For March, we are presenting you with a chapter from Ronan Hisayo Buchanan's debut novel, Harmless Like You (published last month), a story about Yuki, a lonely Japanese American girl trying to make her way through the art world amidst a tangle of relationships, and the son she abandons who confronts her decades later. The book is written in spare, beautiful prose, and leaves you aching for its characters. This selection occurs early in the book, and tells of how Yuki comes to be separated from her family when they move back to Japan.
— Karissa Chen, Senior Literature Editor
A pale blue-green. It was thought a celadon-glazed plate touched by poison would crack. Untrue, but the plates were prized anyway.
Yuki sprawled on Odile’s bed reading the January 15th issue of The Paper. It was from three days before—there were always old copies lying around the apartment. Supposedly, Andy Warhol had suggested the publication’s name as a joke. Yuki flipped past the stuff about the Super Bowl in LA, looking for news about the war.
“Stop it.” Odile tugged, and the page ripped at the corner. “Seriously, you’re obsessed.”
“I’m not obsessed.”
“You are,” she said. “He was a boy, he tried it on. That’s what they do.”
“He kissed me. My first kiss.” That sounded like a song on the radio and wasn’t what she meant at all. He had left her with feet that felt permanently bare. She wanted him dead, but then didn’t—he’d turned her into a broken traffic light blinking stop and go all at once.
Stupid. He was a boy who had wanted something from her. It happened everywhere all the time, and anyway, Yuki was going to Tokyo to be surrounded by Japanese boys.
“I just want to know if he’s alive.”
“What if he is?” Odile asked. “Are you going to wait for him?”
Their friendship bracelet was woven from that night of fear and streetlight. They stole the afternoons, cutting school together. Yuki didn’t care about The Scarlet Letter, Robert E. Lee or Ulysses S. Grant. In Japan, no one used middle initials. Men came up to Odile on subway platforms and at the diners where the two girls sat drinking free refills of black coffee. But if Yuki reached out, Odile would hold tight to her hand, as if they were crossing the road together. Yuki explained that it worried her mother too much if she stayed out late, and miraculously Odile only said, “That must be nice,” without pressing the issue further. By second semester, Yuki didn’t need to reach out any more, because she knew the sharp-nailed hand was there.
Odile taught her to dance to the Rolling Stones, to move her shoulder to her ear, to chew on her lip and shut her eyes as if the music were stroking its fingers down her ribs. Odile taught her not eating could feel like being drunk or like floating. Odile said it was possible to feel yourself move out of your body, as the Sufis did, though neither of them had ever met a Sufi.
Yuki still went to school on Fridays for art class. Light and shadow required no translation, and while drawing she forgot herself in the whisper of charcoal on paper.
On the first of February, the two girls stood shivering on the roof of Odile’s brownstone. Snow choked the gutters, and the only green was a broken wine bottle shattered on the street below. The girls’ teeth clattered like tin cans rolling in the wind, as Odile set up her mother’s Nikon. It was black, covered in knobs and looked like a machine of war, not an instrument of art. Odile added pins to Yuki’s bangs. They’d spiraled their hair into thick ringlets, but the uncaring wind ripped and twisted, pulling out pins as fast as Odile added them.
“Rub your cheeks like you’re polishing silver,” Odile said.
“You’ve never polished silver.”
“Used to—Lillian’s jewelry.”
They stood side by side in the snow. Yuki held the cable release behind her back, but the thick rubber cord that connected the trigger to the camera couldn’t be hidden.
Odile said, “Another one.” And a moment later, “Another.”
As Yuki felt the click, she wondered if the camera would see their silvery breath. Did the ache in her eyes show? She wished the camera could fix her in the snow with her friend, and it would be the photograph-girl who would leave the roof and then the country. They used all thirty-six exposures. Their knees turned vermilion as the Red Delicious apples that sat in the kitchen uneaten. The photographs were to be split between them. A memento. They folded up the tripod. Odile steadied the top, while Yuki bent in the snow and unfastened the latches. With her face down, her nose weeping from the cold, Yuki said, “I don’t want to go.” It had taken her a decade to make this friend. She was not ready to lose her.
“So stay,” Odile replied.
“Parents would never let me. Where’d I live?”
“With me. Obviously.”
