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Mulligan by Nora Roth


by Nora Roth

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Recently added bySerenaYates, SheReadsALot, DreZ
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This story starts harmless enough: a tantalizingly intense rivalry between two men, followed by a gradually developing grudging admiration (on Jesse's side), then catastrophe hits when it becomes clear what Cameron went through while he and Jesse were becoming friends, then more. For me, the emotional intensity of the separation was crushing and the only thing that kept me going was the understanding of what a "mulligan" is: "a player getting a second chance to perform a certain move or action". A fitting title for a story about two young men almost addicted to arcade games, and the one ray of hope I kept clinging to during the last third of the story.

Jesse is eighteen, in his last year of high school, and the arcade is his home. Well, it could be, since he spends every free minute in there to the point where the owner frowns at him for having too many wins. One day, during an air hockey game, that changes. Cameron, the previous holder of a lot of high scores, returns from college - and wins the air hockey game. For Jesse that only means one thing: the game is on!

But Cameron isn't what Jesse expected. Almost without noticing, he charms Jesse into liking him. In typical teenager fashion Jesse doesn't really think about why Cameron is back, or why he looks so exhausted most of the time. Jesse does manage to grow up a little and give Cameron comfort when he needs it most. But then something happens that tears them apart, and Jesse loses it. That's when the real challenge starts.

If you like stories about young men learning to deal with life, if you enjoy reading about a simple friendship hanging onto so much more, and if you're looking for a read that is intense and emotionally draining, yet uplifting, then you will probably like this short story. I think it's brilliant, and will definitely read it again; knowing how it ends will make the second read even more interesting.

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  SerenaYates | Oct 14, 2017 |
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The only thing between Jesse Yates and the top of the air hockey leaderboard is Cameron Greene. When Cameron returns home from college unannounced and knocks the win out of Jesse's reach, the last thing Jesse plans to do is strike up a friendship with the guy he dislikes on principle. But Cameron charms Jesse without even seeming to try, and the attraction and friendly rivalry between them soon leads to something more. Everything is perfect until the world as Jesse knows it comes crashing down when Cameron's secrets are revealed. Before Jesse can find his balance, Cameron is gone without a word, leaving Jesse alone with anger and grief-hoping against hope for a second chance.… (more)

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