“Spared Love”, by Eileen Chang
He recalls the years he spent abroad. He turns back and there sits a black dog on the gravel. Little folded ears, wet curled black hair. Leaning its body forward, it seems to very attentively — either listen to, or watch for something.
He thought of the dog-shaped brand mark on some gramophones back in the days, and music coming out of the gramophone, western women’s temperature and smell he could feel from around their neckline. He remembers also a toy that belonged to his first child — a green glass dog about an inch tall, sitting exactly like that one, eyes made of rhinestones with red rings.
As he remembers the glass dog his teeth felt sore. Maybe he had played with his child by chewing on it. Or maybe he had forbidden his child from chewing, and because of empathy his own mouth felt the sensation of coldness and soreness that would have happened. He cannot remember which case exactly.
His first child was born abroad; his wife was a classmate of his, Cantonese. Back then it was rare to see a Chinese classmate out abroad, and once you do, quickly you fall in love and get married. His wife was ill-tempered and neurotic. Later that turned into a worse form of irritability, which constantly brought up fights with even her own children, eventually driving them all away until there’s finally peace.
All these years he had spent little time with her. Even during the period where there’s a good amount of passion, days moved fast and ran in chaos; he only recalls rounds and rounds of arguments, nothing cheerful really worth memorizing. However still it was those young and fast-moving years that touched him; thinking of them now, dusty drizzles and a whole winter walk into his eyes, a tearful moment is tangibly close.