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2014 Story 52

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

52. BITTERSWEET by Steve Berman   Boyfriends Dault and Jerrod are bonding over a Vietnamese coffee in their favorite shop on the last day before Jerrod, a diabetic, has to leave for surgery that will determine whether his foot needs to be amputated or not, and part of that bonding is a quiz about what "imaginary people" they would date: the gingerbread man, the wolf, etc. The relationship has an undercurrent of unsurety: Jerrod worried always that he'll be dumped, Dault wondering if he'd be able to date a guy with only one foot (a fear I can slightly relate to: I ended a relationship with a girl in high school largely because I was uncomfortable with the number of surgeries she had to have on her arm (for reasons I don't recall); oh, yeah, also because I was gay and deeply-closeted. Years later, I found out she was gay too, but that's a digression). The story quickly moves to the period where Jerrod is gone, and Dault finds himself tempted by a ginger boy. This, for anyone who knows me, is a temptation I can relate to. Jerrod's incoherent text messages don't help Dault's decision-making process, and things play out pretty  much as you'd imagine. The fact that I could relate to Dault's concerns and temptations doesn't mean I necessarily agree with the decisions he made. The takeaway from the story seems to be that it's okay to cheat as long as you really feel bad afterwards. I did find myself wondering if Dault ever told Jerrod exactly what happened while he was gone.  I enjoyed Berman's prose and the set-up for the characters, even if I wasn't happy with Dault's choices.



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