First Crush: Reba Ashkar: A Short Story

By dohn121

It’s five-thirty on a Friday night in late June at the Westchester Yacht Club and everyone in Dohn’s graduating class is already there. Dinner will be served at precisely six. Outside, at the bottom of the hill at the main entrance, a purple station wagon moves in a half circle and comes to a stop. The front and rear doors on the right side of the purple station wagon swing wide open and Mike and Dohn appear. Both are dressed in khaki pants, brown dock-siders, white dress shirts and blue blazers. Mike is wearing a solid maroon tie and Dohn is wearing a solid navy blue tie. Mike’s dad leans over from behind the steering wheel of the car, underneath the interior lights and hands Mike two five-dollar bills—one for Mike and one for Dohn, in case they want to buy an extra burger or soda. Mike’s dad tells them to have a good time and that Mike’s mom would be back to pick them both up at eight-thirty sharp. Mike and Dohn turn away from the car and run up the dimly lit path leading up to the ivy foyer.

As we are walking in, Mike's really fired up about the dance and about finishing elementary school. He reaches over to me with one hand, holding it out to my side as we continued walking. “No more elementary school, Cuz! We’re out! Can you believe it? We’re gonna be seventh graders!” I shook his hand, but not the way in which grown-up men shake each other’s hands—the Mike and Dohn special. We enter the foyer and everyone is sitting at separate tables, talking. The guys are sitting on one side of the room and the girls are sitting on the other side. The guys are all dressed up, in shirt and ties and the girls are dressed…Well, in dresses. A gas lantern lights up everyone’s table. A circle of girls are dancing in the middle of the room atop the wooden-tile dance floor, which divides the outdoor ivy foyer.

Mike and I spot two empty seats at a table and walk over, and as we’re walking, I look over to my right and see her. She’s sitting at one of the tables, talking to her friend Meagan, who says something to her to cause her to laugh…It’s Reba. She’s beautiful. She doesn’t see me at first, but I see her. I suddenly feel an ache inside of me, at the bottom of my throat and in my heart, which isn’t at all painful but exhilarating—like I was going up in a fast moving elevator before I’m able to brace myself. Her blonde hair wasn’t tied in a ponytail like it usually was at school, but down, splashing over and around the front and back of her bare, narrow shoulders. The small glass lantern next to her emitted just enough light to give her face a warm, yellow glow. She’s wearing a beige cotton dress with a daisy pattern that begins just below her collarbone and ends—down above her knees. Her dress is held up by a single bikini-strap that rests securely over the back of her neck. I feel a hand tightly grip the biceps of my left arm and a warm breath in my left ear that said, “Close your mouth…” I was then pulled in the direction of the voice, which spoke again and said, “…Come and sit down.” When I realized that it was Mike, and that I was just standing there and staring at Reba, my face became flustered with embarrassment. I did what I was told and sat, looking at everything and anything other than Reba. But it really was, I found, difficult to not look at her. I was lost in a tumbling sea of nameless and faceless people, it seemed, and the only person I saw and recognized was Reba. Every time I looked up, my eyes immediately found hers. She was the only person that I could see. It was as if I was seeing her for the first time in a very, very long time.

At five of six, we all got up from our tables and walked over to the grill and formed a line in front of it. Reba rose from her chair and continued talking to her friend Meagan. Everyone was given a total of four tickets. We were given a choice of either a hamburger ticket marked “B,” or a hot dog ticket marked “H.” A ticket marked “F” was for french-fries and “S” tickets were for soda. We were allowed to have two of those. Some of us, like this kid Jeff, became a bit confused with the tickets. Jeff had genuinely thought that the tickets marked “H” meant “hamburgers” and so became surprised when the cook handed them a hot dog.

“Ah…I wanted a hamburger,” Jeff said, who a few minutes prior had handed the cook a ticket marked “H”. The twenty-something cook looked up from his grill with murderous contempt. How dare you deny me? The look on his face said. He really did not want to be here.

