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ANNOUNCING WINNERS
2009 PAST LOVES STORY CONTEST

chapter3EVEN IF you never see the person again, a significant former love remains with you. That womanor man is woven into the tapestry of your life – maybe as a subtle shading here and there, maybe as a vibrant pattern smack in the middle. Without those threads, the weaving would be something else. You would be someone else.

 

 

FIRST PLACE

 

Frankly My Dear I Do Give a Damn

by Katie Eichele

On the rolling hillside of a small town country community, we sprouted. But all throughout our innocent school years, I believed you to be the plague. Your dark hair, mischief mahogany eyes and the tiniest freckles on your face, to me were contaminated with boy germs and unpleasantries. But growing up, there was hardly a moment when I ever saw you without a smile. And there was hardly a moment when I donned one.

I hid my unlikablities like the ravishing Miss Scarlet O’Hara. I was after something beyond my reach at the time. Freedom.

But fate kept drawing us together. For our last names fell in alphabetical order and you were glued to my back every waking school day. As the antagonist, you were the boy who teased me, pulled my hair, tattled on me for saying "go to hell", cheated off my homework, and poked me in the ribs just to gain my attention. You were brash, bold, and obnoxious. And I haughtily despised and ignored you from my peripherals as I saved myself for the dashing Rhett Butler, pretending to be the untouchable, unscathed Scarlet.

You lacked the gentility and swagger of the ambling Clark Gable – of course you were only a pubescent teen back then.

As seniors, we contended for GPA superiority; wanting to best each other. I felt a drive to always out do you and never knew why. Somedays I got ahead, somedays you’d knock me down and ohhh I’d want to rattle some cages then.

Still I knew without you, I’d never have the strength to save my own Tara or grow the calluses on my ego to withstand the hardships ahead.

We flittered about each other like bumble bees vying for the same honey, never acknowledging, yet always knowing something special was pollinating; both too shy, oblivious or stubborn to work together to construct the hive.

Our own sweet plantation just starting to blossom like the buds of young love.

Then there was chemistry. Literally having to work side-by-side as lab partners setting things ablaze. Burning them in flames of blistering blues, gaseous greens, and raging reds. But while we watched the Bunsen burner, everyone else eyed the chemistry igniting between us, flickering white hot. All assuming after high school, when we’d both become doctors, the day would come when bells and babies would follow.

And surely they almost did. For college was our sweet Savannah time.

We heated up with long, humid walks, hushed, private nights under the crescent moon, sitting on your lap sharing the pains of my betrayed childhood, removing the masks of troubled angst, abuse and regret inflicted by a love-famished family. I curled up in your arms and you soothed away my tears with loving kisses and gentle words.

When I thought I was nothing but broken and beaten, you nurtured and healed my wounds with soft strokes to my cheeks and lips, that low, rumbling voice, and the comforts of hospitality and love. You graced my body and soul in ways every young woman desires without spoiling me forwhen I was truly ready.

Then like Miss Scarlet, I lost you in the fog–amongst the mist of distance, separation, and time.

You went away and I thought you didn’t care. I called to you in my dreams, I cried for you in my heart, I prayed to the moon and the stars to guide you back. But I knew you had a path to follow and I knew mine was just beginning. And no matter how much I ran and chased after you, I knew

if we were going to have that epic love tale, we’d have to have our own adventures and somehow they’d weave together in the end.

So I found another.

But without your openness and patience to help me find myself worthy of love, to help me gain my freedom and independence, I’d never be as blessed as I am now. For you cultivated my heart, readying it for joy.

And I thank you.

"Frankly my dear I do give a damn – for tomorrow is another day to love."

 

SECOND PLACE

 

More Than Pocket Change

by Abigail Sprague

As I write this, I realize that I am still eighteen years old. My past love was not that long ago, but that sanctuary we created together, using only our crossed fingers and rapidly beating hearts, feels like a lifetime ago.

Jack. Even his name sounds like an adventure, at least to me. I met him when I was still sixteen years old, innocent as ever, completely the opposite of this brilliantly blue eyed, brown haired, weed smoking boy who reeled me in by making me laugh. Not just a small giggle, but a laugh that starts deep down in your soul and keeps you smiling long after the joke is over, long after the person has left.

