wandered by the alley. She’d fled from her home to escape what was
her — her things, her sadness, her life. She stopped at the
intersection between the main road and a concealed back street, and
looked at both of her views. She felt like Janus, standing in the
doorway of her existence. What should she choose, the dreaded
familiar or the perils of the unknown? She glanced at both again.
On one side glimmered the stars, glinting points
that pierced the sky. Dania could see the road from here, straight
and vast and interminable. And on the other side, what could she
see? The sky was shielded by a rusted awning. There were no roads,
no exits or escapes. Just an alley leading to nowhere but the
present, this place, this moment.
How did she get here anyway? Damned if she could
The sadness had crept into her spirit without
warning, without fanfare. One day she had started crying, and then
the next, and the next, and the next. In the car, in the
supermarket, behind her computer at work. In the evenings she’d
climb into her cave of blankets and rock herself to sleep. When she
awoke it’d be hours later, that much more time she’d have
Stand under the shower, she told herself one
morning, let the hot water remind you you’re real. The droplets
will clean your body and carry your sadness away. She stared at her
feet, the mixture of soapsuds and dirtiness that swirled down the
drain. She could smell the pungent coffee in her urine, feel the
slimy clumps of monthly blood that plopped from between her legs.
They slid down the drain with the rest, but still the sadness
remained. That’s when she realized she had to be cleansed from the
inside, not with water or soap or tears.
Yet nothing had worked so far. Not the internist,
not the psychologist, not even the shrink. Her only option was
medication, they said, or maybe the moods would pass. Which evil
should she choose? Already her efforts had taken a lifetime, lived
in frenzied flashes. But that was how it worked, she knew. Those
sudden epiphanies were the moments that moved you forward.
A shadow shifted in the alley. It was a man,
crumpled under torn newspapers. Dania could smell him from where she
stood, the rot of garbage and decay hidden under the stench of
straight whiskey. He looked cold in his cave built of rubbish, cold
as he rocked himself into a stupor.
Dania looked back at the main road, then again at
the huddled man. But for a twist of circumstance she could be
someone else, someone healthy, happy, alive. But for a twist of
circumstance she could be him. She took off her coat and placed it
on the man, then turned on her heel and found her way to the road
Tomorrow she’d try the pills.
Vanitha Sankaran is
currently writing a collection of vignettes to be titled Ordinary
Lives. Her current work can be found in recent issues of Prose Ax,
The Paumanok Review, and Mindprints. “Sudden Epiphanies” first
appeared in The