Clarice was pouring herself another cup of hot jasmine tea when she noticed an older Chinese man watching her from a corner table. She’d seen him in the restaurant many times, so she smiled. She was unsurprised when he smiled back but when he came over to the table just moments later, Clarice was not sure what to say.
He was taller than she’d thought, and nicely dressed. He studied her for a moment before speaking; his English was unaccented.
“You have your mother’s eyes, but your face is just like your grandmother’s.” His eyes were sad, despite the smile he wore.
“Do you know my family?” Clarice was a little surprised.
“Ask Veronique,” he said quietly. Then, he turned around and walked out of the restaurant just as Clarice’s friends came in. If any of the lively girls noticed Clarice’s distraction as they ate their egg foo yung and chop suey, they failed to remark on it.
When Clarice got home, she was determined to have answers. It was time to remind Mommy of a long-ago promise she’d made.
However, Mommy demurred. It was only when Clarice told her about the Chinese man that she weakened. Her face wore a far-away look for a moment. She whispered “Samuel,” and then turned her attention once again to her daughter.