Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Publishing a Short Story Adventure

"Short" is the last word I would use in describing any of my stories. From the very first novel I wrote when I was six, all the way up to now, practically all of my stories could stretch across all of America.

 I like to blame my extensive story telling on that I am Irish, because it is a well-known fact that the Irish are natural born storytellers. However, that is probably just an excuse. I guess what it boils down to is I just love to talk ( Sorry to everyone who knows me and can't get me to shut up).

So never did it really occur to me that I should write a short story. In all honesty, I didn't think I would be able to write something that didn't result in 400 pages.  This all changed when one of my English  Lit professors sent me an e-mail and told me about a literary magazine. They were asking for short stories and she really thought I should submit something. 

I remember literally gulping. Me? Actually submit a piece of my writing instead of dreaming about it? Whoa, whoa, whoa Professor! I don't think I am quite ready for this! I have only been writing for 14 years! Maybe I should wait another decade or so!

However, thankfully I am blessed with a beautiful mother who believes in my dream even more than I do. She gave me a lot of encouragement and wouldn't let me pass up this opportunity. So I went to my little laptop and sat in my brown fluffy reading and writing chair next to my overflowing bookshelf and began to write.

For some reason the line "I fell in love when I was seven years old" had been playing in my head for weeks. I felt a little nudge from God that I should write it down and boom! 8 pages later I had a short story. Who would have thought I would have been able to do it? It was nothing short of a miracle. 

I submitted it to the magazine and of course didn't hear back from them for some time but lo and behold! One beautiful day I received an e-mail congratulating me on having my short story titled "What is a Kiss" accepted to the magazine! My first story ever to get published! 

If you would like, you can read my short story down below. If you remember what your first kiss was like or if you ever had a childhood romance then you might rather enjoy yourself!

Enough rambling for now!

                                              What Is A Kiss?

