Title: A Journey of the Heart
Author: Rick R. Reed
Cover artist: Deana C. Jamroz
Publisher: MLR Press
Buy link: Buy Link A Journey of the Heart
Length: “Got 10 Minutes” short story/14 PDF pages/approximately 5.100 words
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
A guest review by LadyM
Review summary: Evocative, heart-warming and heart-breaking
Blurb: Take a journey back to that magical moment in time when two lovers first meet. In this case, it’s on board a train bound for England’s seaside community, Brighton. There, our narrator and his soon-to-be-true-love meet for the first time and what follows is an encounter so erotic and romantic that it has to be destined for a lifetime. They may have been strangers on a train when they boarded, but that all changes with just a meeting of the eyes, igniting a spark leading to a lifelong connection.
Warning: Non-traditional story ending.
There aren’t many authors who can constantly produce diverse, high-quality work. Personal tastes being what they are, you may or may not like his work, but there is no denying that Rick R. Reed is one of those authors. His stories certainly almost always evoke strong emotions and A Journey of the Heart is another such story.
The story begins with the narrator on the train. He and his lover are traveling together but they are separated in different cars.
They needed to get to where they were going, and, since the arrangements were last minute, they were in no position to argue with the railway.
Sitting alone, the narrator, whose name we never learn, starts an imaginary conversation with his lover Jim and begins remembering their first meeting ten years earlier on the train in England. It is an erotic meeting, seemingly nothing more than an encounter of young, healthy men who find one another attractive. But it is the narrator’s voice that makes all the difference. It is clear from the moment he lays eyes on Jim that he sees something more in him; that he feels stirring of something more than mere attraction that leads to furtive sexual encounter in the train bathroom. It should have been cheep, but it isn’t. The glow of fond memories, the strong attraction between young men and their excitement, the strange gentleness and, of course, the reader’s knowledge that this brief meeting turned into a ten-year-long relationship give a reader a taste of hopeful, optimistic beginning. But, there is a tone of melancholy in it too and once the train arrives at its destination and man returns to the reality, the reader realizes that the lovers had made the full circle. The meaning of the title gets entirely new dimension once you reach the last page.
For such a short story, A Journey of the Heart inspires a wealth of emotions and this is where Reed’s writing shines. Have you heard of expression gilded memories? I have some vague notion how this might be described in film, but Reed manages to do it in words. From the descriptions of St. Pancras Station, the first moment the narrator saw Jim and Jim saw him, narrator’s emotions, men’s sexual encounter – everything seems to have a visible warm glow. And, although we barely know anything about the two men, we still feel the connection with the narrator.
And there lies my only problem with the story. I would have liked to know more about these men. I understand that the rules of short story are different, but I would have liked to learn what that first encounter lead to and, at least, something of their lives together. Still, I have to be fair and say that the fact that we don’t know much about them didn’t diminish the impact of the ending. I freely admit that I am among the readers who prefer optimistic endings in their romance and if you absolutely have to have it, this might not be the story for you. However, this is a short story and writing is amazing, so I encourage you to try it anyway because, after all, it only takes ten minutes. 🙂 Recommended.