I’ll admit it. I love getting notified by Facebook that someone has sent me a Direct Message. Some personal bit of gossip or info that someone wants to share. With me, directly. It makes me feel like a celebrity. I’ll likewise admit that I’m almost always disappointed, because the DM is usually just some random, automated bit of Facebook nonsense. Lately, however, I’ve started receiving legitimate DM’s from friends, usually people that I went to grade or high school with, friends I haven’t actually spoken to since the aforementioned grade or high school. These particular messages contain links to videos…


I wish I could say that I came out, that I’d made the choice to stop living in fear, to stop living a lie all on my own, but I didn’t. A family member found links to gay dating sites on my laptop, and the choice was made for me. I didn’t come out. I was found out. And then I was thrown out. Out of my house, out of my town, out of the life I’d been carefully cultivating for over 30 long years. It was as humiliating and heart breaking as I was afraid it would be. In…


In 1997, Ellen Degeneres appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show to defend something that shouldn’t need defending. Earlier that year she’d come out as gay. Believing (correctly) that being true to herself was more important than deceiving herself, that she was better off not living her life in the shadows, she’d opted to share with the world who and what she honestly was. She was a lesbian and decided to live life as one. She’d received death threats as a result. Her tv show was cancelled soon after. …


Experiencing Life Through the Beginning of Death

My grandmother lay unconscious in her bed. She was surrounded by her children, along with their children, who ranged in relation from grand up to great. This woman we knew as our grandmother was dying. With loud, clumsy gasps she struggled for air, driven down into lungs that were slow to disperse the oxygen she needed to sustain her frail body. Her death was as imminent as shadows at sundown, and was being encouraged by her loved ones to embrace the inevitable.

“You can let go now, grandmother. It’s okay. Just let go.”


Exploded

What a Teenager Will do to Survive During Combat

“So, we put all these unused explosives into a pile…” my brother Chris whispers to me, and I recognize his tone at once. It’s the voice he taught to me to use when we were children, in our bunk beds, wide awake when we were supposedly sleeping. It’s his “I have a secret” voice, which he hasn’t used on me in years.

“We put all these unused explosives into a pile, right before the end of our tour because we have to get rid of them. Hand grenades, dynamite, ammunition…


T-Minus 20…

This is what an HIV Test feels like…

He tells me that blood is slightly more accurate. Maybe just a percentage or two, compared to saliva swabbed from my mouth. So, blood’s what I want, and blood’s what we go with.

A prick, a jab, in the meat of my arm. I watch my blood fill the syringe to prove that I’m fine, to prove to myself that needles don’t scare me. Being bled as if I’m a pig for the slaughter, and I’ll watch it all happen, to prove that I’m fine. From syringe to a vial…


I’m a 30-year-old man, and for the first time in my life I’m going on a date with another man. His name’s Jason, and we’ve been chatting on OKCupid for almost a month. From his online profile I’ve learned the following things about him: he looks a little like Peter Brady from The Brady Bunch. He’s into fantasy, and his favorite movie of all time is The NeverEnding Story. Aside from the Peter Brady similarity, it’s that last part that got me interested in reaching out to him, since The NeverEnding Story is one of my favorites as well. …


The ad was in the back of a men’s fitness journal. A 900 hotline for steamy phone sex. The hottest women world-wide just waiting to talk. And, thank God almighty, the hottest men, too.

Internet was still in its dial up phase, and our town like so many was too small to have it. Cellular phones were great, but not “smart.” They lacked the tech to even take pictures, to say nothing of browsing for nudes on the web. So our porn was confined to one of two places-magazine stands and 900 numbers. And though I’d glance at the covers…


I was five years old the first time I saw Debbie. In a fine, gossamer dress she stood, hands clenched into fists on her hips, a backdrop of black and white lines floating behind her. On either side of her body a grip of men hovered, attempting, it seemed, to sooth her defiance. A slash of cursive, as red as hearts’ blood, spelled out a single word signifying not only the color of her thick, flowing hair but the musical institution in which she was Queen: Blondie.

Our next-door neighbor, Lisa, was nursing a crush on my older brother. She’d…


He gouges the blade into the soft flesh of the tree. Sap spills from the heartwood, coating the blade’s belly in thick, amber droplets. His delicate fingers work the knife like a saw, forcing his initials to appear.

“JS.”

“Those will last as long as the tree does,” he says, stepping back to view his work. He’s twelve years old, unaware that he’s already over halfway done with his life. He was middle aged at nine, with more than a few of his baby teeth still fastened in place. …

Will McMillan

Writer living in Portland. Working it out.

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