The buzzer squawks and Fiona presses the button on the intercom box to unlock the gate downstairs.
“You sure this is legit?” I ask. I’d told her about the Chinatown moving company I use, uncles who chain smoke Marlboros and look like they can’t lift shit but trust, they get it done. Still, she’d insisted on hiring this charity outfit. Job training for former felons. Fiona, the bleeding heart do-gooder.
“Sure it is,” she says. She sounds confident, but I know there’s a reason she asked me to be here with her.
A soft knock on the door, and Fiona opens it. A man wearing a baseball cap with the company logo steps in and sticks a hand out. “Ms. Lam? My saying that right?” He pumps her hand a couple times. “I’m Sam Jones.” He looks to be about thirty-five, but with black folks, sometimes it’s hard to tell.
The second guy veers in, a young Asian kid, early twenties. He might be older. With Asians, too, it’s sometimes hard to tell our age. Me, I still get carded for cigarettes. The kid’s head is shaved and lumpy looking, the pale skin tinted blue with the seeds of shorn follicles. The company t-shirt he wears, hunter green with a pocket on the chest, still bears a vertical crease down the front.
Sam says, “This is my associate, Jackson. We call him Sonny.”
Sonny mumbles a hello into the carpet.
“Jane,” I say. When we shake, Sonny drags his gaze from the floor with difficulty, landing somewhere next to my ear.
Sam flips through the papers pinched to his clipboard. “Now let’s see. Where we taking you?”
“Griffith Park and Hyperion,” Fiona says.
“You two sisters?” Sam asks.
“We’re dating,” I reply.
Sonny stifles a chortle. His eyes dart between Fiona and me, then back to the carpet.
“You look like sisters,” Sam says. He turns to Sonny. “Don’t they look like sisters?”
“We’re not related,” Fiona cuts in. “She’s my best friend. She makes jokes.”
“I’m just here to supervise,” I say. “Make sure everything’s on the up and up.” I flop down on the sofa, the only piece of furniture that hasn’t been dismantled in the living room.
Sam grins. “All right, I see. You’re the boss.”
This whole time, Sonny hasn’t said anything, but I can feel him running furtive glances between Fiona and me, those long narrow eyes cut into his moony face. When I return the stare he looks startled. His neck reddens.
“This will be easy,” Sam declares, bobbing his head up and down. “Less you’re hiding a piano in the bedroom?”
“No piano.” Fiona smiles.
“Sometimes we show up,” he says, “People don’t have a thing packed.”
“What do you do then?” I ask.
He shrugs. “We chill and wait.”
“How long do you think this will take?” Fiona asks, glancing at her watch. “I requested four hours —”
“Let’s get started,” Sam says. “We won’t be four hours, I don’t think.”
He unplugs the baseball cap from his head and follows her down the hall to continue the inspection. A circle of brown skin sits on the back of his skull, surrounded by a moat of cropped gray hair.
Now it’s just Sonny and me left in the living room.
“I’m going back down to — grab the — thing,” he stammers, drawing a rectangle in the air with his hands. “For the clothes,” he adds. “The box.” He lurches out the door.
When Sam and Fiona come back out from the other room, they sit down on the sofa next to me to sign the papers. He fumbles for a pen in his pocket and offers it to Fiona. The palm of his hand is cut like a road map and ridged thick with calluses.
“All set,” he says. He tucks the pen back into his pocket. “Sonny went downstairs?”
“Is he new?” I ask.
“We passed by Chinatown driving over here, his old hood. Broadway, Hill Street. He don’t talk much but that’s one thing he did tell me.”
“Jane lives there,” Fiona says.
We all look up as Sonny crashes through the door. A cardboard box, tall as a refrigerator, tumbles in front of him.
“Oops,” he mutters. He sets it upright, then turns around and brushes out again.
Sam starts to laugh. “Oh boy,” he says, getting up. “I better go help him.”
When we’re alone, Fiona whispers, “That kid creeps me out.”
“By the way, I gave him your number while you were in the other room.”
“Sam seems very competent, don’t you think?”
“Recent divorcée, hot young moving dude —”
“Ha-ha,” she says. She smiles, but I sense that I’ve struck a nerve. Too soon for a joke like that.
“I could call up Uncle Frankie,” I say. “He’ll be over here with a crew in fifteen minutes. Just say the word.”
Fiona shakes her head and says, “Be quiet.”
