Two Fictions
Forrest Roth

Fait Accompli

I struck a bet with him contingent upon our separation the next time it rained. At the park residing below my window, we had started bright among tree boughs; as thick mist descended the following day, it was instead a recoil upstairs from swan boats on the pond. To resist artificiality and wit, he asked what the honest stakes were. We would trade our less-than-respectable professions with each other if he won, and if I prevailed, an indefinite continuance of our respective courses. Agreement suited us then, just to begin. We affirmed upon each other what we could, which meant only subtle denials, except: That was not a kiss, I don't believe you cared for her, et cetera. The curtains weren't bothered with much; I heard from friends that we were left to our own devices. So in full view of the aggregate nobody we made to ply the undying favors between us. I fancied: it was worth a shot (almost). When the park emptied itself early from the downpour I waited inside regardless, though, having lost our wager, intensely studying the violent patter against the windowsill as an opportunist this time. My uninvited smile for the next dupe wouldn't fail, he had assured me.


An adamant future of my fingernail came through on my supervisor's bait. It took longer than expected (still, he complimented, a month is a month). Under the cutaneous layer it had scraped to the quick smooth, its pearly predetermination becoming shatterless -- just like his. So I bit at the nail determinedly, wore it down until there was no difference between his Before and my After. I would hang, hopefully, by a thread.