Title: Apples and Regret and Wasted Time
Author: Cornelia Gray
Publisher: Self Published
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: contemporary m/m, nontraditional ending
Length: Short Story (13 pdf pages)
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Summary review: This was an exceptional read, intense, sad, dream-like and wonderful.
A Guest Review by Feliz
The Blurb: He lives in the shadows of the law. Now, wounded and stranded in the city after a job only he could do, he has no qualms about climbing through the window his old lover left open—or stealing his shampoo, at that. He has, however, not taken into account the possibility of being surprised in the shower.
Three years is a long time to go between visits, especially if you’ve left so much anger and hurt and desire unresolved. They try to negotiate a truce for one night—over Chinese takeaway leftovers and apples, and between the sheets.
The Review: The story opens with our narrator, wounded and bleeding after being in a fight, sneaking through the streets of a city he left three years ago, on his way to his old lover’s house. As he climbs in through the window left open for him, the apartment is deserted, but his lover returns while he’s in the shower and surprises him there.
Right from the beginning, their reunion is laced with a sense of melancholic foreboding, but it’s also clear from the beginning that the two men share a deep, passionate emotional connection. There is so much hurt, regret and unfinished business between them, but also so much desire, burning sexual energy and the pure joy of being reunited. As the story unfolds, we get to know the two men a little better. Small details give hints at their history of a powerful love that was lost to external circumstances. What they are and what they do for a living puts them at polar opposite positions of society. However, over the course of a shared dinner of Chinese takeaway and apples, they seem to connect on a plane detached from their reality. For a few short hours, they return to a place where their differences and all the hurts and regrets of the past don’t matter anymore–and where they find a sliver of hope that maybe, eventually, there might be a future for them against all odds.
Due to the short format of this story, there’s only a modicum of background and setting. Yet, with a few well-chosen words, the author transported me right into the forbidding and hostile city , and into the lover’s spartan apartment which entails so many memories for the narrator. There was a dark mood to the setting that only added to the overall dreamlike feeling of this story.
The writing is beautiful, sparse and unelaborated and right to the point. Just take this little scene:
“I want you to get out of here,” he says, voice dangerously low. “I want you to leave. I want to
never see your face again.”
I wonder if he’s aware of how tightly he’s holding onto me. I wonder if he realizes that, while
he’s telling me to go, his body is screaming don’t you dare move. I wonder if he even knows he wants
me to stay.
or this one:
He lifts his hand and thumbs away what must be a residual smudge of blood from my
cheekbone. His fingertips brush my soaked hair and, for a moment, he looks torn apart by such grief
that I have to close my eyes. A blink and it’s already gone.
“I’ve missed you,” he just murmurs.
Over the course of only 13 pages, this tale of two lovers separated by almost insurmontable obstacles created an atmosphere of desperate yearning that gripped me immediately. Even though I didn’t even know their names, I felt deeply connected to both characters; I suffered with them and hoped for them, longed to see them happy together forever even though I was afraid they simply couldn’t be. Impressive, poignant and highly recommended.