Parallax View
“You’re Mae Chang. I have your ‘Liebesträume’. I recognized you.” She paused, then added, “I’m sorry: I know who you are, but I still haven’t explained who I am.” She smiled, nervously. “My name is Isabelle Graves. I’m looking for someone – I hoped you might be able to help.”
    Isabelle Graves . Mae struggled to keep her face blank. Hiding her weakness. “Who are you looking for?” she asked in a small voice.
    “My husband,” said Isabelle. “His name is Jonathan. I believe he is at the Chateau d’Arouet. Have you, by any chance, met him?”
    Mae swallowed, remembered the Press labels: be inscrutable! “Yes,” she said. “Jonathan is at the chateau. I am working with him on his new sonata.”
    “His sonata ?” Isabelle looked startled. “Jonathan?”
    Mae nodded, keeping her eyes averted.
    “But Jonathan has never written a note of music in his life. I mean, he loves music, of course, but he can’t even play a kazoo.” She was silent for a moment, studying Mae closely. “Can you tell me what’s going on out there? Why all this secrecy?”
    “What do you mean?”
    “Jonathan is a cultural historian. His research has been funded by PK Syntronics for three years – first on a rolling six month contract, then, in May, they extended it to five years. I last saw him over a month ago. He told me he was going away for a short period, that it was top secret. He was on a big bonus, he said, but I knew there was more to it than that: there was something that had hooked his interest. I knew it was no good opposing him. But I thought he’d at least keep in touch with me.”
    “You heard nothing?”
    Isabelle shook her head. “I only found out where they’ve put him by breaking into his work files at home. I want to know what’s going on, why all the mystery?”
    Mae shook her head. “I really don”t know,” she said. “Your husband has written a magnificent piece of music, in the early Romantic style. I rehearse it with him and hope, one day, to be allowed to record it.” She decided not to worry the woman with the fact that her husband had no memory of her, or of his life outside the chateau.
    Isabelle sighed. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I shouldn’t have bothered you. You must get hassled all the time.” Then she smiled. “I don’t know why I’ve left it so late, in any case: he’ll be back in three days.”
    The announcement shocked Mae. She reminded herself that her contract was only for one week. But how could Jonathan return to England in his current aberrant mental state?
    She glanced at her watch. “I’m sorry,” she said, hurriedly. “I must be getting back. Excuse me, please.”
    “Of course. One thing: is Jonathan keeping well?”
    Looking down at the table again, Mae nodded. “Yes. Yes, he’s fine.”
    She turned away, went out into the street, her expression blank.

    That night, she stayed with Jonathan again, feeling a new kind of guilt, of betrayal.
    She pushed her fingers through the tangles of his hair and whispered, “Can you remember anything from before the chateau?”
    In the pale moonlight, she saw Jonathan’s brow crease. The man she loved. All afternoon and evening she had fought to hide from him the pain she felt inside. “Anything?” she repeated, hoping that, in a flash, he would recall his previous life, that he had never been married and Isabelle had been lying.
    “Like a dream, half-forgotten as you wake,” he said. “Even as you try to grasp the shards of memory they flee, become indistinct. Some faces, I recall. Buildings... a cobbled square and the tall spire of a magnificent church or cathedral.” He shook his head. “I know I have recalled other snippets at other times, but it never slots together. Before I was here, before I had you, Mae, I was not a complete person.”
    He turned to her, stroked her cheek. “The past is gone,” he said. “The present is what is important. And the future.”
    Mae pressed her face into

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