GRAND Magazine - September/October 2018 - 33

romance

Do you remember your first love?
BY JEAN P. MOORE

T

was ecstatic when Jonny asked
her to run into the water with
him one more time before his
mother would call for him to
help pack up to go home.
As they plunged into the
surf, he grabbed her hand,
and with heads underwater, eyes open, and only
surfacing to get a gulp of
air, they kicked their way
out until the water was just
deep enough so they could
touch bottom.

he summer between sixth
and seventh grade, Tilda's
boyfriend, Jonny Langer,
called to tell her he was having
a beach party. Jonny was the
cutest boy in her class. He
was fun to be around and
had the best blue eyes. She'd
had a crush on him all year.
Apparently, he felt the same
way because at one of their
class parties, he asked her to go
steady. She wore his ring around
her neck on a long, silver-plated
chain, often reaching up to cradle the
ring in the palm of her hand, proudly
bearing its weight. Her friends could barely
contain their envy.

"

"As they plunged into the
surf, he grabbed her hand, and
with heads underwater..."

"

On the phone he told her there would be hamburgers and cold
drinks, even volleyball at the party. As soon as she hung up, Tilda
knew what she would wear: her new two-piece pink-and-whitestriped seersucker bathing suit. It had a hint of padding in the top.
On the day of the big event, Tilda was unaware of the hours
she'd spent in the sun until the sand between her bathing suit and
skin began to itch and burn, until even raising her arms to hit the
ball back across the net set off prickly pain in her shoulders. Tilda
33 GRAND

SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2018

"
"

"...he pulled in
closer, putting his hands
around her head, and he
kissed her on the
lips."
"Let's see how long we can hold our
breath," he said. "And when we're under,
let's open our eyes and look at each
other to see who can stay under the
longest."
"Okay," said Tilda, quickly taking a
deep breath and diving under the water.

Soon Jonny was in front of her, with his eyes open, looking at
her. Then he pulled in closer, putting his hands around her head,
and he kissed her on the lips, their bodies floating out behind
them, until they could stand it no longer and had to surface. Tilda
wanted to grab him and hold him against her body. She felt so
strange, as though nothing but holding him to her would help.
"Want to do it again?" he asked.
"Okay," she answered.
 But the
strange feeling grew stronger and a little frightening.
After the third time, Tilda said, "We'd better go back now."
As
they started to swim, he grabbed her hand again, and they kicked
their way back, heads submerged, only popping up to take a
breath. No one could see he was holding her hand. Soon after,
when Jonny's father, a violinist in the Miami Orchestra, got an
offer for first chair in Philadelphia, Jonny and his family moved
away, breaking Tilda's heart.
She had had a terrible sunburn after
the beach party, forever sealing the day in her memory with
thoughts of both pain and longing.

This excerpt from Tilda's Promise was published with permission by the author.

Send your love story to GRAND

Jean P. Moore grew up in Miami, Florida. She began her
professional career as a high school English teacher and
worked as an executive director of workforce development.
Jean has since returned to her first loves; the study of
literature and writing. Her novel Water on the Moon was
the winner of the 2015 Independent Publisher Book Award
for contemporary fiction. Her poetry chapbook, Time's
Tyranny was published in 2017 and her latest novel, Tilda's
Promise, publishes in September 2018.


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GRAND Magazine - September/October 2018

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