Sam appears at the door with a spool of plastic wrap. He goes to work on the things Fiona couldn’t pack into boxes, the hairpin legs unscrewed from the dining table, the warped fiberboard slats to the bookcase she keeps saying she’s going to replace for something sturdier.
I help Fiona carry the wardrobe box into the bedroom, and we start to load her clothes onto the bar. We can hear Sam and Sonny working together out in the living room, the suck and peel sounds of the plastic, Sam’s voice giving instructions, his reedy whistling in between.
“I unfriended him on Facebook yesterday,” she says.
I know she means Aaron, her ex. “Good,” I say. “After we broke up, I unfriended Ed right away.”
“Is that petty?”
“I know, it’s not the same. But still.”
“Ed” isn’t his real name, just what I called him behind his back because of the erectile dysfunction. I was only dating him a couple months. Then he went back east for Thanksgiving and when he came back, we broke up. His Po-po in Flushing had taken him aside and told him if he kept dating me something terrible would happen — his ED issues were an omen, she warned, holding up a crooked finger before his face. She’s never been wrong, Ed had said when we met up to talk.
“What is she, some kind of psychic?” I asked.
“I’ve been taking these Chinese medicine packets she gave me.” He leaned toward me. “Maybe we can, you know try — one last time?”
“Are you seriously —”
Anyway, I let him kiss me. Five minutes later, we both had our jeans off. I put a hand into his briefs but Grandma’s herbs weren’t performing any miracles.
I took my hand out of his underwear. “Why can’t you get a prescription for Cialis, like a normal person?”
He rattled off the list of side-effects: nausea, headache, dry mouth, diarrhea. “And what if I get a boner that lasts four hours?” he asked.
“So this is it,” I said. “We’re breaking up?”
He didn’t answer, just zipped up his pants. That was the last time I saw him.
Sam pops a head in the bedroom. “We’re about finished out there,” he says.
I remove the last of Fiona’s clothes, a section of suits, from the closet and jam the hangers onto the bar in the cardboard box.
“All done with the clothes,” I say.
We follow him out to the living room. They’ve cleared out the entire space, all the furniture and the boxes, in the time we were hanging up her clothes in the cardboard wardrobe.
“Didn’t I say it would take no time?” Sam says. “This only a baby move.”
“Well, my ex-husband took half of it,” Fiona says.
Sam says to Sonny, “Let’s bring the bed out, and then we’re set to go.”
They leave Fiona and me standing in the bare living room. The place feels smaller with all of the stuff gone, the curtains off the rods. The cupboard doors hang open and the ceiling fan in the dining nook spins in the bright emptiness, the only thing moving in the apartment.
Since the beginning, I’d been wary of how quickly things advanced with Fiona and Aaron — moving in together after only a couple months, getting engaged six months later — but who was I to dispute cupid’s arrow? That was how she talked in those days, no joke. Anyway maybe I was hating because I felt jealous, like my best friend was abandoning me. I didn’t think much of Aaron when I met him. A pretty-boy actor with dimples in both cheeks, he was always talking about big-time celebrities like they were close personal friends of his. His favorite story involved fist-bumping LL Cool J on the set of CSI the time he booked “Dead Chinese Gangster.” Let’s just say, I often had to suppress the urge to roll my eyes when Aaron first started coming around.
After they were married for a year or so, I guess I started to accept him. Aaron and I started spending a lot more time together after Ed dumped me. When he wasn’t going to auditions and I wasn’t showing vacancies, we got together at happy hour to kill time before Fiona clocked out. Of the three of us, Fiona was the only one who held a job with steady hours, as a paralegal at a public interest firm. Aaron used to be the receptionist there — it’s how they met — but he’d quit to pursue acting full-time.
On one of those wine-soaked afternoons, we got to analyzing my bedroom issues with Ed. We were sitting in a booth at a naval-themed dive in Koreatown, the walls adorned with yellowing paintings of schooners and battleships.
“I knew there was something off about that guy.” He lowered his voice. “Not that I have a problem with it, but I thought he was a little gay.”
Early on, Fiona had divulged Aaron’s skepticism about Ed, after I’d pressed her for their assessment of him following our first double-date. It had angered me back then, seemed like a testosterone-fueled leap to a homophobic conclusion. So what if Ed was a little skinny? And couldn’t give an opinion about first round draft picks? He knew other things, stuff way the fuck over Aaron’s head — “diphthongs” and crazy stories about drone strikes in Iraq and the best way to cut up a pomegranate and why it’s important I still try to talk to my dad, even though I’m really just talking to myself now that he’s gone.
