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A Task

A Short Story by Lawrence Kirsch


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It was a simple matter.


She knew what it entailed.  A sharp instrument - preferably a knife - although a fine toothed saw would do the trick.  Carefully placed one inch below the point where the lower chin meets the neck.  A strong and deliberate movement with the right hand from left to right.  Steady inward pressure to ensure the proper depth of the slice would complete the task.


"Hello Karen, it's good to see you again.  How are you today?"


"Fine."  It was such a coincidence that Williams would enter the room just as she had such thoughts.


"How was your vacation, Karen?"


"It was fine."  She began to question her own judgment.  Am I prepared?  She wondered.


"That's good.  We have much to accomplish today.  Although I'm sure you are prepared."


Prepared.  Such a relative term, she thought.


"Oh, by the way, Rhonda wanted to know if you would like to assist her in completing the final stage of her project.  She thinks highly of your work."


Patronizing, always patronizing.  "Sure," Karen answered curtly. 


As the moments passed, she became increasingly confident today would be the day.  It was time to end it.  She was sick of it all.


"Now Karen, you know what you must do?  We've discussed it."


A slight smile crossed her face.  Yes, she thought, I know very well what to do.


Her hand moved to her right coat pocket without notice.  Inside lay a utility knife - often used to cut drywall.  A wide, razor sharp blade housed in a steel handle.  It was a new blade - purchased just for this task.  Williams was unaware of the contents of Karen's coat pocket.  He was only concerned with the project.


"Now Karen, I want you to perform step 8 without the usual foolishness."


Oh, how she despised his abuse.  All doubt was gone.  She was now convinced she was right.


She clutched the knife - the steel grip felt cool in her hand.


"Karen, be careful not to miss as you've done before."


No, she was not going to miss.


She stepped closer, aware of the sweat collecting on her brow.


"Remember Karen, what I have taught you."


Today, she would not forget.  She moved closer, the blade fixed in position, held tight in her hand.  Now, she thought, NOW!


The blade entered deep into the left side of the neck, nearly digging into the spine.  As the adrenaline surged through her veins, she quickly pulled the knife across the front, splitting the thorax and the jugular.  In one swift, deliberate motion, it was done.  As she retracted the bloodied blade into the steel case, she breathed a sign of relief.


"Very good Karen," exclaimed Mr. Williams.  "That was a excellent incision."


"Thank you," replied Karen, genuinely proud of her work.


"You have certainly studied the frog's anatomy.  Keep it up and you'll do fine in twelfth grade biology, next year.  Tomorrow, we'll do the same procedure with one of our lab mice."


"Mice, I hate mice," she thought.

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