My First Girlfriend by Robert Vaughan

We moved to the country when I turned eight. Fourth grade seemed scary, a stranger among rural kids who grew up together since they were born. My teacher. Mrs. Pompineau, was fond of harsh punishments. Her favorite was to stand in front of class, dictionaries piled high on outstreched arms. I thought she was a heathen.

That Christmas, I attended The Nutcracker. My heart soared when class-mate Cheryl Terlick transformed into Clara. Her blonde locks boinged with every move. She floated, I was jealous when the toy soldier came to her aid. But at school, she was smitten with Tommy.

Soon I discovered the brain of our class, Harriet. Within weeks we spent every lunch together, circling our playground, talking. Her mind was a fascinating pretzel, and she was cautious while I plunged ahead. One day at Eastview Mall, I spotted a mood ring at Spencers. I bought it, Harriet accepted the next day. We were going steady! My heart back flipped, I felt elated. I didn’t have hormones yet, but something else ignited inside me.

“That’s nice, honey,” my mom said. “Now eat your potatoes.”

I noticed the mood ring never changed color: black. It made me nervous.

Harriet returned my ring the last day of school, claiming we lived too far apart. The first day of summer I rode my horse all the way to her house. Harriet’s sister Holly came to the door. “Harriet’s not here.”

I hugged Misty all the way home.


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Filed under Robert Vaughan

34 responses to “My First Girlfriend by Robert Vaughan

  1. Oh! “Her blonde locks boinged with every move” and “Her mind was a fascinating pretzel” — I wish I had written these lines. Excellent!

  2. I like how you developed this – great!

  3. stephen

    i remember this place. nicely caught.
    as an aside, i’m interested in how the proper names work here, what they do. this may be a personal thing because i’ve purged them for the most part from what i write these days and so when i run into a thicket of them i like to watch them moving around, doing work for the reader.

    • Interesting aside, Stephen about the names. I think my use of them goes back to my earlier years of writing plays and more poetry. But now you have raised my curiosity about this also. Thanks!

  4. Cynthia

    Sounds so familiar and you capture these moments so perfectly. Wonderful story, Robert!

  5. Theo

    Cheryl as Clara, the alliteration and images with her floating blonde locks boinging…perfect! Also, the interjection of mom’s dialogue line, shades just enough tone in the story for nice backdrop.

  6. I enjoyed the longing and want of this one. Nice.

  7. Beverly

    Your writing always evokes a passion and longing, echoes for something more for the protagonist. A nice story about firsts and school adjustments, and formative relationships. I also had a mood ring when I was young, although mine was rarely black.

  8. Awwwww I think Harriet missed out.

  9. We forget so easily the loneliness and disappointment that is so often a part of childhood.

  10. you captured that first love, and the disappointment, with spare beauty. love the mood ring, the mind like a pretzel. you brought me back. peace…

  11. Robert, this is one good bit of story-telling. You casued me to remember what I would have prefered to have left forgotten. Not really a complaint; just the obvious way compliment your writing. I loved “That’s nice, honey,” my mom said. “Now eat your potatoes.”–Exactly how my parents responded.

    • Hi Al, funny you should choose this one line from this fiction, the mom’s response to my eager enthusiasm. Probably the most truthful part of the entire story! So glad you could share that much and more.

  12. Kim Hutchinson

    “I noticed the mood ring never changed color: black. It made me nervous.”

    Love this line, and the story. We like to believe that children aren’t observant and that forget their heartbreaks. This is a wonderful reminder that they are and they don’t.

  13. it’s a beautiful coming of age story, really precious like a mood ring.

  14. Oh I clapped out loud (really, I did) when I read ‘I thought she was a heathen.’

    Anyway, better to ride off into the sunset with your horse – a fun and poignant story.

  15. Hey … maybe your first girlfriend should have been (or really was) the horse!

  16. Frank D

    Great story…Misty? Adorable.

  17. grey johnson

    I enjoyed this tale, and I enjoyed being reminded of mood rings and their creepy powers to evaluate and reveal. Nice read.

  18. great story, sharp and fun and captivating images. thanks for writing it.

  19. Pingback: Week # 30 – Urban convert | 52|250 A Year of Flash

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