Our teacher told us show-and-tell would be outside that day, and so into the parking lot traipsed, a weaving, skipping, and lollygagging pack of Catholic third graders. A pale blue truck pulled up and in the bed were sheep. Sheep!
Paul, the tallest, skinniest boy in our class, strutted over, set his foot on the bumper, and swung himself over the tailgate. I was already in love, and now I was amazed. He’d brought sheep!
He caught one, scooped it up, and held it for all to see. The other sheep bleated and milled about in the cool Florida morning. I stood as close as the teacher allowed, gazing upwards, and certain I’d love this boy forever.
Every Friday we had art lessons, and after every lesson, we’d be left unattended for a minute or two. Paul would then chase me around the room and I would scream until the teacher walked in. One day another boy, Sam, grabbed my arm as I flew by the cubbyholes and for the first time Paul was able to catch me. He looked rather baffled. “I’ll hit you, Paul K–!” I said.
Sam shook my arm. “Go on,” he said to Paul. “You got her now.”
Paul reached over and yanked on my hair. I kicked him. Of course, I had his name scrawled all over the inside of my notebook.
Love is hard to capture in fiction. I don’t want it to be sickly sweet or deadly flat or whatever passes for love in Harlequin romances. So, leaving out Romeo and Juliet, Catherine and Heathcliff, and the other obvious oft-mentioned lovers in fiction, what love stories do you think of as real?