“Flash Freeze” by Giselle Renarde from Best Lesbian Romance 2012 (Cleis Press). Edited by Radcylffe.

This story kept me on my toes for what seemed forever. I had no idea where the author was going with it, but I was definitely intrigued.

It’s fall, but may as well be winter. The temperature dropped overnight and the rain from yesterday turned everything to ice. Lauren’s homemade mittens aren’t stitched tightly enough to keep her hands from freezing and she’s too poor to afford a cup of coffee to carry to warm them on her trek home, on foot, from the grocery store, because she lost her good job and her new one pays a lot less. As if that isn’t enough to tug at your heartstrings, when she sees a former co-worker she panics, slips on the ice, and smacks her head on the hard ground. She ends up being escorted home by the co-worker, Zarina, who turns out to be the last person with whom Lauren wants to interact, precisely because she used to be the person with whom she most wanted to interact.

I know—right? It’s a study in how to set up effective and efficient conflict. You have to read it now, don’t you? Of course you do.