This week’s topic: “Write a short first-person story about your first love, or write a short fiction piece about a character’s first love.”
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I met my first love when I was six. Twenty years later, I am still sleeping with him.
Mom and I shop together. It’s how we bond. It’s our thing. One of my earliest memories of shopping with Mom involves Marshall Field’s at the Louis Joliet Mall. I would find something soft and fluffy and carry it around with me. I was not too young to realize that I was all but begging Mom to buy me the stuffed animal. Sometimes she did. Sometimes she didn’t.
On one mall trip, I saw him. A polar bear. He had no neck, and he had a little “I have a secret” smile. He had a soft, small, fuzzy nose. He was snow white and oh-so soft.
I grabbed him and marched around with him. When it came time to leave Marshall Field, I asked mom if I could have the bear.
It was kind of pricey for a stuffed animal, $20 in the late ’80s, especially over-priced considering I had enough stuffed animals to completely cover me, leaving not a breathing hole. She, understandably, said no.
Every time Mom and I went back to Marshall Field’s, however, I found the polar bear, and I marched around with him. Every time, I asked for him. Every time, Mom said no.
Then, one time, Nani came shopping, too. “I bet I get my bear now,” I thought.
So I grabbed him, and we marched around Marshall Field’s. I don’t remember asking Nani verbatim to buy him for me, but I must have, ’cause I took him home.
Later that day, at lunch in the food court likely, Nani told me a story about growing up, when her friends used to call her “Iggie.” I loved the name, and my polar bear got himself a moniker.
Today, Iggie isn’t white so much as dirty. His soft, small, fuzzy nose has been all but kissed off, revealing the salmon pink plastic beneath. He’s kind of misshapen, now the perfect geometry to fit in the crook of my arm, where he spends most every night. The stuffing is kind of misplaced, too, certainly from his many “baths,” when I bring him home and say, “Mom, Iggie needs a bath.” I’m too terrified to wash him myself, so I make my mom do it. She has confessed more than once that she’s petrified he’ll fall apart in a bath and I’ll lose my mind.
But he still smiles that “I have a secret” smile.
I brought him out to show Nani one day about two or three years ago.
“Nani, remember Iggie?”
She smiled, and she took him, and she patted him. Nani remembers winning a watch when she was 9 years old, but she doesn’t remember that the day is Christmas, or Easter, or her birthday.
“Remember how you told me your friends used to call you ‘Iggie’?”
She looked confused.
“No one ever called me ‘Iggie.’”
My eyes bugged, but Iggie just smiled.