Dotted Line Dotted Line

Fiction Summer 2018    poetry    all issues

Summer 2018 Cover


Cover Michael Lønfeldt

Emily Rinkema
Child A

Alice Martin
A Hole to Nowhere

Fan Li
Dromedaries in America

Judy Colp Rubin
The Crossing

Rebeccah Dean
Forgotten Dreams

Marianne Stokes

K. Ralph Bray

Zoë Däe
Bugs Under a Spaghetti Strainer

Charles J. Alden
Double Feature

Ateret Haselkorn

M. M. Ehasz
A Shanghai Concession

Kitty Bleak
Sooner or Later

Barbara Fischer
From the Gentlemen at the Bar

Wendy Cohan
The Sweetness of Cowboys

M. M. Ehasz

A Shanghai Concession

A winding road in Shanghai, Fuxing Lu, cuts through the city’s charming French Concession. Ninety-foot deciduous Plane trees line the curbs, sprouting green clusters of maple-like leaves that weave a verdant canopy over the residents in the summers. During this single season, a lush shield protects the Shanghainese from flashing neon lights and mushrooming skyscrapers.

One summer in the early aughts, Starbucks planted its roots in an old structure on Fuxing Lu, where it served up microwavable sweets and coffee in cups the size of wine bottles. I was renting a room nearby and this garish reminder of the States couldn’t have been more welcome—I relished the insolent emblem of home. In mangled Mandarin, I’d order the largest coffee possible, sit by the window and watch the locals move up and down the block.

I shared my apartment on Fuxing Lu with Olivier, a 33-year old French-Swiss lawyer. A friend had put us in touch when I was looking for a new room. She mentioned Olivier was “a little odd” and wanted to “interview me.” I met him in front of the Starbucks. Tall and broad with a poof of blond hair, he was easy enough to spot. His eyes were sky-blue, half-closed and inattentive. I’d assumed Olivier would show me the apartment straight away, but instead he sauntered up and down Fuxing Lu in an apparent daze. Every so often he’d lob a question in my general direction. Olivier spoke a muddled variant of English—it was a version of the language where he always knew exactly what he was expressing and found it inconceivable that native speakers would ask him to repeat himself.

“So, tell me Hana, why do you want to live in China? What is so wrong with these United States?” Olivier asked.

“China is fascinating!” I said. “I’ve studied Mandarin but I think it would be so useful to know more of the language and culture.”

Olivier responded to my explanation with a long, spaced-out stare. Nothing in his expression changed and he remained silent. I looked at him askance, wondering if this man might be hard of hearing. A full minute passed and then he looked me straight in the eye.

“This? This is what you want to learn?” He gestured to the street. Two middle aged Chinese men sat on stubby stools, hunched over a game of checkers. Neither wore a shirt and both sucked deeply on cigarettes. There was something about Olivier’s attitude that bothered me. I remember thinking I’d better not sound too enthusiastic about living in China.

“So, what is your job in the U.S.?” Olivier wanted to know.

“I left my job to come to China,” I explained. “I was working on Wall Street—it was really stressful. So, last December I took my bonus and moved to Shanghai.”

“Wall Street, really?” Olivier said skeptically. “And could you wear this outfit to your Wall Street job?”

I looked down. I was wearing baggy jeans that flared at the bottom and a peasant blouse. Suddenly, I felt sloppy. “No. I had other clothes.” I said. I wrinkled my nose. What a fancy pants.

“And what is it that you do here in China, to learn about the culture?” Olivier said. Yup, I detected an undercurrent of snide in his manner.

“I’m a student at Jiao Tong university,” I said. “I also translate articles from Mandarin to English on a freelance basis. Translating happens to pay well.”

Olivier nodded. “Yes, I have heard that. So, you speak Chinese?”

“I get around,” I admitted. “I’m much better with reading and writing.”

“One last question,” Olivier said. Something knowing and arch crept into his expression. “What are you running from?”

I remained silent but my nerves started firing.

“In my experience,” Olivier said, with a broad, teasing smile, “all Westerners in China are running from something.”

Anxiety swept over me as I dug deep for a smart aleck answer. Alas, I couldn’t come up with anything. So, I turned the inquiry around—an avoidance tactic with which I’ve had a surprising rate of success.

“What are you running from, Olivier,” I asked.

“Ughhh.” Olivier sighed and ran an agitated hand through the unruly explosion of hair. “In my case, it is a who that I run from,” he replied. “I moved to China to get away from a girlfriend. From a very crazy woman.”

