The sensation was electric. The force of it streaked through my entire body, leaving me rooted to the spot.
Rather than using the distraction to drive the clumsy knife deep, I felt it nearly slip from my fingers in shock. I tried to find purchase, but couldn't steady my hand. An involuntary noise slipped from my throat. I thought it was pleasure, but I'd never heard it before.
It was nothing like being touched, or even like touching someone else, at all. It was more than a physical touch all together. It was as if all of my nerves had expanded, stretched beyond their breaking point until all they could do was reach out, towards Alli. Underneath my hand I could feel the curve of her waist, the texture of her shirt, the way the fabric bunched up under my fingers as I held her tight. I could feel Alli's hands as if they had grown feverishly hot on the back of my neck, her fingers tangled in my hair. Her mouth under mine was soft, pliant, warm. I felt my lips move of their own accord, learning from hers, but capable in their own right. I felt the cold handle of the knife in my hand.
I couldn't think.
I had to think.
And what I thought of was Alli's body, her life bleeding out onto the linoleum. I imagined Danni, coming down for one last glass of water and finding her, just like Alli had found her sister. I thought of how broken she'd be and how unfair this was. That little girl would be left to pick up the pieces of an innocence which I'd destroyed. It was a murder that seemed even more personal and damning. I'd been so concerned with the damage I would suffer, my own pain in this body, that I'd justified every consequence. But could I really use apathy to hide from the responsibility of what I'd leave behind, the lives I would destroy with this willful act? Did that apathy even exist anymore? How could it when this moment--these sensations and thoughts--was so vibrant and real and alive and I was so much a part of it?
And finally, in that elastic moment, I understood that life wasn't about the dead. It wasn't about the ones who left, but the ones who were left behind--the living who breathed and felt and coped and moved forward. Danni was one of them and, right now, Alli still was too. And so was I.
Gently, gently enough that it wouldn't make a sound, I placed the knife in the sink and pushed it away.
Then I lifted my free hand and placed it alongside her face.
I felt the silk of the hair at her temple.