Synopsis: After his parents’ death Charlie shut everybody out of his life and lived like a hermit. His only casual friend that remained with him was Noah who was in love with Charlie all along. It seems that their friendship has reached a point now where it will either become more or will break completely.
Review: This short story deals with much more than just a romance. It’s about friendship and that it needs maintenance, about depression and how it can ruin your life if you let it, about rejection and how you deal with it. For such a short story it was packed with topics and they were all handled extremely well.
After a sexual encounter, which had already happened when the story begins, Noah reads more into it than Charlie will allow. Noah would like to see Charlie as his boyfriend now, but Charlie won’t have any of that. In fact he’s pulling away quicker than you can imagine. He has been depressed since his parents’ death and has lost all his friends over his inaccessibility.
The only person he confesses his problems and feelings to is a fellow gamer on the internet. What he doesn’t know is that the real person behind that guy is Noah. Noah is hurt that Charlie would talk about his innermost thoughts with a guy he doesn’t even know, but not with him. When he learns that to Charlie he’s only a neighbour he has sex with on occasion he decides to pull away himself.
I liked that a lot. Way too often the person with unrequited feelings get clingy and start begging, not so Noah. He withdraws from Charlie, doesn’t call or visit him and goes out with other friends. Charlie slowly realizes that he misses Noah and that it’s his turn to actually work for their friendship.
I loved Noah’s friend Kevin. He gave the story, which was a bit sombre with all the unreturned and depressive feelings, a light tone. And I admired Noah for his determination and how he managed to go on with his life without getting in touch with Charlie. Even after meeting him once more he doesn’t just get back to his usual behaviour but keeps on living his life without Charlie. Only then Charlie realizes that he has to come and acknowledge his feelings, not only to Noah, but also to himself.
For a short story, a format that often deals with just a short encounter and some minor issue or other, it was a marvellous and full-fledged read. After "Perfect Man" and "Trust" this established Shawn Lane as another favourite author for me.
Available at Amber Allure