Seven stories about small, intimate moments of change. A boy meets a mer-person; six honest conversations; deciphering the meaning of a spray-painted mural; May-December love blossoms between two teachers; the meaning of kissing; a big, gay, fairy tale wedding; an interview that changes two men's lives.
- 3 To Be Read lists
Al carefully sidestepped to a seat in the center of the row and sat down next to Paula. He shrugged off his coat and opened the program. The concert wasn’t long, and his niece’s part was toward the middle of the first half. He glanced at Paula, who was spreading her coat onto the seat between herself and her younger child. Kyle was two seats over, wrangling their son out of his jacket while the boy scowled and kicked. He didn’t seem to want to be there any more than Al did.
While he was watching his sister, Al was jostled from the left. Startled, he looked over to see a young man, apparently alone. He was attractive in a way that screamed “intellectual”—neatly styled dark hair, wire-framed glasses, shirt and tie. Al opened his mouth to say something but quickly cut himself off.
“Excuse me, sorry,” the man said, offering an apologetic smile.
Paula leaned around Al. “Chad? Oh, my god. Wasn’t expecting to see you here.”READ MORE
The man—Chad, apparently—replied, “Friend of mine in the orchestra got me season passes as a gift.”
With a wink, Paula said, “Just a friend?”
Two faintly pink spots appeared on Chad’s cheeks. “An ex, yeah. But I didn’t want to waste them.”
Paula tapped Al on the shoulder. “This is Chad. He’s our IT guy at work. Best there is.” She grinned when Chad ducked his head modestly. “And this is my husband, Kyle, and our son, Hunter. You already sort of seem to have met my brother, Al.”
Al resisted the urge to roll his eyes at his sister. He extended his hand and shook Chad’s. “Nice to meet you.”
“You too.” Chad turned back to Paula. “So, how about you? How did you end up coming tonight?”
“Our daughter, Sam, is playing in the kids’ combined orchestra. She plays violin.”
“Ah, got it.” Chad settled back in his seat, but he gave Al one last sideways glance, a hint of a smile on his lips.
It made Al feel just a little too warm.
The concert was good and not too long. The children’s string orchestra played along on a beautiful, lilting piece of music. Al had heard it before, but he wouldn’t have known what it was without looking. Something called “Intermezzo,” he noted in the program. Though he wasn’t necessarily much for classical music, the piece took his breath away. Beside him, he felt a slight shift when Chad moved his hand to grip the armrest between them. Stealing a look, Al took in Chad’s wide eyes and slightly parted lips. Something about the music haunted him, and the reason behind it piqued Al’s curiosity.
At the conclusion, Al clapped loudly for his niece—he was every bit the proud uncle. He’d never wanted kids of his own, but he did love spending time with Sam and Hunter. He thought he might have been about as impressed with Sam as her parents were.
“They were good,” Chad said when the applause died down.
“They were,” Al agreed, allowing his eyes to drift to the man beside him.
During intermission, Paula retrieved Sam, who basked in the congratulations of the adults and politely took her seat to watch the rest of the concert. By the end of the first piece on the second half, both kids were sound asleep, Hunter curled up on Paula and Sam draped across Kyle’s lap.
When the concert was over, Paula bid goodnight to Chad and followed Kyle up the aisle with her arms full of sleepy Hunter. Al was torn between saying something to Chad and rushing to catch up with his sister and brother-in-law, but by the time he made up his mind and turned around to face Chad, the other man had disappeared into the crowd.COLLAPSE