First Impressions by Josephine Myles is a short story at 6,100 words from Torquere Press. It doesn’t waste any words as it covers an impressively varied emotional terrain from humorous to poignant. It also features numerous vivid details that make its British setting and culture come alive for the reader. Meanwhile, the first-person narrator is a thoroughly convincing young guy – surly, obsessed with sex, a bit gross and raunchy, and insecure enough to make snap judgments about people based on first impressions. The author takes a risk, giving the protagonist such a big chip on his shoulder, but she also has the skill to show us that he’s endearingly desperate for someone to love.
The story opens in the first-person viewpoint of Jez, an artist who rides the train to London every morning along with the crowds of commuters. He notices an attractive young man who looks very buttoned-down and corporate, except for a pair of aggressively colorful socks. Jez can’t forget those socks, and soon he looks forward to seeing the man on the train each morning and ogling his socks. As he grows increasingly attracted to the man, he makes up a prim and proper personality for him. Meanwhile, his one friend Kathy finds his obsession very amusing. Finally, after weeks of exchanging significant glances with his love interest, Jez decides to do something drastic to capture his attention. Will the corporate drone turn out to be entirely different from Jez’s first impression?