on the front porch, shifting his weight from foot to foot, and
stared at the setting sun, the streaks of pink and orange that
looked like fingers reaching across the sky. He pushed the rusting
The door swung open. His once-lover, Carla, glared
daggers into his conscience.
“What the fuck do you want?”
“Carla,” he said awkwardly, eyes fixed on her
face. She’d grown older in the months since he’d seen her, in
the lines creased on her forehead, the droop of her dark lips, the
obligatory anger in her eyes gone tired. “Carla, we need to talk.”
“Ain’t you said enough already?” she snapped
back. She pursed her lips, mimicking him. “Carla, baby, I’m
sorry, baby, I never meant alla this to happen, baby.”
She might’ve gotten older but Carla was still
the meanest bitch in town. She had a pair of lungs on her that’d
make your balls shrink. Anger was her strength, she always said.
Wasn’t anybody gonna knock you to the ground so long as you were
Isaac used to say that too. Until he’d found the
“I don’t blame you for being mad at me, Carla,”
he said. “I messed up big, sleeping with that skank, Shenequa.
Ever since I got AIDS I’ve been looking for someone to blame —
Shenequa, you, hell, anybody but myself. But I’m a new man now. I
found the Lord, and He’s teaching me the path I gotta take.”
“Well, big-fuck-ing-deal for you.” She spat
the words out. “I got news for you — your sorry-ass apology don’t
mean shit to me. You got some nerve showing your ugly face round
here after cheating on me with some ho and giving me alla her
diseases. I don’t got a job any more, I can’t afford to see a
real doctor, and I still gotta look at shitfuckers like you.”
“Carla, please. I know I’ve made some
mistakes, but I’ve come to make amends.”
“There ain’t no amending what you gone and
done to me.” She crossed her arms over her chest, eyes glittering
“The Lord will look out for you, Carla,” Isaac
replied. “You just gotta have faith.”
“The Lord’s not looking out for jackshit. You
go tell your Lord something — He takes back this goddamned disease
and I’ll think about forgiving you. Till then, I don’t want to
see your shit-ugly ass again.”
“I mean it — get the fuck outta here!”
“All right.” Isaac took a step back. “I hope
someday you can forgive me…”
She slammed the door on him in mid-sentence.
Isaac stood there, listening to the lock click
shut. Not so surprising that Carla was still mad. Women like her
didn’t have much practice letting go of their anger. It was all
they ever had, all they knew to use. He placed a package on the
doorstep and walked back down the driveway.
As he reached the sidewalk, he heard the door open
behind him. He turned to see Carla’s silhouette stoop to pick up
the package. He watched her open the envelope and flip through the
money he’d borrowed to afford her some medicine.
The shadow stayed still for a moment, then started
shaking hysterically. He heard her sobbing, eerie high-pitched
It was the sound of her anger dying.
Sankaran is presently writing a collection of
vignettes, to be titled Ordinary Lives. Her recent work can be found
online at Prose Ax, The Independent Mind, Orchard Press Mysteries,
and The Paumanok Review. Her current print work will appear in
upcoming issues of Mindprints, The Guild, and FUTURES. She is also
an editor at the new e-zine flashquake.