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Five

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He picked up the sterilized kitchen knife- their sharpest one- with a trembling hand. Fat, hot tears pooled at the corners of his eyes as he lined up the knife with the base of his last finger, the tears threatening at any moment to spill over and slice rivulets down his cheek. The blade inched ever closer, and with it, his skewed perceptions strengthened. He glowered at the extra appendage as if it were a tumor to remove. Unsightly. Doesn’t belong.

Better with five… he’s better with five…

Some distant portion of his mind screamed at him to stop, but his muscles moved of their own direction. The knife sliced deep into the upper flesh of his sixth finger. Dark blood ran from either side of the wound, slowly pooling on the grey tile of the bathroom counter. Black dotted the edges of his vision as he tried to stifle his scream.

It wasn’t enough.

Footsteps approached. There’s an urgency in the pattern they beat into the floor… They’re close. He knew they were, but his mind was aflame, every connection prepared to short out. His left hand trembled violently, the surface of the knife lifting slightly away from the wound he’d inflicted upon himself. It burned. The laceration ran deep.

“FORD!”

But not nearly deep enough…

“Ford, what the hell were ya’ thinkin’?!”

He hadn’t given it enough force, he realized. The knife. It hit bone. But he didn’t- couldn’t- cut further.

The kitchen knife was wrenched from his hand. His face- no, his brother’s- fell into his line of vision. He looked devastated, but his voice was calmer this time.

“H-how ‘bout we patch ya’ up, okay?”

He couldn’t do it. He… he couldn’t. Even with every muscle turned against him- with every possible tool laid within arm’s reach- he fundamentally couldn’t find it within himself to finish the job.

Better with five…. burdened with six. It’s what he’s always told himself. Ever since he was just a kid. So why did he feel such a strong desire to retain that which he saw as simple burden? Why was he unable to… simply let it go?

WHY?

“Sixer? You in there? Earth to Sixer…”

The first tear pooled over. And with the first, came the second. After the second he found himself unable to stop. His face screwed up and he began to bawl, his sobs intermittently interrupted by an involuntary breath for air, deep and painful. Everything burned. His sixth finger, which still wept with blood, his lungs, his eyes…

He almost… he couldn’t…

Ford felt his brother’s arms wrap tight around him, and his head on his shoulder.

“It’s gonna be okay, Sixer. I’ve got ya’. As long as you need me to, I’ve got ya…”