She sat in the Starbucks cafe, sipping her coffee and staring out of the window. The blood stained knife lay next to her handbag, covered with her blue silk scarf. She glanced down at it, eyeing the maroon purse beside its blade. It had been almost fifteen minutes since she’d tried to check her makeup, ten minutes since she’d blindly applied her mascara. For all she knew, she’d completely missed her eyes and drawn swastikas all over her own forehead with the black-hued brush. She needed to check, needed to plunge her hand into the bag and grab for the mirror. She needed to be sure she wasn’t inadvertently advertising herself as a Nazi in a SoHo Starbucks. Yet the danger, the unparalleled sharpness of the blade, it was too much of a risk.
Sarah glanced back up at Harry, his thin, gel-twirled mustache the least hipster thing about him. No, that was established by the way his oversized, thick framed, glassless-glasses sat a few inches too low his nose, the way he wore what appeared to be his newborn sister’s skinny jeans, the way his beard poofed out from his deceptively weak jaw. Still, he was incredibly attractive, even while he spoke about how little he enjoyed the taste of meat and how much he preferred riding fixed-gear bicycles. It was hardly the worst blind date she’d been on. Although, if she’d unintentionally been presenting herself as a Nazi—and had Harry not been the least bit offended—than perhaps it would soon be on its way to the top of the list.
Glancing back at the purse on the floor, the bloodied knife buried beside it under the blue, silk scarf, Sarah sighed heavily. That knife, that disguised weapon, it was the only thing standing in her way. She just wanted to check her mascara, make sure she’d circled her eyes and not somehow deviated from the path and constructed two interlocking lines across the middle of her forehead like Charles Manson considering tattoos. Just one glance, that’s all she’d need. A simple reach and a bit of careful navigation, she’d be fine. She just wouldn’t cut herself on the blade this time, would take her time while reaching in and not inadvertently stab herself. It would be simple, elementary even. She’d just carefully maneuver her hand into the bag, grab the mirror, and not cut her entire arm during the process. Sarah leaned forward and plunged her hand blindly into the depths of the purse, the knife beside it immediately grinding up against the flesh of her left.
“Oh fuck,” Sarah shouted, thrusting her body back against her steel chair and grabbing at her wrist. “God damn cunt fucking shit of a horse sandwich!”
“What?” Harry said, abruptly interrupting his retelling of how Arcade Fire came to fame and thus stopped being a good band.
“Nothing,” Sarah said, cradling her lacerated right arm in her left hand. The knife had gotten her again, slashed her on the way down. She’d moved too quickly, forgotten the plan: slowly reach into the bag, rather than mindlessly thrusting. She had gotten caught up in the heat of the moment.
“Are you okay?” Harry said, twirling the end of his mustache and straining his neck as he attempted to see the bleeding arm Sarah hid in her lap.
“I’m fine,” Sarah snapped, lowering her arm even further. Great, now she was bleeding all over her new dress. She’d known it would be a horrible idea to wear white, that she should’ve gone with the blood red one. In fact, she should’ve probably just not brought the knife with her in the first place. It was all Jenny’s idea, her request that she “be safe” on the blind date. They were in public, they were in a god damn Starbucks. Why did she listen about bringing the knife with her? Now all it did was stand guard by her purse, its blade unfortunately close to its zippered opening.
“You look like you’re bleeding,” Harry said, releasing his grip on his mustache and instead adjusting his thick-framed glasses.
“I’m not,” Sarah said, lowering her arm even further. She probably looked insane, like an absolute idiot. For all she knew, she probably also had mascara-drawn swastikas against her forehead, the black inky substance streaking down her forehead with her sweat. If she could just reach into ehr bag without stabbing herself with the concealed blade, if she could just pull out the cosmetic mirror, she could be sure she wasn’t unintentionally announcing her untrue hatred of the Jewish people. Yet the knife, its increasingly blood-stained blade, still stood watch, still remained just a few inches from the zippered opening. It was impenetrable.
“You’re definitely bleeding,” Harry said, leaning forward even further.
“No,” Sarah lied, “it’s just that time of the month. Please don’t draw any more attention to it than is necessary.”
“Oh,” Harry said, leaning back. “Gross. Well, anyway, Arcade Fire really started going downhill when the masses…”
Sarah glanced down at the bag, the blue scarf now stained with droplets of ruby blood. Why had she set down the concealed knife so close to the purse? Why had she brought it with her in the first place? She should’ve known Jenny was overly afraid, that she was wrong about the dangers of blind dates. She was the one who told her to bring the pepper spray last time, which she’d unintentionally sprayed in her own face seventeen times during that evening’s movie date. They’d gone to see Train Wreck, she and Michael—an attractive construction worker from Queens—but actually managed to watch less than six minutes of the film thanks to Jenny’s horrible suggestion. Every time she reached for her beverage, she unintentionally unleashed a torrent of isolated pepper spray directly into her own eyes. She had no idea why she’d put the device down so close to her Coca-Cola, but it caused nothing but trouble the entire evening.
Glancing back up at Harry, Sarah tried to make sense of what he was talking about, her left arm clutched around her bloodied right. It was something about the superiority of record players over every other medium of music. Whatever the case, Sarah couldn’t concentrate on the discussion. For all she knew, she still had swastikas scribbled across her forehead. She just needed to reach into the bag, to carefully maneuver so that she did not cut her own wrist on the knife sitting a few inches beside it. She could then just grab the mirror, hold it up to her face for a quick second and go about fixing whatever anti-Semitic symbols she’d unintentionally created. That was it, a slow, deliberate grab. She leaned forward and blindly plunged her fist into the purse, immediately stabbing herself on the blade she’d ironically brought for her own safety.
“Fuck my god damned weasels with a salad mixer named Larry,” she shrieked, closing her eyes and grabbing at her arm. The knife was deeply embedded within her forearm, blood spewing out across the SoHo Starbucks floor as she flailed.
“What in the fuck,” Harry shouted, pushing himself out of his chair and standing up. “Did you just stab yourself?”
“No,” Sarah screamed, “it’s not what it looks like! I was just trying to get the mirror and my safety knife was right beside the bag and I just kept stabbing myself on it!”
“So move it out of the fucking way,” Harry said, throwing his arms up in the air. “I mean, for fuck’s sake. I watched you do it the first time and thought it was a mistake. The second time, I guess I just couldn’t believe it. Three times, though? Stabbing yourself three times on a knife you brought to a Starbucks? That’s really my limit. Plus, the whole swastika thing on your forehead is kind of weird.”
Sarah stared at Harry, watching as he turned and walked out of the Starbucks. Everybody else in the café seemed to be watching her in return, some of them running over and placing napkins around her profusely bleeding arm. She wasn’t exactly sure what he meant by “move it out of the way,” but the more she thought about the phrase, the more she realized he might have been on to something. Perhaps, rather than stabbing herslef over-and-over, she should’ve considered scooting the knife a few inches to the left, so as to avoid the entire situation? Whatever the case, it was too late now. Harry was gone.
She glanced down at the purse, blood-smeared scarf now lying a few feet away. The knife was no longer standing guard, instead uncomfortably situated deeply within her right forearm. She was cleared for entry now, cleared to grab whatever she needed from the purse. She knelt down and dug around inside the bag, pulling out her cosmetic mirror and holding it up to her face. Without a second throughout, she flipped it open and immediately unleashed a fine stream of pepper spray directly into her wide-open eyes.
“Fucking damn you, Jenny,” Sarah shrieked, falling to the floor in agony. “You god damn slut wombat of a beaver-fucker!” It still wasn’t her worst date ever, but it was certainly in the top ten.