From her perch on the top of the solid, glass-doored bookcase, Small Pearl surveyed her world. The apartment was quiet, so still. Normally her lofty position allowed her direct sight of the only door to the outside world. Daily she watched friends, acquaintances, and members of the family come and go. Some times she would forget that this home was actually in China, her country of birth. So many of her family's friends were foreigners. But then a neighbor or guest would turn up with dark hair speaking the tonal language that seemed stitched into her being and yet she didn't completely know it. Then she remembered. But for now the place was completely quiet, because the family was away on a trip. Not that they paid much attention to her when they were there; but the three boys brought a certain boisterousness and energy to the home that kept it pulsing, and the phones would be ringing, and, of course people, always people, coming and going.