Bina, thank you. Bina, listen, this guy. His name wasn't Lasker. This guy-'
She puts a hand to his mouth. She has not touched him in three years. It probably would be too much to say that he feels the darkness lift at the touch of her fingertips against his lips. But it shivers, and light bleeds in among the cracks.
Flowers that are offered for the dead, do not know the difference of where their beauty will be placed, they do not say, "This is not a palace" or "This is not a garden"; they just are. They are just beautiful, without giving regards to whether they are placed on a grave or in a castle. Flowers are just beautiful, whether they grow by the wayside or in a manicured garden. If we were all like flowers, then we would all be beautiful, with no regards to why or how. We just are. We are just beautiful.
The clock’s pendulum catches the firelight, and in the rattle-breathed final moments of Jacob de Zoet, amber shadows in the far corner coagulate into a woman’s form.
She slips between the bigger, taller onlookers unnoticed …
… and adjusts her headscarf, the better to hide her burn.
She places her cool palms on Jacob’s fever-glazed face.
Jacob sees himself, when he was young, in her narrow eyes.
Her lips touch the place between his eyebrows.
A well-waxed paper door slides open.