Odile lived with her mother: Lillian Graychild, authoress, as she was known on the backs of her paperback romances. Odile had no memory of her father and didn’t care to ever meet the jackass.
“Your mom wouldn’t mind?”
“What do you think?”
The fire escape sang under their heels. How had Yuki never noticed the abundance of these skeleton stairways? They weren’t just at school. There were illicit pathways all over New York. Yuki and Odile climbed in through the window, shaking the snow from their dresses. The flakes left wet prints on the floor, as if mice had been dancing there.
Lillian looked up from her desk.
“Had fun, girls?” She sat at the kitchen table at her typewriter, in a red dress, and red heels. Odile had explained that her mother believed it was important to be beautiful when courting the gods. But Yuki noted that the backs of her stilettos were striated by long scratch marks, and the leather curled away to reveal the pale wood beneath. The sharp wrinkles on Lillian’s unironed dress stood out as clear as the glue lines on the Graychilds’ mugs. But Yuki thought of her own mother polishing the frames from which their unamused ancestors gazed out. Was such perfection any better?
“Can Yuki stay with us next year?”
“I don’t see why not. Neither of you eat much.” Lillian seemed unfazed, as if Odile had been asking if Yuki could stay to dinner.
Yuki, who was still shy around the strange woman, asked, “You’re sure?”
It had the barest edge of possibility because Yuki’s father was an American citizen. He’d been born in a hospital in California and grown up in the Bay Area. His own father was a doctor, an ophthalmologist. His mother had been nothing but his mother. They were happy then.
“Completely. I always wanted more children.”
Odile looked at her mother skeptically.
When he was six, Yuki’s father took a train to the internment camp in which he would spend the next four years. They made us salute the flag and list the presidents and prove every day that we were American. But if we were really American, would they have put us in camps?
“Really. First children are like first books. You imagine they’re a splinter of your soul. You overthink them. Later, you’re more haphazard, but often better.”
“You lost me on the subway when I was two,” Odile said. “How much thinking were you doing?”
“Hemingway lost all his stories on a train, and anyway, first children, first books, it sounds good. I’m considering using it for something.” She lit a cigarette and the blush-pink tip glowed gold, before browning, then blackening.
“Before or after the princess gets molested?”
After the war, Yuki’s father and his parents moved back to Japan, where no one could afford a fancy ophthalmologist. His father was reduced to a subduer of coughs. His mother ruined her eyes sewing for the wives of American officers, who appreciated her good English.
“I’ll save it for my memoirs.” Lillian turned back to her typewriter. “Be a dear, make me a cup of instant.”
“I’ll do it.” Yuki didn’t know how to insert herself into the bladed irony, but she could be useful—her mother had trained her in that. Yuki had visited enough to know that the chipped mugs lived behind the smoggy glasses. The kitchen was so narrow only one person could stand in it at a time. Her legs had gone dead, and as the kettle boiled she hopped up and down, working the blood into her toes. Needles of pain danced in her feet.
Yuki’s father used his smooth American accent to slip into a top university and then a top company job. He moved up and up the ranks until he was sent back to America. And so they were all three of them American citizens with matte blue American passports, American Social Security numbers, and California-grown rice in the cupboard below the sink. Looking around Odile’s kitchen, Yuki saw no rice at all, but she could live without rice.
To her father, America was a snare. It was as if each time he said the Pledge of Allegiance, America’s rope tightened, and now he was finally about to struggle free. She didn’t want to hurt him. But she didn’t want to return to a country of offerings to the dead.
Odile had retreated to her bedroom and was painting her toenails taxicab yellow.
“You could you know,” Odile said, dabbing at a stray spot of polish. “Stay I mean. Lillian can’t back down. It wouldn’t fit her persona.” Odile began a new nail. “You never know, she might even put you in her memoir.”
It was Sunday morning. Yuki’s mom had laid out fresh rice topped with a soft fillet of salmon for their breakfasts. Yuki shaped her rice into a star, a cross, a rabbit. Dissatisfied, she smashed each design. Even the plate was ugly, chipped brown china. Her mother had examined the chinaware, ornaments and picture frames. If she found a chip or crack she put it back on the shelf. The perfect things she had placed into boxes to be shipped back to Tokyo. They were living with the rejects. This coffee-scum-brown plate would be allowed to stay when she was not.