“Men always call a girl “crazy” when they’ve dumped a lovely woman for no good reason,” I shot back.

He laughed. “Maybe.”

I had successfully steered him off topic. “So, what—did she want to get married? Settle down? Have kids?”

He laughed again. “Why don’t I show you the apartment now? Follow me.”

Olivier led me down an alley. Despite a lovely Deco exterior, the building was in shambles. I hopped over trash heaps toward the narrow, dungeon-like staircase that led to the second-floor landing. Olivier pointed out the fuse box in the outdoor corridor. It was rusty and the door dangled by a single hinge. “This regulates electricity for the entire building,” he said. We walked past a row of apartment doors all of which had heaps of stinky shoes piled at the entrance. From inside one apartment I could hear the shrill pitch of domestic discontent—a woman shrieking at her husband in Shanghainese dialect. Despite the surrounding squalor, the interior of Olivier’s apartment bordered on lovely. Olivier showed me his master bedroom, the small room that would be mine, and the large tree outside the living room window. The trunk of the tree was as round as a barrel and pale branches sprouted from every direction.

“This tree gives me peace,” Olivier said. A wistful shadow passed over his face. “It is very special. Some days I come home from work and stare at this tree for an hour. Then I can function again.”

It was a very pretty tree. Most Shanghai apartment windows faced other Shanghai apartment windows.

“My parents can’t believe I’m living here,” Olivier told me. “They visited last year and my mother felt faint in the staircase. She said, ‘Olivier, we put you through the nicest schools in Switzerland, we paid for your law school. And now you live in this slum? What did we do wrong?’ I was laughing when she says these things but she was so serious. She kept putting the back of her hand on her cheeks and mumbling about ‘wasted skiing lessons.’”

I loved living with Olivier. He told me he had a younger sister my age who he’d always ignored. To atone for this transgression against flesh and blood, Olivier vowed to dote upon me as an elder brother should. On Saturday afternoons, Olivier and I would sit on the fake wooden floor drinking Rosé and watching pirated DVDs of various American television series. The television was old and small. It rested on a rickety IKEA stand by the living room window, framed by Olivier’s favorite tree. Olivier loved American television, but he especially loved the show 24 and we both adored the main character, Jack Bauer. We agreed Jack Bauer was Kiefer Sutherland’s finest role. On one occasion, our bottle ran dry at the same time as Jack’s emotional breakdown in the Season 3 cliffhanger. We looked at one another in despair.

“What should we do now?” Olivier asked. He was distraught.

“I don’t know,” I said. I guess we should get our acts together.” Although I wasn’t quite sure what that phrase meant it was something I’d often heard my mother say.

“How about this,” Olivier suggested. “I will open another bottle of this wine and you discover Season 4 of this wonderful American television show.”

I smiled and agreed to the plan. Olivier was infinitely wiser than my mother. “Here, here, take this.” Olivier tried to give me renminbi to buy the next season but I waved him off. The entire season would cost the equivalent of five dollars.

I knew Olivier had sent me to fetch the next season so he could avoid the chaos outside. The air was sweltering, bicycles whizzed by and the street teamed with people yelling in Mandarin. An overwhelming smell of rotten eggs assaulted my senses. At the corner, I spotted the DVD salesman, his wares spread on a ramshackle, plastic table. At the very tip top of his lungs he shouted in English, “Watch! Bag! DVD! Watch! Bag! DVD!” Then he saw me approaching and his excitement soared. “Lady! Lady! Watch! Bag! DVD!” I crossed the street amidst honking horns and swerving taxis to exchange some basic greetings with the vendor. He steered me toward the pile of conspicuously fake Louis Vuitton handbags. But, my eyes rested on the treasure I sought. Tucked underneath The Best of Jean-Claude Van Damme, I spotted a flimsy cardboard box stamped with the image of Keifer Sutherland’s hardened mug. Across Keifer’s bulky chest I read the printed words, Sweaty Four. Season 4. I paid for the set and returned upstairs where Olivier was waiting for me with a freshly poured glass of Rosé.

