There’s a piece in the paper about Laura. She was young when I knew her, always wanting to race the wind, to crash through. Like she crashed through me.

Laura. My first girlfriend.

What would she say if she knew I’d never forgotten? I wonder. The article says she has a partner now—a theatre director. That’s him in the messy suit, standing behind her, in the background. Laura looks focused, the way I remember. She’s a bit fuller in the face perhaps, but the same dynamite figure. The same determination. She’s living a high-flying corporate life and she’s just been appointed dean of a new design school.

The article teases out the influences on Laura’s career. ‘There are few things Laura Illingworth regrets,’ it says, ‘though she admits to mistakes in her early relationships…

‘I sometimes wish I could go back and explain my restlessness, because I didn’t know how much I was hurting people I actually cared about,’ she says. She recalls her first great love. ‘It was seventeen years ago…’

I do the sums. My pulse quickens.

‘…a boy called…’

But it’s not me. The one she left me for perhaps. How brittle I must be to feel this scrap of past so badly.

2011—Richard Holt / small stories about love (smallstoriesaboutlove.wordpress.com)

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