SynopsisHow does one overcome an irrational fear that has been ingrained in you since childhood? When Dominic is forced by his boss to teach former deaf-mute Aiden the English language, he revisits the causes of his unjustified aversion toward speaking English, bringing to light the other fears that plague his life and preventing it from being anything but that of a normal human being's.
ExcerptDominic cringed at the voices that surrounded him.
The stout, squash-faced Chinese ladies bumped into him, then bumped again, before jabbing into the side of his ribs with a fierce elbow strike. Dominic seemed to be the victim of an involuntary all-out wrestling match. Him against ten Chinese women, yelling among themselves about how amazing a city Beijing was, how magnificent the forbidden city stood, how expensive everything was. Dominic shifted his palm to his face, silently tearing at it with the tips of his fingers enough to pull his eyelids as if to become a half-horror of Halloween. Give these people something to talk, and they will talk. He would not have been surprised if they started shouting over how polished the pseudo-marble floor had been at the departure terminal.
“Please stand in front of the camera.”
And so he stood. He could see the camera body tilt slightly upwards, but as if to mock him for his height the immigration officer grabbed the webcam with one hand and tilted it back so that the black plastic orb now stared straight at him. Unsatisfied, the officer beckoned him.
“Sorry, sir. Could you bend down to take the picture?”
He could clearly hear one of the country ladies speak in her thick-accented Mandarin about how obscenely tall he was, and Dominic had a good mind to tell her to shut the hell up. He just rolled his eyes, though the immigration officer might have noticed as he delivered a scowl of epic proportions that seemed only more and more typical of the mainland population.
“Is it done?”
“Wait sir, we have to take a proper photo.” Sure as hell you do, Dominic’s fingers screwed into a tight ball. Because I so totally am a person that you need to track just in case I let loose a bomb of sorts on the damned plane. God bless your soul, officer, but I’ve had enough of this. Dominic would later see on the officer’s screen that he looked like a hardened criminal, with his eyes burning with some sort of unjustified anger only a murderer possessed, or at least he thought a murderer had. All he needed was a plate number and the stripes behind that spoke of how tall he was.
“Okay, come here.”
Dominic almost threw the passport at the officer’s head, but slowly placed it on the counter, where it was snatched right from his fingers. It was not as if it were his first time in Beijing, but Dominic could not stand the place. It was dirty, it was filled with crass people, and the food was mysterious at best. So much for being the capital of China: he swore that when he reached the office, he’d give Helios a piece of his mind about sending him to Beijing for another exchange with any university of any sort or whatever wherever. Beijing was on his blacklist.
“Dear passengers, due to the weather cold, please be careful of sliding fall if you board the plane from the road. Thank you for your listening.”
And the English. Dear God, the English. How many years has it been since the Beijing Olympics? So much for hoping to globalise: Beijing would just have to wait for the world’s population to grow over their new generation of Chinese-speakers. Dominic clutched the handle of his briefcase a little harder, the hard red leather scrunching under the strength of his fingertips.