The day Landon broke his face we were trying to hurry, so he yanked a guitar cable free from the amp halfway across the room, and it smacked him in the eye. It was funny until I noticed the blood—a thick, carmine-colored liquid—seeping through his knuckles. “Dammit!” he yelled, amid my dwindling laughter. He told me to find a first aid kit from the closet. We were in his parents’ house, an extra bedroom they’d let him semi-convert to a music studio, which basically meant his equipment—guitars, amps, various stands and cables—lay scattered all over the floor. His mom worked as an ER nurse at the hospital and kept first aid kits in every room of the house, which I felt was a bit overkill. Inside the small closet, I found a tiny plastic box with several alcohol pads, gauzes, packets of acetaminophen and ibuprofen, neomycin antibiotic cream, latex gloves, a roll of medical tape, but no Band-Aids. Some kit, right? “Do you want me to use the gloves?” I asked. “No,” he said, “just hurry.” He was shorter than me by a foot, so I crouched a little in front of him and moved his bangs to the side in order to get a look at the wound. His breath in my face smelled thin and wet, papery.

Lukas Tallent

Lukas Tallent received his Bachelor’s degree in English from Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and he is currently pursuing a Master’s of Fine Arts degree at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts. This is his first publication.

Patrick Ryan on “Tres Amores”

One of the best parts of my job is reading a story that comes in on submission, getting knocked out by the quality of the writing, and then discovering that the author hasn’t published anywhere before. It’s an immediate and special type of fondness that floods in, a kind of “instant nostalgia,” because it means One Teen Story will always be the first magazine to usher that author’s writing into the world.

And so it is my distinct pleasure to present to you “Tres Amores,” written by Lukas Tallent. It’s a story about music and songwriting. It’s a story about friendship, longing, and desire. It’s a story about three friends, one of whom, for better or for worse, is the brightest tip of the triangle.

I don’t want to give anything away; I’ll let the story unfold for you the way it did for me. But I will say that there’s a wonderful balance going on here in that the narrative voice is both young and mature, hopeful and jaded, love-weary and yet reaching for love. I hope you enjoy “Tres Amores,” and I’m confident we’ll be hearing more from Lukas Tallent in the future. Thank you, as always, for reading.

Q&A by Patrick Ryan

PR: Where did the idea for this story come from?
LT: Most of my fiction originates from my obsessively asking myself a question, and in this case, that question was: where do the lines between different kinds of love, like friendship and desire and reverence, blur? Our word “love” means so many different things, depending on who is speaking to whom about what and so on. The way you love a song is not the same way you would necessarily love a girlfriend or boyfriend, and “I love you, dude” means something very different than “I love you.” Those nuances are incredibly interesting to me. Additionally, I had a lot of musical experiences from high school that I had never written about, which fit well in the context of these blurring lines.
PR: Do you think Landon knows how Aiden feels about him? Or intuits it on some level? Or is he clueless?
LT: As a musician, I think Landon is aware of a certain emotional sway he holds over people but not necessarily his full impact, especially on those closest to him. But with regards to Aiden in particular, I somewhat believe he is willingly blind.
PR: The ending is beautiful. It somehow manages to be both sad and comforting. Was the story always going to end this way, or did you entertain other possible endings?
LT: I knew it would end with the image of them in bed together. I wanted to tell a story over the course of one night in the characters’ lives, which made ending in bed feel very natural.
PR: Anna is a great character—wise but also vulnerable. She’s the third in the triangle, of course (the third amore). What do you think she provides Aiden in the story? Some things Aiden isn’t even aware of, I’m guessing.
LT: Absolutely. I think Aiden is pretty clueless about Anna and how to react to her. In contrast to Landon, she sets very clear boundaries for her relationship with Aiden. Even when she tries to readjust those boundaries, she is straightforward and direct about what she feels and thinks. In some ways, that directness can be a welcome relief but in others, it perhaps really scares Aiden, knowing exactly how someone feels about him, and so he’s suspicious of her.
PR: Finish this sentence in just one word—the word you think best captures it: “This story is about __________.”?
LT: Pain
PR: What are you working on now?
LT: I’m currently working on a collection of short stories, which will include “Tres Amores.”
PR: What is the best bit of advice about writing you have ever received?
LT: Be a reader. When the reading stops, the writing stops.