“Falling” by James Booth from Best Gay Romance 2014 (Cleis Press).

Full disclosure: I have a story in this anthology.

Dare I say that the fear that you will never attract someone you find attractive is a universal one? No? Well, I think it’s safe to say that anyone reading romance has felt that fear, and so does the main character of this story.

A high school student, Justin is plagued by doubts about his romantic prospects. He piles into a car with his friends and heads out to a party, but secretly worries it will be the same old, same old – meaning that once he gets there he will be too afraid to strike up a conversation with boys he thinks are cute. His solution to this problem is to immediately flee into the backyard, ostensibly to check out the water feature. He expects to be alone but instead meets Dylan, also in self-imposed exile.

This is another story that, refreshingly, is almost entirely devoid of sexuality-based angst. There’s one line about having faulty “gaydar”, and needing to be cautious when flirting in order to avoid getting punched, but mainly it’s a day-in-the-life tale of a modern gay teenager. That is to say a day not appreciably different than that of any other teenager. Which is, you know, a pretty great thing to be able to say.

…and opens a can of worms for some people, I realize. For more on this check out Short Stories 365/72.