Anesthetized under the happy hour chardonnay, I didn’t feel so strongly about it any more.
“Is it something that just, kind of — happens? To everyone?” I asked.
“No,” Aaron answered quickly. “Unless you’re drunk. Was he drunk?”
“Sometimes. Not all the time.”
Aaron was silent a moment. Then, he said, “I never understood why you two — I didn’t see it, you and him.”
“He wrote me poems,” I said, knowing how corny it must’ve sounded, but I didn’t care. “He left haikus on sticky notes in my pockets.”
“Poems? Like roses are red, violets are blue, that sort of crap?”
“No one’s ever done something like that for me,” I said.
Ed had books stacked on his nightstand, brick thick tomes of Celine and Sartre, and thin spines of poetry by writers with only initials for first names. I picked one up on a morning after he’d left for work; the margins were scribbled with notes in his slanting handwriting. I didn’t understand the poetry — it seemed worlds apart from those haikus on yellow stickies — and trying to decipher his cursive in the margins felt wrong, like reading his diary. I was afraid of what I might discover, like the time I came upon old Mrs. Chung in the basement laundry room wringing out something red and lacy at the sink.
“I think I loved him,” I said. “Or I could have? I don’t know.”
“Should we get another round before happy hour ends?” He looked around for the waiter.
“I ordered it when you went to the bathroom.”
Aaron glanced at his phone. “She’ll be here any minute. She just texted.” He keyed in a reply. “Listen,” he said, looking up. “When she gets here she’s going to ask you if we’re having an affair.”
“What?” I nearly choked on my drink.
“I told her not to ask you. She says it’s the only way she’ll know the truth.”
Then Fiona walked in. She sat down at the table and Aaron nudged a glass of chardonnay toward her. She sipped and made a face.
“I’ll drink that,” I said. I reached for the wine. Then, I said, “So you want to ask me something.”
“You told her,” she cried. She glared at Aaron. “I told you don’t say anything until I get here.”
“Should I leave?” he asked.
“No — stay — I don’t know,” Fiona said. “You messed me up. Why’d you tell her?”
“This is crazy,” Aaron said. “You know I’m telling the truth.”
“I can’t do it — Aaron, you say it.”
He turned to me and said, “Fiona thinks there’s something going on with us. She won’t believe anything I say. So she wants to talk about it out in the open, like this.”
“Is there something going on? You tell me, Jane.”
“God, no!” I felt disgusted. “What the hell?”
“That’s all I wanted to hear. I believe you.”
I stood up. “I’m leaving. This is so — wrong —”
“Fiona, I told you,” Aaron said.
“Don’t you understand I had to ask you?” Fiona said. “I just had to.”
“Come on, sit down,” Aaron said. To Fiona, he said, “Happy now?”
I grabbed my purse and left the bar. Thankfully neither one of them followed me. I knew I couldn’t drive, and so I started walking. I didn’t mean to but I swayed toward Ed’s building. He lived on San Pedro, in an old brick job with metal spikes on the window ledges to keep the pigeons off.
“Ed! Ed!” I shouted up at his window. “Ed!”
I was so drunk I’d forgotten that I only called him Ed behind his back. It had been three months since we broke up, about the same amount of time that we had been together. Why was I still thinking about him? Every morning, I stirred awake with some idea of him clutched in my mind, sifted into consciousness from the last dream before opening my eyes. I could never fully remember my dreams but I always felt as if all my memories of him unfurled in those darkened hours, like some poisonous gas spreading through the chambers of my brain, even though in my waking life I couldn’t even recall the look of his face anymore.
When he ended it I scoured my apartment to eradicate any traces of him. It only took a few hours in the afternoon. A white v-neck undershirt that still smelled like him — I’ll admit it, I held it to my nose one last time. His blue toothbrush with the busted bristles bent every which way, because Ed didn’t brush, he flogged his teeth and gums. A matchbook from that great Italian place we stumbled into in Venice, and the next time we went back discovered had turned into a Crossfit gym. All the notes on small scraps of paper I’d saved, all the poems on yellow sticky notes, I read again. Then I read them a second time. Then I ripped up each piece of paper into tiny pieces, impossible to puzzle back together. Everything went into the trashcan, and even though the bag wasn’t full, I knotted it up and tossed it down the chute in the hallway, slamming the square metal door with a loud bang.
