Starting a new story is like starting a new relationship: all giddy and exciting and fumbling. For my writing today (I’m trying to get back into writing at least 300 words every day—not ambitious but manageable while doing grad work), I started a new story called “The Lock”. I don’t think it will be a genre story, though most stories I start find their way into science fiction or horror somehow, but I think this one might be more, oh, I don’t know, New England Gothic maybe? We’ll see. For my daily sharing of joy, I’m going to give you the very beginning of a new relationship, a new story. It’s rough draft material and I won’t necessarily be sharing the process of writing the entire thing, but starting this made me feel good. A story is a fragile thing, however, and there is some risk in my posting this as often a story shared too early can self destruct. But I think the story has enough urgency to take that risk.
Betcha you won’t. Betcha I will. Nuh-uh. Yuh-uh.
I was ten that day, or eleven. She was a year older than me. I can’t remember what I looked like then, not really, not without a picture. But her, I remember her like a story: skinny and always in motion. Even when sitting, she was jiggling her left leg or twirling her sun-bleached blond hair that was always wild and tangled except for Sundays when her mother took a brush to it before Church. Or she’d be picking at scabs from whatever recent scrapes she’d accumulated running around the woods behind her house or down at Lander’s Beach which wasn’t a beach but rocks that she loved to explore and was too impatient to not slip and fall on a regular basis. Her skin was darkly tanned and often bruised. Her nose was small, slightly upturned at the end and her grin … Her grin was wide, electric. The kind of grin that made you excited and brought butterflies to your stomach and made you want to do something to make it happen again. I loved her. I realize that now, but I never thought that then. She was just Julie and we hung out a lot and yeah, her older sister would tease us, saying we were in love and we should get married, but back then Julie was just so much herself and I was far more naive than kids now that … Well, I just didn’t know.
I used to think she probably didn’t either, but sometimes I remember looks, small things she said, and wonder. There are days, now, when I wish desperately I could again love a person with such an unconscious clarity. No sexual baggage. No expectations. No hopes. Just a day to day exploration of the world with her at my side, leading me on, urging me to run faster, climb the tree just a little bit higher, swim out just a little bit further.