Sunday, August 13, 2006

Second Chance at First Love - Part 1

I'm going to post my latest short story as a series of parts. "Second Chance at First Love" is a story about of young love – young boy meets young girl, share memorable childhood, but drift apart during high school when they are separated as one family moves away. They both sort of drift through life and love until a fateful meeting brings them back together fifteen years later. This is their one second chance to get it right.

And now for Part 1

A Second Chance at First Love
Robert H. Ball, Jr.
(all rights reserved)
The Dreamscape

All things are possible in the dreamscape: one can experience the full spectrum of emotions from endless joy to endless agony or worst endless nothingness. The void is the most terrifying prospect of all. Of not being able to conjure up any images: neither of ecstasy nor of pain. As I toss and turn in this nether world a small flicker of light appears in the distance. I mentally stretch out toward it with all of my inner strength. Grasping the glowing splinter, I plunge into the light.

I suddenly found myself standing on my front lawn of long ago. It’s my parent’s house, circa mid-1950s on a typical Detroit, Michigan neighborhood block. There were big trees of elm, oak and maple, in every front lawn, with a mix of single-family houses and two-family flats. A diverse mix of young families with children, senior citizens, widows, spinsters populated the area. Both whites and blacks trying to get along in the prosperity of post World-War Two city life. In this the Motor City, a plethora of automobile factories were booming on a twenty-four hour schedule straining to place at least two cars in every driveway across America.

However, all was not love and happiness. The whites were being urged toward the developing suburbs with a whisper that “the neighborhood was changing”. The blacks were being encouraged to move up and out of Black Bottom, and the near east and west sides to the bigger houses north of Grand Boulevard being vacated by the whites. Just like the bookies and numbers-runners, the real estate hacks and developers were making money on all sides so long as the people kept moving.

Just such a move was taking place before my very eyes across the street. The older white couple (I don’t remember their names though my parents talked to them from time to time) had moved out last week to a suburb called Oak Park. Today, a brown-skinned family was moving in. What I took for the man of the house had arrived with the moving truck and had been directing the unloading of furniture from the huge trailer. Just then, a station wagon pulled into the driveway. The woman of the house, a slightly plump motherly looking figure, got out, moved around the car and opened the passenger-side door. Out jumped a little girl! As an observant nine-year old boy I had seen many girls, though we had only a few on our block. I usually took a dim view of them since they didn’t like to play ball of any kind, wrestle, or even enjoy monopoly. The bigger ones at school however, liked to chase the younger boys like myself and try to beat us up. Although they couldn’t hit very hard or even run very fast, it was embarrassing to get caught and worked over by them.

At first I waited, to see how many other children would join her, tumbling out the big car. None! It appeared that she was an only-child like me! In these early days of the so-called Baby Boom, only-children were a rare breed, almost like a deformity of some kind and were often treated as such.

I felt compelled to introduce myself! Drawn by her twin long pigtails that were trailing behind with bright red ribbons dancing in the crisp November air and the strange sway of her hips, I found myself getting up, looking both ways, then crossing the street in a brisk fashion.

I glanced back over my shoulder to see if my mother was watching … hmm I thought, “she was always watching – as with all good moms she had eyes in the back of her head as well as telepathic powers”. Undeterred, I continued onward. In point of fact, she had been watching, but instead of calling out and admonishing me, she just smiled to herself as she saw me catch up to the little brown skinned girl.

As I got closer, my pace slowed down and second thoughts started to creep into my mind. My propensity toward shyness was taking hold. Then suddenly the little girl stopped, and turned to face me! She had a big smile on her face that got even bigger as she looked me over like I was a tasty treat or something. My shyness really kicked-in and as a result stopped me in my tracks. Undeterred she exclaimed: “ Hi there! My name is Camille, Camille Sanders, what’s yours?”

I kind of just stood there in silence for what seemed forever, then finally uttered: “William, … William Baker”. Sounding more like an apology than a proclamation.

As we stood there gazing at one another, her mom also stopped and turned around to face us. She also had a smile on her face and said: “Hello, my name is Mrs. Sanders, and we are new neighbors”. I could see her eyes suddenly look up and pass me. Following her gaze, I turned around to see my mother standing on our front porch. The two women looked at each other for a few seconds then exchanged friendly waves. I excused myself and went back across the street to join my mom.

That awkward beginning was the start of a seven yearlong friendship between only-child and only-child. It turned out that Camille didn’t like to play ball games, but she did love to wrestle and play long sessions of monopoly!

Camille, my first love …

First Love: between a young boy and a young girl.

First Love:
That came and went do to events beyond their control as families moved away.
Therefore love still strong at the end.

First Love:
Sharing puberty together.
Where holding hands,
Light soft kisses,
And the occasional squeezing of small firm breasts
Would suffice for ecstasy.

First Love:
Unclouded by game playing and manipulation,
Unclouded by real sex,
Unclouded by marriage, in-laws and other conflicts of adulthood,
Unclouded by children of our own.

First Love: remaining innocent and perfect in reflection.
In Part 2, Bill awakes from his dream and faces the day.


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