I stepped forward so his knife dug into my gut. The pain was stunning. High and white as skin broke and flesh tore. Then dark and howling red as the blade lodged inside me, ripping a pathway through my organs.
Confusion replaced cockiness on his face. I was the victim. He was the thief. Victims weren't meant to impale themselves on the threat knife. Not meant to grab their assailant and lock them together.
'I needed this,' I said, close as a kiss. Hugging him, I knotted my fingers behind his back, sealing the stab between us. His aftershave stung my nose as I felt my stubble scratch his skin.
I tilted my head back and called out loud enough for anyone to hear. It was a noise, not a word, but it broadcast fear and distress on the quiet city side street that no one could ignore.
The distress was real. My head lightened as I held him close. He swore and staggered and tried to untangle himself but we were slickly knotted. There must be so much blood. My instinct was to put my hand to it but I couldn't let him go.
Bile rose. I leaned my head forward onto the shoulder of this man who had selected me from the flock of commuters headed home. Once separated from the safety of the group he had strode past me, then turned, blocking my path, pointing a weapon. For what? Money, my wedding ring, credit cards, phone, my ready meals for one?
I never found out.
Whatever he had planned, this is what he had.
I had a flutter of panic that I could die. I clung tighter as I heard shouts on the street. My call had been heard. Footsteps, running. Voices. Some hesitant, others forceful, all closing, rising. Someone on the phone to the police. I could hear but not see. Under the streetlight my bloodied dance partner filled my vision. His squirming told me they were close. My fingers tightened behind his back as my legs weakened.
'Thank you,' I said, as we were untangled. He had taken control from me. It had been the only thing holding me together. I stole it back from the tip of his blade.
On the cold ground I looked down to see that my hand had finally found the blood. It pooled and sucked around the knife but all I could see, as my eyes closed, was my wedding ring.
If I woke my guilt might be bearable. She had been taken, not me. I would not ask why anymore. On a quiet street on an ordinary night, a stranger with a short steel knife had shown me there was no why.