by Lynn Kelling
This bittersweet short is a prequel to my novel, Whatever the Cost—which is the story of a friendship between Liam and Jacen, two high-end prostitutes, that transforms into much more. I wrote the short after the novel was published, to rewind the clock and take a look into the life of the main character, Liam, back when he was just a bright-eyed, optimistic teen recently aged out of foster care and living on his own with friends for the first time.
In Between Here and There, Liam still goes by his birth name, Avery Williams. He’s head-over-heels for his equally-young lover, Timothy, and radiates happiness even though their life of poverty in Camden, New Jersey is fairly dire. Liam is a natural tease who knows how to use his sexuality to get exactly what he wants. The story itself takes place on a bridge, which symbolizes where Avery and Timothy are in the grand scheme of things in a few different ways. They aren’t really looking back or ahead, but living solely in the moment, taking everything as it comes. Those who have read the novel, or the other short stories in this series—Trick and Truth, and Escape—have a better idea of the nature of the shadows that lie in wait for the pair, but this portion of their tale is meant to be enjoyed just as much by either the first-time reader or by those who know Liam’s trials well.
I enjoyed allowing Liam to shed the layers of wisdom and transformation that come later in his life, and setting him free to enjoy a night under the stars with the one boy in the whole world who owns his heart. There is nothing in him yet that’s broken or scarred beyond repair. He worries and knows by giving away his heart to Timothy, he’s opening himself up for hurt, but to him it’s a risk well-worth taking. From where they stand, with water rushing below and cars flying past, they’re untouchable, invincible, and capable of attaining any dream they set their minds and hearts to. Nothing can go wrong, and after all, they’re just getting started.
These moments in Between Here and There are what Avery goes on to carry in his heart for a long, long time. It’s what he keeps coming back to, holding the memories close as if they’re a scene in a snowglobe, their brazen innocence preserved for all eternity so he’s always able to gaze at them wonder, what if…
Anthologies which include this story: