Contest #44 winner 🏆

190 comments

Submitted on 06/06/2020

Categories: Romance Science Fiction

The chance of you breaking up with me right now is 19.67%.


That’s lower than the chance of a long-distance relationship failing but higher than the chance of rolling doubles on two dice.


We stand around awkwardly. This is the last time I’ll see you for an undetermined amount of time, as if you’re just another high school friend that I lost touch with after graduation. We spent the whole day together but now that you’re leaving, all I can think of are questions, not goodbyes.


In some ways, this is like the end of our first date all over again, when the chance of you texting me the next day was 16.33%, lower than the chance of me dying from heart disease. Was this all just a mistake? I thought back then. You walked me to my door, now what? What do I have to do to keep you?


Finally, you ask, semi-casually, “So what’s the probability that I’ll see you again?”


I look down at my doormat and see again the numbers that have haunted me since the thought of long-distance became a likely and then a definite. “What’s the probability of rolling doubles on two dice?” I reply.


You lift my chin up. “You know I suck at those kinds of questions.”


“I know.”


You start to pull out your phone to Google the answer, so instead I throw myself at you for one last long hug before I scurry into my apartment and lock the door.


I hear you sigh and try the doorknob without success. The chance of you asking to come in is 5% since you’re already running late, and soon enough I hear your footsteps fade away.


***


I’ve always seen probabilities. I’ll wonder to myself a question – the chance of a pay raise or the chance of catching the 5:40 bus – and then little black percentages will flicker in my vision like the channel number on a TV screen.


They’re not definite but they’re quite helpful. After all, what’s the point of getting sweaty running toward the bus stop when I can see the low numbers in front of me and know that it will be a wasted effort? Although sometimes they lead me astray, like the time I saw a 90% chance of passing an exam, got cocky, and the less said about that experience, the better. Unfortunately failure is always a possibility.


I can’t see absolutes. I can’t see black or white, yes or no. If I ask myself groggily in the morning the chance that it’s Tuesday, no numbers appear besides the time and date on my phone. If I ask myself anxiously during an exam the chance that my answer is correct, no numbers appear besides my calculations.


If I ask myself hopefully any time, any day, the chance that you’re the one for me, I get nothing, nada, zilch.


Probabilities make first dates interesting. Observing proper social niceties while fielding get-to-know-you questions on my career and hobbies and culinary tastes is dangerous enough without considering that 40 to 50 percent of marriages in the U.S. end in divorce.


A coin flip, essentially. That’s what it comes down to.


And having my brain go into overdrive calculating all the possible worst-case scenarios is not exactly reassuring.


You are not an exception. The numbers I see on our first date are low, like they were for all of the people I dated before. I suppose the difference is that being with you makes me feel like I’m six years old again, wrapped up in a puffy purple scarf and sledding down a huge snowy hill, arms thrown up as I scream excitedly.


I can’t believe I’m banking on a coin flip.


You finally learn about the probabilities because I keep staring at you for far too long with a frown on my face.


Something on your mind? you ask, and I keep processing numbers while denying No, just looking at you, before you finally have enough and call me out about trust and communication and is it someone else? and when I see the probabilities plunge to the chance of rolling doubles on two dice three times in a row, that’s when I tell you in a desperate gamble to keep you.


You have a hard time believing me at first, but my agitation and correct answers to a few probability questions finally convince you. (Or maybe it’s also because days later I purposely leave out my phone unlocked, and you find nothing suspicious besides my brother’s last text of hey, how many doos are there in baby shark. I think you feel guilty afterwards, because you let me koala you for a whole week without complaining.)


You start joking that I shouldn’t go to Vegas.


You start holding my hand when I stare at you for too long.


But the parade of questions in my head never stops.


Probability of me getting through this date without saying something stupid?


Probability of you liking this Valentine’s Day gift?


Probability of you canceling movie night to work overtime being an obvious sign of buried resentment and frustration?


Probability of me regretting this relationship in ten years? Probability of you regretting this relationship in ten years?


Probability of our relationship working long-distance?


Probability of you meeting someone skinnier than me? Someone prettier than me? Someone less neurotic than me?