“Then give me a hamburger ticket!” the cook said.

“But I did.” Jeff said. Just then, the cook became really agitated.

“No, you didn’t! You gave me a ticket with an ‘H.’ Tickets with an ‘H’ are hot dog tickets. You handed me an ‘H’ ticket so I gave you a hot dog! If you wanted a hamburger, you should’ve given me a ticket marked ‘B.’ ‘B,’ my friend is for “burger,” okay? You just graduated sixth-grade—Don’t you know your ABC’s?”

“But I thought that ‘H’ meant ham—” But the cook didn’t let Jeff finish. “NEXT!” The cook screamed, and waved the poor kid away with his spatula like he was a fly. Jeff walked off to his table with his head down, holding the paper plate with the hot dog on top of it with two hands. I knew Jeff—just like I knew everyone else in my class. Jeff was really shy and didn’t really have any friends. His parents probably made him come to the graduation dance the same way the cook made him keep his hot dog—against his will. Our class of sixty-one was bigger than the graduating class that preceded us, so we often alienated some of our own peers, sometimes without meaning to. A part of me wanted to befriend Jeff. I really felt sorry for him. Jeff walked away with his hot dog and sat down, staring at it. “I guess he doesn’t know his ABC’s…” Mike said. He turned and looked at Jeff, as Jeff was heading back to his table. “He’s not gonna’ cry, is he?” Mike asked me, looking over his shoulder. “You really shouldn’t cry when you’re eating,” he said, shaking his head. Seeing that the person in front of him advanced forward in the line, Mike did likewise. I didn’t answer, but instead, looked over to Jeff, whose eyes were already filling up with tears as he sat alone at his table. He didn’t even get his fries, I thought.

When it was time for me to order, I got a hamburger and fries. Mike got the same thing. While riding inside of Mike’s station wagon, before we got to the Westchester Yacht Club, I figured then, that I would choose the hamburger over the hot dog because it would fill me up more. And when Mike and I were walking into the foyer, the distinct, mesquite smell of the barbecue hit me hard—immediately making me hungry. However, after seeing Reba, I’d forgotten that I was hungry at all. Seeing her made me oblivious to everything else that was going on. As I was trailing Mike back to our table, I veered off towards Jeff’s table. Slowly, I put my burger and fries down at the far side of his table and turned around, walking away. I just didn’t want to give Jeff the chance to tell me that he didn’t want, neither my sympathy, nor my food. I wanted Jeff to simply have it. What he chose to do with it was solely up to him. I just didn’t really care.

“Where’s your food?” Mike asked me when I returned to the table empty handed. I neither looked at him, nor answered him at first, but only sat down and took a swig of my already-warm can of soda. “Hey! Where’s your food?”

“I gave it to Jeff.” I said. I knew what was coming next and so took another gulp. I could almost feel Mike beginning to heat up. He didn’t like Jeff because he thought Jeff was a crybaby. Like the guys on the football team, Mike sometimes teased him, which I totally disagreed with. I just didn’t have the heart to tell Mike.

“What the hell did you do that for? He’s got a hot dog! He’s got food…” Mike thought about this for a moment. “He’s got food and you don’t…Now what the hell are you gonna’ to eat?”

“Nothing,’” I said, still not looking at him. “I’m not hungry.”

“What?” Mike was in disbelief. His eyes lit up. “You eat more than me!” Mike paused for a moment and looked over to Jeff seven tables down, who was actually eating the food that I gave him. Mike said something under his breath then reaches into the left pocket of his khakis and pulled out a five. “Here,” he said. “Go buy yourself some dinner.” Mike took the bill and placed at the middle of the table and left it there.

“Seriously,” I said, “I’m not hungry.” Then, as if to prove it, I looked over again to Reba, who was still talking to her friend, Meagan. Then, something really bad happened—Meagan saw me. After she did, she cupped her hand over Reba’s ear and whispered into it. Right then, Reba turned and looked at me. Without thinking, I quickly turned around and ran an open hand through my hair. Afterwards, I buried my head inside my arms.

