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.


5. Love and my sister Alex.

When I was trying to understand about love, I had realised that I was going to have to ask somebody about love because the understanding that I had of love was based around Pop-Culture, and that understanding was wrong. 

I do not like talking to anybody especially new people, so I thought that first it would be a good idea to ask my sisters who are called Alex and Pippa. I have already told you about Pippa but I have not told you yet about Alex.

Alex is two years older than I am and she has also got an ASD which is called Asperger's syndrome and is not recognized by my computer spellcheck. It means that she is a lot like me in many ways but she is also not like me because she can understand some things better than I can and is better at things like chatting, but she is not as good at sorting or remembering things as I am. She is like me but if my ASD was not as severe. Alex is very kind to me but does not try to talk to me or hug me very much, which is best. 

I decided that of my two sisters I should ask Alex first because she thinks the most like I do and so that makes her also the mostly likely person to be able to properly explain love to me. 

Alex spends most of her time either in her bedroom or in the garden because those are her two favourite places to be. I do not look for Alex very often because most of the time people will want to see me more often than I want to see them. Because of this, I was not sure where I should try to look for her first, but then it did not matter if I could not find her in the first place I looked anyway because I was not in a hurry and was unlikely to run out of time to find her unless she was not in her bedroom or the garden and was somewhere else, and she had gone missing.

At the time that I was going to go and find Alex, I was in my own bedroom sitting on my bed which is a single bed and my bedroom is very small so there is only one half of a metre of floor space around each side of my bed, except for the headboard side because that is pressed up against the wall. My bedroom is much closer to Alex's bedroom than it is to the back garden so I thought that it would be much more efficient to visit her bedroom first to check if she was there. This is what I did.

Alex's bedroom is very big and empty and pale. Her bed is a double bed and it has her toy Judoon Gendry on it and also many pillows and blankets. She has had the bed for a long time because when she was small she used to fall out of her single bed a lot and did not want to have a bed with bars on it. In her bedroom is also a desk which is opposite the foot end of her bed and pressed against the wall. On the desk are her art things and her writing things and her laptop and that is all. 

I went to her room and knocked on the door and she did not answer. I opened the door to look inside and it seemed to be empty. If it was not empty, this was because she was hiding and she does not hide unless she does want to be seen so I thought that I would leave the room and go to the garden to look for Alex there, and if she was not there I would assume that she did not want to be seen and would leave her until she did want to be seen.

Our garden is very big and it is much much longer than it is wide. It is filled with many trees and plants that grow very wild so that it is like a jungle or forest. I like it in the garden because there are places to hide and sit and watch things, and also things to climb. 

In our garden there is a tree that is big and old and must have been there for hundreds of years. It is gnarled and huge and you can climb it very easily as there are many things to use as footholds and handholds. I can climb up to the very top of it and put my head out through the leaves at the top so that I feel very high up and very scared but also very free. From up in that tree I can see everything, like the stars at night and the sun and the clouds and the birds in the day and everything. And if I am afraid because I am so high up then I can think how the tree that I am sitting in is so very much older than I am, and has been here for so very many more years than me, and how it will continue to be here after I am dead and gone and can no longer think or feel things. This tree will not care if I am gone and that feels safe and nice.

Near the trunk of the tree but not underneath any of the leaves or branches, there is a picnic table. From the table you can see the sky when you look up and the forest when you look around. And nobody can see you or know that you are there until they are very close to you. I like to think that this table will also be here after I am gone, although it will not be there for as long as the tree will, unless the tree is declared dangerous and has to be cut down. It is on this bench that Alex likes to sit. Often she does drawings or plays TETRIS. She also often just lies down there and does not do anything and just thinks. 

I went down the garden and to this table when I wanted to ask Alex about love and this is where Alex was. She was lying down on her back with her hair all spread out behind her head and was spilling over the edge of the table and dangling there. Her legs were also dangling over the edge of the table at the other end of it. Her arms were spread out as well so that they stuck out over the sides of the table but they did not dangle because her elbows were still on the table. She had her eyes open and her face was blank. She often looks like this when she is in a sad or thinking mood. 

I thought that she looked very beautiful.

I walked up behind her and stood a meter and forty centimetres away from her and stayed still so that she would not be startled by me. Alex has extremely good hearing so she heard me standing there even though I did not think that I was moving. She sat up and said 

"Hello Harvey." to me without looking. I do not know how she knew it was me.

She said hello in a flat and monotonous voice but this was not because she was sad or angry, this is just the way that Alex speaks. I speak oddly too, although the way that I speak is very disjointed and I leave the wrong length of gaps between words and sentences and things because I am not good at telling where I am supposed to "stress" words and that kind of thing.

I said to Alex

"Hello Alex. Can I sit down?"

She said yes and sat up and moved up so that I could sit down next to her. She smiled at me a very small way when I sat down next to her which meant that she was happy and had been thinking. 

"Hello Alex I want to ask you about love"

I said to her. And she asked me why I was asking her which seemed like a bit of a funny question but I answered her anyway to be polite. I explained that I wanted to try and understand love because Mama was sad. Alex said this:

"It is a shame that Mama is sad and I think that you are doing the right thing. I am sorry though, I can not really help because I don't really understand love either. It's..."

She stopped in her sentence because it seemed that she was looking for a word. Then she found the word.

"... Tricky." she said.

And then we sat there on the bench and did not say anything at all. I do not know how long we were there for but I was happy. Eventually Alex said something although I did not feel like she was talking to me. It felt like she was talking to herself because she looked at nothing.

"I think it might be like the sky."

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