It was not always this way between Sonya and me.
"There's an elephant!" I shout from the back seat of a tuk tuk as we round a corner on two wheels in Bangkok, narrowly missing a fruit vendor.
"Where?" Sonya asks.
A woman's powers of observation.
Gentle mocking back at the hotel. Foreplay.
"Hey Sonya. Where's the elephant?"
I can't let her forget. Won't let her.
Machine gun on a turret. Eighty cents a shell. Who can predict how difficult it is to pop a string of red balloons, the peeping heads of imaginary foes at a gun range in Guilin?
"Sex with strangers is always more exciting."
Not a thing to confide to your young husband. Of course it's true. He was once such a stranger.
That sailor on shore leave in Singapore propositioned you, "I bet you're a tiger in bed." Jealousy.
"Where's the elephant, Sonya?"
Playing chicken on a narrow, sandy road in Koh Samui. Refusing to budge an inch, flying in high gear. Driver's side mirrors clipped clear off.
Swirling heaps of steamed garlic prawns, sold by the kati in Sai Kung. Sated recollections stunted only by Tsing Tao beer.
Wide-eyed distress, the turquoise iridescence of a great Napoleon fish, flopping and slipping on the concrete wharf. Sucking for air. Head hacked, cleaved cleanly at the hands of the capable merchant. Flecks of scales and crimson foam.
Stillness. Serenity of the Taj Mahal. Sparce whitewashed rooms and sunset shadows. Cobalt, violet, deep. Jamuna river below, bleeding slowly as it has for eons.
Stark contrast to road kill. Stricken Brahma bulls too proud to move. Unspeakable waste, another lifeless mound in the ditch, a dead camel.
Two years now in Hong Kong. Seeking inspiration in a statue of Buddha, Asia's largest. Resignation in the low grey cloud cover for months on end, leading us down this sedentary Lantau trail.
There is an enormous feeling of space on this island. We seldom speak. The road winds through litter-strewn coastal flats as dim morning lights ooze like fading memories from sporadic clumps of fishing huts. Thrusting into the hills, our bus glides across a grand cement dam.
My mind is elsewhere as that bold graven image crowns the distant horizon, jostling among competing peaks. Sonya's face is turned from me, pressed against the window.
"There's the Giant Buddha!" she exclaims in excitement.
My voice trails off, but it's too late to take it back and I hear myself asking: