40th Anniversary Feature: BLOOD
By LUCAS SOUTHWORTH
BWR Genre Editor, Fiction, 2007-2008
In the weeks after the murder, the world is silent, motionless. Blood or the possibility of blood covers everything. It marks the white shirts hanging in the closet. It sinks into cracks on wood floors. It stains red on red carpets.
If there is blood, something has gone wrong. Something is diseased, compromised, damaged. Something is hurt, torn, ulcered. Jason has become aware of how simply blood is held inside him. His skin a thin sheath, a perfect and inept container. So easily broken, so easily damaged. So easily mended, so easily scarred.
For the first time he wakes afraid. Of falling, of scraping, of cutting. He notices how his nose bleeds without reason. How he hurts himself accidently, tripping as he runs or slicing his finger on the edge of a sheet of paper. And when the blood comes, it comes as it always does, deep and dark and red. It fills the cut first, then balloons, then drips its trail down the skin. Jason knows how it tastes, of copper. He knows how it makes him turn away, sick. He used to cover a cut immediately with a tissue. But now he watches with a mindless, unblinking gaze. As if the blood is him and him leaving him. As if it will never stop. As if it will continue and continue until he is left silent, deflated, dead.
Jason decides that blood is beautiful thing. That it is horrid. In the bathroom, a drop of it floats in the toilet. In the cafeteria, a smudge tarnishes the rim of a coffee mug. On the sidewalk, there’s a dry splatter on the concrete.
And in the water, it clings to itself for a moment before spreading, gaining depth. In the water it becomes not quite red. In the water, it is clearly at odds with the porcelain.
Lucas Southworth was a fiction editor for Black Warrior Review in 2007. He is now a professor in creative writing and screenwriting at Loyola University in Baltimore. His first collection of stories, Everyone Here Has a Gun, won AWP’s Grace Paley Award and will be be published by University of Massachusetts Press in November 2013.
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