“Straightening Up” by Jeffrey Ricker, published by Untreed Reads, 2012.
Michael and Greg have been living together for awhile. They’re a couple, but only certain people know that, or even know that Michael is gay. For instance, he hasn’t yet found a way to tell his mother. His father figured it out on his own and asked, and Michael did muster up the courage to tell him the truth, though he then swore him to secrecy.
It’s the holidays, but Michael’s father has to work, so his mother is coming to stay with him and Greg for a week. Michael sees nothing wrong with putting on a charade (the “straightening up” of the title), pretending he and Greg are nothing but roommates. He ignores the fact that it really bothers Greg. Greg’s friend Gina knows how much it does, though. She’s beyond over Michael’s insecurities. In her opinion Greg should’ve dumped him long, long ago.
As with the last two pieces, this must have been intended as the beginning of a longer work*. Personally, it’s the one of the three I’d most like to see get fully fleshed out. Yes, the single conflict introduced here does get resolved by the end, but it feels like a start, not a whole story. I want to see these characters overcome other obstacles. And yes, I do mean all of these characters. Michael’s mother is a hoot, Gina kicks butt, and from what we’re told about his dad, he’s a good guy.
*See Short Stories 365/327 for a comment from the author about this.