Oct 10, 2009 by

Utah’s Round 7 Challenge: Incorporate a Steak Knife (taken from Fyor’s Story). Word limit: 600.

Read UTAH 6 here (see “Similar Posts” at the bottom of this post for any earlier entries)

Incorporate a Steak Knife

Incorporate a Steak Knife

*          *            *

“Corey!” Jacob said. “We’ve gone over this a dozen times. The fork always stays in your left hand! Only rednecks switch back and forth.”

Corey stared vacuously at her plate through disheveled hair. With the fork in her right hand, she continued jabbing at the pieces of chuck steak that Jacob had fried up for her fourteenth birthday.

Jacob slammed down his silverware, grabbed her right wrist, and began prying the fingers apart. “Leave me alone,” she murmured.

“Give me the fork, Corey,” he said between clenched teeth. Once he tore the fork free, he took the steak knife, which was lying in a thin pool of blood on her plate, and jammed the handle into her right palm. He then forced the fork into her left hand. “The right hand cuts. The left hand stabs. I won’t tell you again.”

“You’re hurting me…”

“I’m trying to teach you things!” he said, sending flecks of spittle flying. His knuckles whitened as he squeezed down upon her small hands before releasing them. “Do you want to grow up to be trailer trash?”

Corey abruptly pushed herself away from the table and leapt up. The box wine they’d been drinking since mid-afternoon toppled onto the linoleum floor, spilling rosé over the vinyl flooring.

“Stay away from me! I’ll stab you, I swear it!” Corey stepped backwards towards the door, weaving unsteadily and wielding the steak knife in front of her.

Jacob intertwined his fingers over his belly and leaned back. “And where will you go, Corey, drunk, at night, in the dead of winter?”

“Anywhere away from you! You think you can keep me locked up my whole life in this hellhole, you… you kidnapper, you… rapist!”

The soft dark skin under Jacob’s left eye twitched. “I never touched you against your will. Not once. And I’ve never forced you to stay. You came to me. Remember that.”

“I’m leaving,” she said, the steak knife trembling before her.

Jacob motioned toward the door. “You’ve always been free to go. Go back to your mother, if she’ll take you. Go back to your mundane, tedious life.”

“Go to hell.” With the knife upraised, she stepped backwards out the door and into the snowy dusk.

Jacob picked up the box wine from the floor and refilled his glass. A moment later an explosion of barks and snarls filled the silence, followed by the thudding of running footsteps along the porch.

Corey burst into the front door and slammed the door behind her. She turned to face Jacob, her back and palms pressed against the door.

“You know how to tell a full-bodied wine?” Jacob said, swirling his wine up by the fluorescent light. “You check to see how many legs slide down the inside of the glass when you swirl it around. The more the better.” He examined the glass. “They must have sold us a bad box.”

The steak knife slipped from her grip as Corey slid down along the door, sobbing, until her stomach came down onto her knobby knees.

He sat next to her on the floor and offered her his glass. “Don’t take the barking personally. It’s just Herb’s way of saying, ‘Stick around.’”

Corey drank the wine between sobs. “I really didn’t mean it when I… I just got…”

“Shhhhhh, it’s okay,” Jacob said, running his fingers through her frayed hair. “It’s okay, my love. Everything will be okay.”

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  1. Utah! This is amazing! I want to keep reading until the end. I feel hope for Corey.

  2. This is perfect Utah. I found this far more chilling than last week. I loved the “you cut with the right hand and stab with the left” … when I saw it in the tweets earlier I thought it sounded like the sort of thing a mother would say to her child.

    The knobbly knees were a nice touch also – shows Corey vulnerableness, puts the flash light on the child like elements of her.

    You mix a gut wrenching cocktail of sanity, insanity, innocence and premediated evilness.


  3. Writing this one really left me drained. Perhaps it was the challenge, but the story has taken a path I never intended. I don’t know how other contestants are faring but I really feel like I’m being dragged along for the downhill ride. So much for holding the reins as an author!

  4. I have been wondering how much you and the other contestants had planned before you started the competition, and whether you’d been able to follow through with your plans.

    Utah, I’d tell you that you’re my new favourite, but whoever I like always often ends up being eliminated, so I’d better not say that…

    Your novella gets creepier every week. I love it how, reading this passage, you can tell that time has passed, and you can fill in the gaps to work out what’s happened between Corey and Jacob in that time.

    Like Anna, I just want to keep reading. Poor Corey…

  5. I love this but I wanted a slightly more clear sense of how much time has passed between 6 and 7. I think a little more of a hint as to what’s been going on between them, too. But I think this is very, very good.

  6. Jacob’s wine description following Corey’s entrance back into the house was a brilliant element. Utah, you keep twisting the power dynamic here and my stomach along with it! Great work!

  7. Utah, don’t know quite how you have done it but you seem to have strangely mellowed the sickness that I think was generally felt in the early part of this novella while not denying the horror of what has happened. Perhaps it is that there is still hope for Corey. The story certainly needs to continue and you won’t be getting my vote.

  8. Thanks, all, for the comments. We’ll find out tomorrow, littlestar, if you truly do give the kiss of death!

    Kaylie, there was in fact some hint as to the amount of time that passed. There is a description of snow outside so we know that it is winter. And Jacob is “celebrating” Corey’s 14th birthday so we know it’s the first winter since he took her to the cabin. Of course, it could be December or February, so in that sense you’re right. And you’re also right that it’s been an abrupt jump from the previous section in terms of relations between the two of them. I admit it’s been a bumpy journey…

    • II admire your honesty in your responses and I can see why this was draining. You were more clear than I in terms of the slightly jarring shift between 6 and 7. You are one of my two absolute favorites. It’s actually great when something takeas off in an unexpected direction!

  9. JDEvolutionist, I must have really set the bar low if you and others take hope in this passage!

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