Probability of seeing you again?


You’ve been spinning me in your web and now I’m waiting for the thread to break.


Because luck runs out. Because no coin lands on heads every time except a weighted one, and I weigh less than you.


Our relationship has always depended on you.


A week before you have to leave, I ask Do you really love me? and when your forehead wrinkles a bit and you squeeze my hand tighter before saying Of course, I wonder about the chance that you’re lying. But I don’t see any probabilities.


***


I sit with my back against the apartment door. My mind is surprisingly blank.


A few minutes after you leave, you text me.


I miss you. I love you, you say. Don’t listen to the numbers.

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190 comments

Zilla Babbitt
15:18 Jun 12, 2020

Well done. I love the quirky probability theme and how it runs through the entire story, connecting everything effortlessly. The ending, while short, was sweetly perfect. Deserved win!

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D. Holmes
22:51 Jun 12, 2020

Thank you! I'm glad you liked the probability theme - I had a lot of fun Googling probabilities of different things while writing

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Zilla Babbitt
14:13 Jun 13, 2020

That's the best. I usually search --northern birds-- because I usually run out of different bird names and descriptions really fast. Robins, nightjars, sparrows... then I have to go look something up.

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14:08 Jun 12, 2020

Oh wow, I absolutely loved this. It's tightly written, with every detail feeling perfectly chosen. I like that you didn't tell us too much about why these characters have to pursue a long-distance relationship. It's a really great character study for the narrator, without spending too much time on a backstory. We don't need to know why they focus on probabilities - they just do, they always have. And "Because no coin lands on heads every time except a weighted one, and I weigh less than you" is just a beautiful sentence. Great work!

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15:05 Jun 12, 2020

I wrote this just before I saw you were announced as the winner. Congrats, well deserved!

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D. Holmes
22:09 Jun 12, 2020

Aah, thank you so much for your kind words! My goal was to keep all the details open to interpretation and just focus on their relationship in terms of probabilities as a whole, so I'm glad you enjoyed it! (That sentence with the coin is my favorite too :D) Btw, your stories are amazing, especially "Millie's First Walk" - I loved how the story focused on Millie and yet you were able to introduce and expand on multiple relationships between Evelyn/her father/Miles/Millie in such a clear, concise way!

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00:39 Jun 13, 2020

Leaving it up to interpretation is always a great way to make sure different readers can see themselves in a story, so that was a really good choice on your part. The specific probabilities you chose also felt really organic and not totally random or made up. And thank you! I really appreciate it - that story was tricky for me to write because I was working with characters I had never written before, so it makes me really happy to know the characters and their relationships came through!

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Arvi Krish
06:35 Jun 15, 2020

Congrats! Well derserve. Really like the way you wrote the details on the probability.

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D. Holmes
17:04 Jun 16, 2020

Thank you for reading! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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14:58 Jun 12, 2020

This is a wonderful story - really unique! The beginning was just splendid and concise. The title also fits the storyline perfectly. It's a really amazing work that I hope to learn from. Great job on your win

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D. Holmes
22:50 Jun 12, 2020

Thanks so much! I'm still a learning writer too, so I appreciate the encouragement!

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04:48 Jun 13, 2020

You're welcome :) Could you also check out my stories and give me feedback? I'd really appreciate it if you did.

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D. Holmes
02:33 Jun 14, 2020

Will do!

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03:03 Jun 14, 2020

Thanks :D

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I loved this!!!

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D. Holmes
18:32 Aug 07, 2020

Thank you for reading!

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No problem! Also, would you mind checking out my most recent story? Thanks! 😁😁😁

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23:11 Jul 06, 2020

Rather unusual to connect an obsession with probabilities with a desire to gauge love success, I loved the story. A deserving win.

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D. Holmes
21:37 Jul 11, 2020

Thank you for reading! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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S. Larue
21:51 Jun 12, 2020

There are a lot of beautiful aspects of this story that I’m tempted to comment on, but the most compelling is this: I read the whole thing without skipping a line. Your use of language was so controlled and calculated that you had me hanging onto every lovely, aching word.

