By Saundra Mitchell
On Sale: May 26, 2020
YOUNG ADULT FICTION/Diversity & Multicultural | YOUNG ADULT FICTION/Romance/LGBT
About the Book
A follow-up to the critically acclaimed All Out anthology, Out Now features seventeen new short stories from amazing queer YA authors. Vampires crash prom…aliens run from the government…a president’s daughter comes into her own…a true romantic tries to soften the heart of a cynical social media influencer…a selkie and the sea call out to a lost soul. Teapots and barbershops…skateboards and VW vans…Street Fighter and Ares’s sword: Out Now has a story for every reader and surprises with each turn of the page!
This essential and beautifully written modern-day collection features an intersectional and inclusive slate of authors and stories.
KICK. PUSH. COAST. By Candice Montgomery
Excerpted from OUT NOW: Queer We Go Again! Edited by Saundra Mitchell, used with permission by Inkyard Press, © 2020 by Inkyard Press.
Every day, same time, same place, she appears and doesn’t say a word.
Well, she doesn’t just appear. She takes a bus. You know she takes a bus because you see her get off the bus right in front of 56th Street, just in front of the park where you skate.
You know she takes a bus and gets off right in front of the park at 56th Street because you are always at the park, wait-ing to catch a glance of her.
She—her appearance—is a constant. Unlike your sexuality, all bendy like the way your bones got after yesterday’s failed backside carve.
Bisexualpansexualdemisexualpanromanticenby all bleeding bleeding-bleeding…into one another.
That drum of an organ inside your chest tells you to just be patient. But now, here you are and there she is and you can’t help yourself.
And so far out of your league.
You’re not even sure what she does here every day, but you probably shouldn’t continue to watch her while trying to nail a Caballerial for the first time. Losing focus there is the kind of thing that lends itself to unforgiving injuries, like that time you broke your leg in six places on the half-pipe or the time you bit clean through your bottom lip trying to take down a 360 Pop Shove It.
You’re still tasting blood to this very day. So’s your skate-board. That one got split clean in half.
She looks up at you from underneath light brown lashes that seem too long to be real. She reminds you of a Heelflip. You don’t know her well but you imagine that, at first, she’s a pretty complicated girl, before you get good enough to really know her. You assume this just given the way her hair hangs down her back in a thick, beachy plait, the way yours never could.
Not since you chopped it all off.
That’s not a look for a lady, your mom says repeatedly. But you’ve never been very femme and a few extra inches of hair plus that pink dress Mom bought you won’t change that.
You hate that dress. That dress makes you look like fondant. Someone nails a Laserflip right near where you’re standing and almost wipes out.
Stop staring. You could just go introduce yourself to her.
But what would you say?
Hi, I’m Dustyn and I really want to kiss you but I’m so confused about who I am and how am I supposed to introduce myself to you if I can’t even get my label right, oh, and also, you make me forget my own name.
And in a perfect world, she would make eyes at you. She’d make those eyes at you and melt your entire fucking world in the way only girls ever can.
Hi, Dustyn, I’m in love with you. Eyelashes. All batting eye-lashes.
No. No, the conversation probably wouldn’t go that way. Be nice if it did though. Be nice if anything at all could go your way when it comes to romance.
You push into a 360 ollie while riding fakie and biff it so bad, you wish you possessed whatever brain cells are the ones that tell you when to quit.
If that conversation did go your way, on a realistic scale, she’d watch you right back. You would nail that Caballerial.
Take a break. Breathe. Breathe breathe breathe. Try some-thing else for a sec.
Varial Heelflip. Wipe out.
Inward Heelflip. Gnarly spill.
Backside 180 Heelflip. Game, set, match—you’re finished. That third fail happens right in front of her and you play it off cool. Get up. Don’t even give a second thought to your battle wounds. You’re at the skate park on 56th Street because there’s more to get into. Which means, you’re not the only idiot limping with a little drug called determination giving
Falling is the point. Failing is the point. Getting better and changing your game as a skater is the point. Change.
But what if things were on your side? What if you’d stuck with that first label? What if Bisexual felt like a good fit and never changed?
Well, then you’d probably be landing all these 180s.
