True Love by Lionel Mullally

Peter Sheridan realised that if he put his mind to it, he could easily become the worst stalker ever.

He had been crazy about Eilís for several years, starting that day in school when she tripped over his school bag that was blocking the narrowest part of the hall, causing her to fall and launch into the most poetic use of foul and abusive language he had ever heard. Her hazel eyes blazed with a fury he knew only women had and her Titian coloured hair glowed as a halo as she stood up. He didn’t know what she had said. He merely responded with ‘as you wish.’ He was simply thrilled that she was speaking to him at all. At him, his friends tried to clarify later but none the less, it was for him and he had loved her since. He memorised the three freckles on the bridge of her nose as she ranted against him and found a speck of spittle that had lodged at the corner of her lips encouraged a jealousy in him that something so small could be so intimate with her and he couldn’t.

Since that encounter, his arrival at, departure from and going for lunch at school coincided with her times of arrival, departure and lunching. Her friends had taken to singing the Divine Comedy’s song, ‘Everybody knows that I love you, except you!’ whenever he was near causing her, in his eyes to glow, but to others, to glower at him.

He never spoke to her. He couldn’t. She had bewitched him. She was perfect. His friends hated her and told him not to waste his time on her, that she had no interest in him.

He never saw that.

He managed to buy two tickets to the sold-out concert at Christmas. He would ask her to be his date. He practiced the words in front of the mirror. He practiced how to stand as he asked her, how many buttons on his shirt to leave open, which foot to keep forward.

He got stuck on how to say ‘hello’!

Was ‘hi’ better? Excuse me was too formal. Could he just say ‘Eilís?’

He told no-one of his plan. Time though, was of the essence. He knew where she lived. He had watched the house between trips to the library and football training. He cycled home the long way so as to pass the house and catch a heart bursting glimpse of her. She was different at home. She smiled more, bringing her sunset golden hair alive.

He had to ask today.

He strode purposefully to the front door, his steps echoing loudly. He ignored the rapid beat of his heart and controlled his breathing.

He checked his stance.

He reached forward and pressed the doorbell.

He heard the life changing ring.

He heard her voice within shout melodically ‘I’ll get it.’

He heard the key turn in the lock.

He heard the door start to open.

And he ran …

  • : General Fiction


  1. Aisling Doonan

    This made me giggle, poor Peter and his wobbly courage! You captured the intensity and irrationality of first love perfectly. Everything is magnified and his obsession on the tiniest details really hits the spot. Really enjoyed it, well done!

  2. del richards

    This was a really funny piece! I guess you meant Titian hair though?
    The moment he fell for her (and she fell, literally, over his schoolbag) and unleashed the ‘poetry’ of curse words, made me laugh out loud!
    The one thing that I didn’t enjoy was the speck of phlegm on her lip! Where I come from, phlegm is a type of pus/infected goo that is produced by the body. I think I would have called it spittle instead – are you familiar with that word?
    I would be wary of starting too many sentences with ‘He’ – although the last 6 sentences do it well and seem to break down those nail-biting seconds effectively (and you can feel his tension!) Good use of the prompt too.

    1. Lionel Mullally Post author

      Thanks very much for reading the story and your kind comments. Titian was correct alright. Didn’t see it no matter how long I looked and spittle gentler alright than phlegm. Appreciate you taking the time to read.

  3. Amrita Sarkar

    You had me going there till the very end of your story. Glad I came across your story. That’s some crookedly smart storytelling. In a span of such few words, you have managed to establish the love your MC feels for Eilís. From then on, every thing that he does as a lovesick boy held my interest. I have personally never had a fascination for anyone in this manner, but I have heard from my friends, who have suffered the same. It’s all so relatable and yet makes for an enjoyable read. Your masterstroke was the buildup till the end. Upon reading the last line, I went like -‘Noooooo…go back and ask her.’ 🙂 Great story! Thanks for sharing!

  4. maria delaney

    Hi, Lionel,
    This is my first of your stories and I have to say I adored it. The build-up had me on the edge of my seat. The ending was spot on. The whole thing is written with such grace.

    Great job with the prompt,

  5. Riham Gharib

    Hello Lionel,
    I really loved this guy! The girl is a total Kryptonite and he can’t resist staying away from her. YES, that’s true love, unfortunately …

  6. Irene

    Wow. It was as if you knew me at sixteen! Very accurate and light take on the drama of being that young. ( I am now 82 ) Believe it or not, a person I admired greatly asked me to go water skiing. When he didn’t arrive on time at the farm I took off and wandered around in my brother’s jeep for hours. I never explained. Thank you for a non-treasured memory! ( smile )

  7. Gold

    Yes, captured very well. Agree with ‘spittle’ rather than phlegm which made me wonder at his
    adoration, as I felt repulsed by the word. And yes, a good ending and a good build up to the boy’s
    fear of finally doing what he always had wanted to. You capture a snippet of a story very well.
    I can relate to that secret harbouring of feelings for someone you may feel is out of reach.

  8. Bonnie

    Lionel, I loved your detail about how Peter practiced how to stand, how many buttons to leave open, which foot to put forward, that really made his wholesome adoration authentic for me. Great work.