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Audrey Olivero is a writer and editor from the South Bronx. She has named every single pigeon she's ever met. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram.

The Reappearing Act

Illustration by Greta Kotz

Audrey Olivero | Longreads | February 2019 | 14 minutes (3,621 words)


The magic of a knife-throwing range is that it looks as if the prop attic of a theater department vomited onto an abandoned hunters’ lodge. Bright green fake grass shoots up from carpeted ground. Deer hang around the corners, pock-marked with arrow wounds, their plasticky stares watching me fail day after day. It is nothing like the dark stages where I’ve seen knife-throwing performed, spot-lit in anticipation, glittering with the stardust of sequins lost in the name of spectacle. The stakes don’t feel quite so high in this space. Here, my heart doesn’t race the way it does at the clack of a magician’s assistant’s shiny red heels, the spin of a wooden board, the familiar plunge of heart to gut at the sound of the near-fatal miss transformed into success by applause. That is, until a blade careens into a wooden target, tilts upward, and falls with the grace of a pigeon that’s just flown into a window. This is what happens when a knife doesn’t stick.

Today, none of my knives are sticking.

The mystery here, as I pick up my losses like lead dandelions off the range floor, isn’t how this is happening. It’s how I’m still at this.

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