Wo wei ni xie de, he said, as he raised the violin to his left shoulder, tucking it under his chin. He had told her many violinists used a shoulder rest, but he did not: there was a slight mark on the side of his throat, like a permanent bruise, where the violin rested. You made something for me? Tessa asked.I wrote something for you, he corrected, with a smile, and began to play.
Will!He turned at the familiar voice and saw Tessa. There was a small path cut along the side of the hill, lined with unfamiliar white flowers, and she was walking up it, toward him. Her long brown hair blew in the wind she had taken off her straw bonnet, and held it in one hand, waving it at him and smiling as if she were glad to see him. His own heart leaped up at the sight of her. Tess, he called. But she was still such a distance away she seemed both very near and very far suddenly and at the same time. He could see every detail of her pretty, upturned face, but could not touch her, and so he stood, waiting and desiring, and his heart beat like the wings of seagulls in his chest. At last she was there, close enough that he could see where the grass and flowers bent beneath the tread of her shoes. He reached out for her
He opened his mouth. The words were there. He was about to say them when a jolt of terror went through him, the terror of someone who, wandering in a mist, pauses only to realise that they have stopped inches from the edge of a gaping abyss. The way she was looking at him - she could read what was in his eyes, he realised. It must have been written plainly there, like words on the page of a book. There had been no time, no chance, to hide it.Will, she whispered. Say something, Will.But there was nothing to say. There was only emptiness, as there had been before her. As there would always be.'I have lost everything', Will thought. 'Everything.
Say something in Mandarin, said Tessa, with a smile.Jem said something that sounded like a lot of breathy vowels andconsonants run together, his voice rising and falling melodically: Nihen piao liang.What did you say? Tessa was curious.I said your hair is coming undone here, he said, and reached outand tucked an escaping curl back behind her ear. Tessa felt the bloodspill hot up into her face, and was glad for the dimness of thecarriage. You have to be careful with it, he said, taking his handback, slowly, his fingers lingering against her cheek.