08. Games With Friends

24 November 2018, 07:53

Another month passes. He sits, now, in a polished wooden chair at an old desk in a room at an Inn at the edge of the village called Moganshan. It’s nicer than it sounds. But cold—there is no central heating in this part of Shanghai, only air conditioning that he knows will blow hot air because of the sun symbol on the remote. It should be snowing, but it’s not that cold, and he’s told they don’t get much snow here anyways in Deqing or wherever they are. It took nearly four hours in an early-2000s model tour van driven by the now-past-middle-aged Chinese man who smoked a cigarette at the pit stop where all the foreigners stopped for the toilet and snacks. They all smoke cigarettes unless they are married and their wives make them promise to quit. That’s Jie’s story, at least, but it’s likely true of others.

The lights are off. His coworker, Clay, snoozes in the bed in the room at the Inn at the edge of the village called Moganshan. Now the lights are on. Breakfast is in 20 minutes. He sips hot water from a baby blue Original ceramics mug that has on it a white rabbit and the word “dreams.” There is something dried and natural in the water, but he’s not sure, and it mostly just tastes water, not tea. He takes some pictures of the room so he won’t forget. Why write, then? To pass the time. Not for memory, certainly. He won’t remember this.

Breakfast is in 12 minutes. Last night they sat around a bonfire and played Mafia and Fishbowl. Serge, Jessie, Ethan, Ivy, Feng, Joe, Clay, and Frisky, Serge’s doggo. Before the bonfire, they ate Shao Kao (probably spelled differently), which is like shish-kebab barbeque over coals. It was mostly delicious along with the Chinese beer-water, fish ball soup, fried rice, fruit, and salad. He ate his fill, and his stomach bulged while his family did the same, miles away in Minnesota, celebrating a day of Thanks and Giving. He misses them, of course, but he will see them in less than a month when he flies to Portland for Christmas.


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