Small Cuts (18) Elaine

To find links to all parts of this story, please visit the Small Cuts Page. Here is Elaine:

I moved on autopilot. My life for the last two weeks had seemed like a film in which I was merely a supporting actor. I left decisions up to James’ family, my family. I was still out of work, told to take all the time that I needed. I was numb, disconnected, wanting to wake up from this nightmare. Mom and Dad came to stay with me right after the accident up to the day after the funeral. All the commotion and chaos keeps you from fully realizing the loss. Once everyone had gone, all that remained was wilting flowers, leftover casseroles and the echoes of cliched condolences. And Oliver.

It was the first night I was alone that the story of James’ connection to Genevieve made the six o’clock broadcast. Must have been a slow news day in Philadelphia. How on earth had that bit of information got out? It had been bad enough dealing with James’ death and Gen’s grave condition without having reporters asking us to bear our guilt in front of the cameras. It was hideous. Wait, did I say guilt? I meant grief. Oh, god….

It was true, it was true. This was all because of us—Oliver and me. Somehow James and Gen must have figured it out. I needed to talk to Oliver. He was the only one I could really talk to now. He had maintained a discreet and appropriate manner when we were in public—just close enough to be the grieving friend. Add Genevieve’s condition to the situation, and he was very much the sympathetic character. Whenever we found ourselves alone, however, his true feelings were apparent. He loved me, he still wanted to be with me, even though things had gone so terribly wrong. In my emotional state, I found myself leaning on him. I picked up my phone and called.

At first Oliver tried to find other explanations, but that was just wishful thinking. He eventually admitted that James had probably seen him drive by our house and had likely followed him into the city. Then, he told me after Genevieve’s things were retrieved from the wreck of her car, he discovered that she had the address of the Park Hotel entered into the GPS on her phone. That was the final proof if you asked me. I had dropped the phone and run to the bathroom to throw up. I heaved and heaved until there was nothing left. Now my body felt as empty as my heart. I slumped against the toilet and wept. That’s where Oliver found me.

“Baby, here, let me help you,” he said, lifting me into his arms. I was too weak to resist. He carried me from the bathroom to my bedroom and laid me on top of the covers. Then, sitting on the edge, brushed my hair from my face.

“He’s dead because of me. This my fault,” I said. I grabbed Oliver’s wrist as he reached again to touch my cheek. “We killed him, Oliver. And we nearly killed Gen, too.”

Small Cuts (17) James

To find links to all parts of this story, please visit the Small Cuts Page. Here is more about James:

Jessica Dean: Finally tonight on Eyewitness News at 6:00, a follow up on the fatal accident that happened on the Vine Street Expressway last Sunday morning. The crash left one person dead and another in critical condition. There is an added layer of tragedy to the story, however.

Ukee Washington: That’s right, Jessica. It turns out the two drivers knew each other. In fact, the male driver who was killed was the best friend of the female driver’s husband. James McAvoy, thirty-six of Bucks County, was attempting to merge onto the eastbound Vine Street Expressway in heavy traffic when, according to witnesses, the vehicle driven by Genevieve Sinclair, also of Bucks County, suddenly changed lanes and struck the other car on the driver’s side. Mr. McAvoy was pronounced dead at the scene. Mrs. Sinclair remains in a coma and in critical condition.

Jessica Dean: Oliver Sinclair, Genevieve’s husband, had met James McAvoy in college. The two remained close ever since. They had been best man for each other at both of their weddings, the two couples often vacationed together and according to their spouses, had just had dinner together the evening before. Neither James nor Genevieve was supposed to be on that road that day. According to Mr. Sinclair, his wife Genevieve had no plans to be in the city that morning, but must have decided after he left. He could only speculate on her reasons for coming. “She liked to visit the art museum. She often came alone so she could take her time,” he told reporters.

Mrs. Elaine McAvoy told us her husband was supposed to be on his way to a golf outing sponsored by the law firm he works for. Mrs. McAvoy says his detour into the city must have been to stop at his office for some reason. His colleagues at Fletcher, Sunderland and Roth couldn’t shed any light on the matter. It seems fate dealt the two couples a cruel hand. The funeral arrangements for James McAvoy will be held privately, but donations can be made in his name to the Philadelphia Legal Aid Fund —a cause he supported as a lawyer in the city.

Ukee Washington: Mm mm… What a terrible tragedy. Our hearts go out to the families.


I have used the real names of the evening news anchors at Philadelphia’s CBS affiliate Channel 3. I have done this without their knowledge or permission. I hope they don’t mind! When and if I publish or submit to another media outlet, names and other existing entities will be changed.

Small Cuts (16) Genevieve

To find links to all parts of this story, please visit the Small Cuts Page. Here is Genevieve:

Dark. Warm. Safe. The dark never frightened but comforted. In nature, being visible is a threat to one’s existence, but invisibility is a defense against predators. They can’t eat you if they can’t find you. In the dark I could be myself, because no one would see anyway. It was a relief. Maybe I should sleep. I was so very tired.

If only the birds would be quiet. Chirp, chirp, chirp.

Sing a song of sixpence,
A pocket full of rye,
Four and twenty blackbirds
Baked in a pie.

The old nursery rhyme went through my head. It reminded me of my Nana. When I was little, Mom and Dad would leave us kids with her when they traveled. I was always afraid to sleep over, even with my older sister and little brother in the same room with me. I’d lay awake for hours, imagining all sorts of terrors. The nightlight Nana left on only made things worse. That little bit of illumination would help the monsters find me. The shadows cast by a dim light are far more sinister than the absolute dark. You can see the monsters just like they can see you. Most nights, I’d run to Nana’s room and crawl in beside her. To try and soothe me to sleep, she would sing. Nursery songs, old church hymns, anything that she knew by heart. Funny how gruesome most of those nursery rhymes were. No wonder we were frightened as children.

When the pie was opened
The birds began to sing—
Wasn’t that a dainty dish
To set before the king?

Dainty. No one used words like that anymore. Language was so crass these days. I suppose it was just a reflection of the world. The harsh, mean, cruel world. What was it I’d seen on the news this morning? Morning. The last thing I remembered: checking the time on TV. Could I have lost time again? The darkness made it seem like night, but I wasn’t sure. Then again, I was so sleepy it must be late. What had happened? Where was I? I tried to reach out, to see if Oliver was next to me, but I couldn’t move my arm, couldn’t feel anything with my fingers. Oliver? Are you there?

The king was in the counting-house
Counting out his money,
The queen was in the parlor
Eating bread and honey,

Oliver had gone somewhere. I needed to find him. It was very, very important that I find him. I just couldn’t remember why. Was Oliver the king? Was I his queen? Was there someone else?

The maid was in the garden
Hanging out the clothes.

Someone else. Someone else. Someone else was in the room with me. I could hear the whispering, murmuring. Blood. Bruises. Broken bones. Brain damage. Whisper, whisper, shhhhh…

Along came a blackbird

The flapping of wings. Thousands and thousands of wings. Monstrous, evil birds. Just like that Hitchcock movie.

And snipped off her nose.

Could they see me? Had they found me? Run! I couldn’t run, couldn’t move, couldn’t see. I could only hear those infernal birds chirping their monotonous song. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Wait, keep still and they can’t find you. Breathe slowly and they won’t hear you. There. The sounds were fading. They were leaving. I was alone again. Safe. Warm. Dark.

Header Image via Google Images. And the nursery rhyme is “Sing a Song of Sixpence” by Mother Goose.