My ba-chan’s house teeters on a faraway ledge. The waves have been lapping at the shore for years, yet she wants to remain until the house falls into the ocean. Gingerbread walls will crumble as saltwater dissolves frosting that has fused bedrooms to hallways for over sixty years. Gumdrops the size of bowling balls will tumble through the living room, leaving the scent of bourbon in their wake.
That house was built for sturdy bodies. My grandmother crawled up those stairs when her legs buckled. Or she slept at the kitchen table my grandfather made at Camp. Beside her: the smell of mildewy newspaper and plastic seaweed. On the mantle: stale candy canes and dried flowers. Pictures of her wedding in 1941. Lumps of wax. A box of dust and bone.
She said she will not move until we all fall squirming and legless into the ocean. Our limbless bodies wriggling in bitter water, we will sink until we hit bottom. We will slither through the muck, prey for giant flounder.
My father threw out his back as he loaded her bed into the moving van. By the time I get there, the sugar will have gone—nothing left but whiskey.