Next, I clicked on Ed’s Facebook page. He’d just changed his banner picture to a shot of him caged inside one of those luridly painted gyroscope balls that swung you upside down and spun you sideways at the same time. It already had twenty-four likes.
I scrolled through his status updates. Ed was one of those people who “checked in” wherever he went, something I teased him about. Down the page, I counted the places we’d been together, each activity box indicating one of our dates. Eighteen check-ins, in three months. I hovered the cursor over the button to unfriend him. What would happen to those eighteen boxes once I clicked the mouse? Would they now show that Ed had only been in those places by himself?
Standing outside his apartment, I remembered that Tuesday nights he met with his writing group, the progressive poets of color collective. Or was it Wednesdays he met with the poets? And Tuesday he played in the adult volleyball league? I couldn’t remember, and anyway maybe his schedule wasn’t the same anymore.
I felt my phone vibrate in my purse. My heart leaped, hoping it was Ed somehow, even though I’d blocked his number.
It was Fiona. “Where are you?” she asked.
“I’m walking back,” I said. I staggered off in the direction of the bar.
Truth was, Fiona’s intuition wasn’t totally off the mark. Weeks ago, Aaron had confessed that he’d stepped out on her, a stupid thing with a PA, or a wardrobe assistant, someone on set. I was stunned. How could he do something like that? I knew he loved her more than anything. More than she loved him, I thought.
He was wrecked about it, I could tell. After he swore to me it was a one-time-only deal, I’d advised him not to unburden his guilt. Why let one mistake ruin everything good between two people? It seemed unfair to me.
I supposed Fiona must have sensed something was up, and for whatever reason, she suspected me. I wondered if I should tell her the truth about Aaron now. What good would it do?
When I got there, Fiona was standing by herself outside, smoking a cigarette. She looked like she’d been crying.
“Jane,” she said. “I’m so sorry.”
I wasn’t upset by her accusation anymore, and I told her. She fell into my arms and started to cry for real.
“It’s okay,” I said. “It was a mistake.”
“No it wasn’t,” she choked out. “He’s sleeping with someone else.”
“Some actress,” Fiona said. She dropped the cigarette on the ground and tented her hands over her face.
“What?” I was stunned. “Who?”
“He said he’s in love with her,” she said. “He said he’s in love with both of us. What does that even mean?”
Later, I drove us back to my apartment. We lay down to sleep side by side in my bed, something we hadn’t done in years. She turned her back to me, and I slid an arm over her, found her hand in the dark, curled into a fist. I held her like that for a while. Smelling her hair, the back of her neck, was like seeing my father’s face across a crowded room — it still happened to me sometimes, followed by an ache for him so sharp as if no time had passed at all — a deep comfort I didn’t know I’d forgotten, and remembering it was a pleasure, however fraught. I held her. Even after I heard her breath go steady, I didn’t let go.
At the new place, the movers are friendly and efficient as ever. They hoist the sofa through the front door and leave it in one corner of the living room. While they work to bring in the rest of the boxes, I strip the plastic wrap off the pilling sofa cushions and stuff them back into place. The cushions smell like Fiona. I wonder if she’s been sleeping on the sofa these last few weeks, instead of the bed she shared with Aaron all that time.
The new apartment gets more light than their old place. The floors are real wood, glazed to a high sheen. She even has a little backyard here, though it’s a shared space among the four units in the complex. Someone has slung a rope hammock between two tree trunks in one corner, behind the old-school picnic table with a perforated bench.
Fiona is directing the movers. Sam hugs a box labeled “Books” against his chest, and she gestures toward the row of boxes lining one wall of the living room.
Sonny steps through the door with a package shrouded in a blue towel.
“Please — careful with that one.” Fiona crosses the room and takes it from him. She places it softly on the glass coffee table in front of the sofa and unwraps the towel.
“Haven’t seen one a those in a while,” Sam says. “Does it work?”
I remember when I found that old typewriter at the Goodwill on Vine Street. It lay on the shelf next to a squat thermal paper fax machine. Immediately, I thought of buying it for Ed’s Christmas gift. I knew he would love it. He filled his apartment with all sorts of old battered things; I didn’t know if it spoke to a Chinese immigrant mentality passed down from generations who saved and salvaged everything (I’ve witnessed the same compulsion in the apartments of my tenants), or if it were some eco-friendly upcycling scheme. Fiona had sidled up to me in that musty aisle and we stood there a moment, quietly admiring the blue Remington. She knew what I was thinking.
