And Kino told her all about growing up with his mother and mentor, the money he got from his father, how he went to live with Kino after college, and about the tourists and newscasts (“I think I heard about that, actually,” she interjected here), and Ranger Bernstein. He told her everything up until the time Kino died.
Chop. Chop. Chop. “What do you mean there wasn’t a body?” she asked.
Kino shrugged. “When the waves had gone so had he.”
Felicia’s blond ponytail wagged as she shook her head, not facing him. “I don’t understand,” she said.
“Neither do I,” said Kino, absent mindedly fumbling a crayon at the table.
Felicia turned from her chopping and smiled. To Kino it was an ambiguous smile, it was the precise smile that had made women such an enigma to Henry when he was younger. The slight upward curve of a smile–her tongue wetting her lower lip as she turned away to finish preparing the meal. Something tugged within Kino, something telling him to leave, a feeling that he had other business, elsewhere. A certainty that there was something he’d forgotten to do.
“I’m sorry,” she said, and palmed vegetables into a frying pan.
“No. It is natural.”
“How old was he?”
“Maybe one hundred and fifty. Maybe eighty five. Maybe two hundred.”
Felicia laughed. Kino hadn’t been joking but despite the tug within his chest a smile touch his lips. “He was my guide, he was the father I never knew—”
“How old are you?”
He thought. “Maybe forty.”
She shook her head. “Most people count time as if each second is a grain of sand in an hourglass, each one dropped is a step closer to death.”
“For me, as for Kino, time was only important in terms of seasons, harvest, and the life and death of the plot and flowers.”
They fell silent for a time. Felicia poured him a glass of water and he sipped it, sitting at the table, and watched her cook. Kino’s mind strayed back to the plot, his land, the oasis. The walls and closedness of the manufactured home felt oppressive and the low ceiling made him uneasy. He sipped his water and opened his mouth to excuse himself from dinner—
“Ready,” said Felicia, sliding a plate down on the table, full of a stir fry, steam rising from its core.
The feeling fled from Kino. He wasn’t trapped. He was having dinner.
They sat at the table and the scrape of fork and knife on plate and the awkward sound of chewing filled the still air. After they were done Kino helped clear the table and wash the dishes and after that it would have been an ideal time to leave, but Felicia started some water for tea. They sat at the table clutching steaming mugs and spoke of the things Felicia wished she’d done when younger. Travel the world. See the pyramids, the Eiffel Tower, the Great Wall of China, Michelangelo’s David, so many things she had wanted for herself. So many things she had hoped for.
“But then Danny came along,” she said. “And I got caught up in his shit, and when you have a child you can’t do those things, you need to take care of him. Joshua is amazing and was my choice, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t others I gave up. . . other choices, I mean. Do you have any kids?” asked Felicia, pulling up on her tea bag and letting it drop again.