“This is how you do it,” the girl said. She was very calm and very grave, like she had been carved of white marble. She took Amy’s hand with stern cold fingers and turned it so the palm faced up, and then, firmly, with her index, traced a line from the fold in Amy’s elbow to the crease between her forearm and the heel of her palm. “You cut this with the razor.”
Amy laughed for a second and then realized horribly, when the girl looked at her with blank curiosity, that it wasn’t a joke.
“Okay,” she said. “Okay. Then what?”
“Not so fast,” said the girl. “You have to do it right.”
“It’s my left arm,” Amy said helplessly. “How else would I do it?” When she was scared she made jokes, little bad puns that amused her privately, and right now she was very scared. The girl just looked at her again, her face perfectly Classical, as though it has been plucked from a temple in Greece. “Sorry. Go on.”
“Like this,” the girl said, and she picked up the exacto knife with expert ease, like an artist picking up a pencil. Amy flinched despite herself. Her palms were sweating.
“I won’t cut you,” the girl said, noticing. “It only works if you do it to yourself.”
“Okay. Okay, show me.”
The girl touched the very tip of the knife, whisper thin and sharp, to the vague wrinkle in Amy’s elbow. When she was little Amy and her sister had called it the elbow pit. She wondered what the actual name was. The girl moved it with sure delicacy to the end of Amy’s forearm.
“This is your perfect length,” the girl said. “This is the distance you will have to travel.”
“Short trip,” Amy said. “Sorry, I’m sorry.”