“It’s perfect,” she said, nodding. She reached out a finger and pushed down on a few keys, the corresponding silver pegs lifting out of the hatch.
I never got a chance to give it to Ed. I didn’t know what to do with it; I didn’t want it in my apartment because it reminded me of him but I couldn’t bring myself to throw it out, so Fiona took it home.
“You’re a writer?” Sam asks.
“A lawyer,” she says. She catches my eye across the room then quickly looks away.
“A lawyer,” Sam repeats. He grins at Sonny. “We know a few of those.”
“I mean, I’m in law school,” Fiona says.
That isn’t true either. She dropped out years ago.
“And what does this lovely young lady do?” Sam asks me.
“Nothing,” I say.
“I manage a building.”
“All by yourself?”
“It’s not too hard.”
“You know about our non-profit foundation? If you ever need our services.” He slides a hand into his pocket and pulls out a business card.
“She’s the writer,” Fiona says.
“No I’m not.”
“She writes screenplays,” Fiona continues.
“No I don’t.”
I take the card from Sam and my fingers brush against the calluses curled in his hands.
“I’ll definitely use you guys next time,” I tell him, even though I know won’t call, because I can’t leave my uncles out to dry like that.
“You two always work together?” Fiona asks.
“We can request it,” Sam answers. “I’m a team leader, so sometimes I get put up on bigger jobs.” He looks over at Sonny. “One day Sonny will train to be team leader, too.”
Sonny nods, almost imperceptibly. He’s not as enthused by the prospect of becoming a team leader as Sam appears to be.
“You’re from Chinatown?” I ask him.
Sonny looks blankly at me. I say it again: “Chinatown. Sam said you lived there.”
“Oh,” he says. There is a moment of silence while Fiona, Sam, and I wait.
Sonny blinks rapidly several times, then raises both hands to his face and rubs up and down. Finally, he says, “Grew up there, yeah. Don’t live there no more.”
In a kind voice, Fiona asks him whether he still has family in the neighborhood.
He darkens. A scowl grips his face, tightens the clench of his jaw each time he grinds at the chewing gum that’s been in his mouth all morning.
“Sonny, you all right?” Sam peers at him, frowning.
Sonny leans against the wall next to the door, looking as if he wants to throw it open and sprint away. “I’m okay, boss,” he says. He turns his gaze toward Fiona. “Thing is — I’m not supposed to set foot near — after what I did to that old lady —”
“All right,” Sam interrupts. “All right, Son.”
Fiona backs away from him. “Let me just — where’s my —” she stammers. “If we’re all done —”
Sam opens up the front door and clasps Sonny’s elbow. “Come on, let’s go outside,” he says. Over his shoulder, he says to Fiona, “I’ll be back in just a sec, nothing doing. Be just a second.” They step outside the door.
Fiona draws in a sharp breath. “I should’ve just used the movers you recommended,” she says.
“You’re fine,” I say. “He’s harmless,” I add.
“I’m living by myself now,” she says. “I have to be careful. I’m on my own.”
We hear the sound of footsteps approaching. Sam hops through the door.
“Where’s that clipboard?” he says brightly. He shows Fiona the tally and she counts out the bills from her wallet.
“Let me see if I’ve got some change,” Sam says. He reaches into the back pocket of his pants.
“No, it’s all for you,” Fiona says. “The rest is gratuity.”
“Thank you,” Sam says. “But we don’t accept tips.”
“Please take it,” Fiona says. “No one has to know.”
“I’ll write it down as a donation for the foundation then.” Sam smiles. “You know, few years ago I might’ve taken it without writing it down,” he says, waving the wad of cash in the air. “This job changed my life. It’s about integrity now.”
“I’m not in law school,” Fiona blurts out. “I dropped out a long time ago.”
“Miss Lam,” he says. “Wasn’t going to tell you this, but today was Sonny’s first day. He’s gone through all the steps — I trained him personally, and I’m the best team leader we got — but when it come down to it, you never can know how things turn out.”
“Is he — Sonny — going to be okay?” I ask.
“He’s shook,” Sam replies. “I apologize, ladies. Nervous people say things they don’t intend.”
