by

L. P. Melling

You’re dead to me. I’ve not seen you in months. Know I won’t see you again. Choose not to see you again as much as I can control it. Too much pain. Too many dredged-up memories you constantly remind me of. I cannot see you again. No matter how much you beg me.

You’re dead to me. Now more than ever. I watched the medical staff hook you up to life-support. Everything blurry: from repression now, from tears then. I signed the paperwork for you, the backup. They said you would be decommissioned but not destroyed. Not till later. And I said my last goodbyes to you. Turned my back on you and hate myself for it. Know it was the right thing to do. Is still the right thing.

You’re dead to me. Like losing a friend, losing a limb. Like I’ve lost everything else dear to me. After what you did, what I did, it’s the only way it can be for us now. For me, at least, I can’t speak for you even though I still think I can. As if we think the same, but nothing can think the same, no matter what people say. What the scientists say.

You’re dead to me. I killed you that day. Killed a big part of myself. CloneCorp said I had the legal right in this country. But who has the right to kill anyone? Who has the right to kill themselves? Sisyphus never applied. You wanted to live: I could see it I your eyes—my eye—before I shot you.

Now I hold the gun I shot you with. Feel the pain swirling around my gut that made me use it on you. Images of you with my wife, laughing and playing with my child, flash through my mind like lightning, searing through my thoughts. The family that left me after seeing what I was capable of. A murderer in most parts of the world even if not yet here.

Gritted between my teeth, the gun tastes like blood in my mouth, like regret. The broken mirror in front of me shows a monster, but the past me wasn’t that and you aren’t, too. I believe that. The memory of my daughter’s look of disappointment cuts through my insides when Anna told her to say goodbye. The fear in both their eyes scarring me for life. My finger pulling tighter on the trigger, pulling. Tighter and tighter.

You’re dead to me, and now I’m dead to y—

L. P. Melling currently writes from the East of England, UK, after academia and a legal career has taken him around the country. His story fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in such places as Dark Matter Magazine, The Dread Machine, The Molotov Cocktail, and the Best of Anthology: The Future Looms. He is a Writers of the Future finalist and when not writing, he works in London for a legal charity that advises and supports victims of crime.

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