This is a true story.

In my last year in junior high, I was required to take my first serious science class, which was at times difficult, because I wasn't scientifically-minded, and at times easy, because I had a talent for rote memorization. One of our projects for the year was going to be dissection, which I already knew I wasn't going to enjoy. I could memorize all the parts of a frog's anatomy, but I already suspected that wasn't going to help me actually locate a frog's kidneys or whatever when it came time to digging in its guts...

So the time came around the middle of the year, and the science teacher got her delivery of pickled frogs. That was, no doubt, the only way you can get junior high kids to cut up a frog -- it's hard enough convincing them to slice one open, but if they had to kill them, too, you'd lose most of the girls and a good percentage of the boys. We came in one morning, and there was a dead preserved frog sitting in a pan in the middle of each desk.

My lab partner was a hateful bitch, but in junior high, all but about a dozen of the girls are hateful bitches. It's hormones, ya know. We'd been assigned to each other, and neither of us were happy about it. She'd gripe about me loudly, and I'd grind my teeth loudly. Of course, it did us no good. We'd already decided that I would be doing the cutting, and she'd look over my shoulder and make gagging noises. Teamwork -- ain't it grand.

We were close to finishing the project. The frog had been safely pinned to the pan, its stomach sliced open, ribs separated, insides prodded, and various organs removed and crudely sketched. I was scooping out as many eggs as I could to get a better view of the scenery when she digs her nails into my arm and whispers, "It moved."

I think all I said was "Leggo my damn arm." It couldn't move. It had been dead for who-knows-how-long. It had been preserved in formaldehyde. Its limbs were pinned to the tray. Its guts had been mostly removed. This was, as they say, an EX-frog. But she digs her nails in harder and whispers, "Look at the leg!"

And damn if the leg wasn't moving.

It wasn't moving much with that pin through it, but it was jerking a bit like it wanted to kick free. I goggled at it for a second, while completely forgetting about her nails in my arm. It couldn't possibly be a delayed nerve twitch, I thought. It had been dead for too long. But it was still jerking, and I finally regained the ability to function. This was still a science project, so I got down and looked at it more closely.

The eyes were open, glazed, and cloudy. But they were also moving. And the mouth was opening and closing slowly, almost like it was trying to breathe. Or speak.

By now, my lab partner had run from the room sobbing. The science teacher looked puzzled and asked me what was the matter.

None of the other dissected frogs in the room had started moving. I looked down, and the frog's leg wasn't twitching anymore. The mouth was now very firmly shut.

"Nothing's wrong," I said. And I didn't mention it again.

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