Blood and Surprise

In the end, he was just a man, dead on the road, in a pool of blood and surprise.

He hadn’t thought he would die that day. Not even when he went into the backyard and saw the sun wedged between the nylon clothesline and his wife’s thickening shoulder. He figured if the sun didn’t slip free, it couldn’t set, so the day could last forever. But walking away, having forgotten why he had come out there, he wondered if night would come as it always did and hide the sun but when it left, the sun wouldn’t be able to rise so there would be no day either. Infinity must be the forever of such unresolvable conundrums. But if there was no sun and no time, there wouldn’t be a forever, would there?

He hadn’t thought he would die when he wolfed down the hot idli that his wife put before him as he read the newspaper, realizing only when he got to the sports section on the back page that the paper was a day old. He had left early the previous morning, before the paper boy and the milkman and the crow, the moon still spilt on the granite steps. The paper, unopened, had been sitting on his dining table since it had arrived. His wife was indifferent to the news. Who cares, she would shrug, if someone lives or dies or the government decides this or the other. Her fate had already been determined by the highest newsmaker. He tossed the paper away, annoyed, as if the day had trifled with him, as if the day was confused, as if it had appeared but only because it had lost its way. He forgot to look for the paper that should have been delivered that morning.

He hadn’t thought he would die when he got the text from the girl who had organized the protest. They were going to rally in front of the transportation department that day. “End of the road. Come now.” Her text was curt. His street fed into the main highway, it had no end, just two contrary opportunities. Like much of life. And yet she spoke of an end where there was none. Even a road that stopped at a wall or a gate or a patch of land did not really end. Only the medium of progress changed. The end of one encounter is the beginning of the next, is it not? A turn is wrong only if you are looking for the shortest way back, he had told his wife once. How else would you find out things you shouldn’t? He couldn’t remember what that argument had been about.

He hadn’t thought he would die when he saw the gun pointed at him. It was only a few seconds or minutes though you had to measure time across probabilities in such situations. It occurred to him that it was probably yesterday. That the newspaper was probably right. That the approaching darkness was probably the sunset melting into the inevitable night. That there would be no morning. That this could be the end. That he had never liked idli. That he had wanted to tell his wife he would be back late that night. He couldn’t remember her name but that girl, screaming beside him, didn’t look so pretty with the blood splattered all over her face. That alone, after the last few impassioned months they had spent, was a real surprise.


#flash #fiction 3

6 thoughts on “Blood and Surprise

  1. Wow, indeed. Such great plot development, so much happening, in so few jam-packed lines. Really wonderful writing. I could almost SEE the blood spatters on her face. Yikes.

    Liked by 1 person

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