Army Green: Burning Bright by J. Rocci
28 pages / 7300 words
It's the annual Glenhaven Farms Fourth of July picnic and Cam is trying not to worry about his partner, Evan, as they help prepare for a large crowd of folks descending on the farm. Between running errands for Ms. Susan, setting up the backyard, and wrangling all four Hooligans, Cam catches quiet moments with Evan and reflects on the man he loves and almost lost to the war injuries that left Evan a disabled veteran.
What J says:
I actually had a hard time sitting down to write Burning Bright for a variety of reasons, but foremost was that, when I got to the scene with Cam greeting Ms. Susan in the kitchen at breakfast, I had to walk away from my keyboard for a bit and just breathe.
See, my grandmother was admitted to the ICU shortly after New Year's. Her condition was up and down for three terrible months, and it felt for a while there like life was on hold for everyone. I didn't write down any of my own words during the time, the longest I've gone in years. When she passed away in March, it was still a shock for all of us, and times of stress are not when my family shines. So I took my moment to grieve and kept on keeping on. I thought I was good until it came time to write Ms. Susan's scenes. Like Mr. Windham in Ivory, every word is written with love and the knowledge that I am a damn lucky person to have had the encouragement and love of my family.
At the wake, my grandmother's eighty-some year old cousin -- who was one of the people to instill a love of reading in me, as much as my grandmother encouraged my art and writing -- was talking to my mom for a while. Now, my mother knows full well what kind of stories I write and she proudly carries around a J. Rocci tote bag and has a mug, etc. So she leans over to my grandmother's cousin and says, "So J's a published author now." My grandmother's cousin perks up at that and goes, "Oh? What kind of stories?"
"Romance," my mom says. Then she leans in and says loud enough for a couple rows to hear, "Gay romance," and starts talking about my pen name and advantages of different e-book readers while I'm beet red and pointing out that I have a whole other career that pays my bills, why doesn't anyone ever want to talk about that one? And my grandmother's cousin doesn't have a computer, so I end up being directed to print one of my PG stories out and send it to her snail mail.
So the point of this tangent is:
I could hype up Burning Bright's sexy scenes and how hot Cam and Evan are (dudes, they so are), but honestly, at the forefront of my thoughts on it, it's a short story about family and home. It's about loving and being loved, and being accepted for the person you are, and knowing that you'll always have a home to go to. It's about being thankful for all that we have while knowing that freedom is never really free. It's about remembering our soldiers and being grateful to all the generations that have come before us, who have sacrificed so much so we can be who we are today.