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I should have known, she thought, tears stinging her already strained eyes. An hour before she helped a woman whose eyes were nearly as red and tired looking as hers were. At the time, she felt nothing but sympathy for the mysterious woman. The day was beautiful and yet there was a person whose world seemed to be dark and dreary. Now that she knew the truth, Anna felt betrayed.

“Talk to me.”

She closed her eyes. He sounded sincere in his apology. The woman was a mistake he made. He failed to say how often said mistake was made but the same part of her that wanted him gone also didn’t want to know.

“She knew who I was.” Anna opened her eyes but only to stare at the painted wall. The puke green had grown on her much like his bad habit of not checking in. That was what should have been her sign. Friends tried making her worry over it but no, she said, John would never do that.

“She knew my schedule, where I worked. She knew me.” All at once it set in. The woman wasn’t a normal mistake.

Her gaze cut over to the spot on the floor he had taken up during his vague confession. His face was unreadable, as always, and that usually comforted her. As she pinned him with her narrowed, cried out eyes, she could only feel empty.

“Anna,” he began, stretching out a leg, “I swear it was a one time mistake.  She’s probably been stalking us since.”

With a shake of her head, Anna got up. John followed. He continued his argument, mentioning how the other woman was jealous, envious, and obsessed. Anna had to stop her walk to the kitchen to turn and stare at him when he started using movies as examples.

“You cheated on me and you think it’s a joke?” She scoffed and whirled back around. He was everything her sister warned her about.

A repeated rapping at the door stopped her and her epiphany.

“Don’t,” he ordered.

“Why? Worried another mistake found us?”

Anna regretted the words when she came face to face with the woman. “You,” she breathed out in shock. She was one hell of a stalker if what John said was true.

“You have to listen to me.”

Anna opened her mouth to answer but noticed it wasn’t her who the woman was talking to. It was John. She looked over her shoulder at him. He was so calm, controlled, collected and there were two women he cheated in the same room.

“Please?” The woman pleaded. Her eyes were still red and she looked visibly shaken.

John strode forward and put his hand on the door. “You’ve caused enough trouble.”

Anna looked up at him. Though she hated the situation the woman was upset about something other than sleeping with another woman’s fiancé.  She looked back to the stranger who was finally looking at her.

“I’m HIV positive.”







A stranger asks to borrow your cell phone. You agree. She turns away and talks on it for a
moment, then faces you once more. “I’m sorry,” she says, eyes red. “I’m so sorry.” Then,
she runs away.

500 words