Shepherd Boy

My heart broke forever in May of 1997, the last time I ever talked to Shepherd Boy.

I fell in love with Shepherd Boy in July of 1993. He came to my door with a shy little smile and a note he’d written me on a bus ride home from Boston; I’d been on his mind. On the fourth of July, he kissed me and changed me forever. We celebrated that summer on the tennis court, in the Rhododendron forest, in the pottery studio, and in the crisp linens of my one-room flat.

For a year before that and for twelve years after, he has inhabited my dreams. In the dreams, he comes to me and asks me questions, like whether the person I am currently with really makes me happy. The answer is always no, never quite as happy. I leave them and go with Shepherd Boy, always, always, in the dream. I am elated that he has come for me. Once, I decided to stay with someone new, but then the second time I had the dream I went back with Shepherd Boy. In real life, two weeks later, I broke up with the new guy. In the dreams when we meet I am so perfectly happy. I just want to sleep forever, because that is where I see him.

In 1993 Shepherd Boy made me a mixed tape (that’s what you did when you were nineteen and in love) that had a song on it called Dreamland by the B-52’s. Meet me tonight … in Dreamland … I wonder whether he knew we’d be meeting up this way and set it up for me just so we could. I wonder whether he dreams the same dream. I have no way of asking him this; too much time and too much of life has passed by us, through us.

Shepherd Boy told me once about a Chinese legend about two star-crossed lovers who put their love above all else, and their work suffered. As punishment, they were separated in the sky and could only meet on the seventh day of the seventh month, when the mynah birds formed a bridge across the sky. They can still be seen today as the stars Vega (Spinning Girl) and Altair (Shepherd Boy). Every year, in the beginning of July, I look skyward and search for him.

I wonder if he stares at my photo and tries to recapture how it felt. Rereading the old letters over, and over, and over, trying to glean some evidence that the whole thing would crumble and fall in shreds over time. A death from neglect, lack of sunlight, lack of contact and shared air. Shepherd Boy and I used to breathe into each other’s mouths. He would inhale, and I would exhale, and we would breathe back and forth like that for several minutes. It was the only way I could get inside of him.

Lucy Kaplansky sings on the little radio next to me: Tear me out of you…come on, try!.. I never want the pieces of him to disappear from me. Maybe I caught some little virus from his semen or saliva, that has become part of my DNA and it can never be torn out. There are big enough holes torn in the places in my body that will never know him again. My belly. My hand. My eyebrow that he used to trace his finger along. I am waiting for the day when those little spaces will be filled and content in his absence but I hope that they never are. Once I lose him completely I won’t have any of it, and I won’t even care. Maybe that is how he feels, and it’s easy for him to live without me. I am just a distant and warm memory. How can that be, when my life is fucking depleted?

I’ve been with so many people since then, even loved a few of them, but it’s always Shepherd Boy my mind returns to and yearns for. Did we make a promise of some sort? I don’t remember. I think we vowed to always love each other, no matter what happened, no matter who we ended up with. I told him that my only wish was for his happiness. That is bullshit! I can’t believe I gave it all away so easily…I gave away the most amazing thing ever. As if this happened every day! If I knew then what I knew now, I would have held on to him and fought bruised & bloody anyone and anything that tried to separate us. This little, dead box inside of me is locked away and contains within it a golden orb of light. I hope it lives in him as well, and that he finds it there someday.





This has been a submission for Flash Fiction Friday at
Purgatorian. The assignment in this Flash Fiction Friday was to begin a story with the words "My heart broke ... "

17 comments:

Monkey said...

SG ~ I love this. I had a Shepard Boy. For 15 years.
Then we met again, on the phone, talked and talked and when I let him go in my heart, I met my current husband. The first man who has been right for me since Shepard Boy.

This story obviously triggered my babble switch, as all good stories will tend to do.

Thanks!
Monkey's Human

Loz said...

you really touched on something there - i think everyone reading this will be able to relate. i enjoyed reading it but it brought up the same feelings i have myself - pleasure and pain!

HighMaintenanceHussy said...

So relatable. We've all had a Shephard Boy in our past. Good job! :)

yournamehere said...

I'm really starting to like FFF. Thanks for the great story.

Finderz said...

B 52s. Love them.
Nostalgic in a tragic sort of way.
Thanks

Ɯbermilf said...

Muy Excelente!

Sherri said...

I loved this story. I think everyone out there has a Shepherd Boy in their past. My Shepher Boy is named Steve. :)

Warren said...

Chicks really eat this stuff up. I've never had a sheaperd boy in my life. But thats just because I'm not gay and I think sheep are really stupid. Good story though.

ginonymous said...

i too, had (have, i suppose) a shepherd boy. alas, the way the heart and memory work together to overcome the brain. such a pretty story. thanks..

AA

Melliferous Pants said...

Love this, thank you for the great story.

Girl With An Alibi said...

Add me to the Shephard Boy list. I've had mine too. (Damn, that SB sure gets around doesn't he?)

Excellent story.

The Awful Writer said...

I had a Shepherd Girl of sorts. We were friends in high school, but I always wished we had become more than friends. I was too shy and awkward to take that step, so we stayed just friends. I thought of her many times through the years. Wondered what became of her. Wondered how my life had been different had I told her how I felt. I finally saw her again at my 20th high school reunion. She didn't remember me.

Supermans Foot said...

I was enticed when reading that. I dont know whter to hope its true or not as its both beautiful and sad

Melody said...

Evocative writing, SG. Maybe not so much fiction?

Everybody needs a Shepherd Boy, some mythical creature from early on, the one who got away -- and a good thing he did, or else you'da moved in with him and found out he keeps moldy cheese snacks under the bed and snores and never ever ever gives you any space at all and 20 years later you wonder what you ever saw in him...

robmcj said...

I love this kind of blog. Hope you'll do some more posts some time.

I used to get those kind of dreams. I recommend tracking him down, and after you see his beer gut and bald head, the dreams will stop. Life will be more boring but happy.

PS now I understand what your other blog was talking about (word verification). Another learning, in the words of Vernon Little.

Spinning Girl said...

Hi Harry Yak,
I beat you here.
I like "Thumb" the best so far. Shepherd is more of a nostalgic venting. I'm not all that happy with it.
Thanks for reading!

Harry Yak said...

hehe..beating a yak somewhere is like out wit a three year old...come to think of it out witting a yak is kinda easy to....

I liked shep boy too. this story touches me. you shouldn't judge it to hard...ya its good it does stir up some feelings.

you are good.. i will certainly be waiting to read more of whatever you decide to "spin"