“The Reality” by Stephen Greco from Chelsea Station Issue 4. Edited by Jameson Currier.
I was going to point out that this story shares a premise with one I reviewed earlier, and comment that they could be the basis of an anthology, but saying what the theme of that volume would be would reveal the twist in the end, and I don’t want to do that.
So, uh, hmm. Robby’s ex-lover-turned-best-friend Walt goes missing, and then is reported dead. He had some trouble with drugs in the past but lately had turned his life around. Robby is understandably upset, and spends a good portion of the story mourning his loss. The climax sees him attend Walt’s memorial service, where he feels as if he is playing the role of “the widow”, though he knows many of Walt’s family members are not aware of that truth. Next, there’s the twist. Overall it’s a nice commentary on our times, and would go well with review #272 in a themed anthology.