A Shot at Forgiveness
How we see our lives is really just a collection of impressions seen from our viewpoint, not how events actually unfold. Usually we don’t get a chance to explore how right or wrong our impressions are, but go through the years believing what we think happened is true. But what if our impressions are skewed? Cardeno explores this idea in a nifty little novella that has the protagonist reevaluate his life from someone else’s perspective.
Attorney Rafi Steiner is shocked to find his high school nemesis – and the bane of his teenage existence – pro basketball player Isaac Jones, at his door one evening as he returns from work. Rafi has moved miles away from their hometown, and Isaac shouldn’t know where he lives now.
As an openly gay teen, Rafi remembers clearly how deliberately mean Isaac was to him when they were growing up, making fun of his hair and clothes, following him in the halls, and constantly taunting him. He can’t imagine what the tall, muscular Isaac wants with him now and is a little intimidated and a lot indignant that Isaac has shown up to continue harassing him.
But that’s not why Isaac’s hunted down Rafi. In fact, it’s the furthest thing from his mind. He’s there to make amends if they’re warranted and to catch up with Rafi, a guy he secretly had a crush on in high school.
This delightful premise and the ensuing untangling of memories could be a study in strum und drang, but Cardeno approaches it with a deft hand and a light touch, making the story one of those “awwwww” moments in reading.
As seen from Rafi’s touchy viewpoint, high school was akin to running the gauntlet for a gay boy whose self-image hadn’t quite gelled. He wasn’t part of the teen hierarchy, but like most high school kids looked at the athletes and popular kids with envy at what appeared to be their self-assured poise.
Unlike Rafi, Isaac, heads taller and more muscular than those around him, was floundering with who and what he was. While drawn to Rafi, Isaac knew that he was supposed to be heterosexual, not homosexual, and tried to live up to the image everyone from his parents to his coaches had of him. But he still struggled with the feelings he kept hidden from everyone, especially from Rafi.
At 68 pages, this is just a sweet sampling of the longer work it could evolve into if readers could get a better glimpse of Isaac’s current life and the impact his decision to be with Rafi would have on it. True, Isaac as a pro MVP player has established himself in his career, but seeing his friends’ and fellow players’ reaction to Rafi would have added a little more depth to the story, just as seeing Rafi’s friends’ reaction to Isaac did.
But added depth or not, Cardeno’s story is a little gem that will tickle even the most jaded readers and brighten their day.