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HER NAME was Olive and she was stunning. Her Olive name matched her olive skin that blended perfectly with her auburn hair. It flowed so lovely down her back, whenever she walked she seemed to float. But I was invisible with oily skin and indentations on the surface of my chin. I was told I looked squeamish, light and skinny for a boy my age. We were in 10th grade together and I stared at her every time she looked away. I thanked the gods when the teacher placed her directly in front of me. I could hear her conversations, see the curve of her nose and the slight twitch at the corner of her mouth when she got nervous, like for a test or when picked to read. She never spoke to me, never noticed me, until the day I had a seizure.

I was up at the front of class, doing a presentation on gonorrhoea for god’s sakes and next thing you know, I was on the floor twitching like some goddamned imbecile. I don’t even remember it, all I remember is waking up with my teacher beside me and the copper taste of blood in my mouth.

“Don’t move,” the teacher had said, “Are you all right?”

Of course I’m not all right. I’m lying here like a fucking imbecile with blood running down the side of my face. I hope I didn’t pee myself. Shit. Shit. Shit. I couldn’t see the rest of my class but I could hear them there in the room, hushed whispers and concerned chit chat in the background. I was mortified. The Principal came in, they had called an ambulance, my classmates were dismissed and I was put on a stretcher and asked a bunch of questions. All I could think of was her. Was Olive looking at me? Did she see me fall? Did I look like a total fucking idiot?

I was so embarrassed to come back to school two days later. Soon as I walked in, everyone came up to me.

“You ok, bro?”

“We thought you were dead.”

“That was a lot of blood man.”

Lots of different kids came up to talk to me. I answered the questions but kept on walking. I entered class with my head down, put my books on the desk, waited quietly.

“So glad to you see back Thomas.” The teacher came in first. She sat atop the desk next to me and asked gently, “So, are you okay?”

I nodded yes and hoped this day would quickly pass.

Olive walked in with a bunch of girls. They saw me, whispered something and she took her seat in front of me. The class filled up slowly, some kids stared while others waved. “Hey Thomas! Glad you’re not dead,” Derek said. Students giggled, the teacher scolded him with dagger eyes and he shut up and sat down at his seat.

Right when the bell was about to ring, Olive turned in her seat, looked at me and said, “I’m glad you’re okay Thomas,” and when she smiled, heaven’s gates opened and the sun flooded into my soul.

“Uh, yeah. Thanks Olive.” I was elated that she knew my name, just those five words gave me wings. I no longer felt embarrassed because clearly she had noticed me and she was glad that I was okay! She was glad that I was okay . . .

During the rest of the class, I participated, even made a joke, to which Olive turned and giggled, covering the twitchy part of her mouth. She looked at me and said, “You’re funny Thomas.” I couldn’t’ve been happier.

I walked down the hallways after class, stopping to chat with people about what had happened to me, giving details, being more open now that I was sort of a celebrity.

“Yeah, it happened before, when I was five,” I explained, “Yeah, it’s not a big deal, but I have to get some tests done.”

To that, people would give a concerned look, “Tests? I hope it turns out okay Thomas, I really do.”

“It’ll be okay,” I said, with my head lowered a bit to the side, eyes cast down for effect.

Who knew seizures could make you famous? Kids I never even talked to before — older kids in the hallways wished me well. Seniors gave me props as I walked by, nodded their heads that I was cool. I was acknowledged. But the one that mattered most was Olive. She had spoken to me twice in class and one time when I passed her I could hear her whisper to her friend, “Yeah, he sits behind me. He’s okay now.”

I went home that night thinking of Olive. Tomorrow I would wear my track suit and slick my hair back. I’d wow her with my charm and a few new jokes I’d picked up. I’d even shave. I was confident. Olive had spoken to me. Anything was possible.

The next morning before school I looked into the mirror. I didn’t look half-bad. I slathered on some cologne and put on my shiny new Adidas track suit. I put some gel in my hair and slicked it to the side. I walked to school determined.

I walked down the hall and still, some people who’d just heard what happened, wanted to stop and talk to me. I stood around, making light conversation, when I saw Olive enter the classroom from afar. She waved hi and I waved back. I told the circle that formed around me that I’d be back. I walked toward the classroom.

It was sticky and humid when I walked in and a circle had formed around Derek. As I inched closer, I noticed he was seated. He had crutches and a brace on his leg and everyone, including Olive, was intently listening to his story. Apparently he fell in the big game last night. He was running toward the goal when someone from the rival team tripped him and he fell and twisted his kneecap. He had to wear the brace for now just to keep his knee from popping out of its socket. I looked at Olive and her mouth was open a bit with her hand over it.

“So it just popped out?” Some kid asked.

“Yeah, it hurt like hell. Coach just popped it back in. They say it might be a torn ACL.”

“Ooh that must’ve hurt. I’m glad you’re okay Derek.” And there it was — the smile she gave, not just to me, but to Derek too.

“Thanks Olive,” and he gave it back, and I knew that I wasn’t the only one that noticed her beautiful olive skin that matched her perfect auburn hair that sashayed down her back when she seemed to float on air.

Damn ACL.

And like that, everyone forgot about my seizure.

  1. How fleeting and fickle — high school culture, in fact life itself. Enjoyable read!

  2. I really liked this story. Thanks for sharing it Aileen!

  3. Not a bad story. I couldn’t, however, quite see any ‘Thomas’ getting excited about coming to school the next day freshly shaved, hair slicked down and wearing a track suit. Beiing the mother of boys, I can tell you that he’d be much more likely to be wearing jeans slung low with the top of his underwear showing and a slightly worn, bordering on grungy, Hoodie. Just a nit, I know, but keep it real.

  4. Hi Jazz
    Just a note: I work in a high school and there are diverse styles. As you know being a mother of boys, teens don’t like to be categorized. Otherwise, glad it wasn’t “too bad.”

    Thanks Nancy and Gloria.


  5. A nice read, Aileen. I felt for the kid and was with him the whole story. As soon as I saw the word “crutches” my heart sank. I knew it was all over for Thomas.

  6. Damn the one-uppers! Track suit? Sure, my boy only wears jogging pants, his fav shirt, (that he wanted for school picture) sports Homer drooling, kids!
    Thomas is believable, relatable and I completely felt for his teenage angst.

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