“Look, take the money, my dad wanted you to—” Mike stopped when he saw that my head was on the table. “What happened?”

“…She saw me,” I said, in a muffled cry. For a moment, there was silence, and then I heard Mike laugh. “Shut up!” I said. “They’ll see you.”

“Ah ha…” Mike teased. “She saw you!”

“Mike, Shut UP!” I said, and kicked his leg under our table. Mike yelped, bringing up his ankle into full-view, holding on to it, rocking backwards. When he came around, he motioned for me to look underneath the table.

“She’s looking at you,” he said, when he was in view. I didn’t believe him at first. She never showed any interest in me before—Why would she start now?

“What? Don’t play games.”

“No, I’m not. Look, she’s looking at you right now. I wouldn’t lie.” I still had some doubt—right up to the point when I turned around to look at her…Looking at me. When I did, Reba turned her head and brought her hand up to cover up where her face once was. She was looking at you, I thought. “See? I told you.” Mike then sunk his head down, almost to the point where his chin touched the table, where his arms were folded. “Why don’t you go and ask her to dance?”

“Are you nuts? No.” It was out of the question.

“I think she likes you.” Mike said.

“I think Meagan likes you…You know you like her.” I lied. I had no clue what Meagan thought of Mike. For some reason, Mike believed me. He bought it.

“Alright, here’s the deal. I’ll ask Meagan to dance with me and you ask Reba to dance with you…Okay? That’s fair, right?” It was a great idea, probably the greatest ideaMike ever hatched since we became friends.

“Deal.” I said. Mike got up from his seat, much sooner than I was ready to myself. I was so nervous my hands began to shake. As for Mike, he was as cool as a rock in the shade. He squeezed the noose of his tie and pushed it up, taking a step forward.

“Wait!” I pleaded. “Hold on! Not yet!”

“What? What now?”

“I’m not ready…”

“Well…Get ready. I’m ready—See?” Mike spread his arms out as if to prove it somehow. Still sitting, I shook my head. “C’mon, let’s go.” He said. I didn’t budge.

“First, I just want some time to think about it for a while.”

“Think about what? What’s there to think about?”

“Just…Wait.” I couldn’t think of what to say next.

“Look, what the hell are you scared of? You guys have known each other forever. Of all the girls on this planet, she should be the least of your worries. I’m telling you, she likes you. What more do you need? Let’s go.” He said, pulling my arm, but still, I wouldn’t budge. I didn’t say anything. Mike plopped down in his chair and was, for a moment silent. Then, he pulled another rabbit from his hat. “Fine, sit there…You know what? Screw it. I’m not doing it.” At this, I became alarmed. I didn’t want to miss out on being next to her. I really wanted to do it—I was only scared of her saying no to me. Mike was the only one that could help me. For him to back out now would be a total loss. I drew in a deep, long breath and stood up. “I hate you,” I said to him. He smiled and only patted me on the back, following my lead.

© Copyright 2001. All Rights Reserved

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Comments 41 comments

Ghost32 7 years ago

Wow. Dohn, this story paints a picture of pain so pure it's probably already locked into my LONG TERM memory. Very, very well written.

Reminded me of my Sophomore year in high school. At a town dance one Saturday night, I danced with my "Reba", a girl whose name I'll leave out for now. I clumsily tried to give her a gift (on the dance floor) of a fine Papermate ball point pen. (Yeah, I was a writer then, too.) She rejected it. It was the only time we ever danced.

My instinct about her was right, though. As she reached adulthood, her father became terminally ill. Since there was no one else, she tended him for years until he eventually died. She didn't give herself permission to have a life until after that, and by then she was in her midthirties.....

