Luke walks in, uninvited as always, but carefully timed. He waits till she’s finished everything for the morning. Bag change, wipe down, sheets changed if need be, if something leaked. She’ll usually turn me towards the telly and prop me up for the day. He sees me like I’ve done it all myself.

“What are you watching?” He asks.

“Lord of the rings, but am not really watching it, you know?”

It’s always on telly somewhere, and even though I’ve got it on blue ray I’ll watch it with the adverts, no matter where it’s got to. Besides I don’t want to trouble her more than I need to. I can’t reach the disc from here.

He grunts in agreement. He’s probably done the same. I tell him he can lend it if he wants. We settle into an amiable silence, him in the chair, me in the bed.

There’s a sigh, the usual herald of her approach. She lights up when she sees him.

“Oh, Luke! I didn’t hear you come in!” She says, arms full of washing. My washing. I’d had an accident last night.

“D’you want a hand, Louise?” He asks, already rising. She says not to worry, but he’s already following her. I watch them out the corner of my eye. I know what’s going on. Maybe it’s not happened yet but it will. And who can blame her?

Did you know, if a marriage isn’t consummated it’s technically void? It’s not something the insurance agent asks when the widow cashes in, but it’s there. Especially in cases like mine, married in a hospital bed. I can tell she gets frustrated sometimes. She takes herself off, upstairs where I can’t hear. She’ll come back down looking a bit flushed, a bit better. It’s not the same. Well, we wouldn’t know.

I can’t feel a fucking thing. God knows I want to, I’ve wanted to since we were teenagers, but it wasn’t to be. Fate had other plans for us.

I’d asked her round to mine, not long after I’d moved in. I felt like I’d finally made something of myself, something she might like. I got the flat looking nice, made a bit of a dinner, the works. I think she liked me, too. Like, properly liked me. I loved her but I couldn’t say it too early, you’ve got to be careful you don’t come on too strong.

So she comes over, bottle of wine in hand, two young twenty-somethings playing at being grownups. She stood in the doorway, a perfect smile, the bright evening sun behind her. I almost said it, there and then. Then she flew forwards and I had to catch her. Didn’t know what was happening until the guy shoved past.

The girl of my dreams had just fallen into my arms, okay? That’s how he got in.

Found out later he’d followed her from the train station, probably thought she was going home alone. Me being there complicated things.

The flat was pretty small, all I could afford really. A kitchen-sitting room divided by a separation of tile and carpet on the floor. Front door opens straight into the kitchen. That’s how he got the knife so quick. 

He threw her off me, across the room. She started screaming. I just stood there, dumbfounded. You think you’ll be a hero in situations like this, but I tell you this – you won’t. You’ll stand there like a fucking idiot, waiting for someone else to make a move. He did.

He steps forward, arm coming up from below in an arc, thudding into my belly. “Well, I’m lucky he can’t throw a fucking punch,” I think. He pulls back and I feel a tug towards him, like his fist was stuck to me. He comes in for another, and another. Thud, pull. Thud, pull. I’m standing there with my arms wide, like I’m waiting for another hug, and he’s hitting me with one hand. I feel like a cartoon strongman, just taking it like it’s nothing.

Then it starts to sound wet. I finally look down at the shining thing in his hand as it flashes back and forth. It’s the knife I bought a few months before I moved in, when I was giddy and getting all my kitchen stuff in preparation. I’d left it on the side after making the salad. I wonder if he’s bothered to rinse it. Probably not.

I’m being stabbed over, and over, the knife disappearing into me like a magic trick. I feel him let go to adjust his grip, leaving it sticking into me for a moment. I think he’s cut his hand and wince for him. I hate seeing other people hurt. Goes right through me. Never really bothered when it’s me. But it is me who’s getting the worst of it. I’m counting, because I think it’ll be important later. When the newspapers say “Man stabbed 37 times in his own fucking kitchen, with his own fucking knife”.

It just feels like being pinched. I sharpened that thing myself. A sharp knife is safer than a dull one, they say. Less pressure needed, so you’re not going to slip about and cut yourself.

I feel my legs go. “Clumsy me,” I think as I crumble down. He’s still swinging, and I put my hands up to cover my face. Like, “Hey fella I didn’t mind so much when it was down there but will you watch the face?”

I think he must feel a little squeamish about it too because he stops and I go down like a sack of shit. I’m laid there looking up at him and neither of us have said a thing. I can hear her screaming, somewhere far off. I get a look at him, he’s younger than me, I think. His eyes have sort of clouded over, like he’s not there. Probably shitting himself. Not going as planned.

I’m laid on the tiles, feeling wet and warm, legs just tingling like pins and needles, like I’ve been sat on the bog for too long. He’s stepping back, watching me sliding around in me own blood and piss, writhing like a newborn deer. Or a giraffe. Did you know they give birth standing up? Imagine starting life with a 7 foot drop.

Sorry, I watch a lot of telly.

He steps away; like the jobs done. I hear her scream again as he heads over to the sofa, where she’s been watching in disbelief. He grabs her and I finally wake up. I give myself a list of jobs: knife, crawl, stab. In that order. Fuck him.

I find the knife quite easily, it’s dragging along the floor with me, the handle scraping across the tiles and twiddling the blade inside me. Silly me, I think, and twist my body so I can pull it out. A flash of pain. God fucking dammit I almost try and put it back in. It all hits me at once and I scream louder than she does. I try and let it build into its crescendo and settle down a bit before I continue, but it just builds and builds till my vision goes black.

I bring myself back by squeezing the handle. It’s important I get a decent grip. I tuck my finger behind the flat bit of the blade. “Not going to cut my hand like you, you stupid cunt,” I mutter. It’s wet in my hand but the thing about blood is it’s also kind of sticky. It feels glued to my hand, like it’s a part of me.

