'First Love' by Jane Lomas

It started with a kiss, as most romances do.

I was a school freak, fifteen years old, hiding behind my bird’s nest of hair in the hope that it would cover my spots and personality. You were a lanky sixth former from the boys’ grammar. The only thing we had in common was the road we lived on: a row of respectable semis sporting gleaming windows and weed-less lawns, uniform and cropped like bristles on a brush.

I would have liked it if you’d talked to me on the bus but I understood that obviously I wasn’t someone to be seen with in public. An association with me would have ruined your credibility. I got on the bus the stop before you and would sit at the back in the corner, not wanting to be noticed by anyone and yet aching that you would shoot me a smile as you swung up the stairs with your handsome group. Before school I would rehearse my returning smile in the bathroom mirror: cool and lazy with a slight flick of my hair. I never had to use it.

During the bus journey my heart would beat wildly and I would stare out of the window dreaming of the day you would take me out and introduce me to your friends. At our stop, I would always be the first to ring the bell and wait by the doors. I would be some steps along the road before I heard you calling up to your friends as they continued their journeys home. I longed to turn and wave to them too; to be casual and popular.

Once we rounded the corner, out of sight of the other kids, you would hurry to catch me up and sling your arm casually around my waist. I was grateful for those crumbs of affection. Grateful for the kiss and the way you held me. Grateful for those moments during that cold November when I felt like I was coming alive. I remember the way your cold hands would touch my face, the way we would stand so still, the chill creeping in through my wedged shoes until my toes went numb. But mostly I remember your brown eyes and soft lips and the way my heart beat so strongly, it ached through my chest.

One afternoon I felt a shift in the mood. A progression. I’d been excited but scared and I made an excuse and raced home. Mum was waiting, angry.

‘Where have you been?’ she’d demanded.

‘With Tom,’ I’d said. ‘He kissed me.’ I said nothing more but Mum suspected.

I got a different bus home after that day. Bringing it out into the open felt wrong. This was no romance at all, just a boy trying his luck.

So Mum said.

Comments

  1. Jane this is wonderful. You capture fifteen perfectly

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  2. Beautiful Jane, truly beautiful! 'Crumbs of affection' - Love it!

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  3. A lovely story, I so remember that yearning. 'I was a school freak.' Oh, so was I! Well done.

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  4. This totally drew me in, Jane. Brought back so many memories. Beautiful writing!

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