Yet another returning character from an early chapter! I introduced Shamila thinking she would come up in the background regularly…and then we didn’t come back to Patrick’s adult ESL classes for almost ten chapters.

Teacher: Okay, everybody pair up with the person next to you and ask three questions each in different past tenses.

Shamila: Patrick! This will be easy. How was your morning?

Patrick: Good! Did your nephews have a good time in school last year?

Shamila: The older one did. The younger one had some trouble. Have you ever had a girlfriend?

Patrick: N-no.

Shamila: A boyfriend?

Patrick: Not that either . . . Unless you just mean any person that you love, and would do anything for, and are happy to be around . . .

. . . and hopefully they love you too, and it can involve sex if that ‘s what they want, but it isn’t necessary. In which case, I’ve had a few hundred of those, I think.

Shamila: Ah! You sure do “get around.”

Patrick: Maybe? Only the one I have right now is important, though. I barely remember the others.

Shamila: Oh, my, don’t say that. To love one person does not mean you must erase the idea of others. Having a past is part of being human.