I’m starting to notice a pattern of simple, storybook-like narration in stories starring people from non-American cultures. It’s apparent in Persepolis (a graphic novel I highly recommend), and it’s also clear in “Miss Me Forever” (which I also recommend, though not as highly as the former book). “Miss Me Forever,” starring a Nepalese immigrant to America named Tulsi, is narrated in third-person, unlike Persepolis. But when the narrator says something like “Tulsi does not like Halloween, and will be happy when it has passed” (Cross, 117), the word choice and re-clarified information brings to mind a father reading an age-appropriate book to his son. Which fits, since this is a story about innocence in several ways.
Tulsi travels to the United States after escaping a refugee camp and losing his sister to another family. He compares himself to Jonah, and religion is certainly on his mind once he enrolls in Pastor Ken’s ESL class (whether this is part of or supplementary to his high school, the story doesn’t make clear. I’m not even sure what ESL means… English as a Second Language, perhaps?). The immigrant strikes up a friendship with Ken’s wife Abigail, which blossoms until Ken takes up a position at another church and the couple has to move. Tulsi travels to see her, but must learn to face abandonment one more time.
You can tell by this description that this short story will end with a sad and poignant moment, which it does. But the whole story brings about an air of loneliness simply because Abigail’s usually the only other person in a scene when Tulsi’s not alone. Tulsi spends time with others of his kin, such as his grandfather and his neighbors, but their conversations usually consist of complaining about America. Abigail is full of life and hope, which is why Tulsi finds himself drawn to her. His innocence drives forward the plot in a way that shows a good combination of story and character— each is dependent on the other. And with a careful selection of which scenes to put in the story, Tulsi’s isolation comes across well. Cross chose not to show Tulsi having comfortable interactions with other Americans for a reason.
Eugene Cross is certainly prolific, with his stories appearing inAmerican Short Fiction, Callaloo, and Story Quarterly. He has received numerous writing awards, and has a collection of short stories called Fires of Our Choosing coming out. He can be contacted on twitter @EugeneCross1. In a way, “Miss Me Forever” is a great example of a typical Glimmer Train story, in terms of subject matter and themes. It might not reach the heights of some of the things I’m reading now (like Persepolis), but there’s certainly nothing wrong with it.
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Published by Nick Edinger