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.


8. Love and my Mama

After I had spoken to Pippa and Alex and Pops about love, and not really understood any of it, I was starting to feel like I had run out of options of things to do that were not falling in love myself. I did not want to fall in love but I had run out of people to ask except for strangers. And my Mama. I had not yet asked Mama.

There were two reasons for this. The first one was that it was Mama that had been upset in the first place, and I had wanted to try and understand love on my own so that she would feel happy. The second one was that I find talking about love with Mama to be very difficult.

I have always found it difficult with my Mama because Mama wants us to talk about things where we say how much we love each other and why we mean a lot to each other. But I have always felt like that sort of a thing does not need to be said out loud because it is just logical that our families will feel about us in this way. It is human instinct to want to protect our own genetic material and the way that we have evolved to do this is by feeling love towards our families.

I also find it difficult to talk to Mama about how much I love her because love and how much of it we feel is very difficult to define and everything is very subjective. There are no facts. It starts to feel like I might be lying or misleading. It starts to feel horrible.

I know that Mama understands this but I also know that it often upsets her that I do not express love or really any emotions in the same way that people usually do. It upsets her because it is important to her that she hears it aloud, and because of my ASD. She gets worried that I think that I can not love people or have emotions. She gets worried that I will think that I am a robot like Johnny Five or a computer like what people call Abed Nadir in NBC Community.

For this reason I do not like to talk to Mama about love most. I am afraid that Mama thinks that I do not love her enough or as much as I should or even as much as I do, and I am afraid that talking about love with her will remind her of this. 

I do not ever want Mama to be sad because of me.


I did decide though that I was going to talk to her. It seemed like it was the only thing left to do. So the day after I spoke to Pops I told Mama at dinner that I wanted to talk to her after dinner. She took this very seriously because I do not ask to speak to her very often at all. 

She sat opposite me at the dinner table like where we had sat when she had first talked to me about not understanding love. I liked this because it felt circular. Many films, books and TV shows are circular, which means that they end in the same place or way that they started. The Harry Potter books do this and the film A Series of Unfortunate Events does this and TV sitcoms like Miranda, IT Crowd, Community and F.R.I.E.N.D.S often have episodes that do this.

I had spent a long time thinking about how I would explain to Mama what was happening in my head and how I was thinking about love. Eventually though these things "Went out of the window." (This is a metaphor otherwise known as an idiom and it means that things did not go according to plan, or that the plan was abandoned.).

What I actually said to Mama was something a bit like this:

"Mama... a few weeks ago you said to me that the school had said to you that I had told the school that I thought that I could not feel or understand love. You talked to me about this and you said that you thought that I was feeling that way because of my ASD and that I am capable of love and that my ASD does not make me anything less than human."

Mama nodded but did not changer her facial expression. I carried on talking.

"It is true that I am human and it is true that it is not because of my ASD that I do not understand love. I do not understand love for lots of very logical reasons. I have written these down and you can look at them if you do not believe me."

Mama smiled and said


So I nodded and continued.

"I am worried Mama because you were upset. Because you were upset, I tried to understand love for you, but I can not. I can not because I have looked and tried to understand but all that I can see is that love makes people sad. It makes people sad and it makes people change and it makes you do silly things and it makes you feel inadequate and lonely and wrong. It is so messy and full of messy and scary things like sexing and falling and unexpected things and so much fear. And it just seems so horrible and scary and when I think about it I feel sick and I want to scream!"

I said all of this very fast, and when I was done I realised that I was crying and breathing very heavily and shaking. Mama came and held me and even though I would normally mind, this time I did not.


We just sat there for a while. Mama held me and stroked me and rocked me like I was a tiny baby child, like I was still so young and I would not have to understand silly things like love. She made me feel safe and she spoke to me words that I did not really hear.

When I had calmed down some, she said things to me that I did hear.

First she said- "Harvey, there is nothing wrong with you."

Which made me feel happy inside, even if it did not show outside.

Then she said "I think that the problem that you, Harvey, are having, is that you are trying to rationalise something that is not rational. Love is crazy and illogical. Love is everything that you said it was, and it is so very, very scary."

This did not seem comforting to me. But I waited to see what she was going to say next.

"The things is Harvey, that these things do not make love bad. Not ever."

Then she was quiet. And then she said this:

"Love is so scary but it is also so magical. It is pretty and exciting. It makes you so so happy, and you can't explain why. It makes you feel like inside of you is going to burst, and like all the life inside you is going to bubble up and burst out of you like a fire or a waterfall. It makes your heart beat-beat-beat like the big bass drum, and it feels like you could do anything. And it feels like everything. Love feels like everything."

She looked away at nothing now, like Pops had done when remembering Nana Rose. I thought that maybe she was remembering Father. Maybe she was thinking about walks with dogs and in-between dance steps and sun and light and laughing and everything. I thought about the picture of Mama and Father at their wedding, and how happy they looked. I thought about how the light was in that picture, and the flowers and the smiles and I wondered if the smiles were real. I imagined how in the picture they must have had butterflies in their bellies and felt wobbly and afraid, and I wondered why I did it. And then I thought about how the flowers in the picture were dead now. That made me sad.

After I had thought about what Mama had said, and I frowned a bit and I said "That is illogical."

And Mama smiled and said "Exactly."







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