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Boys with Sheep

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?

10 thoughts on “Boys with Sheep

  1. I think your love story with Paul is real. Why is this so? Because of the way you wrote about it, which causes me to remember every girl I was evr in love with and then evry woman. I see guys in fiction saying they’re in love with someone and I believe it until I get the impression it’ only snorting lust. Sometimes it helps to see the impossibility of a fictional love to make it seem real. I could never figure why Gatsby went for daisy, although I accepted it. I sometimes think I could walk into a crowded room and immediately make meaningful eye contact, you know, Romeo/Juliet eye contact with the one woman who’d be the most disastrous (for me) in the room. But thre it is, and two minutes later I’d be doing along the liines of what Romeo did, which was speak the first half of a Shakesperean sonnet to her, then wait for her to deliver the last half.

    It is called chemistry in some circles and I largly think that is right; it’s all about what causes the chemistry (organic, of course) to start within.

    The answer to your question then is: Every one I loved, everyone I will love, and every one I wrote about where love was the glue. Some day, if you’re interested, I’d send you such a story.

  2. The Time Traveler’s Wife. Definitely not sickly-sweet. But wow, that book grabbed and shook me for the love story more than for the central conceit.

    As soon as I hit the Submit Comment button I know I’ll think of others.

  3. I know I’m in the minority on this, but Possession was one of the very, very few books I was completely unable to get through, ever. (Tried 3 times because I kept thinking I must be crazy; everyone whose opinion I respected as readers were nuts about it.)

    That said, the love story in it was remarkable, yeah.

    Mama Day’s a new one on me. The reviews at Amazon and elsewhere are pretty darned good, though, so I guess it goes into the shopping cart with The Welsh Girl (per Shelly). Hanging out with you people is turning out to be an expensive hobby.

  4. Possession took me a while to get into. At first it annoyed me. But I was in Bulgaria with precious little to read and so I kept reading. Somewhere it turned around for me. But I read another AS Byatt novel–Babel Tower. I really wish I hadn’t. It disturbed me enough that I can’t bring myself to pick up another of her books.

    I wrote my Master’s thesis, in part, on Mama Day–and I still love it.

    And yes, hanging out with bookish people is often expensive. Just be glad I haven’t published everything I’ve written!

  5. Oh, and JES, the love story between Jonathan Strange and his wife in Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is amazing too. Can’t believe I didn’t think of it first…

    Okay, enough of that!

  6. Well shoot. Wish I’d thought of Strange/Norell, too. (And wasn’t that a great book otherwise?) Had a bunch of distractions at work yesterday (how dare they distract me from the Internet?) so all I could think of were movies to answer your question — no other books.

  7. Pingback: Lie Detectors and Teenage Girls « writing in the water

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