Laura Girardeau flames red with the memories of first love


Laura Girardeau has sifted through the dust-buried boxes in the attic to uncover the memories of a first love, sweetly delivered by a boy whose love breathed a diamond into a dimestore ring for his beloved. Take a deep breath.  Laura did.

Flaming Fields

by Laura Girardeau


I’ll tell you a secret. The boy with hair like flaming fields loves me. Red curls lick my fingers as we kiss for hours in his tree house after school.Goats swish the rain-glossed blackberry leaves, tasting the world like we are.

He stands outside the bulletproof glass at my last class till I’m free. He hot-wires Bertha, his baby blue Bel Air, to get her started. Boys in Trans Ams laugh, but respect his matter-of-fact shoulders, the safety pin in his cheek.He winks like Santa, says punk is just fashion. He rescues the boy in the wheelchair when others throw him in the dumpster.

He comes to the door to meet my mother in his black leather jacket. When she’s not looking, he flashes my name in delicate scabs over his heart. There’s always a note in our pockets, just received or about to be given. He draws us popping freckled puffballs in the forest, with captions for what we talk about: materialism or mountain light. He draws a heart bubble around us so we do this forever, on paper at least.

“I love you. Someday I will marry you,” he carves on a branch I keep under my bed. He wants to build a cabin, a baby of pure love. I’d rather hike the globe first, write the story to stop all wars, at least go to college. Thirty’s a good age, not 16.

He lives in a trailer, where a skylight holds one piece of sky. It’s enough. When it rains, his family opens the windows to let the storm inside. They touch as they pass in the hall that holds them tight. They listen to what I love: the Three Sisters mountains, how they hold me like a family.

Our clothing is a country we take time to explore. The Who sings “Love, Reign O’er Me” over and over, as violet lightning strikes the land. His thumbs play the song inside me, and I glisten like wet moss on the oaks outside. We could go all the way like everyone. But we’d miss the journey from mouth to shoulder blade, thigh hair to navel fuzz, what we think to what we feel. Like one piece of sky, it’s enough.

When my parents assume and ground me, he sews me a buckskin pouch for protection. Inside are fir needles, quartz from our walks, a tiny pink ring from Woolworth’s. He bikes miles uphill to say goodnight. The screen squares taste of metal, his notes soaked with tears instead of Old Spice.

Twenty years later, I find the power pouch, filled with forests and the sparkling crystals of our bodies. The dimestore ring, the carved branch that says it straight. We’re adults now. Do men still nick our names in skin, take time to stoke the fire? Do they listen to what we love, use their power to protect our hearts? If they no longer say it straight, that is love lost. I watch for violet lightning. Love, Reign O’er Me.



31 thoughts on “Laura Girardeau flames red with the memories of first love

  1. Josh LaMore says:

    “When it rains, his family opens the windows to let the storm inside.” – I will spend the rest of the day smiling from this one line alone. The sweet taste of rain will linger with me all day now. Thank you!

  2. Michael Stang says:

    Pure delight. I want to be touched in the hallway too … cancel college, live in the cabin.
    Well, well written from an author we have come to know and love.

  3. Tiffany says:

    Some of the phrases were too big. My mind couldn’t take them in, but that is what makes this story so unfettered. It has a beginning, middle, and end, but an infinity loop within each, linking the question towards the end to the secret at the beginning. Good stuff.

  4. Mac Eagan says:

    I started at the first contest entry and have read, arrow-link by arrow-link, each one up to this point.

    With no disrespect to any of the writers already posted, this is the best so far.

    • Thornton Sully says:

      Hi Mac…this contest prompt seems to unlocked the floodgates for a number of writers. I can’t show favoritism, of course, until all the bribes have been tabulated, but I have to agree this story stays with you.

  5. Laura G says:

    I ‘m impressed with all of the authors, your risk at sharing intimate details and turning it to art. We’re making it glisten. I’m grateful that my writing has touched you in some way. Let’s all keep writing, and let writing be our true first love!

    • Thornton Sully says:

      Glad you got to see this…I wonder if you might reply and leave a link to your website. We are always delighted when writers of your professional caliber stop by for a visit.

  6. Parisianne Modert says:

    I am reminded once more why you are one of my favorite writers, Laura. No one whom I have read in modern literature expresses the combination of Earthy nature, sensual experiencing and relationship beauty and goodbyes better in both subtext and text than you do. As of 3/9 in the pm, your story remains my favorite of the contest. It is a rare priviledge to read your offerings each and everytime.

  7. Grant Laurence says:

    Read this a few times now: much respect to you Laura G!
    There is so much quality here, as I am captured by a story that I never want to escape.
    Violet lightening, a skylight that holds one piece of sky, to Woolworths and beyond – simply wonderful!
    Thank you for your art, Laura G

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