What a delightful read. This extremely short erotic novella by Cornelia Grey is surreal, bittersweet, and sensual. Apples and Regret and Wasted Time centers around two ex-lovers who have not seen one another for three years and is narrated in first person by one of the men. He has just been injured in a fight and goes to his old lover’s apartment to quickly clean up, but the man comes home while he’s still there:
As I turn my head and find him staring at me, I vaguely consider I should have just rinsed instead of rinsing and repeating.
While little is actually said between them, the entire encounter that follows is weighted with nostalgia, regret, resentment, and love. We’re never told either of their names, but there isn’t the anonymity this might suggest, because both men are clearly defined and very distinctly contrasted with one another. Most of the details about who they are, what they do, where this is happening, etc. are kept murky, but while I’m normally one of those readers who wants to know all those types of facts, here it didn’t bother me—truth be told, I didn’t even realize they were missing until after I finished.
At 13 (regular-sized) pages, the story is super short, no doubt about it, but Grey is nonetheless able to draw us in from beginning to end. We don’t know anything about these two men, but right from the moment they’re together again, you can feel the history and tension between them. The small details she gives us—like their different tastes in apples and memories of how they used to jokingly fight about it—are what make it seem so authentic and make the read such a bittersweet one. These brief glimpses into their past relationship show us the deep love they felt for one another and their actions during this short reunion make it clear that love still exists.
When I enjoy a novella, I always wish that it were longer. While this one is no different and I can easily see how these pages could make up a first chapter, for once I am also able to be completely satisfied with it as it is. This reads like a snapshot, so that although this is all I have to go on, I know it’s not all there is. I feel like there is a definite before and after to this snapshot, and while I don’t have it in my possession and maybe it hasn’t even been written yet, it exists somewhere.
One of My Favorite Quotes:
The clothes smell like him. The smell is so familiar—I remember it unexpectedly well—a sensory memory I can’t quite control that surges up and strikes deep, just below the level of consciousness, where I cannot defend myself. It makes my chest ache in ways I don’t want to think about.
Apples and Regret and Wasted Time by Cornelia Grey
May 25th 2011 by Storm Moon Press
Contemporary Erotic Romance