Sûrah LXXVI
"TIME" OR "MAN"
"Lo! these love fleeting life, and put behind them remembrance of a grievous day."

76
INTERVAL

Between the time Zahra turned toward the studio and the time that she arrived, intuition told her that Ahmed's threat had lapsed. The specter of demise—specifically hers with his assured—faded from opaque to barely recognizable, reduced to a shadow's ghost unworthy of concern. Life, with its vicissitudes, was now what craved attention... including 'irritations' the likes of Franchone Pinkney.

1. Who but him?

2. Who else would dare be so audacious as to seek me out unbidden?

3. Who would enter uninvited? Such behavior seems ill-bred.

4. The others: Amy, Pistol, Judy, Greer and Duke each knew the signal. None but they paid regular visits, kept my whereabouts undisclosed.

5. It must be him who sprang the trap like an overeager stooge.

The prospect of confronting an involuntary occupant—whose reaction to imprisonment might be less than pleased—gives pause.

6. Am I contrite about this froward Black man's capture or ambivalent?

7. Does his interest in me flatter or offend?

8. My heart feels odd... as if my ribcage now plays host to an unfamiliar bird.