Her father’s newspaper was on his lap, and he ate without looking up. As he shuttled flakes of pink flesh to his mouth, she felt a heat pressing on her temples. Fish for breakfast? It was ridiculous. He expected her mother to cook it, to prepare the rice and to pour seasoning into a little bowl. It would never have occurred to him that he was demanding.
It was pointless to ask for what she wouldn’t receive, but Yuki asked anyway: “I want to stay. Here, I mean, in America. I have nobody in Japan.” Through the cutaway in the wall, Yuki saw her mother go still. Dishwater stopped plashing and there was only the sound of bubbles expiring. “No, I mean. I know, I’d have family, but I’m not from there. I wouldn’t belong.” It had taken her so many years to begin to belong in New York. “You know what that feels like, right? Yes? To be in a place you really don’t belong.” Neither her father’s rages at Americans nor her mother’s obsessive polishing of the altar had ever been described explicitly as homesickness.
Her father folded the paper across his lap. “I see. And where would you live?”
“Odile’s mom said I could live with them.”
He frowned. Her father hadn’t liked Odile when he came to the Christmas concert. The two girls had stood at the back and mouthed words to hymns neither had bothered memorizing. He didn’t trust her pale eyes, the shade of lettuces fresh out of the bag. “When American girls look soft it means they are hard. She is not the sort of friend I hoped you would make.” She hadn’t asked him what he knew of hard American girls.
But now, he tucked Yuki’s hair behind her ear, as he’d done when she was a kid. “My colleagues advised me that your chances of university placement would be poor in Japan. It is not like when I was young. You write like a child. But you are not old enough to live alone.”
She switched into Japanese, and her voice pitched up a notch. “I won’t be alone. I’ll be staying with Odile’s mom.” Yuki heard herself wheedling.
She hadn’t prepared for negotiation, but he seemed open. If she stayed here, she might go to a good school and come back to Tokyo with a prestigious American degree. Her father listened, even nodding along.
“You are sure this is what you want?” He ate the silver band of salmon skin, a luxury he always left for last. “I will need to speak to this Ms. Graychild.”
Her parents invited Odile and Lillian out to dinner. Yuki’s parents never invited anyone into their apartment. It was their space, not for the eyes of Americans. Her father made a booking at the local French restaurant. He hated French food, but Yuki knew the bill would qualify the restaurant as high-class, which was what mattered. No one would look down on the Oyamas.
The Graychilds were late. They rushed in, and Yuki’s father stood to shake their hands. Odile had trapped her cream-puff hair in a bun, and her tweed skirt was almost staid. She greeted Yuki’s father with a professional, “Pleased to make your acquaintance.”
“Mr. Oyama!” Lillian kissed him on the cheek. The cheek muscle twitched. Yuki wrung her napkin in frustration. This dinner was pointless.
“Pleased to meet you,” her father said.
It was early in the night, the restaurant was half empty and their orders were fulfilled quickly. Odile chopped her salad leaves up into neat squares. Lillian’s foie-gras-stuffed quail crackled as she dug the point of her knife into its back. Around Lillian’s white neck was a string of whiter pearls that Yuki suspected were fake.
“You live alone?” Yuki’s father asked.
“Oh, yes, quite alone.”
Odile had told Yuki there was a boyfriend—a journalist, rolling her eyes as she said it to indicate what a pathetic job that was.
Her father’s steak knife was blunt, and he stopped between each question to saw at the red-hearted meat. Lillian scraped foie gras off the edge of her knife. Despite his perfect manners, Yuki’s father was the one who looked out of place at the table with the white roses and three layers of silverware. Five to a table left one empty seat and Yuki’s mother was opposite Lillian’s scarlet leather briefcase.
“Your husband has passed on?” Yuki’s mother asked, presumably addressing Lillian but facing Lillian’s case.
“Something like that, yes. Passed on. Greener pastures.”
Her father nodded. “It was kind of you to offer.”
“Oh, Yuki is a pleasure.”
Lillian speared a thin leg, sucking down the flesh on the gray bone. She’d ordered the most expensive dish on the menu. Yuki had never seen Lillian eat this much. She waited for her to go into one of her speeches, but Lillian just said, “Of course, I’m a writer, so we may not be able to keep her in the manner to which she has become accustomed.”
