“Good evening, Ms. Yu. Or do you prefer Mrs. Milton?” I hold a hand out to the tiny woman in front of me, feeling like a behemoth as I do. She’s as fragile as a porcelain doll with her dead white skin and small hands. She’s wearing a sapphire blue dress that is high-necked and reaches her knees. Her abundance of hair is French-braided and wound around the nape of her neck.
“Please, call me Linda. I’m not old enough to be a mizz, let alone a missus!” Linda smiles, displaying perfectly white and even teeth. She holds out her hand, and I take it hesitantly. I don’t want to hurt her, but her grip is firm.
“Linda. I’m Megan. Thank you so much for seeing me.” I release her hand and step into the hallway. I take off my shoes and put on a pair of the slippers on the guest rack. I’m surprised someone who’s younger than I am carries out this tradition, but I don’t question it. Again, I’m glad I wore a simple black dress as I would feel underdressed otherwise.
“George Tsai. A name I haven’t heard in thirteen years.” Linda says, her voice frosty. “Until last week.” She breaks off and adds, “Let’s go to the living room so we can sit down while we talk. Would you like some tea and some chocolate roll?”
“Yes, please.” My mouth salivates at the thought of it. There are few desserts better than a Taiwanese chocolate roll, and I haven’t had one in ages. She shows me to the living room before disappearing. I inspect the room, not sure what to make of it. The walls are a pristine white, which indicates there probably aren’t any children or animals in the house. There’s a stillness surrounding us that corroborates my theory, and I don’t see any evidence of another living being. There are paintings of flowers on the walls—they’re watercolors and not really my style. I’m sure they’re expensive, though, because they are in gold frames. Everyone knows that you only put expensive paintings in golden frames. The room is mostly bare, otherwise. There’s no television or media center of any kind. There’s a bookshelf by the black leather couch, which is filled with business books. There’s no fiction or poetry that I can see, not even a memoir.
“Here we go.” Linda comes into the living room with a tray that has a tea pot, cups, and a giant chocolate roll on it. Plates and forks, too, of course. Linda sets the tray on the coffee table before pouring us each a cup of tea. Green tea by the smell of it. Not a favorite of mine, but I’ll drink almost any kind of tea. Except Lipton because that shit is foul. I thank her for the tea and watch as she cuts me a thick slice of the chocolate roll. I put my fork to it, and it’s so tender, it nearly falls apart. It’s delicious. Dark, chewy, dense, with just a hint of ginger. Linda sits on a high-back chair that is opposite the couch, and her posture is ramrod straight.