Short Story Time: Folding Knives and Blue Eyes

This short story is inspired by a photo taken by Chris from the Milford Street blog. If you don’t know his photographs, I encourage you to go check them out in his posts! It was his recent Old Timers post that caught my eye, featuring the image below. Thanks again Chris for letting me use your photo for inspiration and permission to include it here.

Pocket knives at a flee market

Folding knives. So many stories to tell. Like this short story. Photo via Christopher O’Keefe, Old Timer, used with his permission.

Folding Knives and Blue Eyes

The knives folded on the table in front of Jude and, like them, she was without words. Where was the one that her grandpa had owned? None of these were calling out to help her.

She felt a dig into her left side.

“Oof,” she said, and her hands instinctively covered the sore spot. Looking over, she met intense blue eyes surrounded by wrinkles. The woman’s look was stern, and she muttered something under a breath that smelled mildly of sardines. Turning back to the table, she shoved Jude, this time with her hip.

“…my spot…”

Jude couldn’t make out any other words with so many other voices around her calling out prices and asking questions about how old was this lamp or what type of crystal was that?

Jude’s her bare arm met cold leather as her body swayed slightly to the right in response to being shoved. She noted the black leather belonged to a jacket that belonged to a man who she didn’t want to mess with. A thick gray beard was accompanied by a tattoo of a
skeleton’s body that ran down his neck and crawled under the collar of his coat.

He didn’t look her way. Jude tried to concentrate again on the knives. None of these had the right color of handle. The correct size. The memories. She hadn’t realized there were so many kinds of folding knives.

This will be impossible, it occurred to her. She slowly stepped back, turning around without looking up, only to bang her forehead into a chest with all the force of a boxing glove. Her heart sank even lower – though she hadn’t thought it possible – as she recognized the leather jacket. How had he moved without her seeing?

“You’ll no get far if ye don’t know what you’re looking for,” he said with a thick accent she didn’t recognize. Her eyes remained on the coat, which somehow seemed safer than the skinless body ironically inked on his flesh.

“Oh stop it,” said a woman’s voice sternly from back at the table. “She’s with me,” the female continued.

Jude didn’t know what to say so instead she nodded toward the leather. Feeling a pull on her right arm, she was guided around the gruff man and out of the crowd with little time to see anything other than flashes of stripes, corners of tables, and voices quoting numbers and quantities.

“You’ll want to stay out of his way. He’s a regular here.”

Jude didn’t respond but instead looked at the blue eyes again and blinked a few times. Was this woman a mirage?

“I think this is what you want,” the bright pink lips said, while extending her hand toward the girl. The fair-skinned freckled fingers uncurled to reveal a folded knife with a black handle featuring three thick gold stripes across it.

“I—“

The woman’s white curls bounced as she quickly raised Jude’s hand from her side and stuck the folded knife in it. “It was his. Your grandpa’s. Eric.”

As she said his name, her voice took a more tender tone.

How did- Jude’s thought was cut short by the woman walking back into the crowd, her crocheted rose-colored sweater soon lost among them. Looking down at her hand, she studied the knife. She finally allowed herself to breathe. This was what her grandpa had kept by his bedside every night for the past ten years but had vanished when she’d gone with her mom to pack his things last week after the funeral.

She noticed a small inscription on one side of the handle that she’d never seen before as mom never liked her holding a sharp tool. Jude had only studied the knife from her perch on the side of his bed as she read him pages from The Call of the Wild by Jack London while he came in and out of periods of wakefulness.

The letters “AK” were there on the handle. But her grandpa’s initials were “ES.” As her fingers curled around the cold handle, she felt eyes boring a hole through her back. Turning around, the woman was there again. This time the blue eyes looked moist. Only Jude’s mouth was the opposite, too parched to form a word yet so many questions to ask.

 

 

 

©2017 Christy Birmingham

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78 thoughts on “Short Story Time: Folding Knives and Blue Eyes

  1. Pingback: Short Story Time: Folding Knives and Blue Eyes – The Militant Negro™

  2. dancingpalmtrees

    When I was a girl my Dad had a Swiss Army knife. I have no idea what became of it after he passed away in May 1995. So many things get lost or stolen when a person dies. Fortunately for me I was able to keep some of Dad’s precious items that meant a lot to me.

    With Father’s Day approaching next Sunday this story will mean a lot to those who have lost their fathers and grandfathers.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  3. Aquileana

    The appearance of that ghostly female pointing out to the protagonist which was her grandfather´s knife is an amazing element here.
    The initials raise a question: maybe her grandfather had an alter ego… Or maybe the past, and the juxtapositions of memories could have even create an alternative reality in which her gradfather was a still “another man”, a sort of dissociation of personalities, coexisting in a the realms of Fiction & Reality, respectively.
    I loved the story, CB!. Truly great! … Sending hugs, my darling ⭐

    Liked by 4 people

    Reply
    1. Christy B Post author

      Ohhhh I love the directions you see the story going, Aqui! I plan to continue with it actually, making it longer, and then include it in my short story collection. Thank you for making time here as I know you are busy. You are precious ♥

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
        1. Christy B Post author

