Love and the things that it is.

Harvey Wust is a twelve year old boy with Autism.
With a surprisingly advanced view of the world, and no small amount of cynicism, he sets out to understand love, and discovers something that he never really expected.

For the John Green competition. It's primarily about suddenly realising that you are in love, but there's some dealing with pain in there too.


9. Love and Me

That evening we went out for a drive in the car.

By that evening I mean the evening that me and Mama talked about love. By a drive in the car I meant a drive in the car.

When I say this sometimes it confuses people. People often use cars only for getting to places and do not see them as places that can be nice. They are wrong. 

Mama often takes me out for a drive if I am sad or stressed or can not sleep or even all three. I will gather up bear and my blanket and I will wear sometimes a thick jumper over my pyjamas or sometimes my big fluffy dressing gown and we will go and drive around and listen to music in the dark until it is all okay. We do not go to anywhere in particular and we also do not talk much. 

Sometimes Pippa and Alex will also come along. On this occasion they did. 

Mama came to fetch me for a drive at half two in the morning. This time is very late for most people but it is not really late for me because I do not sleep very much at all, only for about four hours at a time. 

I was sitting in my bedroom on my bed and I was writing. I like writing and I try to be good at it although I am not really. It was dark and I was in my Doctor Who pyjamas and I was wearing my glasses because I was writing. Mama came upstairs and asked me if I wanted to go for a drive and I said that yes I did want to.

Then Mama left my room and went and I heard her knock on Alex's bedroom door. Alex would also probably be awake at that time because she sleeps less than I do, although she has to take special sleeping pills because otherwise her sleeping is so bad that she does not sleep at all. Mama knocked and I heard Alex speak to her quickly although I could not hear what they were saying.

Then I heard Mama walk over and knock on Pippa's bedroom door. She knocked three times and then walked in to shake Pippa awake. Pippa does sleep a lot and does not like being woken up so I heard her clearly. She woke up and swore a bit and told Mama to go away. Mama asked her if she wanted to go for a drive. Pippa said no. Then Mama told her that we would be going somewhere special. So then Pippa said yes. 

Then Mama went downstairs and I got up from my bed to get ready to leave.

In the car we sat and I had bear and my blanket. Alex leant her head against the window and her face was blank and she cried a bit. She does this sometimes but it does not mean that she is sad. It is not that simple. When you ask her if she is sad, she says that she is not. I once asked her how she was feeling then and she looked at me but not with her eyes, just with her face. 

She said that the world makes her feel funny sometimes.

I understand what she means, although Pippa and Mama do not. 

I think that she means that sometimes you will look at the world and the way that it is and feel strange. You will feel strange because the world is so huge and complex and forever that you can not possibly understand it. You think how there are seven billion people and every single one of them is complicated and confused and self aware and just like you in so many ways. And you will never see them or understand them and they will never care. And how in the past there were also people and all of those people too were just as complicated and that they loved people and liked things and ate cereal and cried when they were sad sometimes. And cried when they were not. 

This can make you feel funny. Thinking about how big the world is is something that will make you feel funny because it is something we try not to think about. Human beings spend a lot of time trying to not think about things. This is because if you really think about things it becomes obvious that every single thing that human beings do or say or feel is all just a lie to make you sex with people and pass on your genes. And you start to think about how everything is so very pointless and empty and that eventually we will just be dead and no matter how many ways we can think to survive there is something out there that will kill us dead any way.

I think that this is why I surround myself in things like Sherlock and Doctor Who. I spend a lot of my time looking at things in pop culture and film and TV because those things are better than the real world. The people are kinder and the world makes sense and there is structure and pattern and the lighting is always good and the weather always fits the mood. And it makes you feel like there is a reason for things. Surrounding yourself in things that you love is how you manage. 

I think that this is why people out there in the world have falling in love. Because it makes it easier to forget about the thing out there that will kill you dead.


In the car is it dark but the streetlights make little squares of lights on my lap when we go past them. The stars up in the sky can be seen on a clear night and when we are not near the streetlights they seem to fill up everything. The sky is deep blue and filled up with little specks of light where the elements are made and that means where we were made. Those stars look like they are silver but really they are deep and firey and red. They are beautiful. The trees stick up into the sky jutting up and they look like their tops are touching the stars, and blocking some of them out. The trees look so big that they could turn off the stars, but they are not. But when you are so close to the tree and far from the stars, the tree seems as big and great as anything.

We see stars and trees and a lot and a lot of the road. And then we see the streets start to get less obvious and there are more trees and grass and then Mama parks the car. 

This distressed me because on drives we do not go anywhere. We never go anywhere on drives. I was getting upset and frightened but then Mama held my hand and smiled at me. 

"It's okay Harvey, it's safe here. It's nice."