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

As a writer, this is one of my favorite short stories I've written (we all have favorites, don't we?) This is actually a true story. Years later, I asked her out again while the two of us were working at a camp together. She told me no. I still think about her from time to time. Truth be told "Reba Ashkar" is in fact an anagram I made up. Just don't ask me what her real name is!

Did you ever contact her again? Crazy isn't it? All of us need to feel pain before we can enjoy life, methinks.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. It means a lot, Ghost.

KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 7 years ago from Central Texas

What a great story! It's your title, it doesn't draw me in. You need a catchier title.

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

My original title was: The Color Blue: Reba Ashkar. The reason why I chose that title is because it's the name of a real person--I created a anagram of her name. Hmmm...If I were to change it, won't the tagline stay the same?

KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 7 years ago from Central Texas

I wouldn't use her name in the title at all...real or made up. The tagline meaning URL? Yes, it will, but it won't hurt anything.

rsmallory profile image

rsmallory 7 years ago from Central Texas

Dohn, what a touching and poignant story. I think everyone can relate to this because of personal experiences similar to the one you so vividly describe here. I love the detail. Thanks for sharing.

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thanks, rsmallory. With the suggestion of some of my fans, I'm tempted now to change the title...I'll come up with one shortly.

As I've said earlier, this is a true story and it's one of my personal favorites. With that said, I wanted very much to share this with others. Thank you for reading it. It really means a lot to me.

Drew Breezzy profile image

Drew Breezzy 7 years ago from somewhere in my mind

I really enjoyed this! It took me forever to read because of my short attention span. Did you dance with Reba?

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

You bet your bottom-dollar I did! Her and I danced the entire night. It was one of the fondest memories of my life, as I've been with a slew of girls, but nothing was ever as satisfying as that one night with her. I know that sounds a little over the top, but it's true.

I hear that she's married now with kids and a dog and a Volvo or two, but nothing will ever change that night with her. Thanks, Drew, as this is probably one of my own favorites. I seriously am glad that you enjoyed this hopefully as much as I enjoyed writing it. I just wish that more people would just read it.

BTW, Reba Ashkar is actually her real name, only in the form of an anagram! Just thought I share that little tidbit with you :D

fierycj profile image

fierycj 7 years ago from The Fiery Heart of Africa

Hey Mike's a pretty good friend. And Reba, still know her? Cute story. Well told. Did you guys kiss?

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Long story short, we didn't kiss nor date. I tried twice to go out with her and failed. I filed "Reba" under the heading, "The One That Got Away." I still think of her from time to time, but that's all...But I'll never forget that dance for as long as I live. She stole a piece of my heart back then as has yet to give it back!

fierycj profile image

fierycj 7 years ago from The Fiery Heart of Africa

You should find her. Even if she's married, just go see her. You'll never be fulfilled till you do.

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Dammit! I know...I tried searching her on Facebook, but no luck. If I really apply myself, I'm sure I can find her. I'm gonna e-mail you something, because I need your advice, bro.

fierycj profile image

fierycj 7 years ago from The Fiery Heart of Africa

Well, however I can help, bro...

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

I gotta warn you ahead of time, the e-mail gonna be a little long! Thanks, Fiery. You are a true friend.

marcofratelli profile image

marcofratelli 7 years ago from Australia

Wow... I enjoyed that. I know all too well these kind of emotions. It's not easy. I must have had a couple chances of women that I liked liking me back in school. Why didn't I take them up on their offer? I was way too shy and couldn't believe they really found me attractive. Looking back, i was stupid.

