Border Architects: Disease

The warning against travel to Beijing was lifted days before we arrived in the summer heavy city. The day we bought our tickets for the train my mother called to warn us what she was hearing on the news. I told her not to worry: China’s government said it wasn’t that bad. The SARS will surely be conquered by our government under the leadership of the Communist Party of China. On the train we bunked with an old Mongolian man and his granddaughter. When everything finally lurched to a stop a Chinese guard stepped into our room and silently pointed something metal at my forehead. It took me a few sinking moments before I realized it wasn’t a gun. I only recognized her weapon as a thermometer because my dad is a large animal veterinarian. She shot my partner and then the Mongolians, one by one. Having determined that none of us had a fever she moved on, never speaking a word. And so we crossed the border.