Hands on Metallic Ponds by Ursula Villarreal-Moura

Her religion is the power of suggestion. In the newspaper, she reads about the nanny who stabbed two children to death with a butcher knife before slitting her own throat. It happened on W. 75th Street near Central Park, an area she knows rather well.

For weeks, she cannot stomach a knife without thinking of the stabbings. Wide blades glint like metallic ponds. Her kitchen fills with muted primal screams and invites in virginal sunlight. It shudders with footsteps. She avoids the pull, orders take-out, and eats in a hallway armchair with clear plastic utensils.

“Knife Resharpening 3” (image via Flickr User Andy Ciordia)

As a troubled teen, when her parents reminded her of her dishwashing duties after dinner, she often envisioned whacking one of her hands off at the wrist with a meat cleaver. Retribution for forced labor. If she wielded it swiftly, she doubted she’d break the shock barrier. Five twitching fingers: Halloween props or the salvage of her own digits?

In adulthood, the knives continue to taunt her. She considers therapy to tame these disturbing impulses, but is careful not to taint innocent people with knife romance. In metallic ponds, minnows twitch like nervous blood cells. The dogma lurks, a loch ness in search of believers.

Ursula Villarreal-Moura was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. She is a graduate of Middlebury College and the MFA program at Sarah Lawrence College. Her fiction and nonfiction appear or are forthcoming in CutBank, Emerson Review, NAP, Toska, Eunoia Review, Van Duzer, and elsewhere. She contributes book reviews to The Fiddleback, Necessary Fiction, and Nib Magazine and is an assistant editor for Cream City Review. Follow her on Twitter: @ursulaofthebook.