Ava, newly arrived in Hong Kong from Dublin, spends her days teaching English to rich children.
Julian is a banker. A banker who likes to spend money on Ava, to have sex with and discuss fluctuating currencies with her. But when she asks whether he loves her, he cannot say more than, ‘I like you a great deal.’
Enter Edith, a lawyer. Refreshingly enthusiastic and unapologetically earnest, Edith takes Ava to the theatre when Julian leaves Hong Kong for work. Quickly, she becomes something Ava looks forward to.
And then Julian writes to tell Ava he’s coming back to Hong Kong… Should Ava return to the easy compatibility of her life with Julian, or take a leap into the unknown with Edith?
My banker friend Julian first took me for lunch in July, the month I arrived in Hong Kong. I’d forgotten which exit of the station we were meeting at, but he called saying he saw me outside Kee Wah Bakery and to wait there.
It was humid. Briefcase-bearers clopped out of turnstiles like breeding jennets. The Tannoy blared out first Cantonese, then Mandarin, and finally a British woman saying please mind the gap. Through the concourse and up the escalators, we talked about how crowded Hong Kong was. Julian said London was calmer, and I said Dublin was, too.
At the restaurant he put his phone face-down on the table, so I did the same, as if for me, too, this represented a professional sacrifice. Mindful he’d be paying, I asked if he’d like water – but while I was asking, he took the jug and poured. ‘Work’s busy,’ he said. ‘I barely know what the hell I’m doing.’ Bankers often said that. The less knowledge they professed, the more they knew and the higher their salary.
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