Morva, No. 113; Virginia, No. 2

Morva said “No” when asked for his last words,
and then the three-part procedure began—
behind a secret curtain—with the first injection.

His head, reportedly, bobbed for minutes
and he hiccupped as if to say he changed his mind
about offering a last word—but he couldn’t.

I’m still here, he might have said. I’m sorry.

The bobbing stopped, and he became a number:
One hundred and thirteen.
a hundred thirteen.

113, the thirtieth prime number,
a French hip hop group,
and the atomic number for Nihonium.
It’s also the number of people executed in Virginia
since capital punishment was welcomed back
to the state in ’76.
Number 113 goes to the mentally ill cop-killer.

Virginia, holding the second highest execution count,
kills William Morva, the slayer of two.

Behind the veil, he had no words to share.


Elizabeth Reitzell is a newspaper copy editor and holds a Master in Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from Hollins University. She writes fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. Born and raised in the Southern Californian town where Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure was set, Elizabeth now resides in Roanoke, Virginia.

Art can illuminate even the most elusive and difficult to comprehend ideas. Visual rules and tightly codified visual metaphors help scientists communicate complex ideas mostly amongst themselves, but they can also become barriers to new ideas and insights. Dr. Regina Valluzzi’s images are abstracted and diverged from the typical rules and symbols of scientific illustration and visualization; they provide an accessible window into the world of science for both scientists and non-scientists.