“He Doesn’t Touch the Blood” by Molly Anderson from Wilde Magazine: A Magazine of Art and Literature with a Queer Edge, Issue One, Winter 2012. Edited by Lucia Guatney.
Thomas and Matthew met as kids, cabin mates at Concordia Language summer camp. Matthew was the wilder one, gifted with an aura of mystery by virtue of having epilepsy. Faced with mortality, he projected a fierce self-confidence that made him cooler than the other boys. The fact that his family was well off also didn’t hurt. Thomas fell hard for him but also felt inferior to him. His consolation was being Matthew’s confidant, trusted with the knowledge of what to do in the event of a seizure, to save Matthew’s life.
Fast forward ten years. They are lovers and roommates, and the tables have turned. Matthew is cut off from his family (has he been disowned?). Thomas is a waiter at the local Chinese restaurant. He’s been the sole provider for years. Matthew spends his days sulking, wondering how his life ended up like this. He compares himself to Thomas, and feels inferior because he struggles to comprehend the books on Thomas’ shelves.
That’s the thing. Their individual self esteem issues leave them so resentful they’re missing the opportunity to really love and be loved by one another. A turn of events at the end of the story leaves the reader wondering if they’ve lost the chance for good, and just how far that resentment might have pushed things for one of them.