Title: Tommy’s Story
Author: AKM Miles
Publisher: MLR Press
Length: 100 pages
going to be a real test of Tommy Marsh's strength for him to be able to
let go of his past in order to have the relationship he wants with
Tommy Marsh's life was good now. The last nine
years had made up for the hell he'd gone through during his first
twelve. After growing up at Scarcity Sanctuary, he'd become a counselor
with extensive psychology training, working with abused children.
thing that was missing from his life was a loving, passionate
relationship with the man of his dreams, Daniel Anderson. Tommy was so
afraid his past would interfere with the future he wanted. A traumatic
event sets things in motion and he's forced to admit his feelings and
face his fears. Will Tommy's new strength and Daniel's love be enough to
get him through?
This was previously released but the story has been re-edited and expanded an additional 12k from the original.
ten pages I was snuffling -- with a very clear notion of who these
people are and how much the world has kicked them around before they
found each other, safety, and family, and now all that’s been rocked to
its foundations. Soldier and Dillon foster children, giving them the
security, stability, and love they need to heal from the atrocities in
their pasts. Seventeen-year-old Gom was gay-bashed, and the whole group
is worried for him and about what this will mean for their future.
Unfortunately, those sniffles didn’t last. I think I liked the idea of this story better than I liked the execution.
who came to Soldier and Dillon's Scarcity Sanctuary when he was twelve,
with a really terrible history of abuse, is now twenty-two, graduated
from college, and secure enough in himself to be interested in Daniel,
whom he knows through Social Services. Daniel’s interested, too, and in
the course of solving Gom’s attack and placing another boy with Scarcity
Sanctuary, they find they’ve both been nursing years of undeclared love
for each other. Most of the relationship development apparently takes
place in another book, if at all, because here it's all about whether or
not they can manage a satisfying sexual relationship after the "I love
you's" fly out early.
No one seems willing to believe that Tommy
isn’t totally defined by only his terrible past. Instead of trusting him
to have grown up, healed some, and be capable of exploring a
relationship at his own pace, everyone, from Daniel to Soldier, keep
bringing up his past, in dialog that sounds like therapy sessions. While
it was absolutely right that Daniel and Tommy go slow, the bricks of
dialog that went with it made their encounters seem very clinical.
not stopping until you tell me to, but I want this to be a good
experience for you, not one that’s filled with confusion and anxiety.
The shivering is just your body responding to your nerves and
excitement. At least, I think it’s excitement, if this is anything to go
by,” Daniel said, sliding one hand down and caressing the hard ridge in
the front of Tommy’s slacks.
There were other passages where
it worked much better, such as when Tommy’s exploration of his own
boundaries turned out very pleasantly for Daniel, and the dialog with it
sounded much more natural. But the overall tone is much more like a
therapeutic intervention than newly admitted love unfolding. One
unfortunate effect of this particular love issue hit my gag reflex: a
thirty-five year old man who’s never had a real relationship admits he’s
been waiting for years for an abused kid to grow up and be interested
back, and then calls him ‘baby.’ It doesn’t seem quite so unhealthy in
the general context of the story, but when considered separately it’s
creepy. It was probably supposed to be romantic and “only you for me,”
an idea that crops up elsewhere.
Big sections of story, such as
resolving Gom’s attack, also suffered from the bricks of dialog/bricks
of action problem, and were handled so speedily that it was clear this
was the less important issue. Tommy is there for Gom during his
recovery, and is one of the better sections of the story. Unfortunately,
the one female character in the story was a cardboard harpy whose
vitriol level verges on the psychotic.
A note I found while
collecting the blurb indicates that the story has had rewrites and
expansion, which may explain the pacing problems and the varying
smoothness of the different scenes.
So while I think the theme of
not being defined by the past and growing into a relationship in spite
of the hurdles that past provides is good and worthy, the execution is
uneven and occasionally clunky. Some of the sections are considerably
better written than others, and it’s too bad the entire piece didn’t
maintain the promise of the opening. 3 marbles