I wrote my first love letter when I was fourteen. It wasn’t to the object of my affection, I had none then, instead, I was writing a letter to another woman on behalf of my brother. My brother had fallen in love.
His very first crush is what I called it. He said he was in love.
Stabbed viciously by Cupid he came running into the house on a Saturday morning as I reluctantly did my chores and dragged me into the broom closet.
There in the dark surrounded by dust cloths, brooms and floor polish he told of his dilemma.
The love of his life was a sixteen year old and lived two houses down. As far as I was concerned, a woman. The bleeding lover just turned eleven years old. I gasped in horror as he made this disclosure and struggled to see his face in the darkness.
“What”, I wheezed. “You want me to do what?”
“Write her a love letter for me, and ask her to be my girlfriend”
“Are you crazy?” “She is a big girl and you are eleven”
“Shut up, I know my age, you going to write the letter or what?”
” I won’t, because she’s going to laugh at you and show all her big friends and make them tease you”
“No she won’t, if you write it sweet like a man would, she won’t”
“Phillip, you are not a man, you are a child she is going to run you like a stray dog.”
At first I thought the sniffles were from the dust and floor polish mix, then I realized he was crying.
My little gangly leg, curly head baby brother was crying because he was in love and couldn’t express himself.
My poor heart melted with great pity.
“Okaay, stop the crying let’s go.” We emerged from the closet sweaty and almost blue from the lack of oxygen.
I collected my little writing kit and this time we ensconced ourselves in a much more luxurious space; the bathroom.
Looking back, I cannot recall her name but I poured the contents of my brother’s heart through my pen and outrageous imagination into a tender declaration of undying love and devotion. I likened her eyes to doves and her legs to strong pillars. (I had read Solomon’s verses) I told her about her cherry lips and fragrant hair, I compared her ebony skin to midnight velvet. (I needed analysis but didn’t know it at the time). I leaned into the romance like a vampire biting his first victim.
When I was done, I relaxed in the tub and read it back to him. I thought he was going to faint from the look of extreme bliss that had come over his face. Folding it carefully I placed it in an envelope and suggested that he take a bath and comb his hair. For once he was not reluctant to bathe. Love seemed to be a good thing, the boy was quite chalky. His gorgeous face beamed like a new comet.
Having caught wind that we were into a secret, my younger sibling demanded to know what we were doing in the bathroom together, and when she found out she was so indignant.
“I hope she tells her mother on him, isn’t he rude?” she asked me, and “why are you helping him to do rudeness?” She was eight, for crying out loud, I thought….love had not yet visited her infant heart.
Letter delivered. The response was amazing. She was floored. We were in. For four weeks I wrote furiously. I composed endless ditties and poetry. Then I got bored when he stopped telling me where he was up to in the practical. As abruptly as it began it ended. He carried on for another two months bathing regularly and plastering his head with hair pomade.
I never knew how it ended because one day at the bus stop, I saw the object of passion with some of her friends and in a single moment of illumination I pictured this woman with my brother wrapped in passion and felt that I had done him wrong. I went home and took to bed to pray and ask God to forgive me for sending my brother into Hades.
The next time I wrote a love letter it was from my heart to my love interest……Who?
Surely you don’t think I’d tell you that?
lmh. 9/0716 cc.