From Brief Encounters:
Review, Rating ‘A’:
This is one of the shortest stories I’ve reviewed yet for Brief Encounters – only a scant twelve pages of actual story, but it was a real joy from start to finish. Theo Fenraven is a new-to-me writer and only appears to have published a few short stories so far, but he’s definitely a writer I’ll be keeping an eye on.
The story revolves around JD and Kellan killing time backstage over the first week of their revival of Grease. JD plays Kenickie to Kellan’s Danny Zuko, and the two clearly have great chemistry together, as evidenced by their witty banter.
JD keeps flirting, but Kellan is reluctant to get involved and risk jeopardizing their working relationship. After Kellan jokingly tells JD he’s made a list of a hundred reasons they shouldn’t get together, JD keeps hitting him with requests for the various numbers. Some of Kellan’s answers are serious, but most are frivolous and made me chuckle:
A second plane hit me a minute later. Inside was written #69, damn it!
Laughing to myself, I borrowed a pen from a stagehand and wrote You dribble when you eat. What the hell can this mean if you’re giving head?
I folded it up and flew it back. He opened it, read and burst into laughter even as his cheeks flamed red.
This excerpt gives a good example of Fenraven’s economy of words. Nothing is wasted or extraneous – the scenes are pared down to the absolute minimum. What’s even more surprising is that given this, and a real lack of background information on JD and Kellan, they still managed to leap off the page and enchant me. Their banter is incredibly engaging, and they felt like people I’d really enjoy spending time with.
The second half of the story consists of a late night phone call between JD and Kellan, where Kellan finally gives his number one reason why they shouldn’t be together. This was a beautiful, touching moment. I couldn’t help but wish it had happened face to face rather than over the phone, but I loved the way Fenraven handled the remainder of their phone call. It was sexy and a real sense of their connection came across, despite them not being in the same room.
It’s hard to say more about a story that is so short without giving the whole plot away, but I can’t remember the last time I read something this brief that delighted me so much. Witty and cute, romantic and sexy, this is a story that will linger in my mind for a long while, and one I’ll look forward to reading again whenever I need my mood lifting.