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2014 Story 50

From Red Caps: New Fairy Tales for Out of the Ordinary Readers:


50. CRUEL MOVEMBER by Steve Berman    I'm not sure how many years "No Shave November" / "Mustache November/Movember" has actually been a thing, but I do know it's a great fundraiser for prostate/testicular cancer research and men's mental health as well.  And that's what is at the heart of this story, the only one in the collection completely lacking any kind of speculative fiction angle: the effect cancer can have even on those who are not a victim of the disease. This is one of my favorite stories in the collection. Our narrator, Beau, is completely at a loss when his boyfriend Easton shows up at school on November 1st with a glued-on fake mustache and starts talking about Movember. As the first week of the month creeps on, Easton's facial hair gets more outrageous, and Beau feels a chasm developing between them.  Beau's confusion and Easton's anger / unwillingness to explain why Movember is suddenly so important to him are palpable and very real. There are no easy answers for Beau in this story, and we've all been in that spot when the one person who should be communicating clearly with us (our significant other) is not capable of doing so. I won't ruin the ending, of course. But I will say that the story spools out very satisfactorily and that by the end, all of the choices made by both characters make sense and enable me to view Beau and Easton as two of the most realistic teen gay characters I've had the pleasure of encountering.

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