“A Love” by Alyssa Shields with Author Commentary

“A Love” by Alyssa Shields with Author Commentary

A Love by Alyssa Shields

-after Brian Doyle’s “A Sin”

Fell in love yesterday, in chapel, at ten. I sang with a boy, whose voice grabbed me by the ears, he surprised me so greatly that I stopped and thought, and when he stopped to listen I wanted to tell him with my heart that he sang so beautifully, and it was that moment of passion and pleasure in his voice, the bright sound of holy special lyrics I have loved for my whole life, that suddenly were different to me; for I am now the lover of his voice, I hear it ringing in my ears, and I can never lose it now, which blesses me.

Yes, he was singing a song I know, and yes, it was my favorite song from that church season, and no, I didn’t pay the slightest attention to the sermon to the words of the pastor and God and the Lord, and yes, I had done something that I did not expect myself ever to do, for obvious reasons; but still, I fell for him and wished for him and longed for him and didn’t speak to him, and there’s this regret that will continuously haunt me in my heart, hurting in the very pit of my

I do not know how to get out of love. I know the painful ways, the stupid ways, I suspect love to be the reason for many painful memories embedded in my skull, I laugh though at the Romeos and Juliets who thought they’d die without a person sitting next to them, but now I think I do understand how strong they felt. What I did was stupid, and as I left the chapel I knew I would regret where I sat forever in that chapel filled with chairs, an imprint of that moment ironed in my brain, and while my brain is filled with so many memories from many different buildings, I’m still wishing to be in love with this boy for hours, days, weeks, months, years; I have only ever had crushes, the stinging of butterflies, the fogging of the focus, the willingness to break rules, the stolen glances, the hiding in the shadows, the whispers that I hope to be

However, now I am a woman and I can not bear to be alone any longer, I have focused on school too long and focused too much on a book rather than a boy or his voice, face, eyes, lips, soul, and

God has not given me a man yet in my life; only the ready get to be in relationships; and where love is being stupid and hurting people, for all must bear a little sorrow sometimes. People use the word Love so easily, so unconsciously, no one even uses it properly anymore, if it’s proper at all; people forget that love is a feeling not a word and we can’t just say how we feel we have to feel it. So again and again we fall in love thinking it’s love but it’s only lust because love can’t squirm into our

The moment I left the chapel I felt the boy with the voice leave me as he went to class never to hear a word from me or run through the rain into my arms where he holds me as I shiver. I walk into my classroom and set my books down and my friends ask me how I am and I can’t respond because I have never felt this way. I sat in class, in that dark classroom, with the boring PowerPoint, and monotone professor. I look up as someone walks in and see the boy with the voice and I wonder how I didn’t know he was in the class this whole time.

Author Commentary:

When choosing which work of Brian Doyle’s I wanted to imitate from his book Grace Notes, it wasn’t too difficult to pick the one titled “A Sin”. I chose that one because of the sadness and fear of the words. That might sound odd at first, but I wanted to switch something negative into something positive. I decided to change Doyle’s “A Sin” to “A Love”. What I especially loved about his piece, and his other work in general, was the run-on sentences and each thought which seemed never-ending. It was more realistic than choppy sentences or even proper grammar. I think using run-on sentences, so it would make sense to write personal essays with a sentence that lasts for nearly forever.

When turning it into my class, I was afraid they would find it a little cliché. What if they thought, “Of course one person had to write about something so obvious”? So, I was a little nervous turning it into my class for review. However, it became really personal for me, even if it was an imitation. I took the thoughts and feelings of my brother when he met his wife. He said he looked forward to his class because she was there and he got to sit next to her. I didn’t realize it, but I was surprised just how much I ended up taking from my life and my brother’s. I was surprised when people in my class who had read my work asked me if it was a true story. They wanted it to be real. “Is he a real person? Is this your story?” They asked me. It’s real to an extent, but I didn’t expect the reaction I received. I’m incredibly thankful for their feedback and I’m especially thankful for Professor Angie Johnson for giving the assignment and all of the advice she has given me about writing during my entire college career.



Alyssa Shields is a communication major at Bethany Lutheran College, graduating in December 2018. She’s lived in Singapore, Illinois, Florida, Washington State, and South Carolina. Her hobbies besides writing are cross stitching, Overwatch, making (poorly edited) YouTube videos, and analyzing films. She one day wants to be a screenwriter and once again live near the water.

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