Yuki’s father flushed. In Japan, such a matter between social equals was handled without mention of payment, only gifts. These gifts were like payments, but came in prettier envelopes. Yuki thought, it’s over now, but her father didn’t rage at American etiquette. He dabbed his forehead with the thick napkin. Had the indomitable beef broken his spirit? Or maybe, just maybe, he understood that his daughter wasn’t ready to be different all over again in a new country.
“We would support her, of course.” And then in an even quieter voice, “And the burden she’d put on your household.” Yuki tried to meet his eyes, but he just looked down at the steak.
On the way home, he spoke with admiration of Lillian. “She is a writer. She can help you with your college essays. Your mathematics are not good, but perhaps you will be okay.”
But as they set their shoes in the neat familial row, Yuki’s mother—normally so accepting of Americans—said, “Did you see, when the girl dropped her napkin, she waited for the waiter to pick it up.”
“It’s the American way, lazy. I thought you knew that by now,” Yuki’s father replied. “But Yuki is a big girl. She won’t forget how to be Japanese.”
“I won’t, I promise.”
“You are sure?” her mom asked, voice thick with worry. The hand touching Yuki’s chin seemed to be asking something else. “You won’t forget?”
“Of course not.”
“Stay here.” Her father walked to his study. Her mom lowered her voice and said, “You can come home if you are lonely. It is okay. I did not go to university anywhere.”
Yuki did not know how to say that she was lonely right then standing next to her mother, that she could feel the loneliness biting into her hands. She knew no one else who had to choose between their family and their home. She didn’t want to be her mother following a sad man around the world. But then the sad man was back, checkbook in one hand, fountain pen in the other. He made out two checks; one she was to give to her principal and the other to Odile’s mother. He put each in its own envelope, writing the recipients’ names in the thick ink of his fountain pen. His handwriting was perfectly smooth, the middle “l”s of Lillian swaying together like two trees in the same breeze. She hugged him, tightly. The pen still in his hand dropped two points of ink onto the table, but he didn’t complain. With his free hand, he petted her hair.
She packed quickly. She’d move in with the Graychilds immediately as a trial run, before her parents boarded the plane for Japan. If either party backed out, other arrangements would be made. Lillian accepted the check without commenting on the amount, although Yuki, knowing her father, suspected it was generous.
There was no guest room.
“You’ll share with me,” Odile said.
“Where should I?” Yuki gestured to her suitcase and the cluttered room.
“Under the bed.” Odile flung shoes across the floor, making room for Yuki’s small life.
Yuki took from her purse the photograph, and slipped it between glass and mirror frame. “I won’t need to take it with me, because this is where I am.” It was Yuki’s copy of the photograph they’d taken together as snow slipped down their skulls, a totem of her invitation. In it, Odile’s eyes were shut, while Yuki’s eyes stared outwards. Their black and blond hair laced in the wind.
“Weirdo.” Odile laughed.
From the first rush of their friendship, she’d gone to Odile’s apartment almost every day after school. Yuki knew the toilet needed to be flushed twice, and that it was acceptable to wear one’s shoes inside. Still, there were things to get used to.
Lillian and Odile skipped lunch and breakfast in favor of coffee and grapefruit so sour the taste seared through the brew. The radiators sighed, and the windows rattled. In places, the paint was rubbed down to its beige undercoat. In others, it held the discarded bristles of a long-ago painter’s brush.
It wasn’t until she’d been living there a week that Yuki met Lou, Lillian’s “lover”. Odile called him “that fucker.” She enunciated the two syllables with such vigour that it sounded like fuck-her.
He just showed up for Friday dinner. Yuki looked up, startled, from her homework; it was a week late and it was an exercise in the mathematics of guilt as much as Pythagoras.
“Lou,” he said. It took her a moment to understand that he was introducing himself. At dinner, he talked about The Paper, where he worked. Yuki was initially excited that he was a journalist, but then he said he was a sports reporter. She always skipped the pages detailing the endless cycle of men and their muscles. Apparently the game, whatever game it was, had gone long. Yuki didn’t know if that was good or bad. She watched his big hands; she could see each muscle connect to the next, as he stabbed at the dry chicken meat. Lillian was almost silent as he talked, her eyes big and soft as Yuki had never seen them. After dinner, he pulled Lillian onto his lap. He was short and she was tall, so her chin rested on the top of his red hair.
