“A Prom Story in Three Parts” by Sheree L. Greer from Best Lesbian Romance 2012 (Cleis Press). Edited by Radcylffe.

High school senior Zaire has a date to the prom in boyfriend Sheldon but her heart secretly belongs to transfer student Daryan. So secretly, in fact, that she’s almost not conscious of the fact. Her brain is doing all it can to block out the information, so the truth has begun arriving via dreams.

Her dilemma is paralleled nicely by some backstory about her parents’ failed relationship, and the sudden reappearance of the father who walked out when she was a toddler. A pre-prom talk with her mother further grounds the story in a heterosexual dynamic that raises the stakes, but does so subtly. This isn’t the bat shit crazy mother from Carrie, but still: Will Zaire’s mother be able to empathize with a daughter who’s fallen in love with another girl? It’s anyone’s guess.

The second scene introduces us to her friends from school, who have an obvious bond, as well as to Daryan, who still carries the vibe of an outsider even though the end of the school year is right around the corner. Again, this isn’t Carrie; none of the kids says or does anything, but there’s definite emotional distance between them and Zaire is caught in the middle. It’s not surprising when we learn that there have been rumors going around school about Daryan, and theories about what it is that makes her seem different.

In the final section we get a clearer picture of Sheldon. He seems like a nice, well-mannered kid. We learn that Zaire has been using him to try to figure out some things about herself. You can’t blame her, but again, it ratchets up the stakes. He stands to get hurt, and if he does, he could lash out. Lastly, there’s progression in the interaction between Zaire and Daryan that feels like a beginning much more than the ending it is here. I figured this had to be part of a novel, or rather, three parts of one. I did a little research and found out that indeed it is, only the novel it’s from has not yet been published. Too bad, since from the glimpse we get of her here, Zaire seems like a heroine LGBT youth would benefit from knowing.