So this used to be kind of an academic blog, but at least for now it’s going to be mostly a place to talk about current and upcoming fiction projects.
Next up on the ledger: “Summer in Canaan” in Taste Test: Scared Stiff, coming on Oct. 21st from Torquere Press.
Jacob, a schoolteacher and writer in New York City, feels a certain malaise one summer and heads upstate to a remote cabin in the hopes of reigniting his creativity. Once there, he meets Aaron, a local young man with a mysterious air about him. As they slowly begin to form a friendship–and Jacob feels a potential spark of something else–it becomes clear that Aaron is more than he seems.
Have a taste under the cut.
He stopped by the dock, reaching out to take hold of one of the posts and looking up. Aaron was wearing cut-off shorts that looked like they’d seen a few summers, bare feet dangling into the water and sending the smallest of ripples against Jacob’s arms and chest.
“Hi.” Where the hell did you go last time? But he didn’t ask it out loud, whether it was shyness or something else, and he wasn’t sure. Aaron was wearing a white tank top and Jacob watched the shift and flex of his bare arms as he leaned forward.
“How’s the water?”
Jacob shrugged and moved back in the water, trying to see Aaron’s face better. “Okay. It was a little cold at first.”
Aaron smiled. “You’re in the mountains, buddy. That’s why people come here.”
“Is that why you come here?”
“I told you, I live here.” Aaron laughed a little and Jacob shook his head.
“I mean here.” Jacob splashed a gesturing hand across the water. “The lake.”
“Oh.” Aaron looked off across the water, watching a cloud of gnats drift up and away, toward the trees. There was a tiny splash and a widening set of ripples as a fish leaped for them and vanished. “Yeah, I guess that’s got something to do with it.” He looked down again. “How long are you staying for?”
“A while. End of July, maybe. I have to be back in the city in August.”
Aaron cocked his head. “What for?”
“I’m a teacher.”
Aaron smiled again, a strange, small smile, a stretch of the lips that suggested a great deal more than it showed. “Never liked my teachers.” He paused for a second or two, kicking up a splash with one foot and sending it sparkling faintly through the air. “You’re okay, though.”
Jacob returned the smile. “I try.”
“I kinda wonder, though… how can you afford to come out here? I always heard teaching paid shit.”
Jacob laughed, a warm sound that worked slowly up through his ribcage and felt good in his throat. “Again with the questions.” He reached up a wet hand and beckoned, and it occurred to him then to wonder a little bit at what he was doing. Here, his ground was far less sure than at home. “Why don’t you come in, and I’ll see about answering?”
Aaron arched a brow. “What if I don’t want to?”
“What, are you scared?”
“You’re trying to goad me.” Aaron grinned widely. “Okay, fine. I’ll be goaded.” He stood up on the dock and stripped off his shirt, and as Jacob watched Aaron body come into view and tried to look like he wasn’t watching, he thought You haven’t actually ever seen me with all my clothes on, have you?
Not that it was a disadvantage he minded all that much. But it was nice to watch things even themselves out a bit.
“I’m holding you to it,” Aaron said, dropping his shirt onto the wooden planks and curling his toes over the edge of the dock. “You better answer me.”
“I said I might,” said Jacob, but Aaron was already diving in a graceful arc, up and out and over Jacob’s head, slicing into the water like a long blade. There was hardly any splash. Jacob watched it, feeling a twist of admiration and something deeper besides, and then a few feet away a wet red head broke the surface, laughing. Aaron palmed water out of his eyes.
Jacob smiled, swam closer. It was like a book, like a movie, like something he might come up with on a night when he was feeling particularly lonely. Streams of water trickled down Aaron’s face and neck, the strong lines of his shoulders barely visible above the water, and they were dusted with freckles just like the bridge of his nose.
“So,” he murmured, close but not touching, and he was still smiling. “My father died a few months back. He left me some money.” It hadn’t even come close to making up for everything, but he supposed it was a start.
Jacob shook his head. “Don’t be. I’m here.”
“You are,” said Aaron, and again he smiled that strange smile and began to swim a little distance away, and it was a distance that Jacob couldn’t quite bring himself to close, until the thunder began to rumble in the distance and it was time to say goodbye.