I fell in love when I was seven years old. Or better yet, that’s when I was first kissed. And I’ve been told that kissin’ and being in love are one and the same. Most people would figure that seven years old was just a tad too young to be knowing about lips and smoochin’. Most folks would say that my older siblings who had been in high school at that time had probably corrupted my innocence. More than likely the Christian folk would have declared that our deteriorating society and the trash being shown on TV gave youngsters the idea to try kissin', and heaven bless them if they let it happen right under their noses.
Well those good Christians would have fainted and floated right up to heaven if they knew that I first became interested in the idea of kissin’ right in my own Sunday school classroom. It was in the month of June, the summer before I would be starting the third grade. After a dreary winter and a showery spring, June came bouncing along bringing with it a feeling of liveliness. For us kids that liveliness came in the form of sweet freedom from school, but for others that liveliness morphed into something along the lines of summer flings and wild adventures. Bottom line, there was something floating around in that warm summer breeze that left every single person affected.
The story of my first kiss began one warm, dry Sunday morning in Mr. Gloss’s Sunday school classroom. All of us boys and girls were surrounding a large round wooden table. All the boys were smashed together on one side of the table while us girls sat cramped together across from them. It was a known fact that for a girl to sit by a boy or vice versa just wasn’t done. At this point in life us kids were split into two groups. One of these groups was full of kids that thought the opposite sex was crawling with the much-hated cooties. The other consisted of boys and girls who found each other ever so slightly intriguing and would therefore chase each other around the blacktop at recess.
At that moment I had yet to figure out which group I belonged to.
It was amazing I had lasted that long in the in between stage for a majority of my good friends were members of the group that found boys to be cute and interesting creatures. And no boy was more fascinating than Johnny Stevenson. Apparently the way his blue eyes mischievously twinkled had the power to turn any girl into a giggling machine. I wasn’t really sure what the big hoopla was. Thanks to Johnny’s mom being best friends with mine, we were continually being roped together and he had never turned my stomach into butterflies. But out of all the boys I knew I would have bet that he didn’t have cooties.
Now on the previous Sundays we had been learning about our forefather Jacob. I had grown to really like that Jacob and I felt as if he was almost a friend. On that particular Sunday we just so happened to be talking about how Jacob met Rachel. I was listening intently, hanging on every word that Mr. Gloss was saying. Come to think of it, I was probably the only one who had been paying attention. All the girls were probably passing each other secret notes or drawing little hearts with Johnny Stevenson’s name in the corners of their bibles. And the boys…well only the Good Lord knows what the boys were doing. Mr. Gloss began speaking of how our forefather Jacob traveled far and wide and came across the beautiful Rachel watering her Daddy’s sheep. Being the gentleman that he was, Jacob helped Rachel give her sheep water. I was sitting there smiling to myself thinking what a nice man he was. He sounded almost as sweet as my own Daddy.
And then Jacob did something I didn’t see coming. Why, that Jacob grabbed Rachel and planted one on her. And what’s more he went and asked her Daddy if he could marry her. My jaw dropped. What would make Jacob do such a weird thing? Mr. Gloss went on and said that Jacob was in love with Rachel and that he worked for Rachel’s Daddy for seven years in order to marry her.
And then came the big whopper.
Mr. Gloss said that those seven years only seemed like a few days to Jacob because he was so head over heels for Rachel. Of course the girls who didn’t think boys were cootie bags all decided to listen at this part and began to giggle over this romantic sentiment. And the boys just sort of cleared their throats. As for me, my eyes grew wide and my brain started going at 100 miles per hour like it had never done before. And I could have sworn a light bulb turned on over my head, but that could have just been the sun’s ray’s streaming in through the corner window. Jacob kissed Rachel. It must have been one heck of a kiss for him to want to marry her. Could a kiss really make a person want to go and do a bizarre thing like that? I wasn’t so sure. I wasn’t even really certain what a kiss between a boy and a girl was… or meant. Up until then I thought kissing was only something crazy teenagers did because they were bored or it was something parents did because that’s what happens when you are married. Now I started thinking that maybe that wasn’t what it was. Maybe kissin’ meant a whole lot more.
What was a kiss?
I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I had to know what a kiss was and I had to know right then. As soon as Sunday school was over and the boys climbed all over each other racing for the door to go play a rowdy version of ball, us girls stayed behind to talk, much like the way our Mother’s always lingered to gossip after a dinner party. I rounded up every last girl and we all formed a tight knit huddle and when I had their attention I whispered, “What is a kiss?”
My best friend Tiffany, the leader of the gigglers, laughed outright at me, “You don’t know what a kiss is? Haven’t you ever seen a movie?”
I pinched her arm, “I’m not stupid!”
She rubbed her arm with a scowl on her face, “Then what do you wanna know?”
I ignored her and turned to the other girls, “What do you think a kiss is?”
We all fell silent and racked our brains. We all somehow knew that this was the first conversation we had that resembled what grown ups were always talking about. We didn’t wanna say anything dumb. This is what we came up with…
“I think a kiss is something Moms and Dads do. If you wanna be a Mom that’s when you kiss a boy.”
“Kissing is a dang sure way to catch a cold.”
“If you kiss a boy he is gonna tell all the boys and then you’ll die from being embarrassed so bad.”
I gawked at them as if they all had two heads. It was easy to see they didn’t know what a kiss was either. I popped my head out of the huddle and cautiously looked around me to make sure no one else was around to hear what I was about to say because it was of the utmost importance and secrecy. I hunched back down and whispered so quietly everyone had to lean in closer to hear what I said, “Has a boy ever kissed ya?”
Then everything exploded all at one.
“Are you kidding me? I don’t wanna die!”
“If a boy ever kissed me I would run away from home.”
“I heard that if you kiss a boy you aren’t married to, your lips fall off.”
