Wednesday, October 12, 2011

First Love

Jason was a pimply-faced kid who lived with his grandmother, and everyone always told me to stay away from him. We were young, innocent, and had ideas for the future grander than anyone around us could imagine.

Before Jason, I dreaded Sundays, but after we met, the epic day of rest became my favorite day of the week.

Mom and Dad tried to find excuses for me not to sit with him at church, tried to tell me I should be with them, with family. Jason and I moved pews. We sat in the back, or behind them. So long as they couldn’t see us, we didn’t care.

As time wore on, Jason's hand held mine with more confidence, less sweat, more thumb grazing over my knuckles. He’d lean into my ear and whisper a whole lot of nothing, making me giggle at all the wrong times. He’d tuck my long, brown, stringy hair behind my ear and tell me I was beautiful, and that I shined like the stars.

My heart learned gymnastics when we were together.

But at some point something changed; Jason missed church two weeks in a row. His grandmother was there, but he was not.

Had I done something wrong? Did I make him not want to see me ever again? Did he find someone else?

After church I rushed up to his grandmother; she was clad in her Sunday finest and wore her dark gray hair in a loosely tied bun. I took her wrinkled hand into mine; she was cold, her skin thin from age, but she was firm in her grip. “Please, tell me where he is."

“I can’t, dear. But I can give you this.” Jason’s grandmother reached into her faux leather handbag, pulled out a crinkled piece of lined paper then handed it to me.

“What’s this?” I asked, heart pounding, chest constricting.

“I didn’t read it. Jason asked me to give it to you,” she said, then turned and walked away.

Tears welled in my eyes. My fingers trembled as I unfolded the piece of paper holding the future of my heart’s status. He was going to break up with me. That’s why he gave the letter to his grandma, because he couldn’t face me himself. I just knew it. Why would anyone like me? My family was poor. We didn’t have anything. I wasn’t special.

I held my breath, unfolding the last bit of our relationship.

I’m sorry. I miss you. Call me.

Underneath his scrawled words he’d written his phone number and drawn a big heart.

I couldn’t wait to get home.

“Is everything okay?” Mom asked.

I didn’t realize she was standing next to me. Looking up into her eyes, I knew she knew something. “Yes. Can we go home now?”

I held the paper in the palm of my hand all day. He’d touched it. He’d written it. He’d wanted me to have it. When it was late, when I was sure my parents wouldn’t care what I was doing, I grabbed the cordless phone, a pillow, and a blanket and went outside. I spread the blanket on the deck just outside the back door, laid down on my stomach and propped the pillow under my elbows. Unfolding the paper, I read the numbers then punched them into the phone.

Ring, ring, ring.

“Hello?” His voice, it was warm—albeit, maybe a little high-pitched—and it was him.

I turned over, resting my head on the pillow so I could stare at the bright starry sky. “Hi.”

Krystal . . . .” Jason whispered. “I’m sorry.”

I really didn’t want to hear he was sorry. I wanted to know why I hadn’t seen him. “Where have you been?”

“I’m moving.”

I gasped. “What? Where?”

“To Louisiana.”

There was a long, awkward pause. I took the time to compose myself, to carefully choose my next words, to wipe tears from my eyes. “Why?”

“Grandma can’t afford to keep me here. I’m moving with my uncle, tomorrow. They wouldn’t let me come to church because I had to pack, and because they were afraid we would do something stupid if I told you.” He sighed.

I sobbed.

“Krystal, don’t cry. Listen, go outside.”

“I’m already outside,” I said, sniffling.

“Me too. Look up at the stars.”

The black Texas sky was dotted with millions of twinkling stars. The Milky Way was white and cloudy, stretching across the dark blanket of space with all its glory.

“Are you looking up?”

“Yes.”

“You see that little constellation right in the middle of the sky? It looks like a baseball diamond, a very tiny baseball diamond.”

I scanned the stars, desperate to look at the same thing as him. When I discovered the little diamond in the sky, I sucked in a sharp breath. “I see it.”

“Good. Every time you think of me, every time you miss me, look up and know I’ll be thinking of you, too. I’ll miss you, too. That will be our constellation.” He paused.

“Won’t we talk?” I asked, forgetting about the stars.

“Long distance . . . .”

And that was it, the end of my first honest relationship. The end of our hopes and dreams together. Occasionally I’d look at the baseball constellation and think of him, but it hurt. The first person ever really interested in me, torn away. We spent the rest of the night talking about the stars, talking about what we would do when we saw each other again, but that day never came. I was twelve; I doubt we were in it for the long haul anyway.

18 comments:

  1. I love it!!!! This post lifted me like a heavy piece of furniture. BEAUTIFUL!

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  2. Aw:) How very sweet:) There isn't much beyond the boundaries of ourselves when we are that age...love the story.

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  3. Beautiful, Krystal :) *sigh*

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  4. Thanks, guys. It really was pure and innocent. ;-)

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  5. Beautiful! It made my day:)

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  6. That makes my day! :-) Thank you, Andreah.

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  7. What a sweet story. First loves are the most important because the set the stage for all others. I think you should write a romance.

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  8. I was getting all teary eyed... and then you end it with "I doubt we were in it for the long haul anyway". Way to burst my bubble. lol

    so sweet!

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  9. I had the same thought, Melissa. Tossed him right into the discard pile with that, poor guy.

    Was he packing both weeks he missed?

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  10. Well, Melissa, we were 12 (well, he was 13).

    Yes, Sarah, they didn't want him to tell me after he found out. Which I thought was kind of cruel. But, sigh, oh well.

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  11. Oh, that was so sweet, Krystal! Thank you for sharing that story. Remember it when your kids are at the same age. I always say I have been a good mother not just because I remember being their age, but because I remember how it felt to be their age.

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  12. Way to make me cry. A beautiful first love story.

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  13. awwww. how precious. an innocent love story you'll remember always <3

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  14. This is a really beautiful story and written amazingly well as always. It takes me back to my first crush when I was 8 and it shaped my life in an unexpected way, sending my life into a tailspin that I’ve yet to recover from and that was thirty four years ago.
    My mother would drag me along on grocery shopping trips and I hated it. I hated how she enjoyed introducing me as her “baby”. I would blush and roll my eyes. “Mawwm, Jeeze!”
    On one particular trip, rounding a corner, somewhere between the marshmallow crème and the chopped walnuts, there she was. So beautiful, long auburn hair, her legs were nearly as tall as I and her eyes; her eyes held secrets that only she would ever know. Nineteen year old Mary peeked around her mother, Irene, and gave me a wink. My face became warm. I slid behind my mother and smoothed my hair. Of all days to wear my grungy, baggy sweats, I thought and though I enjoyed seeing her, I just wanted to get away.
    She left this world just 9 short years after and her departure cut me deeply. It’s one of those wounds that never fully heals and will never ever go away. When I look to the stars I hope to find her, my first love, there too. ;)

    Great post Krystal! Thanks for sharing!

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  15. Romantic little cuss! Probably still misses you. :)

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  16. Your profile says you write in your "spare time"? Well, you should find more time. This was great. :)

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