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Hey, Marco. Thank you so much for visiting me and reading me. I know exactly how you feel. I guess that we're only as lucky as we allow? I think that at the start of adolescence and when I began playing football was when I really started getting more "looks" but was too chicken shite to capitalize on my gratuitous opportunities! Some of the girls were even older than me by two-years or more (hmph, pedophiles!) Well, the present and future is all that matters, my friend! Happy hunting!

thanglynn07 profile image

thanglynn07 7 years ago from Long Beach, CA

You are such a great writer Dohn! You are so vividly paint the scenes with your words! I must say I would have been drawn to you if I was in your class lol. Not only are you intelligent, but you are kind hearted, offering your food to poor Jeff and dismissing your hunger just to make Jeff happy. You are such a loving and considerate individual! You remind me so much of me! I don't know why Reba would pass up the chance of being with such a well-rounded guy! What was she thinking? Then can't force love upon someone. She just didn't see you in that way. Reading this gave me butterflies in my stomach...You write so beautifully, capturing the moment perfectly with so much details at that! You have such great memory! I barely remember my middle school dance. All I remembered was a guy who everyone teased bcuz he wore glasses. But he was oh so nervous around me and his friend was the one who asked me if I would dance with his very shy friend. I thought..."Aw how cute, of course I would!" I'd rather dance with him than a popular guy who I would only be an additional notch on his belt! Dohn...have you published any books? I would love to have my very own collection of books written by the great author Dohn!

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

How do I respond to your comment, thanglynn07??? Where should I start? Okay, one day while in Elizabethan Literature (in college) "Reba Ashkar" hit me the way a piano hits a cartoon character walking down the street while minding his own business. I replayed this memory of that amazing night over and over again in my head, not wanting to forget it before I could get to my computer at home. I lived only about seven minutes by car from the campus and so I rushed home as fast as I could. I knew that I only had 4 hours to do what I needed to do to get back in time for my next class, which was coincidentally called, "Writing the Novel," which was of course a required course under my course of study and major: Creative Writing. As soon as I got to my hovel of a studio, I began smoking my keyboard while typing as fast as the Gingerbread Man runs. I wrote (which is probably unnecessary now that I think about it) the stage setting in italics, which is only usually reserved for screenplays or plays, mind you, not short stories, but I wrote it just so I didn't forget the scene entirely. Aside from a few typos and grammatical errors, the story as you read it here as a hub is practically the original. It took about an hour and forty-five minutes to write it and I edited it just as soon as I finished typing. Among my short stories, this is one of my favorites, because to me, it was one of my favorite experiences ever in my entire life (so far?).

As far as my being yet, I wish that I could tell you that I have, so in that way, I can autograph my book right now, and send it to you A.S.A.P.! However, it isn't so, not yet anyway. I'm happy to say however, that one of my professors from my past has contacted me about a literary agent that wants to take a look at my novel about my family immigrating to the States from Laos. Cross your fingers (like I have to ask!) as this just be it :D

Thanks as always! Your readership means a lot to me.

thanglynn07 profile image

thanglynn07 7 years ago from Long Beach, CA

Yay! I'm happy for you! When you become a famous author don't forget about me!

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Geez, sorry about all the typos/errors, thanglynn07! I wrote that comment so fast! And no, I won't forget about you :D

apricot profile image

apricot 7 years ago from Italy

Aaaah! Poor Jeff! Bless his heart! Lovely story - nice characters - all very real and tender hearted.

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thanks, apricot. This is one of my own personal favorites for a myriad of reasons! I'm glad that you enjoyed it.

prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

hmmmmm, Love story, one you cant forget, (very vivid in your mind) can almost feel the intensity of the moment "However, after seeing Reba, I’d forgotten that I was hungry at all. Seeing her made me oblivious to everything else that was going on". Once in our life we found somebody and one who will make us feel that way, I can almost feel what you were feeling at that time.

I smile when I read this,wanting to help you finding her. Sometimes just the thought of how somebody make us feel keeps us going and put us in a state where we have hope love and be passionate.

I like it when you write because it touches the heart of people, who can never forget the feeling of a first crush, it will go on and on, blissful...hmmm, I want to be in love again, miss that feeling...

Thanks Dohn..

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you very much, Pretty. This story is one of my favorites, as it was a moment in my life that I will always cherish. It's good to hear that you could relate to this story. I'm honored that you enjoyed it.