“We’re going to my room,” said Odile, as Yuki fumbled to gather up the plates.
Behind the thin and draught-leaky bedroom door, Odile didn’t lower her voice. “Urg. He’s disgusting.”
“Disgusting?” He wasn’t handsome—short, red-headed, arms latticed with green veins—but disgusting was an oozing sort of word.
“He’s just so weaselly.” Yuki had never seen a weasel. He’d made her think of a cat. As they ate, he had swiveled his eyes over the table without twitching his chin, in a way that was strange and feline, like he was watching a mouse make its oblivious way across the floor. Strange to think of a grown man as catlike. Wasn’t that supposed to be girls, who were feline? But then she’d seen the raw-boned toms leap from trashcans, and heard the hard clatter of their claws on pavement.
“And like, why is he dating my mother? She’s ten years older than him.” Which Yuki guessed put him in his mid-thirties. But they made sense to Yuki, the writer quite literally scraped at the heels and the journalist with the clawed smile.
“Yeah, I guess. I don’t know.”
Odile frowned. Yuki was being boring.
“Well look, it’s better than my parents. It was so boring . . . This is, this is . . .” The right word was stuck between her teeth. “Artistic.”
“Yeah right.” But Odile seemed pacified.
“It suits you.”
Lou stayed the night and on Saturday morning he lay on his stomach, feet in the air, like a boy at his coloring books. In front of him were the typewritten pages of Lillian’s tsars and princesses. She specialized in Russians. He was attacking them with three different shades of pencil. Lillian watched, sitting on the kitchen table, her heels dangling above the floor. She poured a capful of whiskey into her coffee.
“Irish wake-up, girls?” she asked.
“No, thank you,” said Yuki.
Lou hummed along to the record player. Orange hairs wrapped his arms, fingers and upper lip, like a fungus slowly eating a dying tree. Pencil shavings sprinkled the dark boards.
Lou said, “‘Alexi lifted Ola onto his horse.’ Bit bland?”
“Hoisted?” asked Lillian.
Lou grimaced. Lillian put down her Irish coffee and closed her eyes. She stretched out her arms and made two circles with her thumbs and forefingers, the most unlikely Buddha. Odile, sitting on the arm of the couch, rolled her eyes.
“‘Alexi hoisted her, and her breath fluttered, light as a sparrow’s wings.’”
Yuki imagined the princess choking on feathers.
“Dove’s rather than sparrow’s,” Lou suggested.
As the couple chucked phrases back and forth, Yuki curled on the couch. The dark wooden frame and stiff velvet cushioning made it look like a battered refugee from one of Lillian’s novels. She thumbed a brochure for the Rhode Island School of Design that Miss Shahn had ordered specially. The teacher had held her back at the end of class and said, “I’ve never been as happy as I was there.” Yuki stared at the tuition page and knew it was impossible. Her father wouldn’t pay for art school. He hoped against all evidence that she’d go to Radcliffe, as his younger cousin had done. There she’d meet and marry a Harvard doctor, or even become a doctor herself. Many girls from good families became doctors these days.
No amount of hunger could pay these fees.
Slam—a noise like a fly being smashed. Before Yuki could look up, another thwack. Lillian yelped, and there was the heavy noise of a body falling. Leather hissed against wood. By the time Yuki’s eyes had focused, Lillian was sitting on the floor, touching her jaw. Yuki jumped up, full of the senseless adrenalin of someone running toward a fire. The door snapped shut, and Lou was gone. Odile sighed and left the room.
Lillian walked to the long mirror and began rearranging her hair. Her high heels had skidded to opposite sides of the room. Yuki picked them up. They were light; she’d expected a greater heft.
“Are you . . .” Yuki offered up the shoes, but Lillian’s imperious posture didn’t welcome her concern.
“Hold this, dear.” Lillian waved the hairbrush. Yuki laid the shoes at Lillian’s feet and clenched her fist around the handle.
Anything could be a weapon in this new, domestic war zone, but Yuki seemed to be the only one to have noticed. On the table, the flowers were still in their vase. The tumblers were unbroken; bubbles clung motionless to the sides of the glass. Lillian slipped into her shoes, took the brush from Yuki, and went back to brushing her hair. Her hands had blushed a deep pink.
