“Blazing June” by JL Merrow from Best Lesbian Romance 2012 (Cleis Press). Edited by Radcylffe.

Ellen is a police officer in London, called to make a wellness check on an elderly woman who lives alone. Carla, a young mom, is the concerned citizen who phoned the cops to come check on her next door neighbor. When Ellen cuts her finger trying to jimmy her way into the old lady’s apartment, Carla offers to doctor her wound. They’re drawn to one another, and through small talk try to get the correct read on the situation, to avoid misinterpreting cues. The banter also provides a way for them to meet again, a week later, when Ellen shows up at Carla’s gym. Small talk in the locker room further clarifies their mutual interest. They go for coffee, and there begin to speak plainly, going so far as to speculate about Carla’s elderly neighbor Mrs. MacReady. They cite the fact that she married a man because she wanted a child, and then stayed with him even after it became clear they could not have children, as an example of the way things once were for lesbians and for women generally. It’s not at all how things are for the two of them, though, and that fact is quite uplifting. Overall, it’s a very engaging and thought-provoking story.