Shanti wound her window down and inhaled the fumes. She loved these late-night gas station runs with Appa. It was their time together. No Amma worrying over money, or which Aunty had insulted her this week. No Anna, pretending to be older than his years, trying to impress Appa by discussing politics like a good son, or whether the stock market was a pig or a cow; some animal Shanti couldn’t remember. It was just her and Appa, an exclusive event.
Karti scrubbed with grim determination. It was tougher than she’d thought to get blood out of carpet, and she was sure someone in the building had already called the cops. Even with Marron doped up on tranqs, she’d had a hell of a time muffling his screams. Someone must have heard.
Night enters, rudely awakening fear while light peeks tentatively from other rooms. Fate reaches for the one match still housed within its book, lone survivor of smoking years. Phosphorus flowers into flame, snatching at the candle. Vanquished, darkness slinks away.
It had been a year since the accident. His memory of that night was still sketchy. They’d been at the Andersons’ for dinner. Lars had been overgenerous with the wine, as usual. He’d argued with Gillian over who should drive home. Gillian had driven. No, he had. There was a deer. A tree. The hospital.