Great Sentences: First Love and Other Sorrows

Today’s great sentences come from Harold Brodkey’s 1955 short story First Love and Other Sorrows:


“We ate our scrambled eggs and washed the dishes, and watched the rain from the dining-room windows without turning the light on. We kissed for a while, and then we both grew restless and uncomfortable. Her lips were swollen, and she went into the kitchen, and I heard her running the water; when she returned, her hair was combed and she had put on fresh lipstick. “I don’t like being in the house,” she said, and led me out on the porch. We stood with our arms around each other. The rain was slackening. “Good-bye, rain,” Eleanor said sadly. It was as if we were watching a curtain slowly being lifted from around the house. The trees gleamed wetly near the street lamps.”

I chose this short paragraph as, to me, it perfectly captures the brief yet unforgettable wonder of teenage love, the stumbling intimacy, the awkward first kiss, the inevitable harsh exposure to separation, rejection, and pain. The rainy night backdrop is especially poignant, serving to shroud the magnetised lovers from the outside world, amplifying the significance of their fleeting indelible union.

Harold Brodkey’s First Love and Other Sorrows is available at Amazon