David Dunston once threw a rock at my head

David Dunston once threw a rock at my head.

Everyone was gone when his snowballs
began to pelt my window
and from my gate, I heard his love call,
“Debbie is a Pickle-Head. Debbie is a Pickle-Head.”
That’s when I knew he loved me.

Before going outside to throw a snowball at him,
because, you see, I loved him too,
I changed my shirt, then my pants.
I brushed out my hair and polished it into a neater ponytail,
even adding a red ribbon left over from Christmas.
Not satisfied with the arrangement or sheen of my tresses,
I started again, the ribbon left on the floor—it had to be just right.
My darling was outside.
A dab of Mom’s Chanel #5 would cinch the deal,
so I touched its cold glass stopper
to my wrists and throat.
Then I was ready to be Juliet to his Romeo.
Oh, visions of our future life were clear to me:
all the kids at school would finally know how much I was adored.
He’d hold my hand at recess.
We’d live in his father’s motel,
moving from room to room at will,
and eat only at his father’s restaurant.
I would never again be bothered with dishes.
He was irresistible.

In my winter coat,
I raced to the front door and opened it,
propelled by his siren’s song.
With the joy that comes
from greeting one’s own true sweetheart,
I leaned over to gather the most perfect white snow to lob at my beloved—
because then he’d know how much I adored him.
But Cupid’s snowy arrow
clobbered me first: hard and sharp,
for inside his rounded cannonball of affection
was a jagged grey rock, hidden, unlike his love for me.

It pierced my head on the left side—
the same side as my heart—
but my devotion for him
was more potent than my pain.

My blood splattered into frosty pools
gaudy on the snow,
my red dripping onto the white field of winter.
The drops rained
and created my own personal Rorschach test,
its pattern open to his ten-year-old interpretation.
There by my front steps
was exposed my garnet bouquet of love on the glittering ice.
For him.
For him.
He laughed. “Debbie is a Pickle-Head. Debbie is a Pickle-Head.”
I had never known such worship.

I tell you all this because Nancy, my sister-in-law,
wanted to know why my hair is always flat on the left side.
”Oh,” I answered, “it’s because David Dunston once loved me.”

Deb Nordlie has lived in twelve states and four countries, married once, had two children, and taught English since dinosaurs ruled the earth. After a lifetime of writing assignment sheets, she’s branched into life stories, believing “we are all novels filled with short stories and poems.” Currently, she teaches English in adult school and scribbles away at the Great American Novel.