It is a universal truth, not often enough acknowledged, that all excellent roommates rarely occupy the shared living space. Olivier was seldom around. His law firm kept him busy, he travelled frequently and he had a fiancée, Nicola. One evening, Nicola dropped by unexpectedly. I remember being impressed by this stylish, dark-haired Croatian beauty in her shimmering mini-dress. I, on the other hand, was splayed on the couch in my favorite sundress—the one Olivier referred to as “the nightgown”—and he was sitting on the floor. We were deep into Season 4. A passenger train had just collided with an explosive-laden truck. Nicola greeted me politely, but I caught a whiff of something unfriendly. Or maybe she was in a bad mood. She informed Olivier she had a work function and his presence was requested.

“No, Olivier, I won’t get fired if I don’t go, but it would make a bad impression. Would you please get up off the floor and come with me? My co-workers are starting to doubt that I even have a fiancée.”

Oliver didn’t turn away from the television. “You want that I should go dressed like this?” he said, face glued to the tiny screen. He was wearing pristinely pressed slacks and a button-down shirt. “Nicola, I need more notice for a party. I’m in the middle of a program here.”

“Olivier, we can just watch this tomorrow,” I said, trying to diffuse the swelling tension.

“No, I will have to work late tomorrow. I wish to watch tonight.”

“Ok, that’s just great, Olivier,” Nicola said. “You do understand that we are engaged to be married, right? Part of what that means is that we do things for each other. Another part of engagement means we live together. Grow up and extract yourself from this weird roommate situation. Living with someone ten years younger than you doesn’t make you ten years younger.”

“Um, seven years younger,” I said. I had always enjoyed correcting people. Also, I felt Nicola’s comment was the sort of remark that should have been made behind my back.

“I didn’t mean any offense to you,” Nicola said. “It’s not personal, it’s just embarrassing that Olivier refuses to live with his fiancée.”

Truth be told, I thought she might be right. It was weird that Olivier was living with me. At this moment, it occurred to me Olivier might be afraid of marriage. Or at least, that he might not want to marry Nicola.

Olivier rubbed his eyes. “How about this, Nicola. I will finish 24 tonight and tomorrow I will take off early and we will have a romantic dinner. Would it be okay? We will discuss our wedding. I’m sorry, I am just not in the mood for a party.”

Nicola crossed her arms over her chest and looked away.

“Fine, Olivier,” she said. “We’ll have dinner tomorrow. I’ll go to the party alone.” Nicola turned and walked to the door. Her high heels clacked obtrusively on the fake wooden floor.

“It was nice meeting you,” I called out from the couch.

Olivier smiled at me with a roll of his eyes.

“I’ve never witnessed an eye roll where the iris completely disappears into the socket,” I said to him.

As I drifted in and out of sleep that night, I thought about Olivier and Nicola’s upcoming dinner. I wondered where he would take her, how he would make her feel better and what they would talk about. Would they laugh together? I realized I didn’t want him to go to the dinner with her. I wanted him to take me instead. I could understand why he thought it would be smart to marry Nicola. She was a successful professional, very beautiful and presentable. Without ever having met Olivier’s mother, I could guess that she adored Nicola.

Time has a way of drawing itself out slowly when you’re a westerner burrowed Shanghai, like a piece of pink taffy stretching out to a filmy transparency. A week feels like a month and a month feels like a year. In fact, no one considers a Shanghai expatriate fully seasoned until she’s lasted an entire year in the city of twenty million. I don’t know exactly what passed between Olivier and Nicola at their “romantic dinner” but it must have been significant. Not long after, sometime in the fall, Olivier moved out of our apartment. I know it was fall because I was picking bits of leaves and twigs off my jacket when he delivered the news.

“So, Hana,” he said, “I am going to move in with Nicola. It is the right thing to do.”

I looked away from him and said nothing. As he yakked away about wedding plans, I focused on plucking the autumn debris from my coat and scarf.

“Well do you?” he asked.

“Do I what?” I said.

“Do you want to take over my lease? As I’ve been explaining it should be a simple transition.”

“Yes. I’ll take it over,” I said. “I love this apartment.”

“And you are sure you can pay for it?”

I attempted to mimic his zombie eye roll.

I hated to see Olivier go, but I loved moving into the master bedroom. From the window upstairs, I could look down onto Olivier’s tree. To justify renting multiple bedrooms, I spread my scant belongings throughout the totally unnecessary second room. I simply could not bring myself to search for another roommate.

My first Shanghai fall merged into my first Shanghai winter, which was one of the coldest in recorded history. Natives and expatriates alike saw snow hit the city for the first time in decades. During this winter, I realized my adored apartment was cheaply constructed. There was nothing I could do to keep warm. A single six-foot heating unit stood in the corner of the living room. It was new and plastic and shiny but no match for the building’s 70s-era wiring.

