“Forever is Composed of Nows” by Will Ludwigsen from Speaking Out: LGBTQ Youth Stand Up (Bold Strokes Books, 2011).
I pointed out earlier that this anthology is similar in intent to The Trevor Project. These are stories about making it through adolescence as an LGBTQ teen. It’s why each story is prefaced with an anecdote written by the author, a glimpse into the real life events that forged the writer and, directly or indirectly, gave birth to the story that follows.
This story epitomizes the book’s concept. We are told that the main character, Carlos, visits places from his past in the hopes that he can reach through the space-time continuum and convey certain thoughts to his earlier self. To, for instance, tell himself he’s mortal, and caution himself to pay attention to the people he loves before they’re gone, or to assure himself he will eventually be loved. To essentially tell his inner child: It gets better.
At one point Carlos is described as “twenty years older now and rich”, which is a form of better, but not as good as loved. Not as good as happy. Happy is the best revenge. Carlos mulls an event from the past that was pretty violent—again, this story is darker than its predecessors—but ended in a way you might not expect. Life did get better for Carlos, and it started here.