‘Is the Watermelon Sweet?’ by Emily Yang

Similarly, in this strange and compelling long, short story about loss, memory, and desire, a bush of red Chinese flowers is associated with light, life, passion and violence. The narrator notices how “the ixora bushes lining my walk home were in full bloom, the little red flowers speckling the chalky stretch of low-hanging cityscape with an insouciant charm.” She had “lost interest in them”, until she remembers how “you taught me how to suck the nectar out of the yellow tube in the middle, and I abused this knowledge so much I caused myself stomach pains for six hours straight.” The flowers are an essential part of the landscape, lending atmosphere to the story but also hinting at potentiality of illumination and reconciliation which the narrator is grasping for: “The tiny flowers cracked open like the sparklers we’d light during the better Chinese New Year’s.” 

First published in Puerto del Sol, 2020 and available to read here