Right before it hit, I began counting all the items in my cupboard. One can of chickpeas. Four cans of black beans. Four cans of red beans. Four bags of split peas. Three bags of lentils. Four cans of white beans. Three cans of tuna. One box of crackers. One container of popcorn kernels. Half a roll of paper towels. Spices, innumerable. This is not enough. I was making one to two runs tops, hopefully. Soon. Replete with agitation suddenly, I change direction even though the cabinet task is not complete.
I begin to count my knives. One lithe Oneida blade, skinny, sharp both blade and handle; a coveted one I use often. I tuck that back in the drawer. To be used for slicing vegetables. Twelve regular steak knives. Some of them were rusting but still capable of cutting. I pull out four. Placing two on the kitchen island, I make a mental note to take them upstairs. Placing one a little near it, I make a mental note to tape the other under the seat of my car. Placing the one near the french press, that will be my altar knife. I move to the wooden block. My parents had gifted me a knife set years ago that I did not use until now. It was one of those that came with a dozen different kinds and they all stood tall in their slit. Rusted as well but capable. Butcher knives and meat cleavers and little steak knives. Things I didn’t use because I didn’t eat meat but always kept just in case. I took one of the large cleavers and placed near the back door, inside my house but under a vase. Not obvious to anyone but me. I took one of the butcher knives and placed it under my couch next to a hammer and a baseball bat. I don’t like to feel limited in choice. I go back to counting:
one large orange butcher knife, separate and a favorite that I keep for slicing tofu, and five other meat cleaver or butcher knife types left in the wooden block. They are dulled but can cut. One switch blade. One box cutter. Two pairs of scissors; one regular size, one tiny. Seven butter knives which are good for spreading butter or peanut butter but I had threatened a man once with a knife like that. We got nowhere.. I also have two pepper sprays: one in my bag and one on my nightstand hidden under lace, near a flashlight. I have two packages of batteries, two flashlights, a case of potable water and two jugs of water as well. Someone dropped off bleach, alcohol, gloves and methanol on my doorstep last night. I add that to the tally.
I tuck the switch blade back in my pocket to become used to carrying it everywhere I go. I take it back out, realizing I havent opened it in a while. I practice. That is, I squeeze the indent with my thumb and middle finger but I am not fast like in the movies so it always takes a second. This embarasses me. I don’t consider myself greatly agile but competent, but also crippled by time and my straw habit that I push from my mind. Generally, I’m also cumbersome so I just decide to keep it out. The blade that is. It is relatively sharp though I’d have to get close to you to press into you. It’s dainty looking and unassuming which is what drew me to it in the first place. Blue tint with a painting of a woman taking off her bra, not facing us so all we see is her back and hands reached to clasp. Coquettish and pretty. A man bought it for me from France as a gesture of good will. Something I crave. Not the goodwill, but his submission.
I close it and put it back in my pocket of my pants. I know I will leave it open hidden under lace. But just feeling the weight of the weapon is enough to calm me. As I begin to count more things, I begin to rest my jaw. I have one canister of coffee, one box of trashbags, two bottles of dishwasher detergent, plenty of forks: both metal and plastic, as well as spoons. Half a bag of sugar. Countless cartons and packages of tea. Enough pots. Enough pans. One kettle. Half a pack of vegan butter. Half a carton of almond milk. One container of ketchup and mustard respectively. Many bags of frozen vegetables. My jaw is set on relax. I love counting, addition. And theorizing. When you take one thing away, how many more do you need to replace to feel safe? This is innumerable. That is, you can’t manage that thought because it’s gaping. I feel prepared for things when I have more of them. I feel safe in math.
What I will remember most right before it hit, is all the doors slamming shut and me laughing later. Big and hearty like the way Santa Claus laughs on television. When we used to touch our faces, I used to slowly graze my cheek with my finger nail and whisper things to men.