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“I miss my mother,” Sprout confessed, “I wasn’t around when
she died either.”
“Where were you?”
“I disappeared too.”
“And your father?”
“He’s a lawyer,” she said, as if that explained something. “He
looks really familiar,” she said, pointing to a photo of Roy and Yak in
Java. It was a snapshot of them at Sangiran, the village where the
Java Man fossils were found. It had become a tourist attraction. Yak
still wore his hair long then.
“You haven’t met Yak? He’s the big, quiet guy who always drinks
tea in the corner.”
“Oh, him. He doesn’t like me. He won’t even look at me.”
“He probably finds you threatening. Beauty and the Buddhist.”
She cocked her head. “I’ve slept with Buddhists.”
Roy choked mildly on his coffee. “He’s pretty devout,” he said,
“Hasn’t been with a woman for years.”
“Really?” she seemed concerned, “What happened?”
“A crime of passion. As a preventative measure he had his
passion removed.”
“That’s sad.”
“I don’t know. Sometimes I envy his detachment. Passion hurts.”
“But if we’re not passionate, we’re not human.”
He fingered his coffeecup. Was that a cue? He asked her out, but
she refused, claiming she “did not date.”
“Dating is a no-man’s land,” she told him, “I hate that.”
Roy understood. He had been in purgatory for long enough to
know what she meant. Sometimes it’s better to hold onto a barren
rock than the unlikely dream of transport. But clearly, he was not
even a rock to her. He was part of the vague squishiness in which she
regarded humanity in general, on which she showered a wholly
diffuse affection.
He apologized for being so forward but she pulled him into an
embrace and made mewing sounds that sweethearts do in blue
moods. She pulled away from him and grinned broadly. It took a
while for the blood to drain from his fizzy head.
She doesn’t drink coffee and she doesn’t date, Roy marveled.
What kind of a person was this? Had she renounced the world,
renounced time, calendars, stories? Was she a monk, like Yak? Or
was she something else entirely? He opened the album and
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