|Story based on a newspaper clipping given to me by a friend. Thanks, David!|
Wing raises the cup to his lips and blows on the tea to cool it. Then, shuffling in his slippers and bent over with arthritis, he begins his daily ritual: a tour of his house. He knows every corner, every drawer and shelf and floorboard by heart. Wing has lived here for fifty seven years.
Six months ago, they tried to take it from him. Developers came with clipboards and winning smiles. They passed him envelopes with cheques inside. "Relocation Compensation," they called it. The price they were willing to pay to tear down Wing's house to build Highway 89. But he refused all of them. Eventually, they constructed the highway around him. Now cars pass Wing's house unceasingly, like waves in a vast ocean.
In that corner of the bedroom, his son, Bai took his first breath. Years later, under that window over there, his wife, Lien died in her chair. Wing can still smell the incense and hear the mourning songs.
The tea cup clatters in the saucer as Wing moves from room to room, remembering.
In the front parlour, he discovers his brother, Chen sitting in the rocking chair.
"You're here," Wing whispers.
Chen smiles. "Hello, old man," he says.
Wing carefully sets his tea down on the side table.
"Is it time to go?" he asks Chen, feeling tears well in his eyes, "I've been alone so long."
"Yes," Chen says.
"Should I be frightened?"
"Not at all."
At the front door, Wing uses a knife to sever the first rope. When it snaps, the whole house groans. He saws through the second and third rope. Beads of sweat form on Wing's forehead and upper lip. He feels dizzy, and his thin arms ache. But he keeps on working. When the last rope has been cut, the house shudders and begins to move.
Wing lowers himself onto the couch, beside his brother. Through the window, he can still see the long lines of cars moving past. But now they are moving too. Slowly, carried on the sea, the house drifts to the horizon.