The story is quite short and the idea quite simple. One afternoon - childfree - myself and my partner were wandering along the beach at Walcott on the Norfolk coast (a short drive from Norwich where we live). It was an awesome day. The light was perfect and the sky was blue. It struck me at that moment that I would be happy should that day be repeated on a never-ending loop. Nothing else mattered: I felt free to shed the normal responsibilities and accept it as my personal heaven. I would have been happy for that day to extend to eternity.
What resulted was a love story - a paean to our relationship - but also tinged with a little sadness as I realised that for the characters in my story heaven would have to come at a price.
Once I had the idea for this story the title came to me quite randomly. I had a book launch at the Diss Publishing Bookshop in July and opposite where I was sitting was a display of greeting cards. Some of these had words on the cards and as they were stacked they overlapped. "The First" and "You & I" were actually the initial words on two separate cards which spelt "The First You & I" on overlap. Weird how ideas come, but the title seemed perfect for the story where the 'first you & I' is the template for a 'forever you & I'.
An extract is here:
Look at this, you say. I walk towards you, brush my hand on your dress above your hip. An I am here touch. You nod downwards, camera poised. The beach is nature's canvas. Against the flat wet sand the receding sea has raised flower-patterned swirls. They are intricate and beautiful, almost achingly perfect. Art without intent: stripped of meaning they are more than we could ever be. A fresco of seaweed hair.
Prior to publication, I read the story in its entirety at a Poetry Collective event in Norwich. This is available to watch here:
"The First You & I" was written to the album Couer de Pirate by the wonderful Couer de Pirate on repeat.
Skylark Review features twenty-nine poems and five short stories, and also includes Devon Miller Duggan, Jane Burn, Jeffrey C Alfier, Pippa Little, Jane Loechler, Hannah Dellabella, Rachel Plummer, Steve Klepetar, Meggie Royer, Andrea Bowd, Susan Taylor, Cris Harris, Ellen Davies, Michael Dittman, Jane Frank, Laurie Byro, Kate Firth, Di Slaney, Lee Crowell, Beth Schneider, Abegail Morley, Aden Thomas, Guy Traiber, Cheryl Pearson, Judy Darley, Neil Schiller, Abi Hynes and Joel Allegretti.