I don’t remember much from that day. I remember it was around Christmas, and my mom’s entire family was at Gram’s house. Aunts, uncles, and so many cousins. The house was full of people and food. I remember my cousin Alan, who I thought was the coolest person ever, wouldn’t play tea party with me anymore. Chrissy was in the kitchen with my mom and Aunt Wendy, and all the other cousins were grown-ups, as far as I was concerned.
With nothing to do, I wandered around the house gazing at all the food. I examined all the plates several times, until something colorful caught my eye. I went to investigate it, and found when I pressed the button, another shiny piece popped out. I looked at it, fascinated, and touched the shiny part. Red dripped on my hand and lap, I was screaming, and everyone came running. I vaguely remember holding paper towels, then my hand being wrapped in white cloth. I found out that the shiny object was a knife, even though it was much smaller than the knives I knew to avoid in the kitchen. Mom was mad at Uncle Mark for leaving out a knife, and I could hear them angrily whispering in the next room.
On the plane ride home, as we were going through big scanning machines, and my parents were taking off their shoes, a machine started beeping loudly. A woman was stopped, and people dressed in dark blue took something that looked like a knife from her, like Uncle Mark’s. She was led away, looking angry, and my mom pulled me closer. I haven’t heard scanning machines beep so loud since. My parents looked distressed, but wouldn’t tell me why.
For my seventh birthday, we went to a fancy restaurant, with pale green walls and flickering candles at each table. After we ordered, the server brought a bowl of bread, and a little dish with butter, and a tiny knife. After he left, I picked up the little knife. It was like a standard table knife, but half the size and with flowers molded on the handle. My dad laughed at my curiosity, and I put it back, red faced. He said it was a butter knife. I wondered why someone would need a knife only for butter spreading, since they could use a regular knife. I saw butter knives occasionally after that, but I always wondered why we couldn’t just use normal knives.
I’ve always been fascinated by little contraptions, but when I was ten, that little pocket knife was the coolest thing ever. It sat in a little clear bucket by the register at the grocery store, a deal at $7.59. My mom always told me I couldn’t buy it, since I’d never use it, but I had to have it. When I went to the store with my friends, I bought that knife with my allowance, and my mom never knew. It was a good quality knife, and very stylish, but my mom was right. I never did use the knife.
By the time I was fourteen, I had a little utility knife for cutting little paper shapes. I had long stopped using it, and it was gathering dust on a shelf. I picked it up, wiped off the dust, and brought it to the bathroom. I once again touched the shiny part, this time to my wrist. After a couple lines, red was once again everywhere. I cleaned it up, bandaged my arm up, and no one noticed. It happened a couple more times, but eventually I stopped.
After my high school graduation, Uncle Mark gave me a knife like the one I had cut myself on as a little kid. He winked at me, and said I had grown a lot since then. After I got home, I went to my room, pressed the little button, and looked at the blade. Yes, Uncle Mark was right. I had grown a lot since then, although maybe not in the way he had thought.
I sat on the bed, which I had covered with crisp white sheets a couple days before. I looked around, trying to remember where I had put my book when my stomach growled in protest. I opened the fridge, and took out two apples.
"You want one?" I asked my roommate.
She did, so I dug through my partially unpacked suitcase for the little knife I brought solely for the purpose of cutting fruit. When I found it, I had to get through the many layers of newspaper I had wrapped it in, for fear it would cut through the packaging. When I finally got it out of its wrappings, I started paring off the skin of one of the apples. My roommate looked at the little knife, fascinated. Apparently she had never seen a knife so small. I laughed and told her about when I first saw a butter knife. I was so occupied in telling the story, I wasn't paying too much attention to the apple anymore. It vaguely registered in my brain that my thumb hurt, and I wondered why.
"Oh my god, you cut your thumb!"
I looked down, and saw my roommate was right, though it was a small red line, barely bleeding. I stopped and got a band-aid from the cabinet in the bathroom.
"And this," I grumbled, "is why I should never multitask."
Eight years later, my then-fiance and I got married and bought an apartment. One of my good friends bought us a silverware set for our new home, complete with butter knives, a much appreciated gesture. As I carried the silverware set in on moving day, I dropped it, and silverware went flying. My husband put down the box he was carrying to come help me pick up the spoons, forks, and knives now littering our porch and lawn. I was glad I didn't cut myself, but was embarrassed. My husband, on the other hand, found it funny we were "growing" silverware on our lawn.
Little lives marked my life, from toddler to marriage. When most people think of knives, they think of violence, or butchering, but I always think of Uncle Mark’s pocket knife, or our wedding gift butter knives. While most of them have disappeared through the years, lost or trashed, my graduation gift knife is still in my drawer, still in use all these years later. My childhood wasn’t a violent one, but tiny knives were always part of it.