By LING LIN
The old lady forgets when she starts to spend the afternoon sitting on her wheelchair in the backyard, alone, and falls asleep before finishing the newspaper in her hands. It was her own idea to live independently after her husband passed away a decade ago, but at the same time she’s thankful that her kids will come to visit once in a while. Especially after her surgery last winter, they’ve started coming more frequently. But that’s not true for her one and only grandson. His parents didn’t tell him anything until three days after the surgery in order to make him concentrate on the last stretch of time before he became a real doctor. Being on the other side of Earth, even though he knew there was nothing he could do for his grandma, he laid on the bed for hours, overwhelmed by guilt, after knowing she was safe. By the time he came back home, it was already mid-summer.
“Your grandma didn’t have faith in herself and yeah, I didn’t expect to see you again,” she smiled to him. “You’ve gained weight, haven’t you?” she mumbles, lifting her eyelids.
The backyard looks empty, with only a clothes pole and several flower pots, one of which holds a newly-grown perilla. A spiral monkey toy her grandchildren used to play with is forever wound around the steel fence behind the pots; it reminds her of the time her grandson spent in this house. He was still a baby back then, and his mom usually left him at her house. He found a particular interest in crawling on the ground, so most of the time, she used the monkey to guide him in the right direction. The old woman remembers her grandson’s birthday will be next month. She decides to sneak some money to him during his last family visit before leaving for school so that he can buy things he likes.
“Could you go to the market and get enough chicken for tonight?” She knows he loves chicken barbecue; as a child, he always asked her to cook it.
Her grandson always dwells in her heart, like the monkey in the backyard, never removed.