Just One Cut

Winner, Third Selection: Fiction Category

By: J.C. Martin

Two AM.

Wide awake, he stands in the darkened room, hunched over the kitchen sink.

Drip…drip…drip… Water from the leaking tap beats a steady rhythm in the basin. In its aluminium depths, he sees the scowling reflection of his wife, hears her admonishment:

“You were supposed to fix the tap last month.”

But a leaky faucet is the least of his worries. Months of redundancy have drained the dregs of their savings.


“Stop lazing about and go find a job.”

An economic slump. Their excuse for firing him. The same reason no one is hiring. Especially when hordes of fresh, young graduates half his age are vying for the same positions.


Why fix a dripping tap in a home that may soon be repossessed?

He extracts a carving knife from the knife block, blade gleaming in the dim light.

“Mother was right. You’ll never amount to anything.”

Rolling up the sleeves of his nightshirt, he stares at his wrists, his flesh ivory pale in the moonlight. Blue-green vessels pulsed under translucent skin.

“You’re pathetic. Even your kids think you’re nobody.”

A big payout on life insurance cover. Their only way out of this hole. His grip tightens on the blade.

Just one cut could end all his troubles.


Jaw set in determination, he tiptoes out the kitchen, up the stairs, and into the bedroom. He watches his wife as she sleeps. Soft. Peaceful.


Just one cut could end all his troubles.



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