We Have Our Own
Kim pointed him out to me. In the corner, a little boy surrounded with bright cuttings. The boy was crying.
He hadn't known what to do with those scissors at first, his mother told us. She had to show him how to open and close the stubby blades. The ill-cut plastic parts were difficult to move.
In the beginning, she herself had only admired them from afar. Not to touch them, but to caress them with her round blue eyes—that was allowed. They were her mother's brass-handled pinking shears, which cut excellent zig-zags through flowers and balloons and button-eyed bears and little and big stripes and dark and light, which fashioned crisp drapes and shirts and denim skirts with equally sure chops of the heavy-bladed steel.
And then, one day, her mother brought her a pair of plastic scissors. One red handle and blade, one white blade and handle, and a dull plastic nub to pin the two pieces together. The blades were lined with hen-teeth and bent around everything they were put to, paper included.
Her next pair of scissors were made of an unidentifiable metal, dull and steely with plastic pink handles and blades like skates. She used them to stab her best friend in the shoulder. There was no blood. The scissors were very blunt, but they could cut soft paper and she snipped surreal collages out of many sheets of pink or yellow or brown or blue construction paper. She avoided the red sheets.
When she was twelve years old, her mother began teaching her to sew. The girl dropped the heavy shears several times, denting the linoleum, but her mother remained patient and the girl learned to hold the brassy scissors with her mother's iron-wristed grip.
Four years later, and many papery patterns, she began cutting elaborate nightgowns out of cheap waxy silk. The cloth remnants looked like pierced flowers. She was going with a particular boy back then. He had brown hair and many friends and talked carelessly. She cut herself on the shears one evening and found that her blood was red, and the line was blue. Her mother never said very much, but they both cried hard after the stillbirth.
She fell very much in love later on, and married a man several years older. They had a son. When he was five, his eyes like black pearls, she gave him a pair of plastic coral-coloured scissors. Red and white. She showed him how to open and close the handles to open and close the blades. He spent all day mangling soft construction paper, pasting together a mysteriously ordered collage of clashing colours, harsh lines and smooth lines, sad days and good.
The little boy began to cry. His grasp had slipped, he'd cut his thumb. We went over, Kim and I, and dried his eyes and then his mother arrived. The three of us talked a little. She wanted to get rid of the scissors and asked us if we would take them. We told her we had our own.
"I suppose everyone does," she replied.