If bisexual just fit, you’d probably have been able to hold on to your spot in that Walk-In Closet. But it doesn’t fit. It doesn’t fit which kind of sucks because at Thanksgiving din-ner two years ago, your cousin Damita just had to open her big mouth and tell the family you “mess with girls.” Just had to tell the family, a forkful of homemade mac and cheese headed into said mouth, that you are “half a gay.”
That went over well. Grams wouldn’t let you sit on her plastic-lined couches for the rest of the night. Your great-uncle Damian told her gay is contagious. She took it to heart.
No offense, baby. Can’t have all that on my good couches. You glance up and across the park, memories knocking
things through your head like a good stiff wind, and you find her taking a seat.
Oh, she never does this. She never gets comfortable. She’s changing things up. You’re not the only one.
Maybe she plans to stay a while.
You love that she’s changing things up. You think it feels like a sign. It’s like she’s riding Goofy-Foot today. Riding with her right foot as dominant.
The first time you changed things up that way, you ended up behind the bleachers, teeth checking with a trans boy named Aaron. It felt so right that you needed to give it a name.
Google called it pansexual. That one stuck. You didn’t bother to explain that one to the family, though. They were just starting to learn bisexual didn’t mean you were gay for only half the year.
You pop your board and give the Caballerial another go.
It does not want you. You don’t stick this one either.
If pansexual had stuck, you’d introduce yourself to the beautiful girl with a smaller apology on your tongue. Hi, I’m Dustyn, I’ve only changed my label the one time, just slightly, but I’m still me and I’d really love to take you out.
And the beautiful girl would glance at your scraped elbows and the bruised-up skin showing through the knee holes in your ripped black skinny jeans. She’d see you and say, Hi, small, slight changes are my favorite. And then she’d lace her bubble-gum-nail-polished hand with yours.
But you changed your label after that, too. It was fine for a while. Your best friend, Hollis, talked you through the symp-toms of demisexuality.
No wonder holding the beautiful girl’s hand seems so much more heart-palpitating than anything else. A handhold. So simple. Just like an ollie.
You take a fast running start, throwing your board down, and end up on a vert skate, all empty bowl-shaped pools that are so smooth, your wheels only make a small whisper against them.
A whisper is what you got that first time you realized sex was not for you. Not with just anyone. This was…mmm, probably your biggest revelation.
It was like you’d been feeding your body Big Macs three times a day and suddenly—a vegetable!
Tic-tacking is when you use your entire body to turn the board from one side to the other. It’s a game of lower body strength, but also a game of knowing your weight and know-ing your board. You are not a tic-tac kind of girl.
You are not a girl at all. You are just…you.
That one’s sticking forever. You know it all the way through to your gut.
You make one more attempt, which probably isn’t super wise because you are so close to the spot where she’s sitting that not only will she see you bite the dust, but she’ll hear that nasty grunt you make when you meet the ground.
You coast by.
The friction vibrates up through your bearings and you know you’re going too fast because you start to feel a little bit of a speed-wobble, that lovely, untimely, oscillatory behavior that means bro, you are about to lose control.
And you hate that word. Control. You hate that word be-cause it is so very rare that you have any. Over your life, your sexuality, your gender, your pronouns, your heartbeat when you’re around your beautiful girl.
But then you do.
You gain control. And you nail that Caballerial.
And the three guys who’ve been watching you make an ass of yourself all afternoon pop their boards up, hold them over their heads and let out wolf shouts.
And you’re smiling so hard. You get like that when you nail a particularly difficult one. You’re smiling so hard you don’t notice the someone standing behind you.
Beautiful girl. You don’t even want to control your smile here.
“You did it,” she says.
About the author
Saundra Mitchell has been a phone psychic, a car salesperson, a denture deliverer and a layout waxer. She's dodged trains, endured basic training and hitchhiked from Montana to California. She teaches herself languages, raises children and makes paper for fun. She is the author of Shadowed Summer and The Vespertine series, the upcoming novelization of The Prom musical, and the editor of Defy the Dark. She always picks truth; dare is too easy. Visit her online at www.saundramitchell.com.
Author website: wwww.saundramitchell.com