“To Brandon With Love” by Ron Radle from Best Gay Romance 2012 (Cleis Press). Edited by Richard Labonté.
I realized that in skipping past stories I’d already reviewed for other anthologies, I accidentally skipped over this one, too. I didn’t mean to.
This is the short and fairly straightforward story of a college-aged young man, Brandon, trying to figure out how to respond when his childhood best friend suddenly re-enters his life. They were separated at the age of twelve, when Justin’s family moved to another town. Because of it, Brandon has no idea whether Justin views the days they spent messing around the way he does—with longing—or thinks of them as just a phase, a substitute for something different.
He doesn’t get a chance to find out, because the plot takes a turn, and then another, into quasi-speculative fiction territory. I didn’t expect that, but it was an interesting, enjoyable read.