I did my little smile and let Mama lead me by the hand and got out of the car. We walked for a little way and Alex hummed very quietly, she hummed "Sometimes I still feel the bruise" by the Mountain Goats, and Pippa complained about having to walk too far in her slippers. We walked and walked and the water from the grass and the mud made my feet wet and muddy. We walked and walked through the trees, and then we came out through the trees into a little clearing thing. It was at the top of a hill and there were trees around the edge and a big tree in the middle. 

Alex ran off right away very fast towards the tree, and ran around it in circles and she was squeaking. She was so very happy. Pippa walked off quietly and sat down and looked at her phone. 

I was very startled by how beautiful the place was. The moon was very big and silvery and it made the grass look a little bit blue and grey. The tree in the middle was tall and sort of silhouetted against the moon. This made it look strong and safe and brave.

"I wanted to show you this Harvey." Mama said to me quietly "I thought you'd find it... beautiful"

I did not entirely understand this. I thought that perhaps Mama had meant something more by it than what was obvious, but then understanding something more than what is obvious is not something that I can do. I thought that if Mama wanted me to know she would have told me.

Mama smiled sadly. 

I did not understand why, so I ran off to play with Alex.

With Alex, I climbed the tree. When I got up close to the trunk of the tree it was no longer silhouetted and I could see that it had so much shape and texture and that it was not in reality black, but it was many different colours, like brown and green and light brown and light green and dark brown and dark green. And I climbed up it.

It took me quite a while to get up the tree because at the bottom is was damp and also the bark was rough and it cut into my skin, but I did not mind because pain does not bother me. I climbed and climbed and I could feel how the wind felt against my skin and in my hair. I climbed up all through the branches and got higher and higher into the sky. I sometimes felt myself slip and it was like the bottom of my chest was suddenly gone from me and that was frightening but it also made me feel alive in a funny way. 

The moon was very very big on that night. It was big in the sky and it was being an excellent reflector of light. I will not say that it was shining because it was not. It was reflecting the light.

I climbed up to the very top of the tree and I stuck my head out from the top of the leaves and I looked down on everybody. All the people that I could see from all around were only Pippa and Alex Mama and nobody else, like the world was empty except just for us. Just us. 

I could hear that Pippa and Mama were singing below me and that Alex was joining in from lower in the tree. 

They were singing a song by the artist KT Tunstall that was called "Still A Weirdo" and it is about how no matter how hard you try to fit in, if you are weird, you are weird. It makes me happy.

They were singing. There is a whistling part in the song, so from the top of my tree I did that.

And then, suddenly, and for no reason that I could properly understand, I was happy.

I was so happy. I was looking down over the world and my family and I was under stars and fires and whole other worlds and even though I was nothing but an ant really, I felt like I was something else that was bigger just like The Doctor or Sherlock Holmes. 

Suddenly it was like everything was bubbling up inside of me and I wanted to scream and shout and laugh and cry all at once. And I was so happy and full of nice feelings but I was so scared because I was so high that I might fall and die and at the same time I did not ever want to come down. Not ever. 

That was when I realised that I was in love.

It sounded funny at first because I was not in love with a person. And it was so sudden that it scared me and I wanted to cry. But I was already laughing again.

And it was all so silly- it was SO silly. Because there was nothing rational about how I was feeling and nothing felt under control and it was everything I was afraid of right from the start but it was just how everybody had said, and no it didn't matter that it was scary because it's not something rational at all. Especially because I did not even understand what I was in love with yet.

I thought about this and then I realised. 

I was, and I still am actually, in love with the WHOLE WORLD.

Because the world is so big and so complex that you can't ever understand it or even try to make sense of it in your head. And the world has every single episode of every series you will ever love and it has so many more adventures in it than all of them but we are still always frightened that it might end. And the world is like moving and it is like dance steps because every single person is moving all over the surface of the world in different directions like one big great dance, a big messy dance that nobody knows how to do and nobody but the world will be able to make you do the right steps to. The world has other people in it because it has all the other people in the world on it, and even if you do not talk to them, if you are in love with the world then you are in love with people. It felt like the sky because it felt so big and free and forever and looking down at it suddenly it was like all the life in the world was going to burst out through me and my head and my fingers and my whole body and over everybody else, and from up there in that tree it felt like I could do anything.

And it felt like everything.


And now I understand. If I am in love with the world then I can understand love and I can make Mama happy. Everything is fine.

And I will have no worries any more about dying or breaking the heart of my love and becoming a bad person, or making my love a bad person, because the world is not a person at all and can not be made bad.

And I can not break the heart of the world because it is so big and scary and complicated that if I leave or die, it can not care. And it can not cry.

And that is how come we can be in love.


And that is the story of how I, Harvey Wust, learnt to understand about love, and what it is.

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