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August 23, 2023


Juls Macdonell

You cut yourself in half. Rarely at first. Now, every day.

It’s not easy, but it’s doable. In fact, you find you have to cut yourself in half; urge tips beyond desire into plunging necessity. The how is the question. A jigsaw? Crinkly scissors? Chef’s knives?

The sharper the blade the better you’ll heal. You equate it to ripping off a band-aid. You have ripped it off before, multiple times, all in attempt to lead up to cutting yourself in half for him. Not like it would do him any good, but just that you knew he had to know, because you’re not a couple that keeps secrets. So, not for your sake and not for his, but for the principle of it. The ethics of cutting yourself in half for your partner boils down to: a cut’s not real unless it draws blood.

Inevitably, one night you joined him in bed and, after crying a good bit, cut yourself in half beside him. He was gracious, appraising the parts of you that make you whole, weak and open and tangled in the bedsheets like a fumbling newborn.

Hidden in the mess was something that he and others might not ever understand: that the black of night and the white specks of stars were two halves just like you, made better only by the other. The sun and the moon and the earth and the sky and the living and the dying are all like you, so binary and nonbinary, so together and without, each with a blurred line that when you look closely is just two things sewed together by something like flesh that cuts like old books still bound on both lengths.

He wasn’t the first person you’d cut yourself in half for. Others had seen the truth of your insides, still fresh with wine or beer, chocolate maybe, to make the pain more manageable. And they were good. They taught you relief and disappointment in such equal measures the equilibrium that settled within you could only be labeled Deserved if not Lucky, Sufficient if not Perfect, Fine if not Extraordinary.

Maybe because they’d known you before they’d seen your halves, it was easy for them to accept but difficult to practically apply, because they smiled and hugged you and echoed what they’d heard others say, but didn’t seem to want to touch your new half nor speak directly to it. Something about the viscera and vulnerability scared them, like they knew deep down that they had once dreamt of cutting themselves in half, dreamt of someone else cutting them in half, and felt some sweet release; some delicious escape and elasticity at pulling them apart from themselves. And if it weren’t for that – if it weren’t for the possibility of someone being out there who needed to see that glimpse of your heart when your ribcage pops open like a three-ring binder, you, maybe, wouldn’t have bothered at all. Like it wouldn’t have killed you not to before your actual, real death.

Sometimes you want to pull away and hide, but you’ve learned better. When they realise it too, maybe one day they’ll come asking you how, exactly, you sharpen your knives.