“Final Escape” by Stacia Seaman from Myth and Magic: Queer Fairy Tales from Bold Strokes Books, 2014. Edited by Radclyffe and Stacia Seaman.
Undoubtedly someone is going to have a problem with this story because it’s “dark”. I am not one of them. I was the person who defended Stephen Sondheim’s choice of complex storytelling all during the drive home from seeing Into the Woods. I like art that holds a mirror up to society; that asks questions and doesn’t provide answers; that doesn’t wrap up all the story threads and present them, tied with a nice, neat bow, on the final page.
Put another way, perhaps you’ve seen the row brewing on social media regarding Annie Proulx’s statement that she wishes she’d never written Brokeback Mountain? Apparently she’s gotten much too much flak for the unhappy ending to that story, which she says isn’t about Ennis and Jack, but about homophobia.
It makes perfect sense to me.
It’s New Year’s Eve, and homeless teenager Laima is struggling to survive another winter night in downtown Detroit. Resourceful, she’s got a little business going, packaging works for I.V. drug users. It’s kept her alive since her family found out she is a lesbian and threw her out of their home. Her home. The trouble is the bitter cold has forced everyone indoors. The streets are deserted, and if she can’t sell her wares she won’t be able to buy a hot meal. She won’t have any chance of surviving this night.
Pretty dire, huh? It’s also an actual crisis and a national disgrace. Laima has far too many counterparts in the real world. Estimates put the percentage of homeless teens who are LGBT at 40%. It’s s a grim fairy tale in the strictest sense, and one that needs to be told more often. I’m glad it found space within these pages.