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The first time Christopher cut me, it was as though the knife sliced his flesh as it did mine. His hands shook so much, the blade sunk deep into my back while nicking the side of his pinkie.
I healed within the hour. There was fey blood in me. His wound, however, was raw for a week.
It was one month later. With one experience under his belt, Chris was steady and poised. He drew lines as a guide to where he was to cut: the juncture just beneath and beside each shoulder blade, where buds was beginning to protrude.
At the first touch of the permanent marker on my skin, I shivered. "Maria," Chris said worriedly. "Are you all right?"
"Of course," I said steadily, but my breath came out in a shudder. "I’m fine. I’m fine."
"You know I want to be a surgeon one day," he said half-jokingly. "You have to be truthful with me, to improve my technique."
"You’re doing fine," I told him.
He kissed me on the forehead before he began, murmuring sorry. I wanted to tell him he had no reason to apologise, since I was the one who asked him to do this in the first place, but the words would not come out.
The first blood drawn is always shocking. The pain is always surprising. As blood slid down my bare back and dripped onto the floor, I bit down on the piece of cloth shoved between my teeth. My hands clenched to fists and tears ran down my face. I tried my best to stay still, and eventually, I succeeded.
We were to do this once a month, Chris and I. It was a cycle, where lumps continuously grew on my back. There was one at the inner edge of each shoulder blade, framing my spine. If they continued to grow, they would sprout into white feathery monstrosities. No one else I knew had wings, and I could not hide them. The only way was to hack them off every month before the growth became prominent.
My mother used to do it for me. Just before the protrusions became obvious, she would use the sterilised kitchen knife to slice them off, making sure to cut deep enough so the entire lump was carved away.
But my mother was dead. My father was incapacitated with grief. There was only Chris, and Chris was willing to help me.
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