Your Story #87: WINNER

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  • Prompt: Write a short story, of 700 words or fewer, based on the photo prompt shown here. You can be funny, poignant, witty, etc.; it is, after all, your story.

Once again, you’ve made the Your Story competition a success! Thanks to everyone who participated in competition #87 (either by entering, reading or voting).

Out of more than 300 entries, readers helped us pick “Eyes Like Mine” by Rob Snyder as the winner. For winning, Snyder’s story will appear in an upcoming issue of Writer’s Digest.

"Eyes Like Mine"
By Rob Snyder

She was the love of my life from the beginning.

The first time I ever saw Ellie, we were just kids. I met her at the Junior High dance. As was the custom, boys on one side of the old gymnasium, girls on the other side. No one was dancing until our gargantuan gym teacher forced all the boys to venture into the great unknown by crossing the gym floor in the last half hour. I’ll always be indebted to the man for that brutal shove out of my comfort zone that night, it changed my life forever.

I think what attracted us to each other was the overwhelming degree of utter shyness we both held. Other boys flocked straight to the cheerleaders, or the smart girls, the teacher’s pets. Some of the girls tilted their heads and smiled at certain boys. In those days that was as far as you could go when it came to flirting.

I brought up the rear of the herd of boys traversing the gym floor. And Eleanor Godsby’s eyes never came up from staring at her perfectly tied patent leather shoes. No one approached her. And no girls even looked in my direction.

Now don’t misunderstand me, there was nothing wrong with her. And as soon as my adolescent face cleared up, there would be nothing overtly wrong with me either.

I shuffled my feet down to where she stood alone, as the other boys and girls were frantically pairing up, not wanting to be the one left out. I wasn’t doing that, though I can tell you I would certainly not be above it. I was somehow drawn to her. But I was so shy, I was taking my time. And she wasn’t going anywhere.

As I got within a few feet of her, I shuffled louder, even cleared my throat hoping she’d look up. She didn’t. Somehow, this gave me a short boost of confidence, thinking she was actually more shy than I.
I stood in front of her and blurted out the word “hi”. The sound of my voice was way too loud, startling her, and me too. She looked up, but sideways, not at me. I said hi again, more under control this time, but accompanied with an awkward side hand waving motion that was in no way in sync with my simple greeting.

At this second attempt, she did look at me. She looked directly at me. It was so swift and sudden that I couldn’t avert my eyes, because I surely wanted to. Instead, at that moment our eyes locked. And I would never see anything more beautiful the rest of my life.

We danced that night. She felt right in my arms. At the end, I told her I loved her, right at the free throw line. She didn’t hesitate in telling me she loved me too. I told her that her eyes were like the ocean, with the calmness of the sea washing up to the shore, but with wild tides lurking behind them. It wasn’t just some line. Frankly, I’m not that good. I just said what I felt at that moment. She liked that. She said the only way we could ever prove it was to go to the ocean to see. I told her that someday we would.

A lot of boys and girls changed dance partners in that last half hour when they got past their awkwardness. Ellie and I never thought of changing partners. In fact, neither of us ever changed partners again, from that day forward.

We went through school together, courted, and got married. We built a life together, had babies, who then had babies of their own. It was probably not a remarkable life to anyone but us. How lucky we were to find our soulmates in seventh grade.

Ellie always wanted to see the ocean, but we’d never gotten around to that, not once, throughout our 60 years together.

I lost my Ellie this summer. I felt compelled to finally go to the ocean, to feel the surf wash over my feet. And Ellie is here with me, I can see her eyes once again.

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