“You should limit the number of times you act against your nature, like sleeping with people you hate. It’s interesting to test your capabilities for a while but too much will cause damage.”
– Jenny Holzer
It’s hard to know what to do when someone says, “this is the knife I was going to use to kill you.” On a cold day in January, he holds a box cutter up to my face, runs it in front of my neck, his expression placid as flat water, and then walks calmly back over to a cardboard box that sits on the other side of the room waiting to be sliced open.
It’s hard to know what to do when that same person, later, says he loves you.
It wasn’t the first time I’d felt scared. It started when we began to watch Luther, a British crime show about a dashing detective. Once, late at night, after an episode, he turned to me in bed and asked if I’d ever thought about killing someone. I hadn’t. Had he? He had. He’d want to know if he could get away with it, he said. We turned out the light, and I couldn’t sleep.
Soon after, he decided to purchase The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson. He wanted to know if he met the criteria. Then the conversations shifted from killing someone to killing me. I can’t recall the jokes exactly now—it’s been too long—but he made jokes about it. I know there were three, because I told myself that one or two jokes about him killing me might be okay. But there were three, and so I told him I was uncomfortable with this running joke of his, expecting something like a rational response.
He got angry. The problem, he said, was that I wasn’t funny enough. I didn’t get it.
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