“Quality Time” by Lewis DeSimone from Best Gay Romance 2014 (Cleis Press)
Full disclosure: I have a story in this anthology.
At first glance this story feels sparse but is actually chock full of well-chosen details. The discrepancy probably is due to the contemporary setting. In all likelihood many of the things that fill the lives of these characters can also be found in your life, and mine. Books stacked beside a computer, for instance, or barbells gathering dust in the study. Or how about friends who can’t hold their tongues when an opportunity to be clever and catty presents itself?
Greg moved in with Victor six months ago and everything between them is great, with one small exception. Whenever Victor’s five year old daughter Sarah comes to visit, Greg spends the night on the convertible sofa in the study, because Victor hasn’t figured out how to explain their relationship to her. A big part of the problem is that there aren’t good labels for what Greg is in relation to Sarah, or her mother, or even Victor. Stepfather? No. Other woman? Try again. Husband? Boyfriend? Lover? Nothing really seems to fit, and you could draw the erroneous conclusion, because of it, that he doesn’t fit.
Greg’s friends have a good laugh at his expense when they bump into the trio during intermission at the ballet. (“You must be so proud, dear,” Harlan adds. “The stretch marks don’t even show.”) In reality, though, there is no problem, because Greg does have a place, and Sarah knows precisely what it is. She knows who he is, to all of them.
This is an uplifting, hopeful story about the infinite capacity of the human heart, to love.
Addendum: I just found out that these characters can also be found in a novel by the author entitled The Heart’s History, published by Lethe Press in 2012.