preterite (joined almost 14 years ago)
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I like cats.


Do you want to hear about it, she asked. The doors slid shut.

I couldn't say.

There was the first ding.

No, I said. Not really.

I want to tell you about it, she said.

The second ding.

She stood next to the panel. I leaned back against the opposite corner. No others at this time of night, in this elevator, in this place.

Fine, I said. Tell me about it.

It was warm. We in our winter coats, too warm, as far as we could get away from each other in our opposite corners of the elevator.

The third...

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Once, in Beijing, a young girl in a red gown huddled in a doorway. Two potted cucumbers stood to the left of the doorway, vines climbing twined round trellises up the stucco, the few cucumbers skinny in the middle from lack of rain, though it rained now in gusts and sputters, droplets momentarily darkening her gown.

Once, in Beijing, a young girl in a red gown huddled in a doorway. There was scant shade from the clear noonday sun in the inset door. Two cats lay lazily in the sun. She idly stroked one, the calico, under the chin.


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Once, in Beijing, you were there. You were here. Doorway. Phone. Stammer.

She clutched round her that red gown, shawl over shoulders, and stood. Stands?

I am across the street, with you. Table. Café. On the table: phone, keys, change. Two glasses.

One and a half minutes ago, I hit "record" on the phone and slid the phone toward you. Between you and me.

You cleared your throat, and said:

Once, in Beijing, you were there. A young girl, a gown too big. You saw a couple across the street. One older, thin, thin-lipped, a look of resignation. One younger,...

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