The knife was not his, but it could have been. He hadn’t been out of the business that long. Four and a half inches long, single-bladed, stainless steel with a graphite handle, covered in dried blood, Kyle’s new wife Sam found it tucked quietly away in the far corner of the closet under the stairs.
There had been a catch in her voice, pregnant with fear and suspicion when she said “Kyle, come over here, please.”
She said nothing, simply shining the icy beam of light from her flashlight on the hiding weapon, the light glinting off the unstained parts of the blade.
“That’s blood,” he said, the voice of an expert. Her stern look and set jaw told him that she wasn’t impressed in the least.
“You can’t think that I had anything to do with this.”
“Can’t I?” she muttered.
Kyle fought the urge to storm away and used his own flashlight to investigate the closet interior itself. There were blood stains here and there, though there were signs that there had been some attempt to clean it up. They had been sloppy--jittery.
Sam looked around the front room in the vast, empty Arts and Crafts home. Finding no place, she slid down a wall to the floor, curling her legs under herself.
“What am I supposed to do, prove it to you?”
She buried her face in her hands.
“You told me you were out of this. You said there would be no more. I really want to believe you, Kyle. I wish that I could.”
“So, what, then?”
Divorce hung in the air like death waiting to take them both at once, and not to a better world.
She sat quiet for a long moment, the house cracking gently around them with the unfamiliar tension their presence on the old floor boards created.
“It doesn’t make sense, you know,” he said. “Of all the places I would have left a used weapon like that--”
She snorted. “That’s great. Where are you hiding your weapons now?”
He shook his head, barely containing his temper now. He walked towards the back of the house. He had seen the door in the rear of the kitchen. He stopped short of the threshold leading onto the old tile.
“If you’re not going to trust me,” he said, “then maybe this isn’t going to work after all.”
“I want to trust you, Kyle. I just thought you were past this, and I want to believe you. I just don’t know if I can trust myself to be able to discern what’s really going on, regardless of what you say about this. Are you absolutely sure you had nothing to do with this?”
“Well, then we need to do something about this. It’s as simple as that. You just don’t come into a house that’s been empty and vacant for years, find a blood-soaked knife on the floor of a closet, and then just not say anything--to authorities or anyone.”
Kyle back towards the door a few steps.
“You know we can’t do that.”
Sam crossed herself and pinched the sides of her nostrils with her fingers, sighing deeply through her mouth.
“I just need to know that this stuff, your old life, isn’t going to effect our new life. Can you understand that?”
Kyle nodded. “I can understand it. I just wish it changed anything. If we’re going to start a new life here, it’s going to be with that knife destroyed, buried, whatever, just so nobody finds it.”
Sam’s arms wrapped down around her stomach as she looked up at him. A strand or two of her black hair fell down and out from her ponytail. She looked at her new husband, her eyes wide with fear.
“I’ll take care of it,” he said, picking it up with a small part of his fingers, holding it like a dead rat and walked out the back door.
He said nothing more about it.
The following weekend, they moved in. Kyle refused help, sweating and grunting and wrestling with furniture dollies. He assured Sam that the weapon was gone. He wouldn’t tell Sam where he’d put it, only that it was gone.
They ate pizza on their new furniture, admiring the lines of the architecture, and the handsome way the dark color of the wood complemented the space. They had ordered a medium with Canadian bacon, their favorite, but they still had several pieces left over.
Sam walked up to bed that night, wincing at the creak of the old stairs. Kyle followed her. They breathed the air of their new home deeply, and only acknowledged each other under the sheets before they slept.
Kyle sat up. Sam was gone. The bed where she had been was cool to the touch. There was a newspaper, folded over.
Kyle read it. Her name was Franchesca, the accompanying story said. Her friends called her Franny. She had been only sixteen years old and she was dead. Police found her body in a search along Occidental Road, not five miles from their new home. She had been dead three days.
Sam was not downstairs. She had gone for a run without him. He looked again at the girl’s picture in the paper. The eyes looked out at him, full of enthusiasm, marked with the kind of beauty that’s borrowed from childhood and carried awkwardly in a new adult-sized body.
He put the paper down and started breakfast. His mind wandered as he went through the steps, cracking eggs, lighting the stove. He stopped suddenly, dropping the pan in the sink, his breakfast aborted.
He grabbed a spade from the shed and ran behind the house to the base of the golden hill behind their new property. He watched frantically for the dry patch of dirt. Finding it, he quickly recovered the knife.
He got in the car, praying he could guess in which direction Sam had run. Left, towards the beach. He knew she’d never be able to run all the way there, but she would like the feeling of heading in that direction.
When it was over the police found the knife on the body of the man who had tried to hurt Sam.
She held him tight, her tears mixing with the sweat of her run. He held her back, and didn’t let go.