted off to jail any second. The cops and the woman from CPS came into the house and we all sat down in the front room. The babysitter called my parents and my dad (who was close by) came rushing home. I remember them all sitting there, staring at me like I was some feral child & talking about me like I wasn’t there.

Finally, the woman from CPS asked me what happened. Here was my chance to set the record straight:

“I was making a mud-stew in the backyard and I needed a knife to cut up some leaves and grass”

“Did you want to hurt Michael, Sarah? Did you point the knife at him or threaten him at all?” The woman asked.

“Nooooooo. Michael had to go home. I don’t know why he left.”  

She then asked me to go find the knife that I used. So, I walked into the kitchen and (knowing the damn well that getting the actual steak-knife would just make shit way worse) found the most innocent looking butter knife I could find. I remember bringing it into the front room and feeling a wave of relief as the whole room started to giggle. One of the cops patted me on the head and told me everything was going to be okay. The whole room seemed to forget that I was there and they all started talking to each other. I just ran into my room, into the comfort of my stuffed horses and blanket shield. When I finally did come out of my room, everyone had gone.

My dad went over to their house and flipped out on the kid’s parents for calling the cops. The kid’s mom (think “truck-driver realness”) pulled a shot-gun on him…and so, the cops ended up having to come back! When I think about this now, the whole situation seems extremely fucked up, but at the time, it just seemed unreal and like I was watching it unfold behind the safety of some magic curtain that just sort of melted away when the danger ended.

I never played with the neighbor boy again and we moved not too long after that. Crazy shit. I don’t know what I learned from the situation, or that my life is any different as a result. I just remember thinking that violence or it’s consequences did not seem real; like a cartoon…or something I saw on television. I don’t think I would have actually hurt the kid with the knife. To this day, I have never had a bone in my body that would want to hurt anyone, no matter how evil they may be. I just wanted to SCARE him…and I did.

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