She had waited until the end of dinner to tell him, but Ingrid was about to put an end to things with Dimitri.

"Dima," she said, "That's it. I am leaving you now. And I think you know why, you bastard." With that she took a final bite of the gimletchops, downed the last of her Becherovka and turned to walk out.

Dimitri, being a hottie and a bit of a smart-ass, was unaccustomed to hearing this sort of talk from anyone, much less some two-bit Czech skirt. So she had a nice body. As if that and her nearly-completed doctorate in geophysics gave her permission to judge anybody, especially a rough-hewn post-soviet academic stud like himself.

"What are you saying, my love?", he ventured. But he knew that it was probably over. Maybe it was for the best: she was a good scientist, but dating her was an emotional roller-coaster ride. There were the candlelit dinners, the flowers, the constant letter writing, the unbearable guitar love songs. So he wasn't at all surprised that his paper on igneous geometries had set her off.

"My love is like a volcano, a terrible seething volcano. It burns inside of me, waiting and wanting to erupt. But you...you are interested only in your work. You have no time for love, for romance, only sex. You are just some piece of Russian hot ass from Odessa that happened to be giving a paper on X-ray crystallography, and..."

It was silicate geometry, he reminded her, and technically he was Ukrainian.

"Whatever! I knew as soon as you explained your ideas about felsic magma viscosity and plagioclase feldspar tetrahedra that I could love you, that you had a mind like no geologist that I had ever met. I was wild about you and your ideas. I thought we would be partners, that we would share our love, our minds and our work. Then yesterday I read in Bundesgeophysik that you have published part of my findings on igneous geometries! That was months and months of my research!"

He shrugged. "I came up with those same conclusions nearly a year ago. Here." He retrieved a notebook from his bag and opened it to one of the earlier pages. "Look at the table there. See the date in the corner? If you are going to publish in this field you are going to have to allow for the possibility that your radical ideas about igneous petrography have already occurred to others."

He signaled the waiter. "Mehr gimletfleisch, bitte" he said through a mouth of food. The Frankfurt geophysics conference was a bit of a bore these days, but a few of the local restaurants really knew how to prepare chops. And then there was the dessert.

"I thought we would be partners," she said.

"Lovers, my dear. You knew from the start that academically I work alone. Personally I thought we had a good thing going: we have to go to these conferences anyway. Then we have dinner, some drinks. We talk about our work. Finally, we spend the night together. We shouldn't ruin what we have."

"Don't force you're relationship philosophy on me", she retorted. "We have nothing. I understand now that from the start you haven't shown an interest in making this relationship work. I am ending it. Now I go."

"Ingrid, dear, if you feel you must go, then go. But why ruin such a nice dinner before it is over? At least stay for the pie, it's really quite good." She left despite this.

Two weeks later Dimitri found a letter from Ingrid in his mail. He could tell even without looking at the name that it was from her: the paper was from the same nice stock she always used, and the envelope smelled like cigarettes and Obsession for women. Inside was a sheet of music. Jesus Christ, he thought, another guitar piece. It was some sort of love song or ballad; he couldn't really tell because he had never learned to read music. Above the handwritten tablatures he read the title: "The geometries of our volcanic love". Also a note: "This is how I want to remember you."

He smiled, and then thought about trying to patch things up. She certainly had passion, something that was perhaps missing in his life. Nobody had ever written him love songs before. Plus, the Milan conference was next month. Maybe they could collaborate on a journal article or two, and things would be fine again. He lit a cigarette, and considered calling her. Then, after staring at the phone for a while, he crumpled the music into the ashtray and set it on fire. I'll miss her, he thought, as he watched the yellow flames engulf the paper.


Another nodeshell with an irresistable title yanked from the abyss.

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