The apartment was a nation with its unique barbarisms. Yuki told herself that Odile would be just as lost if the situation were reversed, but it was a lie. In Rome do as the Romans, but everywhere else the Romans had made damn sure the locals did as the Romans. Odile contorted the world to her will.
Yuki retreated to Odile’s room.
“Why does he do it?” Lou was short and weak-wristed. He didn’t look like someone with a talent for violence.
“Hit her?” Odile replied. “Don’t you want to?” Odile was organizing her record albums by color.
“You better hurry, if you don’t want to be late for your dearest daddy.” Odile examined a psychedelic square, seeming unsure whether to slot it in with the greens or pinks. Yuki felt dismissed.
At lunch with her parents, she didn’t mention the fight. She laid the food out for the ancestors, without stealing a nibble. All Sunday had the melancholy of performance, as if they were imitating their past selves.
In early March, Lillian finished her book—she completed one every six months. Lillian removed her shoes and danced. Lou joined her in her waltz. Behind them icicles hanging on the windows glowed like stalactites of solid light. Lou ran out to the pizza place and came back with a wheel of margherita. Odile ate the fastest of them all. The dough buckled as she pushed it into her mouth, and the palms of her hands turned orange with grease. They all knew that she’d vomit in the bathroom. Yuki tried this once, but although her body rocked and rolled, the food stayed down. She coughed up saliva, and scraped her throat raw until red swirled through the spit.
Yet, in that moment, they were all happy, even Yuki. Oil dappled their chins. Yuki stretched the long strands of cheese between her fingers and realized that with the Graychilds, she could fail. She could sleep all morning and not attend class. No one would care any more than they scolded the radiators for coughing, or the fridge light for going out. She could paint, and no one would tell her to practice math or kanji. They wouldn’t judge her work because they wouldn’t look at it. If she fell and fell and never hit the ground, was there really anything to distinguish it from flight?
March shuttled past and her parents’ departure date came. She waited with them for the airport car on the steps of their apartment—she’d been gone for a month and a half, and already it had stopped feeling like her apartment. Soon, it really wouldn’t be. She sat on the tile step and wondered when she’d sit there again. When had she last sat there? Her father wrote a list of numbers to call in an emergency and gave her twelve envelopes of cash, each with the month written in his neat script.
“Pocket money,” he said. “In case you need anything.”
Her mother asked her to write and handed her a bag.
“What’s this?” Yuki asked.
“Open it and see,” her mother replied.
It was food, boxes and boxes of food in her mother’s precious Tupperware. It would have taken all night to cook so much.
Two white hairs wound through her mother’s black bob. When had they grown? Yuki’s father had dressed up for the flight. He kissed her on the forehead. Cologne masked his usual scent.
Then, they were gone.
She was left holding a few pieces of paper and a bag of food. The white plastic handles strained from the quantity of boxes, and she had to lace her arms under it like a baby to support it. The weight fell against her chest and throat, though she knew that was not why they hurt so much. Her mother had packed a year of lunches into this one bag. When had she done it, alone in the kitchen? Her mother would always cook alone now. If her mother had had a choice, would she have stayed? Too late to ask now.
Yuki began to walk toward Odile’s apartment; although she knew she could not bring the food, she still clutched the bag. At the last block, she upended the bag, into a sidewalk trashcan. She told herself that it wouldn’t make a difference if it decomposed in her gut or in the trash.
Yuki fitted her key to Odile’s lock, but then pulled it out, darting back to the can to take a last look at the Tupperware rubble. Through the transparent plastic, she saw a brown sliver of eel. It was a taste she barely remembered, from a long-ago trip. Her father never ordered eel in the one Japanese restaurant he deemed authentic. He said it couldn’t compare to Kanda eel. The box lay beside banana skins and worse. A fly landed on the plastic. Yuki reached down and pried off the lid. The meat was sweet, rubbery, but still so good. She held the last bite in her mouth. She’d traded this taste for a new life and a new friend. Yuki promised herself she’d make something beautiful here and her mother would see that it had been worth it.
All day, she looked in the sky for planes but saw none. The sky was flat and still as a bathtub. The city felt oddly empty without them in it. She had the same light-headed feeling as not eating all day.
Excerpted from Harmless Like You by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan. Copyright © 2016 by Rowan Hisasyo Buchanan. With permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.