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“That’s gotta hurt!”

He says it every single time. When someone falls down a staircase, runs into a sign, gets hit in the face with a soccer ball, slips on ice, or falls victim to drunken over-confidence. With every bruise and broken bone shown on screen, he repeats the line like a catchphrase. Every. Single. Time. 

When I sit on the couch next to him, and he watches compilation after compilation of Epic Fails — our generation’s version of America’s Funniest Home Videos — he jolts back, pulls his hands to his chests, holds his breath, and repeats his line. All the other times, he stays silent. It’s exhausting.

I wonder if he genuinely feels for the people in these videos or if it’s only a reflex, like involuntary laughter. When the clip finishes, he lets out a deep guttural laugh and prepares himself for the next.

Maybe I need to make my own video. Maybe he needs to see me on the screen to believe I am hurting. He might even jolt, pull his hands to his chest and hold his breath when he sees it from his spot on the couch. I’m certain he will say his line. I wonder if he will realize what he is seeing or if he will stay silent. At that point, I won’t know because I will be gone.

He will tell his friends I just left him. There was no warning sign. Gone from one day to the other. They’ll believe him, see his pain, and console him. They might even say, “That’s gotta hurt!”


Copyright 2021 Sven Camrath
Photo ‘fail’ by Joe Zaizar III

About the story: Based on a writing prompt on Secret Attic that required the use of the sentence “That’s gotta hurt!”.

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