- Tested by Elizabeth Andre
Tested by Elizabeth AndreHot
After, of course, they shop, have lunch, have coffee, gossip about what that person is wearing, talk about sex, lie about their sexual past, and waste as much time as they can in hopes they won’t make it to the clinic before it closes for the day. They know they should get tested but don’t want to.
Edwin insists that he always has safe sex with men, if he’s had any sex at all, but the truth is far more complicated. Julio hardly eats, but he’s so proud of his numerous sexual conquests that he gives his boyfriends both names and numbers. Anastasia’s lesbian sexual history involves blood. Jennifer has boyfriends who don’t always take no for an answer.
Together they learn that fear can tear people apart as much as it brings them closer, and that their blood, along with their hearts and spirits, will be tested in ways they can’t even imagine.
The four friends in the story come from diverse backgrounds and histories. At the start, we see them together enjoying an evening of intimacy together. In their minds, the sensual acts are an extension of their friendship, not what they view as sexual. Through their close bond, they make an agreement to go together to be tested for HIV.
The rest of the story is told in a combination of flashbacks to their sexual histories and snapshots of their present actions. All four of them have reasons to believe their test may end up being positive, which leads to a good deal of stalling and tension among them. I loved the dialog among them. There were plenty of realistic conversations, and even their snapping at each other was raw and believable.
Without giving any spoilers, I will say that the ending surprised and touched me. I wasn't sure how the author would pull it off in an empathetic way, simply because the subject is so sensitive. She did, though, and it's really emotional.
Other than that, there's not much I can say about the story because it's so short. I do think this is an important read. While we've come a long way, there are still so many people who don't know what it was like to live through that era. Because so many people are gone, we need to preserve their histories. I wonder if this is why so many people in my generation seem to be writing about the early 1990s right now.
For sympathetic characters, a compassionate and non-judgmental tone, and an emotional ending, this gets 5 stars.