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They Wonder Why I Can't Forget 



     I struggled. I tried to rip my hands from the cuffs, pulling at them until capillaries burst and spines of pain exploded in my fingertips. I jerked my legs, sinking the wire deep into the skin around my ankles, trying to saw my own feet off a millimeter at a time. Again and again I tipped the chair forward, trying to break the chain from the wall, banging my spine against the metal backing, feeling sharp tingles jolt down my leg. Over and over, fear would roll over me in waves until I broke, sobbing and screaming and begging for help. Each time I heard footsteps stomp down stairs and stop just outside the door. I went silent then, strangling all but the tiniest whimper, and waited until the footsteps left.

     I must have worked myself to exhaustion, because the next thing I remember is waking up to the sounds of angry shouts outside the door.

     “More time? You want more time? Papa Moneybags, you just got asked the million dollar question and boy did you ever give the wrong answer.”

     The door exploded open and banged against the wall inside the room. I started screaming for help, screaming for protection, screaming for my dad, the police, God, someone.

The man held the phone in front of my face, and flecks of red spit spattered on the plastic as I screamed. He brought it back to his ear. “Listen to her. She's so scared. Aren't you scared, sweetpea? She wants her daddy to come rescue her. She wants him to quit stalling for time and pay the fucking money already. Do you understand how serious this is, Moneybags? Because she does. She understands the kind of danger she's in right now. She understands what's about to happen to her.”

     He stepped in close and ran his iron-hard fingers through the strands of my hair. Bile burned my throat as my stomach seized in disgust. “Such a pretty girl,” he said to the phone. “You sure did good with that twenty-year-old you married, big guy. Top notch genetic material, that. Did you ever stop to think that she was your daughter's age the first time you drove some mom-and-pop outfit out of business? No, you don't think about things like that. 'Consume, but never reflect' is the capitalist's motto.”

     He walked to the table and flipped open the toolbox. Metal clanged on metal as he rummaged through its contents. Through the pinhole I saw the sharp black metal of old wire cutters in his hand, rust caked on the tip like ancient blood.

He knelt down at my feet, the open abyss below the blindfold allowed me to see where he crouched. I squeezed my feet into fists, but he pried back my big toe and set it in the mouth of the cutter. His heavy hand rested on the flesh of my thigh. “Be brave, sweetpea,” he said. “It'll only hurt for a second, like getting your shots at the doctor. Maybe this will help your daddy love you a little more.” 

     The metal pinched harder and harder, white pain screaming up my leg as flesh tore open and rusty metal sawed at the bone. I screeched like an animal, my face hot and slick, snotty tears spattering and pooling in my lap. I felt a wet snap reverberate in my calf, and the man stood up. I shifted the focus of my eyes to the pinhole tear in the blindfold. I saw a pink nub of flesh between his sticky red fingers like a scrap of trash from a butcher's table.

     He brought it to his mouth and kissed it, my crimson nail polish shining under the naked light. 

      “One little piggy to the market,” he said into the phone as he knelt back down. “Nine more left to go.”


4 of 6


H. K. Reyes


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