Henry and Jim by J.M. Snyder
A bittersweet short story about a lifetime love affair. Henry and Jim have spent a life in love, from the very first date arranged by Henry’s sister, through the rocky times they worked to make ends meet, and into their twilight years.
Old men now, Henry reminisces about the love they’ve shared as he learns to cope with Jim’s fading memory and his own fear of being forgotten by the only man he’s ever loved.
NOTE: This story appears in the anthologies Best Gay Romance 2008 published by Cleis Press andBest Gay Stories 2009 published by Lethe Press, as well as in my print collection So In Love.
This short story is not new but it’s worth re-reading or buying now if you’ve somehow missed it. The story is short (4,500 words) but it packs a huge punch. The sweet characters, deep emotion, and aura of resigned sadness make this one of the best short stories I’ve read. Without a hint of explicit sex, this story also is incredibly romantic and moving. At just a few dollars, this is a steal that you must must must read.
The story is just a glimpse into a typical morning between lovers Henry and Jim. Together for over fifty years, Henry is taking care of Jim who is showing early and persistent signs of dementia. Jim’s forgetfulness affects their life together as the morning is shown through Henry’s first person point of view. He remembers highlights of their long life together – how they met, their first kiss, the hard times, and surprise delights. His determination to cling to Jim and remember their life is beautiful, poignant, and heart wrenching.
The prose is sparse and clean without too much embellishment and lets the emotion and men shine through. The story is very likely to cause more than a few tears and the scene is somewhat idyllic but still haunting and intense. There are no last minute cures or passionate sex but instead there is deep emotion and a lifetime filled with love and happiness. Although the scene is bittersweet, this is still one of the most romantic stories I’ve read. Pick it up today.
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