Short Stories 366:325 — “Sugar and Spice,” by Eli Wray

Okay, this story basically wins the award for adorable awkwardness for the year. Everyone else can go home. Good game, good game. Okay, I jest, but I don’t jest, because Mason and Natalie are freaking adorable, and the whole set-up of “Sugar and Spice” is just so holiday-awkward-queer-cute-relatable that I was doing the cringe-swoon thing I can only explain to other queer people because it’s got that healthy dose of “do they even potentially like me?” that goes lightyears beyond the usual “but do they like me?” and just trust me, the feelings are dialled up so perfectly to the nth here.

Back to the set-up. Mason is baking gluten-free cookies because they know Natalie eats gluten-free. However, Mason has not done this before, and they’re quickly realizing it’s not the story of thing they can just bang out all quick-like. So they when Natalie arrives and sees what’s going on, they kind of panic and admit they’re baking cookies for…a friend…and then Natalie is helping them make the cookies they want to give her and… GAH.

I also loved the transition in this story from so very cute and sweet and adorable into sizzle—it’ll be a go-to example now of how “cute” or “sweet” isn’t the opposite of “heat” or “sizzle.” Once the feelings are sorted out (and with such a gentle, wonderful progression thereof), the other, uh, feelings, come into play and Wray delivers said heat and sizzle with aplomb. For a short tale, this one packs in an entire journey, and managed to deftly admit some of the less-wonderful realities of queer holidays without losing any of the joy of its own narrative. I loved everything about this.

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