Old Liao spent most of his hours watching the trains through the window.
He ignored his grandchildren’s noisy inattention as they ran around the apartment with their phones and music.
He remembered how he had respected his own grandmother, a raisin-faced woman whom none in his village could remember ever being young.
Liao watched a locomotive pulling a string of cars that stretched beyond the horizon. This world so different than his childhood, the Communist school taught in a mountainside shack, the iron pots of barley gruel cooked over charcoal, Mao’s soldiers in muddy green coveralls and red-star caps.
Different even from when as a young man he came to the hungry city of shovels and saws, twelve-hour days pouring concrete and laying tile.
He smiled and pulled his shawl close around his shoulders, felt his bones beneath the skin of his wrists.
None of these children could imagine him being young either.