Sadly, Reba got away from me. It took me years to finally suck it up and move on. I believe that she's with someone now that makes her happy and that in itself makes me happy to believe this.

Love is wonderful emotion. I can't tell what others feel or how love affects them, but I know how it makes me feel and to share it with others is honor.

Thank you, Pretty. I hope that feeling returns and never leaves you ;)

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

What a powerfully written story about a first crush and written from the perspective of a shy person. I felt as though I was in your shoes and can literally relate because as a youth, I was that same shy person...just the other sex. You are a great writer! When you get that book published, I also want a copy!

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you so much for that, Peggy. I surprised myself that memorable day when I walked up to Reba with glass-knees and asked her if she "Wouldn't mind dancing with me?" By no means am I courageous person or fearless person. But on that day, I hit my stride and changed many things in my life for the better. I'll be sure that you get a copy, Peggy :D Thanks!

James McV Sailor profile image

James McV Sailor 7 years ago from Northern California

Dohn, I really enjoyed your story and you write very well. I'm a new fan. Best JM

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Hi, JM. Thanks for the comment. This is one of my personal favorites. It'll always be a part of me no matter what and so will "Reba." Thank you for becoming my fan!

Walker489 profile image

Walker489 6 years ago

I loved this. It's the first one I've read from you. It's great. You handle descriptions very well. I love the way you write.

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you, Walker489. I appreciate the comment and hope to hear from you again!

G Miah profile image

G Miah 6 years ago from Muslim Nation

Your stories just keep getting better and better, Dohn.

I found this very interesting, especially with the situation with Jeff. If it was me i would have given him my food, taken the hot dog and thrown it at the person who served it!

Brings back a few memories, as i had a few crushes!

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Ha! Yes, as you can see, I remembered this event very clearly. One day, the thought hit me to put it on paper and about an hour and a half later, this story was completed. It's one of my favorites and time in which I won't ever forget. Thanks so much for reading this. I appreciate the comment ;)

Justine76 6 years ago

Thanks. Its such a bitter sweet story as I have read the others. I guess the ups just wouldn't be there wihtout the downs. I love love, still. :) And you aer one fantastic story teller, Dohn. I laughed out loud when you kicked Mike. Im sooo sure you "hated" him!

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Hey, DM. I'm so glad that you read this. I just knew that you'd like it. This story is not entirely fictional and not entirely true, and that was how I intended it. Why are you so nice with your compliments? Thanks, buddy and thank you for reading this! It means a lot that you liked this :)

Justine76 6 years ago

hahaha!! why am I so nice? I didnt know I was. I guess thats just how I am.

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Haha! I too am a nice guy/person/whatever...So long as you leggo my Eggo :D

Heart Felt Book profile image

Heart Felt Book 6 years ago from New York, NY


ruffridyer 5 years ago from Dayton, ohio

A great hub. Full of heart. I had a reba myself. In 7th grade. She was the prettiest girl I ever saw. 2 yrs later she was gone. I may have said 6 words total to her. I was too shy to talk to her. Many yrs later I was at a festival with my wife watching a parade. I looked behind me and saw her coming through the crowed. My heart gave a leap! She passed by me three ft away and diappeared into the crowed. Never noticed me, no reason she would have recognized me anyway. Never saw her again.

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 4 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thanks Heart Felt Book. I'm completely floored by your response! I'm just glad that I was able to share it with you.

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 4 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

ruffridyer: It's great to be able to share my own personal accounts of my youth in a detailed story, but I think it's even more rewarding to hear the same from others. I'm a firm believer that everything certainly does happen for a reason, whether or not we're to understand what that reason may be. After hearing your story, I hope that you are at least happy now with your present situation. The past is always just more romantic, isn't it? It must be because the mystery of what could have been is sexier than the reality of now. Enough said and thank you so much for sharing your story and for reading mine.

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