I’ve never understood the meaning of idioms, but I don’t think that matters anymore. A word’s definition has got to have been made by a person, but I haven’t come across any rule that says you can’t bend the meaning to your own perception of it. Mine makes more sense, anyway. And apparently, idioms can be used as empty threats, exaggerations and likenings. I don’t see the point in that. Never have. I think my uses are much better. New and improved, maybe.
They always wondered why I kept asking the same question, but the phrases they used could have been so much more if they were actually going to go through with them or meant them literally. Like mine. Why exaggerate? What’s holding you back? Who’s holding you back? Apart from yourself.
It’s like the time I was out with a friend from school and her older sister, and her sister was furious with her recent ex and his snarks towards her after she found out about his affair with another girl.
“Honestly, I don’t know what I was thinking when I said yes to that douche. Stabbed me in the back, the jerk.”
I looked up at her then in interest, frowning slightly as I stared at her back, searching for a wound or any sign of blood or bandage.
“Whereabouts Did you have to go to the hospital?
She looked at me in confusion then, silent for a moment before adding, “It’s a figure of speech. You know, an idiom? Don’t take it so seriously.”
So I don’t. Though I always checked if what they were saying was, indeed, an idiom, just to be certain. So many confirmations. It made me wonder why idioms had to be so pointless, yet so passionate. Phrases that hardly had any context or significance to the situation, phrases kind of ridiculous when you think about them, but they’re so commonly uttered. And they say actions are louder than words.
And the time I was in the car with my parents, and they were going on about the new tv they wanted to buy to replace our old one.
“It looks great though, you saw it in the shop,” Dad recalled, and mum shrugged and nodded. “You said you’d think about it. What’s the verdict?”
“I’d normally say yes, but we’re on a budget, you know that,” mum responded reluctantly. “Costs an arm and a leg.”
I gasped in surprise, but my excitement vanished almost instantly as I remembered. “Is that an idiom?”
“Well... yes, of course it is,” mum said, glancing at dad.
“And it’s an idiom because I’ve never witnessed anyone trading limbs for luxuries... or have ever heard of it being legal...”
“Moving on,” dad interrupted, and they did.
The time my friend got the leading role in the school play, and our teacher smiled and said, “Oh, well done! You’ll be excellent - break a leg!”
My brows furrowed in wariness at their words, but then the teacher looked to me and sighed lightly, the same boring realisation dawning.
“Is that an idiom?”
“Yes, yes it was,” the teacher said with a nod, and so far, they’ve never said it again.
The time my mum managed to multitask by finishing her business calls whilst catching up on housework, and said with a smile, “That’s one way to kill two birds with one stone.”
“What does that have to do wi-” I cut myself off, rolling my eyes slightly. “Is that an idiom?”
“That’s an idiom,” mum said in exasperation. “Why do you keep on asking that? Isn’t it obvious?”
“Not even a little,” I contradicted, and she gave up, leaving the room.
My friend started using similar idioms to those too, and my constant questions got them quite annoyed. Very annoyed, at one point. The point.
“You’re supposed to be smart,” they said that evening at a sleepover at mine, after telling me how her sister’s ex was ‘killing her softly’. “For the last time, yes, it’s an idiom! Who’d be able to do that literally?”
“I could probably think of a way,” I retorted. “Empty words and empty threats never make any sense to me.”
“That’s because you overthink things,” they said accusingly. “Always. Just stop! How could you think of a way? You never stop asking for answers to the obvious. Seriously...”
My angry glare turned into one of sudden inspiration and something dangerous and dark. “I can think of several,” I said, and they rolled their eyes, unconvinced.
I suddenly got up, going downstairs and entering the kitchen, pulling open a drawer full of blades and cutlery, my friend following me in irritation.
“What’re you doing now?”
“Proving my point,” I replied with a light smile, turning back to face her. “I’ll be brutally honest, shall I?”
They scoffed. “There you go. Was that an idiom?”
“No,” I answered, running my fingers calmly over the blades, and they eyed me sceptically. “It’s my own. Idioms don’t make any sense, and they never will. So why bother to understand something that can’t be? My idioms are like this,” I continued, taking out a rolling pin carefully, “what I say goes.”
“What are you talking about?”
I took a step closer, and they immediately took a step back, with a hard glare. I grinned.
“Wow, if looks could kill! And if they can’t... I can find another way. Like I promised.”
A flash of fear and uncertainty passed through their expression, and they attempted to make a dash to the door, but I caught on before they had the chance, putting my leg out in front of theirs and tripping them up so that they landed roughly on the floor with a groan.
“I’m not a pushover,” I said determinedly. “I’ve been called one quite a few times. But maybe you are.”
They struggled desperately as I grabbed their wrists and yanked them back, my mind and conscience dead, patience out, hardly comprehending what I was doing but not daring to stop, even for a moment. They caught sight of the rolling pin I clutched tightly and looked up at me in alarm.
“Your sister was stabbed in the back, and she’s still alive, isn’t she?” I pointed out. “Don’t look at me like that. It was your idea, wasn’t it? I’m not overthinking anymore, see? That’s what you wanted, wasn’t it?”
“No! No, don’t, please,” they gasped in panic, their hands trembling as their eyes followed the slow upwards swing of the large, thick wooden pin. “We’re supposed to be friends!”
“We are supposed to be,” I agreed, considering the fact. “Alright, I can compromise. Soften the blow, maybe?”
I hit them abruptly before I could prepare myself properly, force reduced somewhat, but they still cried out in pain, blood trickling down from their forehead down to the crease between their eye and nose, the crimson mixing with the salty transparent fluid spilling from their eyes.
“You always change your mind,” I said in confusion, glancing at the darkly stained pin and back to them. “Why? What do you expect?”
“You’re insane,” they spluttered, eyes wide. “You’re... you’re a psycho. You won’t get away with this! You won’t!”
“I thought kids got away with murder? Or was that supposed to be another meaningless phrase too?”
“You’ll find out,” they seethed, jaw clenched. “Night doesn’t last forever. Take your best shot, I dare you.”
I shrugged and nodded, accepting the challenge and spattering myself with droplets of deep red that tasted like pennies. I waited for my conscience to scream at me, for my thoughts to come rushing back, but there was nothing. Maybe there never has been.
So I step back and stare at my friend, coking my head to the side slightly before I ask them one last question.
“Was that an idiom?”