There were a lot of things wrong with our relationship, some of which I am only recognizing now. There was the disrespect, the lying, the cheating, and the overall downfall of our relationship. But before the long summer days began to grow shorter after our junior year in high school, there was a love that we swore would never die.

Every once in a while I try to bring back a memory in my mind, just to remind myself that yes, I did feel that free, that happy, that loved, once upon a time. Lately however, with my first year of college only three weeks away, the memories have become hazy. They’ve become harder to bring back. That is, all except this one.

Jack showed up at my front door unannounced that humid afternoon in May, smiling and confident, as usual. Upon entrance into my kitchen, he asked my mother’s permission for me to drive down the Cape with his family to meet his grandparents. It was a school night and I had a history test the next day, but even my mother could not refuse those ocean blue eyes. As soon as we knew it was a definite yes, I ran upstairs to put on nicer clothes. He mentioned cashing in change at his bank, so we began collecting a shoebox full of coins we found scattered about my room.

His maroon colored Saab with the sub speakers and tinted windows pulled up to the bank just before the rain came. I placed the shoebox on the roof of his car and we stood there smiling at each other.

"Oh man, do you smell that rain?" he asked, just as I shouted, "I love the smell of rain!"

He grabbed my hand and kissed me in that moment and we ran inside to turn our coins into dollar bills.

The ride to his grandparents’ house was spent holding hands.

We had a homemade Italian dinner with his family, and his grandmother instantly fell in love with me. I remember feeling at home at the kitchen table, like I belonged there. Like I could spend the rest of my life eating dinner with his family on hazy afternoons.

We fell asleep on the car ride home, our fingers entwined like the rest of our lives were supposed to be, or so we promised.

I know there is nothing spectacular about that story. No fireworks, no passionate kisses under the stars, no heartbreaking moment that makes you run for the tissue box. I could have told you about our watermelon flavored first kiss, the time he cried because he realized he had fallen in love with me, or the harsh ending to our love story. I even could have told you about the week I almost won him back again, how he wasn’t at graduation, or how I’m starting a new life while he’s staying in this town forever, though I believe he will do something great with his life…someday.

No, instead I decided to tell you about a simple day in our story. I’m realizing those are the moments that come back to me as clear as crystal. You see, Jack gave me more than a way to turn my change into cash. He gave me a way to turn my fears into dreams, my dreams into reality.

He gave me love. A love as pure and simple as that day in May.

 

THIRD PLACE

 

Our Story

by Beth Carlson

He was quiet and scholarly. I was young and anything but level-headed. We had no mutual friends, not even knowledge of the other’s existence. It was not likely our paths would cross, only a fool’s chance, but on that day we struck gold.

Looking back now, a year and a half later, I can not remember quite everything. But certain images stand out in my mind, emotions caught in the current of reality and dreams deluded, but none the less beautiful... I remember the initial rush and excitement of a first date. Not long after came the understanding that we really might have something beautiful and deep. You see, there was more to us than met the eye. We were dreamers, passionate and unafraid.

I can recall snatches of memories. There is one of hot chocolate and a walk home in the snow.

Hand in hand, it was like a scene from a paperback novel. The snow shimmering in the lamplight, flakes continued to fall around us as he walked me to the front door and gave me a tender kiss goodbye. Dressed to impress, he took me to the high school prom… oh so cliché and innocent. I still have a poem he wrote for me, one that would put Shakespeare to shame. It describes a blue-eyed beauty, with undeniable charm and a sweet, naive demeanor. I still can not  believe that the girl described lovingly in classic prose is really me.

And then it was summer. Those sultry summer days stretched out endlessly, each more beautiful than the last. I can recall a night when we kissed in the rain, lightening flashing and not caring.

That night there were no rules, no time, just youth, just us.

We were so different from the other couples. The bond was deeper, so above the frivolities of high school lust and whims. We swore we were in love, that we would get married. I can remember the time we were by the creek, giggling and laughing as we made wedding rings out of blades of grass. We named our future daughter, Cadence, at the age of seventeen.

I cried on the last day of summer. A gut feeling told me that when this day was done, things would never be the same. He reassured me, but I could see a glint of anxiety in his eyes. And I was right. The day that sweltering summer sun set, so did the heat of our love.