After he leaves, I help Fiona unpack her boxes. We start in the kitchen, unwrapping the dishes and glasses and placing them in her cabinets. The rice cooker goes there, under the microwave mounted to the wall. Then, the living room; we replace the slats into the bookshelf — again, she says she needs to buy something made of real wood — and we cram her books tight until there is no more space in each row.
We work steadily for two hours, putting her new apartment in order. It’s three o’clock before we’re clawed by hunger. We walk to a sushi restaurant two blocks away on Hyperion, eat quickly, return to finish the rest of her unpacking. I know it’s important for Fiona to feel at home on her first night in the new place, to get as much of the unpacking completed as she can. It always seems easier the first day, for some reason. Whatever is left after that first night seems to linger in its corner, unable to find its place in the new home.
After the last box is unpacked, we uncork a bottle of red, pour two glasses, and sink into opposite ends of the sofa.
“I need to get a new sofa,” she says. “This shit is worn out.”
“It’s comfortable,” I say.
“Should’ve thrown it out,” she says. “Why did I even move it over here?”
“The place looks good,” I say. “It has a good vibe.”
Fiona doesn’t answer. I glance in her direction. She’s wiping at her face but the tears keep coming. I don’t know what to say, so I don’t say anything.
I put my glass down on the table, and I scoot over next to her. I reach for her hand and I squeeze, once. She squeezes back. Once, twice. Then she lets go and stands up, using her fingers to wipe under her eyes.
“I’m just — it’s, you know. A lot,” she says.
“Thank you,” she says, not looking at me, still. She takes a sip from the glass. “For —”
“You’re welcome,” I say quickly.
“Jane,” she says. “I’m sorry, you know? I was a jerk to you. I just thought — I don’t know what I thought —”
“He’s a dick,” I say. “A narcissist.”
“I’m sorry,” she says again. She pauses a moment, then adds, “I was jealous. The two of you, it’s like you had your own little club, your private jokes.”
“I was stupid,” I say. “It shouldn’t have been like that.”
“Don’t apologize,” she says, shaking her head. “I should’ve trusted you. I don’t know why I didn’t trust you.”
“Fiona,” I say.
“You’re my best friend, and I —”
“I knew about his — him, that girl —”
“I meant to tell you, but I was so wrapped up in my own shit, with Ed — I know it’s not an excuse — and then —”
“Wait. You knew about it?”
“I mean — I swear, Fiona, I was going to talk to you about it. I’ve been meaning to talk to you about it.”
“He said it was only the one time,” I said. “And then you accused me —”
“Don’t turn this around,” she says. “Don’t you dare make this my fault.”
“I’m not saying it’s your fault.”
“Then what are you saying?”
“I’m sorry,” I say. “I don’t have — I’m sorry, Fi.”
She crosses her arms, hugging herself. “I think you should leave now.”
“I’m sorry. Please —”
“Don’t say anything,” she says. “Please, just go.” She turns her back on me and disappears into the bedroom, shutting the door behind her with a soft click.
I’m alone with the boxes. The typewriter sits on the coffee table. I wrap it up in the blue towel and I take it with me when I leave.
When I inherited the building from my father, I thought about selling it. I didn’t want to deal with tenants, maintaining the building’s old pipes, its meager landscaping. Baba had hired someone to do it for him for a long time; he only ever saw the bank ledgers increase year by year, as rent in Chinatown rose with the rest of the downtown redevelopment. My tenants are a mix of old timers like Mrs. Chung, and more recently, the hipster invasion. White boys in tight jeans stumbling up the concrete staircase after Morrissey night at the Grand Star. I’ve lived there for five years now. And there is one box, one stubborn box from the last place I lived, the contents of which still haven’t found their permanent residence.
To get home from Fiona’s I steer down Sunset, which turns into Cesar Chavez Boulevard at the edge of Chinatown. The streets are jammed with cars funneling toward the Staples Center, purple and gold flags waving from their windows. The late afternoon sun tunnels through the layer of smog that steeps all of downtown in an amber haze. I think about Ed, the last good memory I have of him, when I dropped him off at LAX for his flight to New York. We stood by my car and hugged. I told him to have a safe flight, one of those things you say that doesn’t mean anything.
“I’m going to tell my Po-po all about you,” he’d said. “She’s going to be so happy I’m finally dating a nice Chinese girl.”
It was what my father would’ve wanted too, though I didn’t realize it until Ed used those words. A nice Chinese girl. He’d meant it as a joke, I guess.