[ a beautiful fruit]
(Photo via Klearchos Kapoutsis on Flickr)
For several years now, I've been obsessed with the homebound stories of soldiers and students who were separated from their families during the Chinese Civil War. This is mostly because my own grandfather was separated from his family when he went to Taiwan as a teenager, and he didn't return to China for decades, not until after his mother was dead.
There are a lot of stories like this, and they make me cry. One of these incredible, heartbreaking stories is about a young boy who was sent away by his mother to keep him safe. He later grew to be someone who pledged to bring back remains of old soldiers to their home villages, because he himself returned too late to see his mother again. One of the most heartbreaking aspects of his stories that stuck with me was his own regret that he'd missed the opportunity to see his mother one last time as the cart pulled away because he was busy eating a pomegranate. He would never touch another pomegranate throughout his life, the regret and sorrow of that moment too wrapped up in that fruit.
That pain, encapsulated in such a beautiful fruit, really haunted me. I set about trying to put it in fiction, to reimagine this man's life, or at least a man similar to this man, in my own way. Of course, in this story, the man ends up in America, unlike the person he is based upon, who still lives in Taiwan and works to bring the remains of soliders home. I hope I have done this story justice.
I am so honored to have this story published in Guernica and on the PEN America website as part of their Flash Fiction Series. I cannot imagine a better home for this story than these two organizations.
(There are two links because of the cross-affiliation!)
Thank you to Cathy Chung and Antonio Aiello for their patience and editorial feedback, which helped to make this story much, much stronger.