We tried to hold on, even as everything was breaking. We were engulfed in separate worlds, worlds that did not have a place for one another. When he said "I love you" it sounded like a plea. When I said "I love you" it sounded like a lie.

Sometimes things were like how they were before. We could recreate those summer days, that unthinking passion and devotion. Those days were truly beautiful, but they grew fewer in number.

He wanted me to grow up, to accept our love, commit and to hell with the rest of it. I could not accept these terms. I could not give up my life for a chance at our future. I was young and still wild at heart. He knew this. His final gift to me was setting me free. But he still expected me to be his girl one day. And I just could not do it.

To this day, we maintain a strained sort of friendship. It is one continuously haunted by memories. We both remember what it was like back in the days when we believed love was easy, and we fell for the alluring delusion.

But our love was not in vain. I taught him that there is indeed beauty in this world and that he deserves to be loved. He taught me what it means to fall in love. He gave me integrity and strength, two gifts I will always hold close. The memories will forever flow through my veins. I would not be who I am today without him.

You can call it what you will. A high school romance, a first love, a lesson learned right, a love gone wrong... It is our story.

 

FOURTH PLACE

 

Untitled

by Paxson Sherwin

I’ve heard some people say that they fell in love at first sight, but dear God, you annoyed the hell out of me at first.

We were at a party, just another bunch of high school kids pretending they were adults, fueling the fantasy with alcohol and smoke. I’d left the noise inside, wandering out to the balcony where I could be left with my own cigarettes and thoughts. I’d been feeling glum, alone in the crowd and the weather outside was oddly fitting.

The rain was pouring down so hard, I didn’t even hear your footsteps as you sidled up beside me, plucking the cigarette from my lips. "These things will kill you, cowboy," your lips twisted into that crooked grin I’ll never forget. You took a single drag, then held it out, "Not unless you share."

I grunted and snatched it back, determined not to let a pretty redhead ruin my foul mood. I can still taste your cherry lip balm as I inhaled, blowing the smoke out in the rain and doing my best to avoid looking into your eyes, bright as a cat’s and twice as mischievous. In fact, I was doing such a good job of not looking at you I failed to notice you managed to snatch my cigarette from me again.

"Do you mind?" I asked, wishing I could kill with a glare. Or at least, wishing I could come up with something witty enough to make you go away.

Instead you laughed, that crooked smile on your face the whole time. "Course I don’t mind." You puffed away on the cigarette, the ember on the end nowhere near as dazzling as your hair. "Why do you?" You held out the cigarette for me, as if it was yours and you were doing me the favor.

I grabbed it back, knowing I still had half a pack in the pocket of my jeans, but they didn’t have the taste of your lips on them. "Because," I said, leaning forward and looking out into the rain.

"Life sucks and then you die." I didn’t want to talk about the things bothering me: work, school, a bipolar mother I had to practically force-feed her own medication so she wouldn’t spend our grocery money on some zany scheme.

Before I knew it, I was holding the cigarette out for you. You took it, as if this were to be expected and shrugged. "That’s why you got to find the good times when you can." Your eyes sparkled. "Like now." You grabbed me by the hand, pulling me along. "Let’s dance."

I tried to think of a dozen things to say, to explain I couldn’t dance, didn’t even want to dance, but the best I could murmur was something about not wanting to go inside.

"What makes you think we’re going inside?" You put the cigarette back in my lips with a wink.

"Get ready."

"Wait, wha?" Before I could say anything more, you’d dragged me out into the rain, your laughter as pure as the water cascading down around us.

I can’t remember much of the rest of that night. Just the cold fingers of the rain crawling down my back, the softness of your hand and the warmth of your body as we twirled like children in the rain. The thump of my heart rivaling the bass in the house for noise. Your sparkling green eyes. That crooked smile. Those cherry-flavored lips.

But I’ll never forget what you taught me that night. That life does suck and then you die. Despite this though, or perhaps because of it, you have to grab on to the good moments all the more.

Fight for them, make them yours, no matter if the sun is shining or the rain is pouring.

I’ll always remember this. To this day, whenever I see a redhead with a crooked smile, I feel my heart leap into my throat and hope block out all common sense. Sadly though, it’s never you and whenever this happens, I only wish for one thing.

I wish I had known your name.

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