“Best Friend” by Jeff Solomon from Best Gay Stories 2009 (Lethe Press).

I know this story. This is my story, too. I lived the mirror image of it. I found escape mid-way through my freshman year of high school when I fell in with (read: was saved by) a group made up of stoners, headbangers, and lesbians.

Scott is an outsider in high school, the misfit just trying to get through his day without being harassed either physically or emotionally. He tries hard to avoid the jocks and mean girls, seeks shelter with the kids who tolerate him, and struggles to navigate his increasingly conflicted emotions. He’s terrified of the bully Nick and yet simultaneously attracted to him.

At home he practices escapism, mostly by delving into worlds created by other people—comic books and television shows he watches with his mom—but also by re-writing the elements of his mundane world, making them over into something grand. He ceases to be just Scott, suffering through dinner with a father who doesn’t understand him; suddenly he’s Borsage, the changeling being raised by human parents. It’s understandable that they can’t relate to him. How could they? He’s not even from their world.

Wracked by desires he has no outlet for, Scott is struck by a thought:

Wouldn’t it be nice to be a girl?

It’s the law, isn’t it? Forces always come in pairs, equal in magnitude, moving in opposite directions.

Halloween 1986