DIE

Diana Hamilton

Kevin, chevron, sat across from the circle in Cantonment Clinch, considering the compactness of the pips, fashioning the hoop of his hoop-and-pole game from two leather-strapped beaver teeth. He held in his mind a series of images, none of which would change the game’s odds, but parts of Kevin (your call which) were wrong-headed for the dreary particulars of simple probability: four colored dice showing all six possible sides with pips; bone, knucklebones; a portrait of his dead brother made of dice numbering the total days he lived (and all the while the wrong image distracting him, the joke made universe-wide of the one-sided, the 1/1 likelihood of getting screwed).

— “Why do you always put the dice next to a ruler?”

— “What should I do today bearing in mind the things I am not capable of doing?”

He cast and summed all 11,097 dice, though he had long lost the brother with whom passed the dice’s companion, the knowledge that would make sense of the outcome 17,423 and 7/24. “I set myself a goal of getting at least 500 dice this year and I’m on 7 at the moment.” If he had not scorned the boy’s questions — though irritating, they were questions we all once asked ourselves — he might not have found himself alone in the wrong century, or if alone, as in menstrual seclusion, alone with others alone; if he had realized the importance of the question perpetually demanded by the coin-flip, he might have been looking for the smaller, more relevant number, 1 or 2.

— “So some dice look exactly like another, but if one is bigger, then it isn’t a duplicate.”

— “How could it be? Is an exact 1/100th scale model of the tower bridge a duplicate of the bridge?”