In the dark-deep, where no sunlight penetrates, flashing lights signaled a gathering of squids. The older, largest squid, No. 5, had caught a Minke Whale, and the commotion had attracted others who waited for their chance to snatch some or all of the whale.
“why me-you fight for whales? why me-you hurt each other?” flashed No. 5. “small seal-eat-whale no fight. work together catch seal, fish. all eat good. same like them, you help me, I help you—catch seal, catch whale, catch squid. better no fight.”
“what seal-eat-whale?”(orca) asked a smaller younger squid, No. 35.
“whale swim together, get big spots,” signaled No. 5.
“now me know,” said No. 35. “get teeth.”
“try see?” said No. 5 “me-you, swim together? catch—eat together?”
“okay,” signaled most of the others.
“As you requested Wili, I’ve gathered information about attracting squid by lights for you to look over,” said Carlos. “There’s a long history of commercial squid fisheries using powerful surface lights at night to attract squids to their boats. Blue and green lights like LEDs are also very effective. But of most interest was the use of lights and submersibles in really deep waters to film giant squids for the first time.”
“Good work, Carlos,” said Dr. Octavian. “And yet, we still know very little about the daily life of giant squids. It is thought that they are solitary and not schooling like their smaller cousins, but no one knows for sure. How they reproduce is not known. They just live so deep that it’s almost impossible to make observations. And we’re tasked with finding possibly really gigantic squids or something even stranger for which we have only sonar contacts as evidence of their existence.”
Jessie deleted the letter she was dictating and started over again. She was reading her latest effort when she heard Cecilia begin to cry in the bedroom. After saying ‘save’ and ‘sleep’ to pause her dictation she rose from her chair and went to Cecilia.
“Jessica, can I help you with anything?” her mother called from the kitchen.
Jessie laughed, “Thanks, Mom, but I don’t think so. You’d be kind of dry for this job.” She picked up Cecilia, comforted her, and sat down on the rocker. You are really packing on the weight, she thought, as the baby settled down to noisily nurse in earnest.
Her mother came to the door and leaned against the frame. “Are you sure you’re going to be all right when I leave in two weeks? I can stay for as long as you need me.”
“No, Mom, I’ll be fine. I won’t be going back to work till she’s nine months old, and even then I’ll be able to do a good part of the work from home. What I need is to have you read the letter that I’ve been trying to write to Greg’s parents about Cecilia. I just don’t know how they’re going to take it. I told you they didn’t approve of me. ‘Resume,’ she said.’” And her draft reappeared on the screen.
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Chao,
I know that I haven’t been in contact with you since Greg was killed. And I know that you didn’t approve of our relationship, even though he told you we were very much in love. It’s taken me a long time to reconcile to the fact that Greg is gone as I’m sure has been the case with you.
First, please understand that I want nothing from you. I want to reassure you that I am not seeking anything for myself. I hesitated a long time before deciding that I should tell you. Finally I concluded that it would be unfair to you to not know that you are grandparents.
I did not realize that I was pregnant until one month after Greg’s passing. My pregnancy was uneventful, and Baby Cecilia was born almost two months ago on June 7th. She is doing fine. I would like to send pictures of her to you, if you wish, but I don’t want to do anything that would exacerbate the hurt that I know you still must feel.
My email address is included. If I do not hear from you, I shall not contact you again.
“It sounds fine,” said Mrs. Turner. “Maybe a little stiff, but since you don’t know them, I think that’s all right. And since you don’t know them, I would not email it to them but send it more formally by post mail.”
T.F. Chao heard his wife’s outcry and rushed to her. “Lily, Lily, what’s wrong?” He found her standing in the study, holding a sheet of paper, with tears streaming down her cheeks.
“How dare she? After all this time. How dare she reopen our wounds again?” She held the letter out to him.
T.F. read, the pit of his stomach turning to ice as he did, and he felt his eyes become wet. “Greg left us a granddaughter,” he whispered. He sat down heavily in his swivel chair.
“If we can believe what this . . .this woman writes,” said Lily. “How do we know it’s true? How do we know she’s not an adventurer? It could be any man’s baby.”
“But what if it’s true, Lily?” He reread the letter. “She says she will not contact us again if we do not reply.”
“Easy to say.”
“Greg’s daughter. Our granddaughter.”
“If what she says is true.”
“Greg told us they were in love. That they planned to marry even after we said we did not approve. What shall we do?” He looked out over the glistening expanse of Hong Kong Harbor that spread out below their penthouse windows. “We need to reply.”
“How can we trust what she says? All we know about her is what Greg told us. And the pictures that he sent. We destroyed them after he passed away.”
“Lily, we have to trust Greg’s judgment of her character. Our son would not have fallen in love with an unworthy person. Greg’s baby. And she is named Cecilia too.”
“Maybe Greg’s baby. And so clever of her to give her the same name as that of our daughter.”
The Visiphone chimed. Who could be calling in the middle of the afternoon? I hope it didn’t wake Cecilia, thought Jessie. She answered, “Hello?” but the screen remained blank. That’s suspicious, she thought.
“Hello. Is this Jessica Turner speaking?”
If this is another solicitation, I’m going to tell them to take me off their list. What ever happened to the do not call list? “Who are you and what do you want?” she said curtly.
“My name is Cecilia Chao. I am Greg’s sister.”
“My God!” was all Jessica could say, feeling lightheaded. “Oh my God.” There was no word after I sent the letter; I had given up hope of ever hearing; and now this, she thought.
“Jessica. Are you still there? Are you all right?”
“Yes. But this is just such a shock! Where are you?”
“I’m calling from a car and according to GPS, I’m about fifteen minutes from you. May I come by and visit?”
“Of course.” Wish you’d called ahead so I could have straightened up first, she thought.
“And don’t bother to pick up,” said Cecilia Chao as if she could read her mind. “I know I caught you by surprise.”
Of course you did. You planned it that way, thought Jessie.