A Conversation with My Killer

by Marah McCarty

Teapot beside two teacups and a vase of flowers

My paradigm shifted to accommodate you.
You have been a ghost all this time, never caught, never taunted, filling the pages of anthropology portfolios, flat-field lands of headstones.
You give no referendums before your decisions. Yet, no one can enact revenge upon you. There is nothing of yours that I can hold over you: blackmail, a chance at self-preservation.
A mechanical message on the voicemail offered to save my body,
but could do nothing for my soul.
The day you came to kill me, I invited you in for tea.
I pulled out my grandmother’s tea set from the cabinet. I pulled my mother’s silverware from the drawer.
When I poured from the teapot with a steady hand, you traced the freckles on the back of my neck.
I made peppermint tea, a taste; a scent; a complex entanglement with my childhood, my growth into adulthood. I explained to you, our hands tangled across the wooden table, how there used to be huge patches of peppermint growing in the garden beds and outside in the summertime, I could smell it even when I had fallen into the deepest corners of my mind.
I drank my tea slowly with four sugars, with hope of sweetening my eternity, my morality.
You drank only out of politeness, only out of care for my grandmother’s cups and my mother’s silverware.
I wanted to ask you how intimately you knew them; how intimately you would come to know me.
Instead I tell you secrets, one by one, as you trace shapes on my palms.
The day you came to kill me, I realized that all the artists had it incorrect. We have terribly misguided conceptions when it came to your hand, your unwavering force in our lives.
Countless courses of art history, of literary metamorphic dissection had it wrong.
We imagine our villains in crooked lines, as fork tongued statues with hideous faces, as the deep infections that can kill us with a papercut.
You were all wrong. You defied humanities’ unified decision to create an unflattering image of things in which we cannot manipulate to our own will.
Kind eyes, messy curls that crease across a widow’s peak, freckled forearms, strong wrists; a form that was built not to destruct but to protect.
How many of your victims fell into you with an unwavering willingness?
The day you came to kill me,
there was a taste of peppermint in your kiss.

Category: Featured, Poetry, SNHU Creative Writing, SNHU Student