The Artist: Chapter 2 – Knife

The next day at school, Ansley came in with a bandage on her cheek. She was smiling though. She smiled because in her pocket was the knife that he had given to her. Ansley touched it and thumbed it the whole day. She had to wait until lunch time to use it because there was someone she needed to have a chat with and this knife was going to help her.

Emily was younger than Ansley was by one year. Emily was a 17 year old girl. She was very pretty, and likely not a virgin. Oh don’t get her wrong. She’s not trying to be petty or rude. Ansley only thought that Emily wasn’t a virgin because she’d once walked into the girls bathroom, and saw little ol blond haired Emily on her knees. Emily wore a very expensive pair of shoes, and gloated about how she was the only one in the district with a pair…that was how she knew that it was her for sure. There was another set of feet in there as well and they were big feet.

Emily Schraeder was also very very rich. Her father owned something that Ans didn’t care to know about. Emily liked to talk on and on about this particular topic, but Ans had a knac for tuning out most of Emily’s words. Emily liked to eat lunch with her boyfriend under a tree on Wednesdays, which was lucky for Ans because it was Wednesday.

The tree was the biggest in the school and the only one with a bench underneath. Emily sat there in her overly short skirt, and her fine expensive little shoes. She smiled and laughed with the tall hulk of a boyfriend, who had once hit on Ansley in confidence…well…He’d wanted to have sex with Ans at a party, when he was drunk.

“Oooh Look the freak’s gone and made herself even weirder!” Emily starts off as Ans walks over. The dirt from the grassless area in between the tree and the cafeteria kicked up.

“Come on Em. She looks seriously hurt.” Her brown haired boyfriend whispers to her. She glares at him, the fun sucked right out of her words. She sighs.

“What do you want, Ans?” Emily’s brown eyes looked up at Ansley, bored.

Ansley tapped the blade in her pocket. Somehow she understood why some people liked to have weapons. Needed to keep them on them at all times…even when they shouldn’t. It’s this overwhelming sense of authority and power over someone else that made you mad enough to always have it. It also made her feel so antsy. She turned to Dustin–oh that was her boyfriend’s name.

“Dusty.” Ansley said to him, and he avoided her eye contact. She smiled, “I need to talk to Emily, can you give us a minute?”

“Oh fuck off. We’re eating.” Emily said, rubbing her hand on Dustin’s leg. Dusty didn’t say anything. Ansley stepped closer to him.

“Please. It’ll only be a minute.” Dusty got up, setting his club sandwich to the side.

“I need milk anyhow. Be back in a flash babe.” He stood up and Ansley didn’t back up. She just stood there, looking up at him, not shy when she’s knows she’s already won. Dusty coughed and slid around her.

“Pussy.” Emily muttered, forking her salad, “What?” Ansley was too busy watching Dusty walk away that she almost forgot why she came here. She gripped the handle of the knife, and knelt down in front of Emily.

“I want you to answer me honestly. Did you send someone to cut me in the face?” Ans asked, gripping the knife tighter and tighter.

“Fuck off, Ans.” She put a fork of salad in her mouth. It crunched. She wasn’t going to get her answer this way. Ansley pulled the knife out of her pocket. She finally got her attention.

“Holy Fu-” Emily scooted back on the bench

“He gave me this after he cut me.” Ans continued, “I wanted to make sure it found it’s way back in it’s owner.” and Ansley looked at the blade, and it was so small and more like a paring knife than anything terrifying, “It’s really sharp too…it barely touched me and gave me a huge scar.”

“Jesus, Ans. I didn’t do this! This isn’t the ghetto! I’m not a gang member! Put that shit away, alright?!” Emily was gripping her fork, and her brown eyes were wide with fear, locked on the knife and not on Ans at all. She didn’t know if she could trust her, but she had to put the knife away before someone saw her.

Ansley stood up, the knife in her pocket now. She walked passed Dusty on her way away from Emily and they shared a brief smile to each other. Ansley said no to Dusty’s sexual advance at that party, but decided to talk with him instead. They became friends in secret.

