Song on the Sand

Title: Song on the Sand
Author: Ruth Sims
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Buy link:
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Short Story
Rating: 5+ Stars out of 5

A Guest review by Victor J. Banis


Tony Dalby finds himself on the wrong end of his 80s, confined to a nursing home, with his days as a dancer a thing of the past. The appearance of Drew into his life brings a welcome distraction, as well as a bit of mystery as to why Drew constantly visits the wheelchair-bound, comatose Jesse. As secrets are revealed, Dalby finds he may have a renewed purpose for living after all.


Tony Dalby is 86. Confined to a wheelchair in a nursing home, he lives on memories of an almost career as an actor and dancer, and of his one brief brush with stardom as a stand-in for Zaza in La Cage aux Folles. Angry at the world, he makes life miserable for himself and the staff who look after him.

Tony befriends a handsome young man, Drew, who comes to the nursing home every day to visit his “cousin,” Jesse. “He looks awfully young to be here,” Tony says of Jesse. Drew responds, “He’s twenty-nine today, Mr. Dalby. And he can’t even celebrate.”  Tony is horrified. “Boys of twenty-nine didn’t belong in a place like this, a depository for old people with nowhere else to go…”

Jesse, blind, deaf and paralyzed as a result of an accident, was an actor too, in community theater. Tony begins to spend more time thinking about Jesse and less about himself, and finds his pent up anger gradually melting.

I can’t tell you much more without spoiling the plot for you. Suffice to say, Song on the Sand is sweet, even sentimental, the kind of story that a writer of lesser talent could make sappy and saccharine, but Ruth Sims is too fine an artist for cheap effects. She paints her canvas with a master’s brush, and it would take a colder heart than mine (which is infamously cold) to read this story without a tear in the eye.

I don’t mean to suggest this is a downer, however. It isn’t. It’s about love – not romantic love, but love of life – and about reaching out, of bridging that vast chasm that separates us from one another. It is written with genuine charm, which is not as easy as one might think, but it is written as well with insight and a gentle sympathy for the human condition. Tony and Jesse and their song on the sand will linger in your thoughts long after you’ve finished reading. Highly recommended, but have a hankie handy.



  • BG, yes, I probably should have made clearer that this is not a romance – the difficulty with short stories is that it is so easy to give too much away. Even saying, “This is not a romance,” in a sense spoils the plot, I think. But I’m glad you liked it anyway, and yes, there is much to be garnered from this lovely site.

  • Due to the review, I bought this, and am not unhappy I did so… It is a good gay tale and it did make me all water-eyed. But is it a romance? I don’t think so… Don’t get this for romance, get it for a decently told talk of … redemption? I am glad I was directed to this website. It has given me many good reads already!

  • Thanks all for your comments. I once accused Ruth Sims of witchcraft – she does manage to cast a spell, doesn’t she? She’s a lovely person, btw, and I’m honored to have her as a friend.

  • Victor, I read this story a few weeks ago and it brought tears to my eyes, both happy and sad. Your review inspired more as I revisited these haunting characters. This is definitely a must read.

  • Ruth Sims has a knack for writing stories that might have come out corny, but under her hands just don’t. This sounds different and beautiful. It’S going to my TBR.

  • Oh Victor – This sounds so beautiful. What a wonderful review. You really make me want to experience this charming, well written story.


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Born in Pennsylvania, raised in Ohio, lived most of my adult life in California (20 years Los Angeles area, 20 years San Francisco. 160 plus books, and counting.
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