The Red Writing Hood assignment this week, from Write on Edge , was our first love – and our first heartbreak. The assignment was to write a piece where we explore the first broken heart for our character – or for ourselves. Word limit is 500.
One really big heartbreak stood out, and that was in college. However, since I am the mother of a thirteen year old, I started thinking about my first heartbreak. You know, the one that only felt like the whole world was going to come crashing down because we had never experienced real heartbreak. Little did we know…
Wiping beads of sweat off my nose, I felt nauseous excitement. Music penetrated thin walls between the band hall and auditorium. Deep, woody clarinet pitches danced around bright, whistling flute sounds. My quick, shallow breaths kept the beat. Darkness swirled around, carrying stale smells of dusty, black, velvet drapes, laced with sweet coconut suntan lotion. I steadied myself against an old piano on stage and waited. Drifts of cold air chilled my arms, cooling off layers of accumulated sweat from hours of steps across the zoo during our class field trip. An audience of stacked boxes and props lined the stage. Dangling ropes and light cords slithered down from the ceiling.
All afternoon, we walked cactus-lined, cement trails. Groups of students viewing lethargic animals, sleeping in the penetrating Texas sun. But the only thing of interest to me was Jeff. His mischievous humor, dense, black hair, and cool blue eyes were hard to ignore. We had mutual friends, but never really talked until today. At first, I thought my nervous stream of words kept the conversation flowing, but when Jeff reached for my hand at the lion’s den, I realized he might actually like me, too. He was one of the cutest boys in the whole 8th grade.
Goosebumps ran across my arms as I buried my nose in cologne-stained, cupped hands, drinking in his musky smell. A thin strip of light crept into the darkness from across the room. Sounds of metal lockers and shoes shuffling outside double doors bounced around the empty auditorium. I kept waiting, my feet shifting, fingers twiddling.
Suddenly, a creaky stage door opened behind me. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea – I quickly crouched down, behind the piano. Cobwebs and dust surrounded my dirty tennis shoes. Footsteps thumped towards me. They stopped in front of the piano. I gasped, taking in a mouthful of stale air that burned my lungs. My eyes watered. I tried, desperately, to muffle a cough that quickly escaped through pursed lips.
“Emily, is that you?” whispered a tentative voice.
I stood up slowly, “Yeah. I didn’t’ think you were coming.”
Jeff’s hand brushed my arm in the darkness as he took a step closer. I ran my tongue across rough, dry lips. They still tasted salty from the heat of the day. Grasping his hand, I stood in front of him, barely reaching the top of his chest.
“Well, I’m here. Aren’t I?” he smirked.
His head bent down towards me. Our lips brushed together and hovered for a moment before connecting in a wet kiss. I stopped breathing, anticipating the next kiss.
But a piercing bell rang, signaling the end of school, and we jumped apart. Taking a step back, Jeff slowly released my hand and smiled.
“Well, see ya’ tomorrow,” he said, walking towards the stage door.
“Yeah, sure,” I replied.
The stage door clapped shut. Nauseous disappointment swept over me. And I stood there, waiting.