          Thank you for supporting me, dear heart! Yay, your computer issues must be fixed now 🙂 HUGS! And I wish you a happy day too. It was fun saying goodnight on Twitter yesterday

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Eric Alagan

    Some history intertwines ES and AK – probably tender ones, I guess.
    Perhaps a painful relationship with lingering memories etched in the handle for ES and AK. Or, perhaps a partnership of sorts which society might have frowned on, if it had become public knowledge.
    Perhaps, it is best to let matters rest… and rob not from the blue eyes of AK whatever treasures she embraces to her breasts. Some pages are best not turned… for these may not be pages of a book, but of a diary.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Christy B Post author

      Eric, your comment alone is beautifully written, which reminds me I have to check out your newest book! Thanks for your wonderful interpretations of the story that I teased with such an ending.. Your thoughts are always appreciated xx

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  5. macjam47

    Wow, Christy! This is a great story. The man in the leather jacket and the knife and the woman are all worked into a dark scene, but in the end it becomes tender.

    Like

    Reply
      1. shehannemoore

        No no no. My darling, YOU are one talented ‘ dude’ (Sorry can’t help re the hamsters.) That end is quite a turn round. The kind of surprise I love. But the best bit for me is all that you did from that image. I take my hat off to you and wave it in the air. You did brilliantly. x

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
  6. Annika Perry

    Eerie powerful story, Christy which raises so many questions – I love the supernatural element here.It’s got a slow pace, building up the tension. This reminds me of the knife my grandfather used to have when doing his nets…well worn and fitted perfectly in his hands, the years had made grooves from constant handling.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Christy B Post author

      I’m pleased to hear that it has a good pacing, Annika. That’s been an area I’ve worked on (you didn’t know that!) after criticisms before about that.. I’ve been trying to improve. Thanks so much!!

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  7. Sageleaf

    I love the element of mystery and ghostliness this story has! Well done, my friend! I was compelled from beginning to end. It read quite poetic, too, but it’s so interesting how a story can make us remember stories from our own experiences, which happened to me as I read yours. That’s when you know a story is really good. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Christy B Post author

      Wow, it read poetic? That’s great to know, Cyndi! Thanks for sharing your interpretation of it and encouraging me with my fiction writing dreams. Love that you took time here 🙂

      Like

      Reply
  8. Prajakta

    This story held me till the end, Christy! I was a bit freaked out at few of the moments, but I could feel the emotions behind it. There has always been that one knife and one story that takes us back to our grandfather, doesn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Christy B Post author

      Eeeeek, I’m glad you kept reading since I freaked you out, Prajakta 😉 True re reminding us of our own moments.. and knowing it did that for you as a reader is a huge compliment to me as a writer. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  9. skd

    The story is mysterious and excellently written. There is so much left for the readers imagination. The moist blue eyes said a lot. Did she know the grand father too well. Did the grandfather show her his family pics. Was there a romantic element in the story.How would she know who she was. I didn’t find any thing spooky in the story. Did I miss out on something. Well! Christy you left me with some food for thought😊

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Christy B Post author

      Hi skd 🙂 I think it was the tattoo and leather jacket character that gave readers the eerie feeling. No right or wrong here! You didn’t miss anything as that’s the wonderful thing about fiction – that it’s up for interpretation. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
    1. Christy B Post author

      Syl, you’re the only one that noted the story could continue. I’m thinking I’ll lengthen it and include it in the book of short stories I release 😉 Thanks my friend!

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  10. rollyachabotbooks

    Hi Christy…
    Wow can hardly wait to read the new novel. I am excited for you as you sort through your schedule and find little snippets of time here and there to write… Gifted, talented and always smiling…

    Hugs from Alberta

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Christy B Post author

      Thank you, Rolly! Yes, you are right, it’s the small amounts of time I get for writing. You know the process well as such an established author. Wonderful to have your support! Now pass the chocolates haha ((hugs))

      Like

      Reply
    1. Christy B Post author

      OH! Thanks Mary ~ Your curiosity makes me feel I created good suspense here. I plan to continue with the story and publish it as part of a short story collection (hopefully releasing the book later this year)

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  11. Pingback: The Weekly Headlines – My Daily Musing

  12. Pingback: The Weekly Headlines – My Daily Musing

    1. Christy B Post author

      It’s funny you ask that, Robbie! I will have the full story in my next book, which will be a collection of short stories. It’s so nice to have the story well-received here!

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
    1. Christy B Post author

      Woohooooo 🙂 A great honor to get that compliment from you as I like your writing so much! I’ve finished the whole story now and will be including it in my short story collection.. out soon 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
        1. Christy B Post author

          Oh! I’m the opposite where I was having trouble with my full-length fiction draft so I put it aside to write short stories and found it much easier. Hehe 🙂 I hope we both end up conquering the formats we’ve been struggling with one day xx

          Liked by 1 person

  13. Pingback: The Weekly Headlines – Br Andrew's Muses

    1. Christy B Post author

      Hi Maniparna 🙂 You’re a sweetie. Stay tuned.. I complete the entire story in an upcoming short story collection.. I actually finished that particular short story last week.. It explains the initials and more.. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  14. Pingback: Short Story Time: Folding Knives and Blue Eyes – Ramblings Of A Messy Mind

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