On a frigid January evening, I trudged home through a light flurry from the teahouse. My cheeks burned with winter wind as I turned the long silver key in the lock. Bursting inside, I foolishly expected to encounter a blast of heat. But the insulation in Communist-era buildings was laughable. A half-eaten peanut butter and jelly sandwich I’d made that morning rested by the sink. I poked it with my gloved finger—frozen solid. I hurried to the ogre-sized heater and set the temperature to seventy-eight degrees, a number I associated with good weather. The machine started to grumble and sputter out heat. I gathered myself on the couch with a blanket to watch the numbers tick upwards. Before hitting the magic number, all the lights in the apartment went out. The overworked heater heaved an exasperated sigh and then shut itself off with a vexed clunk.

For a few minutes, I sat in the dark. I watched my own breath and wallowed in self-pity. Propelled by the possibility of freezing to death, I shed the blanket, grabbed a lighter to serve as a flashlight and stumbled down the dark hall to the decrepit fuse box. My cracked, frozen fingers struggled against the wind to flick on the lighter. When the flame eventually caught, I flipped every switch stuck in the “off” position. Sparks flew from the fuse box as I snapped switches by the fistful. I thought I heard someone shout upstairs. When I saw a warm glow from the crack underneath my front door I hurried back into an apartment brimming with lights and blaring television chatter. The heating unit read sixty-three and started to climb.

I rubbed my hands together. They were chapped and scaly. The familiarity of my own hands in this miserable setting made me long for home. A hollow feeling rose from my stomach to my throat—I desperately wanted my family. At that moment, my flip phone buzzed. The small device hopped excitedly on the desk. I looked over with hope at the inch-long digital screen. It lit up and black letters flashed “Olivier.”


After long pause he responded, “Ciao, Hana. It’s Olivier. How are you?”

“I’m good,” And now that Olivier had called, I felt good.


I heard mumbling in the background.

“Nicola and I want to invite you over to our new place for dinner next week. We will make pasta. You will come?”

“Yes, of course!”

“Excellent, do you have a paper? I will tell you the address. Wait. Never mind. I will email you the address. Print it and give it your cab driver, ok? You can take a cab. I am still in French Concession. Ciao, Hana.”

“Qù nǎlǐa?”

I handed the cabbie Olivier’s address.

We jolted down Huai Hai Lu, stopping for some of the red lights and ploughing through others with abandon, a rush of cold air pumping through the cracked backseat window as we steered through traffic and pedestrians at breakneck speed. The cab took a sharp right onto an alley and pulled up under an imposing stone gate. Olivier’s home was straight out of 1920s Shanghai. The stone gate opened onto a narrow courtyard, where a skinny two-story brick townhouse loomed. I paid my fare and exited.

Standing outside the door I felt utterly serene. There were enough fragrant trees to mask the street smells and muffle the honks and cries from the main road. I knocked loudly on Olivier’s grand entrance. Inside, some metal object clattered to the floor bringing with it an avalanche of French swears. The door swung open. A white apron splattered in red sauce greeted me warmly. Olivier’s hands were covered in oil and the thin blond waves spewed from his head in all directions.

“Hana! So, happy you are here,” he said, giving me kisses on both cheeks. “I am just having a terrible accident in the kitchen.”

“You look like you’ve been electrocuted,” I observed.

“Olivier, get in here,” I heard Nicola yell from the kitchen. He shrugged at me with the look of a man who has become domesticated.

“Here, sit here,” he said gesturing to a large, modern looking chair. “Be comfortable. We are almost ready with the dinner.”

From the living room, I glimpsed a kitchen that could barely squeeze two people who were getting along with one another. Nicola and Olivier bickered in audible whispers about the current condition of the pasta and how one defined “al dente.” A few minutes, later the couple emerged smiling. Nicola carried a steaming platter of Rigatoni. Olivier followed behind her with the meat sauce, bowls and forks for everyone. We sat on the floor around the coffee table. Nicola tugged her skirt as low as it would go and bent her knees demurely, arriving on the floor without revealing a thing.

“I’m sorry we don’t have any normal chairs yet, Hana,” Nicola said. “We ordered them from Europe about a month ago but obviously, they haven’t arrived. And, I’m also sorry about the way I acted the last time we met.”

