Our Winner: How You Call Your Loverboy by Ruby McNally
Three days before the show at the Sheldrake, you’re practicing the cross-body lead in the staff lounge when all of a sudden you’re absolutely positive you’re going to pass out. “Wait,” you say, stopping short where you stand, your grip on Johnny’s upper arm tightening a little. The room tilts, rights itself. Your stomach lurches. “Sorry, I just—wait.”
"You gotta spot, Baby,” he says irritably, but you must look really terrible because as soon as he glances down at your face he goes soft. “All right,” he tells you, more gently this time. “Take it easy. Let’s take a break.”
He gets you a paper cup of water and you sit on the wooden steps outside the door, quiet, your backs against the rickety screen. A warbler calls high in the pine trees. Penny’s teaching the cha-cha up in the gazebo so it’s just the two of you, his bare shoulder warm and damp and solid against yours. You never know exactly what to say to Johnny. Everything out of your mouth when you’re around him makes you feel like you’re twelve years old.
"You’re getting better," he tells you eventually, staring out at the patch of wet grass behind the cabin. The air is always slightly damp here, like the dew never dries in the morning: moisture seeps up through the floorboards, settles slick and heavy on your skin.