Romance Fiction posted September 4, 2016

This work has reached the exceptional level
Short Story

My First Love, My Hero

by michaelcahill

The author has placed a warning on this post for language.

James Claypool was my first love. I never kissed him although he gave me a couple memorable pecks on the cheek and some oh so sweet bear hugs on occasion. It’s been forty years, but I can see him clear as the smile on my daughter’s face on her wedding day.
I weighed a hundred-eighty pounds when I entered my freshman year of high school. I had enough acne to warrant the moniker “pie-face” within a couple days’ attendance. What my red, pock-marked face had to do with any pie I was familiar with, I cannot say. At five-foot nine inches tall, I was overweight. I wasn’t obese really, just nice and plump, and not to be mistaken for a cheerleader or an athlete.
Bullies are bastards. I said it then, I’ll say it now. I didn’t ask to look the way I looked. For God’s sake, I wanted to be popular and fit in, who the hell doesn’t at that awkward age. I learned from Mom, a growth spurt, including weight gain, along with a severe case of acne, was par for the course in the Blair family. By college things always turned around dramatically. Of course, it didn’t make high school any more of a picnic. Not all the Blair family women recovered either. Many a gorgeous Blair woman felt like a homely, pock-marked loser inside.
That brings me to James Claypool. It was lunchtime at Alhambra High. That meant an hour of hell for me. Hiding places didn’t exist and I couldn’t leave campus. There were several targets for bullying among the student body and I happened to be a favorite. My fair skin turned a lovely tomato red when accosted and embarrassed by bullies.
On this particular day, a small group of these weasels had me cornered. They were having a fine time enjoying my misery. I glanced up to see none other than James Claypool approaching the group. He stood an inch shorter than me and I’m sure I had thirty pounds on him. He looked like a movie star and had an air about him making you think he was one. I thought he decided to join the fun. I wanted to die.
He walked up to Joey Tatone, who stood at six foot two if he was an inch. Joey anchored the line on our football team and no one dared cross him.
James stood close to him and looked up with firm blue eyes speaking calmly. “You aren’t fucking with my girl, Sherry, are you? I’d hate to see you get hurt what with your little football career and such.”
Joey stopped in mid-insult and took in James’ words. He looked into his eyes and froze. The others stopped talking too and joined Joey in focusing on James.
Joey stammered a bit as he answered. “We were just playing. No harm meant.”
James said nothing more to them. He put his hand out to me. “C’mon, Darlin’, your seat is getting’ cold.”
I couldn’t speak. He proceeded to walk me to his lunch table and helped me to a seat. “You all know Sherry.” He spoke as though I belonged there and everyone nodded a greeting just like I’d been invited by the lot of them. In shock, I managed some kind of smile and took a sip of the drink James handed me. It was his. It was a Fresca. It’s my favorite drink. “Thanks, James.”
“It’s Jimmy, Sherry. My friends call me Jimmy.” He smiled.
I always ate at Jimmy’s table during high school. Quite a few girls, who might otherwise have been picked on, ate at Jimmy’s table. No one dared pick on anyone in Jimmy’s presence. Why? I’ll be damned if I could tell you. Jimmy wasn’t a big guy, and he didn’t even talk all that tough. But he never backed down, and he sure sounded serious when he told someone how it was going to be. I’ll be damned if everyone didn’t believe him. No one ever questioned him, and I never saw him in a fight. Somehow, I think they were wise not to engage him.
High school turned out to be a nice experience for me. Each year that passed found me losing a little more weight, and my face becoming a little more clear complected. By my senior year, I guess you could say I was pretty attractive, or so the boys would tell me.
James Claypool kissed me on the cheek a couple times, right in front of guys I told him I was interested in. He’d tell me, “Watch their reaction”, and then plant one on me.
I’d laugh and tell him, “They look pissed, Jimmy.”
He’d chortle and say, “Good, they’re falling right into our trap.” Then he’d give me a big bear hug. I swear, without fail, I’d get asked out later that day.
James Claypool was, and is, the first love of my life. He was my hero. He was just an ordinary guy as best as I could see. But he stood up when standing up was the one thing I desperately needed.
I’m going to go out on a limb. I’m guessing I’m not the only girl who would tell you this same story.


Romance Story contest entry


This is based on a true story that I have first hand knowledge of. The names have been changed, but the events are mostly accurate.

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