“Please don’t worry about it,” I said to her. “I understand why you were upset. And it’s big of you to apologize—most people don’t.”

“How about some wines for everyone?” Olivier asked.

Nicola said, “Olivier, no. Not on a weeknight.”

“Nicola threatens to make me healthy.” Olivier shrugged.

Nicola smiled as she pulled her thick black hair away from her face and braided it with long, practiced fingers. From silver tongs she served us each a hill of pasta and drizzled sauce over the noodles in an elegant spiral.

“Your house is such a classic,” I said to her.

She beamed under the warmth of my flattery. “Yes, I love it.”

“Is it a Shikumen?” I asked.

“Yes. How did you know?”

“I’ve been writing a series of articles called Interiors of Old Shanghai. I’ve toured a couple of Shikumen with my editor, Zoe. Apparently, the ‘shikuman’ translates to ‘stone gate.’”

“Oh—that is totally fascinating,” said Nicola.

Olivier sucked a noodle into his mouth loudly. “Yes, fascinating,” he said.

“Olivier!” Nicola was all indignation. “I’m really interested in interior design,” she said.

I paused and looked around the barren interior.

“I know it looks empty now, but we are hoping to get our dream furniture as wedding gifts.”

“When are you guys getting married?” I asked.

“We just set the date for February 18!” Nicola said.

“Oh soon!” I uttered automatically. Then I felt stupid.

“Yes, so very soon,” Olivier said.

“What about you, Hana? What else is new?” Olivier asked. “Are you still enjoying my apartment?”

“Yes, I still enjoy your apartment, Olivier.” I told him I’d been freelancing at another magazine in Pudong.

“Oh, what a pain,” Nicola sympathized. Pudong was a district of Shanghai located across the Huangpu river, home to all the newest, tallest skyscrapers. The region offered a mixture of cheap office space and expensive gated communities. Some expats referred to it as Pu-Jersey. “I can’t stand Pudong. I know it’s part of Shanghai but it seems so culturally bleak compared to Puxi. Don’t you think?”

I happened to agree but Olivier snorted.

“Culture in Puxi,” he said blankly. He looked up at the ceiling in feigned contemplation and chewed deliberately on a piece of Rigatoni. By the time he finally swallowed, the pasta must have been liquid. “Hana, is an expert in Chinese cultures,” Olivier said with raised eyebrows. “I need some informations on the culture here—I seem to miss it all.”

“I thought I had just given you some ‘informations’, Olivier,” I joked.

If you looked carefully in Shanghai you could find stunning cultural gems tucked away in corners, like Shikumen houses in long quiet lanes. Yet, the way of life was so different, the longer I spent abroad the more empathy I developed for the jaded expat, my former roommate.

“I’m going to get myself more pastas”, Olivier said. “Anyone else?””

Nicola and I were both finished and I mumbled something about needing to head home.

“Wait, before you go, I’ve got to show you something.” Nicola said. She stood up, grabbed my hand and led me down a corridor to a heavy wooden door. “This is the most special part of the house—maybe you should tell your editor about it.” Nicola opened the door to reveal an enormous bathroom with a vaulted spa. Black, gleaming marble covered the entire floor and walls. Green tiles lined the shower area.

“What are those?” I asked, pointing at the tiles.

“I think jade. The owner had it refinished a couple of years ago.”

“Really beautiful,” I said.

“Please tell Zoe about it!” she said as she led me back to the front of the house.

“Ok, I will.”

“Yes, please tell your boss about our breathtaking toilet,” Olivier called out from the kitchen, where he was drying the dishes with a floral hand towel.

I arrived at home with a stomachache. Was it the pasta? As I tried to locate the source of the discomfort in my gut, I visualized Olivier and Nicola’s impending wedding. And then I knew. The very idea of those two spending forever together made my stomach turn. They were completely wrong for each other. Nicola was nice, sure. And she was a good hostess. But she was also a social climber and materialistic. Olivier, on the other hand, had a sense of humor and laissez-faire attitude toward existence that distinguished him from most of the humans I knew. His ability to abstract himself from the silliness of life was a characteristic we shared. I thought he’d be much happier spending forever with me.

I had to act. I would tell Olivier what a mistake he was making. Possibly, I could make him see that he could be happy with me.

From bed, I texted Olivier. “Hi! Dinner tonight was fun. Let’s meet again soon.”

“Yes, it was great to see you. We should not let so much time pass,” he texted. I took this rapid response as a good sign.

