The Offer
Mark Doten

He made his offer. I tried not to consider his face -- to only consider the offer. Impossible, though, to consider an offer without also taking into account a face. And so I held the offer, as it were, in hand, while I analyzed the face, the genuine eyes and twisted lips. No longer the old mocking twist but something new, more subtle, a pulling back, perhaps even a wish -- a wish that I'd reject his offer. And I would have -- would have rejected it instantly -- if not for the genuine eyes. But perhaps I'm wrong in that, perhaps it wasn't the eyes at all -- I think in fact it was the lips that held me back. I wanted to see how far I could twist them. I wanted to bring the twisted lip to the genuine eye, to extinguish that genuine energy that I might hurl my refusal into a pair of eyes every bit as twisted as the lips. The eyes, however, became not less but more genuine, even as the lips became not less but more twisted. This severing of eyes and mouth, the assignment to mouth and eyes of different emotions, or rather, different trains of thought -- the lips twisting further, the eyes going wide -- I couldn't take it, could no longer keep hold of the offer, and with a wave of my hand I demurred.