And then the one sly reply that got everyone to shut up was Tiffany who proudly exclaimed, “Not yet!”
The rest of us began buzzing with excitement and worry. We talked amongst ourselves as if she wasn’t there. Was she crazy? Would she catch a disease and die?  Would her lips fall off? Who would she kiss? Then we all stopped and stared at her with saucer size eyes. Her nose was so high up in the air we could all see that she needed to blow her nose. She sighed dreamily and clasped her hands together, “I’m gonna kiss Johnny.”
Even the girls who swore boys were rats were enthralled at this statement. All the girls nodded to each other in agreement. If you’re gonna kiss a boy and risk dying it might as well be Johnny Twinkle Eyes. I crossed my arms and glared at her as I declared for the whole posse to hear, “You’re stupid.”
She pinched my arm.
A peacemaker piped up, “Girls be nice now.”
I shook my head, “I’m not being mean. You’re just stupid. Why would you kiss Johnny if you don’t know what a kiss is?”
She stomped her foot, “I know what kissing is. You put your lips together and make that gross smacking noise.” She then went on to demonstrate how it worked on the back of her hand.
I grabbed my bible and began to storm out of the room, not wanting to associate myself with dumb people. I paused at the door and turned to face the girls who were all staring at me with surprised expressions. I hesitated before I dove in and bravely stated like I was wiser than Solomon “That’s not what a kiss is.”
After that I turned on my heel and sped away. I’m sure after I left that that was the first time that group of girls began to gossip just like all of their mothers, and all about me too. I began to feel sorry for Johnny. I could only hope that he would stomp on Two Lips Tiffany’s foot if she tried to catch him. On the ride home from church I stared out the window and guessed that kissing wasn’t all that bad if Jacob and Rachel did it. But then I got to thinking about Adam and Eve. I figured they had probably kissed, and look what happened to them. After that I began to worry that kissin’ really could make you die.
            My mom snapped me out of my own world when she asked me what I learned about in Sunday school. Without thinking I replied, “Smoochin’”. My parents hesitated before both started laughing. My mother wanted to know what exactly about kissing. “Oh ya know…Jacob kissed that Rachel and then he worked for three days or something for her…Mom…what’s a kiss?” I held my breath hoping for a good and honest answer but my parents only shared a look and smiled at me through the rear view mirror and told me “You’ll know when you are older”.
I wanna slap whoever came up with that saying.
That night as I lay in my double bed I decided to pray and ask God what a kiss was. I figured he knew best since he created smackin’. But before I could get my answer I fell fast asleep. The eye-opening day had wore me out. I woke to my mother hurriedly dragging me out of bed and shoving a pink dress over my head telling me to do something with my hair that resembled a rat’s nest, because Johnny Stevenson and his mom were coming over any minute. I pouted. How was I expected to have a play date when I had more important things on my mind?
            There was something different in the air that morning. That liveliness I had mentioned earlier seemed to be in every breath I took. At the time I didn’t know exactly what it was I was breathing in I just knew I felt like it was Christmas morning. The sun even seemed to light up the world differently. It had a softer glow as if the sun’s rays were reaching down to hug whoever happened to be outside.
            Johnny and his Mom soon arrived and our mothers shooed us out of the house telling us to go and play like good little children. Johnny and I didn’t even say hi to each other but started off lazily walking down the hill to the small pond out behind my house. That didn’t last very long, however, we soon took off in a race to see who would be the last person or the “rotten egg” to reach the water’s edge. Johnny found us small gray rocks to skip across the green pond. Johnny’s rock only skipped twice when mine bounced a good three times. I don’t think he liked that because he was the one who taught me to skip rocks after all.
            I watched as the rocks would kiss the waters edge and that got me to thinking once more. I chucked all my rocks into the pond before I plopped down under our old oak tree to cool off in its shade. I needed to figure out this whole kissin’ business. I began to watch Johnny who was still focused on beating my three skips.
 He glanced over at me and furrowed his eyebrows, “What ya starin’ at?”
            I didn’t hold back, “Johnny, do ya know what a kiss is?”
            His rock clumsily slipped from his hand and all the twinkle snapped out of his eyes, “What?”
            I got up and handed his rock back into his suddenly sweaty hand before I asked him again. This time around I was a bit more careful because I didn’t want him to laugh at me like Tiffany did. I didn’t wanna pinch him. “Do you know what a kiss is?”
            He flung the rock into the pond without even bothering to skip it, “What you wanna know that for?”
            “I wanna make sure you know what a kiss is because Tiffany is gonna kiss ya.” I placed my hands on my hips.
            Disgust crawled across his face and he shook his head madly, “I don’t wanna kiss her.”
            I smiled a bit too big, “That’s good cause she don’t know what a kiss is. I bet if you kissed her your lips would fall off.” I went back to my spot under the tree and left Johnny awkwardly standing there. He kicked at a patch of grass and shoved his hands into pockets. He began turning as pink as my dress. I was about to laugh at him when he sat himself down right across from me.
            That mischievous twinkle flashed across his eyes, “Lucy…do you know what a kiss is?”
            The shoe was on the other foot and I was the one being asked that embarrassing question. I squirmed uncomfortably not knowing what to say. I shrugged, “I dunno. I don’t think anybody does.”
            “I know. I think God invented kissin’. He knew it was the nicest way of showing someone you’re in love with them.”
            I almost went into shock, “So…you mean that kissin’ and being in love…it’s the same thing?”
            Suddenly those blue eyes were sparkling so much it looked like fireworks. The next thing I knew, Johnny pinned me up against the oak tree and planted one on me just like my friend Jacob planted one on Rachel. Johnny’s kiss was just like that summer morning. Warm and dry and it almost felt like the sun’s rays were hugging us but I can’t be sure about that.
            When the kiss was over we looked at each other for a second or two. “I guess we’re in love now.” I told him.
          He nodded, “I guess so.” After that we did the only logical thing for two seven year olds to do. We went back to skipping rocks.

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