“The Favor of a Reply” by Joe Landrum from Saints and Sinners 2013: New Fiction from the Festival (Bold Strokes Books).

This story accidentally got skipped. Please forgive that the order of these is a little off because of it.

Full disclosure: I have a story in this anthology.

The main character of this story, Matt, feels entirely at odds with the mundane life he was born into in Natchitoches, Louisiana. Faced with indifference from his father, condescension from other adult males, and outright hostility from boys his age, he escapes into a fantasy life he constructs from details culled from society pages and lifestyle magazines. At thirteen his ambition in life is to be the butler to a high society matron, and to be deemed indispensible by her.

The only people who have any sympathy for him are his grandmother and mother. In a late point of view switch we get the latter’s perspective and learn she has no idea how to make the world any easier for her son. We see her do what she feels is the best thing for him, but does it also crush his spirit? It’s a quiet and heartbreaking story.