the Composition
for Honours Class,
Howard University,

  Authors & Artists


Faces & Voices 4
Faces & Voices 5

Late Arrival
Delenya Allen
Atlanta, Georgia - Biology/Anthropology

        The clerk from the health clinic said it should arrive today. She stood at the window looking down the sundrenched street, but seeing only the blue shirted bowlegged postman as he slowly made his way from house to house, the bulging post bag bouncing heavily on his hip. When he stopped at her gate her heart nearly skipped a beat. The postmanís journey seemed endless as he struggled with the rusted latch on the gate. She held her breath in hopes that he would say forget it and turn away, but he did not. The postman rammed his heavy sack into the latch and stumbled through the swinging gate. She became weaker and weaker with every step he took. Suddenly, images of all the nights she spent in loveless lust ran through her mind. Too many Long Island Ice Teas left many of her lovers with a face and name too vague to remember.
        When she finally came to and gazed out of her window again, the postman had already slipped the mail through the slot and was two houses down. On top of the Visa bill, covering the weekly coupons, and surrounded by advertisements for the latest weight loss plans; there it was. It lay on the cold, hard wood floor disguised as a casual letter from a friend. She stared at it in the same way she did at Jeff at his funeral, wanting him but too afraid to touch him. Jeff had been her only male friend who was just a friend. They had so much in common. No one else encouraged tequila body shots and sleeping with complete strangers from the club the way Jeff did. His wild and irresponsible days got him nothing but a few incurable diseases and an early death. She did not want to die.
        She slowly knelt down to pick up the letter. How could one little piece of paper be so important? There was only one thing left to do; open it. She slowly ripped the envelope open as though the slightest tear might alter the information inside. She read with eyes wide open. The most exciting party or the finest man did not seem worth it anymore, but it was too late. Shayla Douglas died six months later of AIDS.

© 2002 Howard University
(First Published in limited print edition, An Anthology of Verse, Prose & Art, by the Composition for Honours Class, Howard University, Spring 2002. Professor E.R. Braithwaite)
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