After that Emily didn’t play her usual jokes on Ansley during the classes they shared. It was actually a good day…but…the man…He didn’t make any sense.

After classes, Ansley walked to the bus stop. She sometimes walked home, but she tired from all the confusion. She stood at the stop for a minute or two. It was deserted, but she felt safe with the knife. The bus typically took about 15 minutes to arrive after class ended. Hands came around her; long, strong ones. She reached for the knife, but the hands grabbed her hand, keeping the knife in her pocket.

“Hello, my little Ans.” His voice gravelly like a smoker’s. His breath hot against her ear, “You shouldn’t be carrying something so dangerous around.”

“Who the fuck are you?!” Ansley asked, trying to keep it hushed, but it was loud. The man’s other arm was around her waist, and he kissed her neck. Ansley shivered at the sensation, “Get off me.” She spat.

“Ans, I’m here to get back what belongs to me. If you struggle–” His hand went up her shirt and touched her stomach. Ansley froze, “If you struggle, little Ans, i’ll have to do something horrible to you.” His nose nuzzled against her ears and she clenched her eyes closed, but she didn’t let go of the blade.

“You can just go fuck–”SHe began, and the man let go of her hand and turned her around to face him. She looked at the dark oily hair he had, curly and slipping out of his ponytail and into his face, the burn under his cheek large and reaching from his ear to the bridge of his nose.

“I’ll ask you to give it to me one more time, Ans.” He began

“Fuck. Off.” she pronounced each word slowly, looking him right into his black eyes.

He looked at her for a minute before touching where he’d cut her.

“I think my biggest mistake was cutting your face.” And as she said that he leaned down and pressed his smoker’s lips on Ansley’s. He was gentle and tender and this time it didn’t taste sour and sweet it was bitter and chalky like cigarettes. Ansley’s eyes stayed open, but this time he closed his. Ansley took the knife out and pressed it against his neck. He didn’t stop kissing her, and she wasn’t sure she was ready to cut his neck if he continued. He wrapped an arm around her waist and she bit his bottom lip until blood was in her mouth.

He pulled back and looked at her, lip red, and glossy, knife at his neck. What was wrong with him? Ansley asked herself. Then he grabbed her hand suddenly, yanking it away from his neck, and back awkwardly. Ansley dropped it and winced. She watched him and he watched her.

“Why are you doing this?!” Ansley yelled. The man tossed her back and Ansley rubbed her wrist as he picked up the knife and tucked it into his pants’ pocket.

“Remember fear, Ans.” And then the turned and walked off.

Ansley’s bus had arrived, and she still had his blood on her lips.
~

When Ansley got home her mother was sitting in front of the kitchen table staring down at a piece of paper, biting her nails. She had the habit of doing that when she was stressed out. She’d been going it for a couple of days, but she hadn’t talking to Ansley about it so she wasn’t going to pry.

“Hello Dear.” She called absently as the door opened and closed.

“I’m not dad.” Ansley replied walking in and setting her bag on the tabe and sitting across from her mom. Her mother was a nice enough 45 year old woman named Janice. She worked as a lawyer for a long time but retired a year ago and now is a full time house wife.

Janice glanced up at her daughter and smiled

“Sorry Annie. Your father said he’d be coming home early. You’re early as well.” She put the paper down and put it back in it’s envelope, “Do you want something to eat? I made cookies.”

“No, i’ll get fatter. Why’s dad coming home early? He never comes home early.” Ansley asked pulling out a few notebooks, to start on her homework.

“He —he um didn’t tell me why.” She said, slamming cabinets in the kitchen. She was lying and Ansley knew.

A few minutes later Harry, Ansley’s father, came home. He walked in, his tie, pulled and sweat beading on his forehead.

“Welcome home…Harry?” Janice stared at him, eyebrows knit. Ansley turned around in her chair to see her father. He glanced at her and then back to Janice.

“I need to talk to you for a bit.” Then he walked briskly to their room. Janice looked back at Ansley for a minute, and smiled. She patted her before walking after Harry in the room. Ansley could hear them talking, but couldn’t make out what about.

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