Min Zhan sat cross-legged on the floor, his grown daughter beside him, parsing through the detritus of his wife’s death. The trunk was like a Russian doll, boxes within boxes, each filled with Hui-Wen’s treasures: letters, sepia-stained photographs, silk scarves. The grainy ultrasound of Tien, their Winter Surprise. Diplomas, citizenship papers, birthday cards. Holding their formal wedding picture, Hui-Wen smiling in her red qipao, him nervous in his silks, wrung pain from his heart.
In his lap, the last box, silk-covered, the color of bamboo.
He did not know that box.
Tien leaned against him. Inside, a vellum folder embossed Acta Neurologica Science Prize. San Francisco. March 1982. Crisp tissue covered the program and the faded news clip of Hui-Wen accepting the gold cup. Her brightest moment without him; he’d traveled to Beijing tending to his dying mother.
A postcard slid out, gaudy with palm trees and bluest sky melting into sea. Even before picking it up, he knew the card came from Hawaii. A shared dream, never realized.
One week, my Princess, and we celebrate your prize. I shall drape you in leis and love. V
The smudged post-mark confirmed the hard knot growing in his stomach. He gazed at his daughter, her pale eyes foreign as the postcard, and understood why her mother named her Sky.