Connecting with Amber Nicole Brooks’ “The Girl Who Liked Sharp Objects”

by Jermaine Williamson  ·  April 13, 2018

Geez, what can I say about this piece? It caught my attention in a way that very few flash stories have. I mean, c’mon, it’s about a little girl with a fetish for sharp objects. When’s the last time you’ve read anything like that? This girl (although her age is unstated, it’s implied she’s quite young) keeps a collection of brambles and thorns under her headboard. And every morning when she wakes up, she presses each of her ten fingers into a thorn to the “brink of piercing.” That’s commitment! Now, it’s perhaps unfair for me to say this, but my first initial characterization of this girl is that she’s a developing masochist. That’s a shallow reading, of course. Turns out there’s more to this story when you think about it, when you give it the type of reading it deserves.

It’s somewhat clear this girl doesn’t have any parents. We don’t know what happened to them, whether they’ve died or are simply neglectful, but the girl’s fascination with sharp objects has something to do with the lack of authority in her life. This is what she loves about school: “the teacher was in charge.” But what’s the connection between school and pricking your fingers to the brink of piercing every morning when you wake up?

(Well, now that I think about, the connection is quite clear: school’s a pain. No, but seriously, what’s the deal?)

Well, let’s think about it. We have a little girl who feels there’s too many people walking in and out her life. Check. She doesn’t recognize half the people her big cousin Connie brings around. Check. To make matters worse, no one’s in charge. Check. It’s safe to say her parents are out of the picture. Check. All of this must be very scary for a little girl. There’s no stability, no safety, no constant. I might even go to the length of assuming she’s depressed. Or close. The only thing this girl can be certain of is pain. Pain is part of the fundamental fabric of life. Whether you like it or not, whether you believe in it or not, pain is a certainty. Not just physical pain, but emotional pain. That might explain why she pricks her fingers first thing in the morning. To make sure the pain is still there. To relieve emotional distress. After all, one can argue that physical pain is a little easier to handle than emotional. That certainly explains the box of sharp objects she keeps under her bed, whittled sticks, nails, a Daisy razor, kitchen utensils, even a switchblade she stole from Connie’s boyfriend.

In a world of chaos, pain is her only constant.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Amber Nicole Brooks’ piece, as I’m sure you will, too. You can find it here:  Five Points, Volume 17, number 3