You know that sooner or later he’s going to tell her. She’s back with him again and of course they’re going to have a fight, because they fight a lot, and during the fight he’s going to tell her that you slept together once. And even though she’s your best friend, she’s going to be furious at you—not at him—and that will be the end of your ten-year friendship, even though it was years ago that it happened. Precisely how many you can’t calculate, but more than five. It was before your marriage and divorce, before her marriage and divorce.

You can’t remember why it seemed worth it at the time. He was off limits, your best friend’s ex-boyfriend, and that was probably a turn-on. Probably you were a little drunk, feeling sexy and irresponsible. Probably he was a little drunk. You seem to recall him saying he’d always wanted you, that your best friend was uptight. She was prettier than you, at least you thought so, but you liked to think that you were more adventurous in bed than she was. Okay, you were jealous, but not so jealous that you didn’t love her too.

You can’t remember for sure whether they were breaking up, or had already broken up. You can hardly remember what it was like either, this forgettable event that will seem momentous to her. You remember a dark beach house, a pile of damp towels under your naked ass, your nipples puckered from the cold, the goose bumps on your arms, the weight of his body on top of you, the smell of salt air and the mildewy smell of the towels, the sound of the surf outside, the thrill of knowing you might be interrupted by someone else at the party. Actually you remember quite a lot, just not him. She wasn’t at the party, you’re fairly sure of that, so probably they had broken up. The encounter was short, and you didn’t come.

You’re pretty sure he remembers. He’s one of those self-satisfied assholes who thinks he’s more important to the women he’s fucked than he actually is. He winked at you when you ran into him at a New Year’s Eve bash a few years ago. You both had dates and you didn’t talk to each other. Winked. Under different circumstances you and your best friend would have a good laugh about that. Who would have guessed she’d get back together with a jerk like him? Should you head him off, tell her yourself? Wait until he tells her and deny it? Maybe he’s not going to tell her.

Maybe the guy in the beach house was someone else. You hope your fuzzy memory of her boyfriend is just some fantasy you had. Like the ones you used to tell each other about. She liked being mastered, but not in real life. You liked breaking rules, but not in real life. The two of you picked up a beautiful boy at a casino in Last Vegas for a threesome, but in the hotel room you were giggling so hard you couldn’t go through with it, and he stormed out, flushed and angry. Surely that counts for more than this old boyfriend who’s getting a little bald, a little soft around the middle, and was always sort of a jerk?

After you both got divorced you Skyped every weekend to describe your bad dates and once you laughed so hard you both peed in your pants. You’ll remind her of those days, if she finds out. You’ll ask her: “Did he ever make you laugh that hard?”

Jacqueline Doyle’s flash fiction chapbook The Missing Girl is available from Black Lawrence Press. Her flash has appeared in CRAFT, Wigleaf, Juked, Post Road, The Collagist, and the flash nonfiction issue of Little Fiction | Big Truths. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and can be found online at and on Twitter at @doylejacq.

© 2020 Jacqueline Doyle. Published by LITTLE FICTION | BIG TRUTHS, May 2020.

Editors: Troy Palmer, Beth Gilstrap & Alvin Park. Images from The Noun Project (credit: Luis Prado).

The 2020 Flash Issue:



by Jacqueline Doyle
Sooner Or Later