THE TEST by Arpita Roy

THE TEST by Arpita Roy

A man is pelting stones at a dog. In this story, because it is an old story, the dog is going to become a secret test for his humanity. The man is going to think to himself, if only I had known that this was a secret test, I would’ve chosen to keep the stones hidden inside my shoes. 

But the man doesn’t know and cannot choose, so he chooses stones and well, the dog was already there. As a child, the man had been a boy, small, and as a small boy, the man had seen his big father pelt stones at a dog and that dog had never turned out to be a test. It was a good ol’ non-test, regular dog with a regular bark, howling, when the pelted stones hit its body. A thwap and then the twin stones thwap thwap; the dog’s howl a mix of wince and surprise. 

But this dog on this day is a test dog, so when the man pelts his second stone – he would’ve anyway stopped after three – the test dog transforms into a god. God says son you failed and in reality the stones, too, were disguises of time, like I am, and thus for every stone cast, you’ve now lost a decade of your life

The man looks at god and wonders how he is going to break this news to his wife or his kids – or his landowner who will ask him to pay his debt. And what about his daughter’s surgery. And what about that mango tree he had planted. In ten years, he was going to hold their delicious flesh. And what about –  

At the end of this long thought, the man looks at god and says okay. He swallows the last stone.

Arpita Roy is a third-year MFA candidate at George Mason University where she is the Thesis Fellow for 2023-2024. She has received the Cheuse Center Travel Award and Bread Loaf Katharine Bakeless Nason Award. Her work is upcoming in THRUSH Journal and Psaltery & Lyre. Arpita is from Kolkata, India.

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