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Things You Can't Forget

Jacqueline Morse is a writer from Pittsburgh, PA, and a recent graduate of the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in fiction writing. Her poems have appeared in The Monarch Review

***Proctor's Note: This Story is Mature, for Adult Audiences***
You watch him die.
Over, and over, and over. Every time, you think it may be the last, but you lose count after three hundred and twenty-two. There doesn't seem to be an end in sight.
The experiment was only supposed to last enough times to gather sufficient data. "One hundred times at most," your supervisor had told you. "It's not like it'll be permanent. He'll come back to life. He'll be fine."
They force you to watch even after you've thrown up over the side of the table. Your notes scatter over the floor, the information you were supposed to monitor having turned to desperate scratches of the pen about a hundred and five deaths ago. A stranger comes into the room and props you up and turns your head towards the glass. You can see his body, pale and smooth and new, on the ground again. He is spread out wide and naked, having died where he lay, collapsed like a rag doll.
Maybe they did know. Maybe they did know that you broke the rules, that you snuck into his cell at night, eased up on him like a wild animal. Held your hands up calm and placating, trying to get close to him. When the discovery was first made, that there was a man who could not die, it was you who had ordered his capture. You ordered the experiments. Then it was you who could not help but think he looked so lost.
This could be your punishment.
You weren't supposed to know that the skin on the inside of his thighs was soft and supple, but you did. You knew what it was like to run your fingers over them, and that he liked to be kissed there, gently. These are the things you can't forget. They flash through your mind as you watch them break him clean in half again.
His hand reaching for your face in the dark. The flush that spread over his shoulders. The taste of his sweat beneath his jaw. Your palms pressed to his neck, holding him there; comforting. The time he said he forgave you. How it had sounded like absolution and condemnation in equal measure.
The only thing that saves you is that the room is soundproof. You can't hear the bones snap; the blood spurt; the muscles hit the floor, wet, still twitching; the way he screams. You can see it in perfect clarity, but if you try hard enough, when they take his head and twist, when they pull his ribcage open like a gift, when they pluck out his insides in a slow show, you can imagine the sounds of him panting, red-faced, jaw hanging open in pleasure, saying nothing but your name. Over, and over, and over.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, September 13th, 2018

Author Comments

I often like to write about love, and I don't mind how cliche it is. I think love, and all its forms, is vastly interesting, and I like to explore what it can make us do. Even if it doesn't look like it, I think of this as a strange and sad love story at its heart that explores love and morality, brief as it is.

- Jacqueline Morse
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