First Time for Everything
First Time for Everything anthology, Harmony Ink Press, September 2014
Contains my short story “Kissing Scars”
The Book Pushers reviewed each short story in the First Time for Everything anthology, and gave “Kissing Scars” a B.
The Novel Approach Reviews gives First Time for Everything 4 stars and says, “It’s worth the read if you are looking for something new.”
There’s nothing like the first time. Whether it’s a first crush, first date, first kiss, or finding tolerance and approval for the first time, for gay, lesbian, bi, and trans teens—or those still exploring and discovering their sexuality and identity—these important firsts can shape the rest of their lives. Gathering the courage to come out to their families, admit their feelings to a friend, or go to school presenting as the people they really are can be a struggle. But with the support of their allies and their own inner strength, the brave young people in these stories take the first steps toward happiness and living on their own terms. From sweet stories of newly discovered love, humorous accounts of awkward dinners and dances, to fights for acceptance and even survival, the teens in this anthology must face new challenges and rise to meet them. These are the first times they’ll never forget.
EXCERPT from “Kissing Scars”:
By the time the flow of students out the door slowed to a trickle, I’d decided Alyssa wasn’t going to show. Which pissed me off. I’d been there for fifteen minutes doing the deep breathing thing, and she hadn’t even bothered to meet me the way she’d promised.
Then I saw her trudging down the corridor past the office. Her shoulders were even more slumped than they’d been in the cafeteria, and she looked like she was trying to bury herself in her sweater.
“What happened?” I asked when she was close enough to hear me.
“Why do you think anything happened?” She hitched her backpack up on her shoulders and hugged herself. “Someone said something stupid about the bandages, that’s all. I was with the nurse just now. Sorry it took me so long.”
“No problem.” I knew the nurse’s office way too well. She had a little room with a cot where I hung out during my freak-outs. Having a private space to calm down was part of my modification plan too. “Are you all right now? Still want to come over?”
“I don’t know if I’m all right, but I don’t want to go home.” She stared at her brown sneakers. “No one’s there, and I’d rather not be home alone.”
“Then you can come to my house, if your parents said it was okay.”
“They did.” She glanced up and twisted her mouth. “They were happy I’d found someone to spend time with.”
“So am I.” I picked up my shoulder bag from the floor where I’d dropped it and gestured at the door. “Come on.”
I only lived a few blocks from school. The town was so small, pretty much everyone walked to the high school anyway, except the kids who had cars or whose parents drove them. But with the hot sun beating down, I was glad we didn’t have to walk too far.
No one was home at my house either. My mother worked and my older sister was in college, so she stayed on campus during the week. She’d moved to the dorms partly because of me, even though she denied it. Alexandra had been one of my sister’s best friends, even though my sister was three years older. She didn’t know how to handle Xan.
I kept starting to say things while we walked, but every time I glanced at Alyssa, I shut up. She kept her head down and her body hunched in her sweater. She had to be sweating like crazy in the thing, but it didn’t seem to bother her.
We reached my house, and I unlocked the front door so we could go inside. Then I closed it and locked it behind us.
Alyssa gulped. “You lock the door?”
“This is my safe place. Locking the door keeps it safe.” I’d said that to other people who’d looked at me as if I was a lunatic. Somehow I had the feeling Alyssa would understand.
She nodded. “Okay. As long as I can leave.”
“Of course you can.” I couldn’t believe she would think anything else.
Actually, I could. I would have probably felt the same way.