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.


6. Love and my sister Pippa

A bit later after I had spoken to Alex, I decided that it was time to find Pippa to ask her about love, because Alex had not explained it to me, because she did not understand it either. 

I thought that it was much more likely that Pippa would understand love because of her boyfriends but I was not sure if she would be able to properly explain it to me or not. Pippa is often bad at explaining things to me because I do not really think about the world or other people in the same way that most people do. I should not say that this makes her bad at explaining, though, because the problem is not with her but with me.

Pippa is two years older than Alex, which makes her sixteen. She is tall and has crazy curly hair which she has dyed a sort of red purple colour that I do not like, but I will not tell her that because she does like, it so telling her that I do not would be very rude. She wears big glasses which are known commonly as hipster glasses, although she has had them for a very long time since she was six or seven, so I do not think that she wears them to be hipster. She has a lot of freckles. She is tall and thin and very beautiful, but also very clumsy because she has dyspraxia, which is a disorder that my computer spell check also does not recognize. 

Pippa likes music and art. She is very good at art and draws things like album covers for songs that she likes. Her drawings are very complex and detailed and stylised and have things like roses and skulls and blood and guns. They are impressive but I prefer Alex's art because it is more like the real world. She almost always is wearing large headphones which have the Captain America shield design on one ear and the batman logo on the other. She wants to work for films and do concept art for monsters one day which I think that she will be very good at. 

I went to Pippa's bedroom which is the next to Mama's bedroom and is medium sized which means that it is bigger than mine but much smaller than Alex's. I knocked on the door three times and then stood very still and looked at the door.

Pippa did not open it. This was not because she was not in her bedroom, and I knew this because she is almost always in her bedroom and almost never opens her bedroom door. This is sometimes because she is ignoring you and sometimes because she has her headphones in and can not hear you. Pippa usually does not ignore me, and nobody else in our house knocks on people's doors in the way that I do so this probably meant that she had her headphones in and therefore could not hear me. So I knocked again and she still did not hear me so I decided to try talking to her through the door.

I said to her "Pippa. It is Harvey and I would like to speak with you!"

And she said



and I said

“It is Harvey and I would like to speak with you!”

And she said

“I can't hear you, I've got headphones in!”

So I shouted louder

“It is Harvey and I would like to speak with you!”

And she said

“I can't hear you!”

I did not think that she had taken her headphones out. I also did not think that she was going to. So I decided that I was going to open the door without her permission. This is a very rude thing to do, and Pippa was not going to like it at all, but sometimes Pippa makes things very difficult for other people and the only thing that you can do is upset her. So I opened her door.

She swore at me and threw a shoe at the door.

Then she saw that it was me and she said

"Oh, Jesus, Harvey, sorry, I didn't know it was you. Sorry, come in. I didn't mean it."

The reason that Pippa was this sorry for swearing at me and throwing a shoe at me was because I do not like people swearing at me. I do not like people swearing because swearing is bad and you should not do it. You get told this when you are very young, around six or seven. I think that most people must have a very bad memory, as they tend to forget this when they become older.

I also do not particularly like it when people throw things at me.

I did come into Pippa's room, and I sat down in her office chair, which spins and goes up and down. It is my favourite type of chair because I like to spin and also because you can easily move and adjust it so that you can be absolutely comfy without having to try too hard. Pippa went to sit under her bed which is a cabin bed, on a sofa that she has that can fold out into a double bed if she has people coming to stay with her. There are fairy lights around the frame of her cabin bed, which has a silver metal coloured frame and her bedroom walls are purple and silver and her bed covers are purple with little yellow stars on like pinpricks of light and I think that all of this makes her room seem busy and crowded like a city. 

"It is okay. You did not mean it." I said to her.

"Sooo, is there a reason you've dropped in, or did you just want to hang around on a different bed for a bit?"

This question is a difficult one. It sounds like a very stupid question at first because it is very unlikely that I would go into her room just to sit on her bed because it is very difficult to get into her room without upsetting her and because I do not like her room because it is like a city and it does not feel very safe. But then when you think hard about the question she is not actually asking what she said aloud, but instead is asking something else. People do that quite often. In this case what Pippa was meaning was in fact "Can you please tell me why you are here, because I am busy doing other things?"

So in response to her question I said this:

"I wanted to ask you about love."

And she said:

"Ah, okay. You might be better off asking Alex, though, she's normally better... with.. y'know... you.."

