The Butterfly Lovers
Fully recovered from her ordeal, Orlando Jones began to consume Chinese stories. She read the Peony Pavilion, A Dream of Red Mansions, Camel Xiangzi, "The Shop of the Lin Family".  In Beijing she had visited Lao She's former house.
On 28th November 2001 Orlando Jones and Li Zhuo had gone swimming in the No. 6 (later she was told it was actually No.1) oil refinery swimming pool. The pool complex was situated in the area of Jinzhou where the workers of the No. 6 (or # 1) oil refinery lived and worked. The apartment buildings there were similar to those elsewhere but shabbier, a little. On the way there they drove along a street where all the younger trees had been wrapped for the winter. The, by now bare, branches were covered by large plastic bags gathered in and tied to the trunk. The trunks were completely wrapped in sort of thick hessian twine. She thought of Christo. Despite the freezing temperature outside, the pool water was only slightly colder than body temperature- a tiny shock at first but after a lap, perfect. Orlando Jones was the only person swimming free-style. All of the Chinese swimmers were breast-strokers - curious. The rules at the pool were strict - wearing a bathing cap was compulsory, as was removing one's shoes before entering the dressing rooms. Undressing, dressing and showering were communal and Chinese women ran about in the open change and shower areas completely and unselfconsciously naked. Later - on Christmas Eve- Orlando Jones discovered that N, the petroleum engineer from her adult class, worked at that refinery with the Olympic sized pool.
In the bus on the way to the pool, Li Zhuo recounted the story of the music that was playing through the bus speaker system. It was a well known Chinese story, remade as a film and an opera. The story was about a young Chinese woman who disguised herself as a boy in order to attend school. There she befriended a young man with whom she, of course, fell in love. He, of course, also liked her but thought that she was a boy. Later, they both graduated and returned to their respective homes. The young man however met the young woman's cousin and discovered that his friend was actually a girl. He realised that he was in love with her. He set out to find her and declare his love but unfortunately and tragically, he died. Orlando Jones kept thinking, "These are Shakespearian star-crossed lovers" as Li Zhuo recounted this tale. Meanwhile, back in the girl's village, her parents had promised her in marriage to a man from another town. She was devastated. Nevertheless, she journeyed by train with her parents to the prospective husband's village. On the way they passed the cemetery where the young man was buried. The heroine disembarked from the train (Orlando Jones was unsure whether the train was stopped at the time) and went to visit the grave of her lost love. As she approached the tomb it opened (miraculously it seemed) and she entered to join her dead lover. Sometime later (Orlando Jones was unsure how long) two butterflies emerged and fluttered off together. The musical version of the story was very popular in China and was used by China's champion figure skater. Orlando Jones thought: "There will be ice here soon."
Orlando Jones thought too of the young heroine of the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon who disguised herself as a boy in order to become a warrior -a warrior with her own sword. After she returned home on New Year's Eve (it was freezing in the streets and she could see the fireworks from her window) she discovered that Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was playing on CCTV 6 (the Movie Channel) across the midnight time slot. "Perfect", she thought. She watched it (in Chinese, no English subtitles of course) and the fireworks in the park at the same time. Some Japanese students exploded fireworks in the courtyard outside. When they were too cold they went inside and held little columns that fired tiny coloured fireballs out of the windows. A security guard with a flashlight admonished them but it was already 2002.
Orlando Jones also learned the story of Dragon Boat Day. On that day (the fifth day of the fifth lunar month) the Chinese people ate glutinous (sticky) rice wrapped and steamed in bamboo leaves. The rice parcels (zongzi) were also thrown into rivers, lakes, and bodies of water so that the fish would eat the rice and not the poet. Other versions of the story insisted that the rice be thrown into the water so that the poet would not be hungry. Nevertheless, Dragon Boat day was the anniversary of the poet, Ch'u Yuan's death. He committed suicide in the river Mih Lo because his country had been conquered and he could not bear it. He was the Prime Minister and an aristocrat. He felt he had failed to fulfil his duties to the Emperor. He was also a great poet, the 'first' of the great Chinese poets. Dragon Boat Day was his day.
The art of stories calmed Orlando Jones.
Desire is everywhere, but in the amorous state it becomes something very special: languor.