“Would you want to meet me at Cotton’s for dinner next Monday?” I texted.

A good ten minutes went by before I received another text.


Cotton’s was a restaurant in the French Concession that catered to the expat crowd. Surrounded by eight-foot brick walls and Plane trees overhead, the space protected the urban-weary expat with a chilled-out villa atmosphere. It was the go-to place for anyone unused to Chinese food and not planning to become acclimated. Not everywhere in Shanghai could a person indulge in a burger and a beer.

I’d been sending Oliver all the wrong messages. Walking around the house in my pajamas with knotty hair, wasting weekends drooling by the television and engaging in lively debates had sunk me into the sibling zone. Tonight, Olivier would make no mistake about the type of relationship I envisioned for us. I dressed for the occasion, arrived at Cotton’s early and ordered two vodka martinis, up.

Olivier showed up at the restaurant in work clothes. I watched him scan all of Cotton’s looking for me and then do a double take when he realized I was the woman in the black dress with a plunging V-neck and a flawless up-do. He hurried over to my table. I noted he forgot to kiss me on both cheeks.

“Hana, you are so dressed up,” he said. “I did not recognize you.” He slid into the chair across from me and nearly knocked over his glass of water in the process. “Really, I cannot get over this change in your appearance. Are you going to a party tonight?”

I felt Olivier’s gaze rest on my collarbone and in a fit of excitement I started to fiddle with the silver chain around my neck. “Olivier, I’m not going to a party. I got dressed up to see you.” I paused. The next part I had rehearsed. “I’m not sure how to say this so I’ll be blunt. I think you and Nicola are totally wrong for each other.”

Olivier burst out laughing. Laughter was not on the list of reactions I had anticipated.

“What’s so funny,” I said.

“Nothing. I appreciate your interest in my personal well-being, Hana,” he said. “Yet another woman wants to tell me how poorly I plan my life.” Olivier shook his head and looked to the depths of his martini. Two green olives impaled by a plastic sword toothpick drifted inside the glass. “And who out there is ‘right’ for me, Hana? Where shall I find my heart’s mate?”

“You mean soulmate,” I said.

“Yes, of course. Where do I find my soul’s mate?”

I gave him a long meaningful look. And then he understood. A sheen of sadness obscured his face.

“Oh, Hana. You do not wish to be with me. I am old. You are only twenty-five with many years ahead of you for having fun. Me, I am thirty-three. Old and finished.” He smiled. “I’m not joking. All my friends are married except for me. Most of them have children. Are you ready to have a baby, Hana?”

“Are you, Olivier?” I asked.

He shrugged. “It doesn’t matter. Nicola is thirty-two. She is ready. I cannot hang on to my youth forever.”

“Olivier, that’s crazy,” I said. “You don’t have to get married and have a baby because everyone you know has done it. Actually, it’s not crazy. It’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”

Olivier grimaced and tipped back the rest of his drink.

“You really don’t understand, Hana,” he said to me. “Maybe you will someday.” He placed a 100 Renminbi note down on the table.

“Have another drink or two on me,” he said as he stood up. “And then please go find a party to dance at in that stunning dress. Forget about ancient Olivier. He returns home so Nicola can yell at him.”

After that night at Cotton’s, I saw Olivier once more in Shanghai. I was strolling through the French Concession on the way to meet a friend when he and Nicola passed me. The two rode on matching red bicycles, adorned with bells and baskets. The farm-style two-wheelers were so outrageously out of place in Shanghai I had to laugh. But the couple peddled along the road, beaming, the sunshine glinting off their bikes. They looked like newlyweds in love and I hurried to turn a corner without being noticed.

Hana!! Helllooo.”

I’d been spotted.

Hi Olivier, Hi Nicola.” I waved from across the street.

We are going to try the new Patisserie on Zhengshan Lu. You will join us?” Olivier yelled over the traffic.

“I wish I could but I have to meet someone,” I said. “Have a great time and let me know how it is!”

“Ok, no problems. Well, we will make dinner plans very soon, okay?”

“Of course,” I said, smiling.

“Ciao, Hana!”

“Ciao, Olivier! Ciao, Nicola!” I waved again and watched their shiny bikes disappear into the mass of people.

M. M. Ehasz is a web developer working in Santa Monica, California. She spends her free time reading and writing fiction. She lives with her husband, two step-kids and two cats.

Dotted Line