I understood this because it was the same thing that I had decided. 

"I know but Alex could not help me. Alex does not understand love. I want to understand love. So she could not help me."

This was what was true. I think that Pippa understood.

"Ah, fair enough." She said. "What did you want explaining?"

This seemed funny because I had already explained to her. 

"I do not understand love. I want to understand love." 

Was my reply. I thought that perhaps she had not heard me properly because I had been quite clear.

"Oh... okay..." she said and then paused for a little while. I waited.

"Harvey..." she began. "It's not really so simple as that. It's something very hard to express, and nobody really understands it, I don't think. It's just something that's there. You feel it or you don't."

I nodded because I understand the idea of having very black and white emotions, and I am very stubborn in that way. For example in my head people are either good or they are bad. I also believe that things are morally right or morally wrong and I do not believe in moral ambiguity. There is always a correct thing to do and it is usually obvious. People just do not like to admit it.

"One day Harvey you'll be able to understand love because you'll have felt it, and I don't think you should feel like you have to understand it until you actually do."

I agreed with this so I said to Pippa "Yes, Pippa I think that too. But Mama was sad and it is not right for Mama to be sad. I must do the right thing which is to understand love for Mama."

Pippa stopped and thought for a moment. "You don't have to think like that, you know..."

I did not say anything by speaking or using body language (which I am not very good at!), because I can not stop thinking the way that I am thinking and Pippa knows this. I do not like change at all, even tiny change, so if I was going to change how I thought about things that would feel horrible because the change was happening inside my own head so I could not ignore it or blot it out and the idea actually makes me feel all horrible and nasty and panicky and like I want to be home.

I often feel like I want to be home. Sometimes even when I am home.


Because I did not respond, Pippa sighed and said "Sorry, Harvey, I know, that was a stupid thing to say."

Then, after a little while longer, Pippa said "Why don't you just pretend?"

I thought, and I nodded. Pretending seemed like the easiest thing to do because falling in love was something that really I did not want to do unless it was completely necessary. Then I waited for a little while, and then I said.

"What is it like, Pippa? Will you please tell me, so that I can pretend better." I said this quite loudly because it felt like a new idea. "Tell me what love feels like."

I said this more quietly.

Pippa thought quietly for a bit, which I liked. I sat and waited.

"It's very difficult to say. I don't know if I can tell it so you'll understand."

There was another pause. I looked out of the window. Then Pippa started to speak but slowly and I thought that maybe she did not know what she was going to say, or was not sure whether or not she wanted to say it.

"I think that love is like... imagine your favourite TV program, Harvey. Have you done it?"

I nodded. I was thinking of Doctor Who.

"Now I want you to imagine that it's the new season of that program, after a very long hiatus. About a year, maybe?"

I nodded again.

"Now I want you to imagine that this season of that program is the best season you've ever seen, like, it's everything that you want to happen in the series, so the couples and situations and stuff that you've always wanted to happen are all starting to happen, and it's great, yeah?"

And I nodded and I was smiling because I was imagining a season of Doctor Who where The Doctor was played by Travis Richey, who plays The Inspector in "Inspector Space-Time", which is a parody of Doctor Who which features briefly in NBC's sitcom Community, and who also plays "The Inspector" in the webseries "Untitled Webseries About A Space Traveller Who Can Also Travel Through Time.", which is totally unrelated to Inspector Space-Time.

Then Pippa spoke again.

"Now imagine that it's the last series ever. And imagine that you don't even know how many episodes there are going to be in the series, so one day it could just stop and be over. But until that happens, it's the best series ever, just perfect for you."

And I frowned and nodded, because that idea made me feel very sad and anxious. The idea of having that series and then loosing the show forever made me feel sad and the idea of it happening suddenly, with no prior warning made me feel very very anxious.

"I understand sort of." I said. "I understand the sad part. But I do not understand why it is ever good. If being in love felt that sad and scary then why do people ever do it ever? Why?"

Pippa looked a bit confused. I think the word might be flummoxed actually.

"Hmm. Well, the awesome series was supposed to be that part. Perhaps I didn't stress that bit enough..."

I was quiet for a moment, but then I said this:

"I thought that for a moment. But then I thought that I could just wait until all the episodes had aired and watch them then. It would be easier."

Pippa looked at me for a minute in a way that I did not really understand. Then she smiled a funny smile that was not a sad one or a happy one, and said:

"Of course you'd say that Harvey. You always would."

I did not understand her.

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