“Total Package” by Michael Bracken, Best Gay Romance 2013 (Cleis Press). Edited by R. D. Cochrane and Timothy J. Lambert.

Derek has known for some time that in one regard he’s different from the rest of the guys in his rural Texas hometown, and he’s always done his best to sweep that difference under the rug. A substitute mail carrier, he has a postage-due envelope to deliver to Vince DeMarco, a transplant from Waco who recently moved in to the old Denton place. When Derek delivers the envelope, a seeming coincidence sheds light on an important trait they share.

An examination of the loneliness and isolation one feels living in a world built around secrets and silence, the hyper-awareness of people forced to find one another in hostile environs, and the joy inherent in discovering, at last, that you are not as alone as you feared.