Before I can sit down to write an essay, poem, short story, fiction chapter, or article, I have to have the words to the first line in my head. It is only then, with the first line articulated, that I can move forward with the rest of the story. I am working on a few new pieces right now—articles, essays, and even a little fiction—and so I am thinking a lot about first lines. Here’s a round up of some first lines from my last ten years of work. They are from all genres, including poetry. Some of them have been printed on a page and some have not. But they were all my entry into writing something more, something that I couldn’t help but write…
* bonus: one of these opening lines was from a poem I wrote. Ten years later, it landed in Hijas.
My father has the open moon face of Morgan Freeman.
“It is not a malignancy.”
I kissed you at fifteen with every bit of forever that I could muster.
I am eating chocolate truffles as if they won’t melt, as if they are all that I need, as if the speed at which I am inhaling them implies I will soon be satiated.
I needed knee socks.
I picture it like this: I receive a phone call on an unsuspecting spring day from Oprah’s people.
The Latina in me is frustrated.
Houses have bones.
When I was young, I stuck to everything: catty friends, stale relationships, responsibilities I didn’t seek.
In truth, the cake was just a vehicle.
I am driving down the highway at 9 am on a Monday morning with guilt the size of Beyonce’s bank account.
In theory, I could be Jay Leno.
Most of us long for synergy between our vocation and our passions; we hope that our loves might meet in some great balance and come out even, that our skills might be able to make a difference for the things which bring us joy.
I am standing among a pack of dogs because I am no snow bunny.
At night I hide from the nightmares; what good is fear if you don’t know strength?
You never had sex at sixteen because it was not meant for Catholic girls and now you find yourself nearing the fourth decade of your life as if it is a train wreck, the end, and you are looking for your final meal as you run through cars, filling yourself with as much sustenance as possible in what looks to be the final sixty seconds of life as you know it.
What matters is not the cancer.
We sat in the flatbed of your pickup while Jerry crooned about black muddy rivers and we’d stare innocently up at the infinite Milky Way while you whispered about the mighty Orion, my eyes trained upon the three studded belt mystified by you instead of him.
I do not know that I remembered what you looked like until I stare at this man across the terminal that my heart, SKIP BEAT, thinks is you.
When I was growing up, I wanted them.
The table wore linen.
Driving the car through the local township- that bitch of a machine- she catches a glimpse of her beauty starved face in that dingy rearview- its moods dictating when it might fall down.