A blood gradient is what it sounds like: a Punnett square fading out towards one edge where the traits jog and skip generations like pixels printed apart. I’m getting divorced, the woman says. Everything in her café is red, and so is her hair—a purple red she has to keep redyeing. (I can’t wash it often, she says over a 2:00 Irish coffee [it’s been one of those weeks, she says]). She only has one daughter, aged six, who cries when she can’t decide what shoes to wear. I don’t understand it, the woman says. Her older two kids are boys. They’re easier. They just read. I nod as if I know this and compliment her skin. I never meant to run this place, she says. I just did the accounts. I don’t know quite what she means. We’ve met just as I’m becoming a regular and she’s becoming an owner. Neither of us is good at it yet. Her orchid hair clip is made out of the same material as a wetsuit, she explains, and the fuchsia veins are painted in. Blood doesn’t bite paper as hard—it’s how we read zoo captions over the apes without seeing our alleles, unbathed.