The first time I fell in love I was twelve. I wrote his name in curly lettering on every available surface, erasers, pencil-cases, binders. My own skin. He was two years older than me, my friend’s brother. Golden haired and blue eyed, tall and slender. He played sports, won academic competitions. To me he was a god.
I used to do homework on the phone with his sister Victoria, and one time she said, “If you love my brother so much, you should talk to him.” We screamed in pubescent hunger. We decided I would call the house, and she would holler, “Andrew, answer the fucking phone!” We would execute this plan when their parents were out so that the only possible outcome would be Andrew picking up, and me enjoying his deep, manly voice.
The next day at school Victoria handed me one of Andrews sweatshirts and whispered, “Call tomorrow night at 7.” I took home this wonder of cotton and polyester and slept with it, inhaling the scent of Drakar Noir and sweat, dreaming of holding Andrew’s hand and slow dancing with him to a Bryan Adams song.
That night I stretched the phone cord into the bathroom and shut the door, the only way to achieve any privacy in my house. I dialed Victoria’s number, heart pounding, legs numb. I shut my eyes tight as it rang. “Hello?” I heard him say, annoyed, questioning. I froze, speechless, and when he repeated himself I promptly hung up and fell to the ground, writhing on the linoleum for at least five minutes.
I gathered my courage and re-dialed the number. He answered quickly this time, and I asked in my breathiest voice, “Is Victoria there?” He replied, “One moment please,” and I heard the clunk of the receiver dropping to dangle and bounce against the wall. Victoria came on and we laughed until we cried. I snuggled with the sweatshirt again, but instead of dreaming, this time I stayed awake fantasizing.
The fantasy starred me as Kelly Kapowski from Saved by the Bell, sitting in a cute cheerleading uniform on a bleacher at some unidentified sporting event. Andrew would walk over, crouch down in front of me and ask, “Will you go out with me?” his knuckles grazing my calf. He would become enraptured by the smoothness of my leg and love me desperately forever.
This scenario was problematic for numerous reasons. Number one, we attended a catholic middle school and it was 1989. The only thing we had approaching a cheerleading squad was The Spirit Club, and the uniform consisted of green jammer shorts and a gray gym t-shirt. Number two, I wasn’t allowed to shave my legs.
Victoria was big on making dreams into reality, so we joined the Spirit Club. She advised me, in no uncertain terms, to get my hands on a razor. My mother popped her head into my room to ask if I needed anything. “Yes, I said, I need a razor.” She laughed and shook her head, muttering nice try as she retreated down the hall. Tearfully, I explained to Victoria about this denial of my dearest wish, and her advice was do it anyway.
Our bathroom didn’t boast the luxury of a shower, only an enormous clawfoot tub, so my parents had installed a vinyl shower in the basement. This meant we all had to pass through the kitchen dripping wet, scampering upstairs to the warmth of our bedrooms. I stood in the shower, picked up my mom’s plastic Gillete, and hurriedly ran it over my legs in an upward motion. Winced in pain as I nicked myself, and panicked because now I’d have to run past my parents in my short robe without them noticing the blood running down my knee and ankle. Mind racing, I grabbed a pair of my little brother’s pants from the pile of dirty laundry near the washing machine and put them on. My mother eyed me suspiciously as I passed.
The end of the romance occurred in the morning. It was a hot day, so I couldn’t get away with covering my legs completely, that would be a dead giveaway. I put on a jean skirt, and in a moment of pure genius, wrapped a bandana around my scabbed knee and pulled my slouch-socks up to cover my ankle.
“What are you wearing?” my mother asked. I attempted to explain this new fashion trend, but ten minutes later had confessed everything. I was grounded from Spirit Club, grounded from the phone. Certainly banned from handling any type of sharp object. They even made me return Andrew’s sweatshirt to Victoria, the only remnant of our once promising and now doomed, forbidden love.
Sara Dobbie is a writer from Southern Ontario, Canada. Her work has appeared in Menacing Hedge, Trampset, Bandit Fiction, Change Seven Magazine, and elsewhere. Stories are forthcoming from Knights Library Magazine and The Lumiere Review. Follow her on Twitter @sbdobbie.