I never told you that I had a scar like a train track around my waist. I never told you about my dreams. I never told you how I stuffed belongings into a bag, slipped away from my parents’ house, and ran down the road in the early hours of the morning. How I leaped joyfully into a rusting Ford Mondeo, and squeezed in among the bags and boxes. How it had a huge black cabinet strapped to the roof rack. I never told you how I, and the driver, flitted from city to city, zigzagging slowly south until we reached a tiny village somewhere outside Seville.
I told you that I preferred to live my life on my own. I told you I was not looking for a partner. I told you that you could be a friend, but nothing more.
I told you– when you found that old playbill– that yes, that really was me in the picture. The Great Biondini’s glamorous assistant, climbing night after night into the huge black cabinet. I told you how he looked directly into my eyes the first time he brought down his gleaming saw. How I stared, amazed, at my own toes wiggling from the other side of the stage. I told you how the audience screamed and applauded when he took me by the hand and I stepped bravely out of the cabinet again. I did not tell you about the faint mark on my skin afterwards, tracing the path of the saw.
Yes, I told you, night after night he concluded his act by sawing me in half and putting me back together again. The people cheered, and clapped, and called for more, but he would whisk me away as the curtains came down. We piled everything back into the Mondeo, and raced to the next town, laughing into the darkness.
Yes, I told you, I loved him. And every night I trusted him, and never worried about the band around my stomach that grew a little darker, a little redder, every day.
I told you the adventure came to an end. We stayed a while in Southern Spain, then I came home to England. I did not tell you why, although you asked. Everything comes to an end, I told you.
I never told you about the night someone in the audience caught his eye. A beautiful redhead, a few rows back, and he smiled brilliantly up at her as he began to slice me in two. He looked away from me, just for a moment, and I felt the saw. I cried out. His head jerked back, his eyes guilty, and together we finished our show. The crowd—the redhead—stamped and whistled and begged for an encore. He swept me up, carried me tenderly to the Mondeo, kissed me and told me he loved me.
I never told you his hand on my neck could make me tremble, how his lips felt like magic in the night. I told myself there could never be another.
I never told him how often I felt the saw after that. A little nick here, a slice of agony there. I smiled, and stared into his eyes, and wiggled my toes, and bowed to the standing ovations. I never told him as the pain got worse.
I never told you about the final night. The night where I felt the saw’s teeth bite into me, and chew through the whipcord-tense muscles in my stomach. The night I began to scream and could not stop. The night when he pulled the halves of the cabinet apart and there was nothing but blood, and the audience stared in open-mouthed silence. I staggered to my feet because he told me I had to get up, had to get up, had to show these people I was fine, come on, come on. Look, she’s fine! We slunk from the stage to a cold and terrified stutter of applause.
I told him that I couldn’t do it again. He told me I’d be fine: we’d take a villa outside Seville, some rest, some sunshine, some time off. I told him no, I could not do it again. He told me we’d see.
I never told you about our sun-drenched weeks in that villa, because I didn’t think you would want to hear. An easy, lazy, lovers’ life of late mornings and gentle strolls and carafes of wine. He wrapped himself around me, and his hands stroked a glow from my skin. The bloody gashes healed. I gloried in his love, bathed in it, and wished it would go on for ever.
He told me it was time to go back on the road, and I told him I could not do it. Not again. Not after that last night. He told me he would take that memory away, and I ran. Stuffed belongings into a bag, slipped away, and ran down the road in the early hours of the morning. I told myself I had to, that it was the only way to be safe.
I told you I had not heard from him since.
I never told you how my heart stops with every knock, every call, every clatter of the letterbox. How my stomach clenches under the scar, wondering if he has found me.