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D. Holmes
22:57 Jun 12, 2020

Thanks so much for your kind words! There's no better praise than knowing your story held onto a reader until the end!

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Rhondalise Mitza
16:29 Jun 12, 2020

Great win, D. Holmes, we'll be remembering your name!

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D. Holmes
22:50 Jun 12, 2020

Thank you for reading! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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14:56 Jun 12, 2020

Wow!! Great story and congrats on the win!

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D. Holmes
22:45 Jun 12, 2020

Thank you for reading!

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Rahma Mohamed
10:53 Jul 14, 2020

Wow .. a beautiful story

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D. Holmes
18:32 Aug 07, 2020

Thank you for reading!

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Hallie A.
19:59 Jun 25, 2020

This is an amazing story.

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D. Holmes
01:29 Jun 26, 2020

Thank you for reading!

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Avani Gupta
02:14 Jun 25, 2020

Great story, congrats for the win!

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D. Holmes
01:29 Jun 26, 2020

Thank you for reading!

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Avani Gupta
03:12 Jun 26, 2020

Hey, no problem! I loved the way you created the concept for this story. Mind if I use it in an upcoming contest?

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D. Holmes
02:43 Jun 27, 2020

Sure, thanks for asking

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Avani Gupta
03:03 Jun 27, 2020

Just wanted to make sure it was okay by you! ;)

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Denise Brown
02:35 Jun 24, 2020

I should have said, it was this story that made me decide to put an entry in!

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Denise Brown
02:34 Jun 24, 2020

I really enjoyed your story and admire that your straight in, no laborious back story which isn't needed and leaves short story readers cold. It's well structures, clever and the tightness of your words, is enviable! Everything is very well honed and refined. Great work, well deserved win. I'm a new writer to this site, it seems that the quality varies greatly which is fine, we're all starting somewhere but am wondering how to gather feedback via this site? I've only put one story up which I wrote as an exercise in dialogue rather than ...

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D. Holmes
15:43 Jun 24, 2020

Thank you for reading! I'm glad you enjoyed it. Regarding feedback, I believe you can sign up for weekly Critique Circle emails through your account settings - users will be randomly paired with 3 submissions to leave comments on. Hope that helps!

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Denise Brown
04:55 Jun 25, 2020

Thank you, yes, I'll do that

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Serine Achache
14:52 Jun 22, 2020

I LOOOOOVED IT!! "Because luck runs out. Because no coin lands on heads every time except a weighted one, and I weigh less than you." And this one hit me deep! Very well done! And I'm looking forward to reading more of your art *-*

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D. Holmes
15:26 Jun 24, 2020

Thank you for reading! That's my favorite line in this piece too :)

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Neppi A
17:46 Jun 21, 2020

Hey! You've crafted it very beautifully! I really loved your concept and the way you've used probabilities in such a vivid manner. Yours was the very first story that I actually read on Reedsy and I couldn't help, but feel captivated by it! Keep up the good work buddy:) A well deserved win indeed.

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D. Holmes
15:25 Jun 24, 2020

Thank you for reading! I'm glad you liked my take on the prompt.

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Alyssa mari Ribo
14:08 Jun 19, 2020

i love this a lot. I'm going through stories published here and I'm very happy I stumbled upon yours. You have inspired me so much.

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D. Holmes
21:43 Jun 19, 2020

Thank you for reading! I'm still a learning writer, but I'm glad you enjoyed my story :)

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Marija Adeluis
19:57 Jun 18, 2020

This was exceptional! I could read hundreds of pages of this!

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D. Holmes
21:42 Jun 19, 2020

Thank you for reading! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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Tina Laing
22:40 Jun 16, 2020

Congrats on your win! Great job on your story!

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D. Holmes
20:01 Jun 17, 2020

Thank you for reading!

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Des Feller
17:22 Jun 16, 2020

Beautifully done! The seeming anxiety that has come with her knowledge is my favorite part.... To really get inside her head I guess.

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D. Holmes
19:24 Jun 17, 2020

Thank you for reading! Yep, so many of us consider statistics when making decisions, and I wanted to look at a different aspect of that through this character.

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