I crawl towards the sounds of him and her, putting up a hell of a fight, a lot more than I did, anyway.

I crawl. I crawl. My legs slipping about uselessly as I dig my elbows into the grout between the tiles. My vision clears. I’m making good progress, lubed up as I am by my own blood, like the worst slip n slide you’ve ever been on. Still, it’s slow progress. I see a flurry of legs and arms on the sofa, kicking, screaming. “Go on girl,” I think, “Keep him occupied because I’ve just hit carpet and it’s going to take a while for me to get over there.”

It’s easier on the elbows, though. I inch closer as he’s trying to hold her down with one hand and undo his belt with the other. She realises what he’s doing and struggles even harder. “No, you’re not!” she says, like she’s telling him off.

He properly punches her, and her head bounces off the cushion and she’s dazed for a second, enough time for him to get the belt undone, the button, the fly. He repositions so he’s more on top of her, and starts scrabbling under her dress. He doesn’t notice me reaching up and getting my hand looped around the belt, pulling down with my dead weight. I keg the bastard, which in hindsight was helping him out, more than anything. He stupidly reaches down to pull them back up, like he doesn’t want his bare arse out while he does the deed, his arse which is now right in my face as I climb up him, pulling on his jacket, pulling him down towards me with one hand while the other reaches around him. 

He’s struggling to hold our combined weight over her, his arms jammed in the cushion either side of her.

“Get offa me!” he grunts, like we’re just two kids playing wrestling and he’s had enough.

But I’ve got the knife around.

The thing with cutting vegetables, is you use the back of the knife. It’s the sharpest bit, you see. Not the pointy bit, like you’d think. You press down and chop through in a clean motion. Easy. Chop chop chop.

Meat, on the other hand, no matter how sharp your knife is, you’ve got to saw through it. Move the blade back and forth. Pressing straight down won’t work, it just gives underneath and you end up crushing it more than anything.

So I saw, moving the blade back and forth across his neck, feeling the skin open up, feeling tendons give way, the fibres of the muscle, feeling warmth gush out over my hand, I saw till the grunts turn to gurgles, turn to hot air sucking through a wet pipe, till I hit bone. I feel the blade bite into it, and I leave it there. 

I run my fingers through his hair like a lover and pull.

She cries out in surprise as she comes to, as I pull his head back and open him up like a pez dispenser. As a bucket of blood rains down on her. She gets her legs up and kicks us both off, we collapse to the carpet together and he’s still trying to buck me off. He thrashes, his lungs sucking in air, his mouth opening and closing like a fish as he tries to speak.

I feel his lips flutter against my fingers as I grope for his nose, his eyes. I dig in. I squeeze the life out of him.

I’ve relived that more times than I can count. 

I’m never not reliving it. 

Gollum is smacking a fish against a rock and I’m remembering what his eyes felt like when they burst. What could have gone differently? Everything.

She stuck with me. Well, started with me. Papers picked it up. She must have felt obliged. Pictures of her sat by my bedside, pictures of me waking up. Her tears. It was a fairytale story to the outside world. The reality wasn’t. He’d pretty much destroyed my digestive system. Blade glanced off my spine, hit it just right, severed a cluster of something important. The papers paid for our story. Serialised over months. Kept going for years, regular updates. Someone wrote a book and put our names on it. Money.

She took it all on. We bought a house together, got it all converted downstairs for me. She did a tour on telly. I’m in my bed, telling them I’m happy. My family, my mates, all surrounding me.

They all eventually got bored of it. The visits. 

“What have you been up to?” Literally fucking nothing. Watching Louise’s tears as she cleans me. Cares for me. The nurses do their bit but they can’t be around all the time. Luke was the only one that stuck with us. He doesn’t live too far, anyway. Says it’s no bother. He’d introduced us, actually, when we were all younger. A shared friend.

I’ve seen the way she looks at him.

He comes back, “All sorted,” he says. I bet. She follows a few minutes later. Does she look guilty? I don’t know. We watch the rest of it together.

The thing is, I want them to. I’ve decided. I’m just bitter. It’s fine, really. I never had a chance, did I?

I’ve been faking getting worse. I want it to seem like it’s natural. Deliberately skipping meals. Well, telling Louise the nurses fed me earlier. And vice versa. Skipping some meds. Same thing. There’s only so much a paraplegic can do, especially when most of it goes in intravenously. Muscle wastage, you see. nerve degradation. I can just about operate the remote.

If I’m going to pull this off I need Luke. And I think Luke wants it too. He’s my oldest friend. She’s my greatest love. I want to make room for them.

The film comes to an end. Louise gets up to make us a drink. His eyes follow her, then he turns to speak. I’m watching him. Just looking at him. He stops and stares, a sadness in his eyes.

I tell him. I tell him how I feel. What I want him to do. How I want him to do it. I tell him without words. I tell him with a look. I glance towards a stack of pillows to the side, laid out like tools for a ritual. He follows my gaze and looks back to me.

All of a sudden he gives a nod, almost imperceptible. Just a flicker. He takes a deep breath and grabs a pillow. I get myself a little more comfortable, push my head deeper into the bed, and look up at the ceiling. There’s a cobweb up on the light that’s been bothering me for ages, and I go to open my mouth, tell him, “Hey while you’re at it can you just get that for me,” but as I inhale to speak a white shape blocks my view and presses it’s soft warmth over me. I do a little chuckle into it. I want to say, “Hold on mate, I know you’re eager to fuck my wife but Jesus, will you hold on a second?”

But I realise I’ve handed over my life already. I’m just letting it happen, again. For her.

Easiest thing in the world.