A Story by Philip Muls

Boy meets girl, a classic case of rejection


A week after my sixteenth birthday, I am sitting in a classroom with twenty-two other boys pretending to listen to a Latin teacher. Our minds are everywhere but here.

I for one cannot stop thinking about Connie. She is the reason for the lovesick state I have been in for weeks now.

She is the epitome of perfection to the sixteen-year-old me. She has hazel brown eyes and a classic face of beauty. She is wearing a navy school dress accentuating her figure. For a moment, it makes me wonder whether the school has intended this effect when making girls wear a uniform. With her hair in a boy cut, she is simply irresistible. I do not fight it, I am powerless. I recognize a higher force.

She walks with an air of carefree confidence, seemingly unaware of what she does to boys and men. With hindsight, that was a pretty naive thought on my part, I now know that she was aware of her powers. Pretending she wasn’t just made it perfect.

It starts with a smile.

Dexys Midnight Runners are playing their signature song Come on Eileen as a backdrop to the epic scene that follows. I am looking at Connie walking towards me along with two other girls all wearing winter jackets, woolen mittens and hats. She looks like an angel. She is laughing out loud because of something her friend said. Her gaze crosses mine and it seems to me that her smile is now directed straight at me. She simply says “Hi, don’t you just love this song ?”.

That’s it. That is all that happens. I am in awe.

Awe is called the eleventh emotion, beyond the basic ten known by science. Awe plays on the boundary between pleasure and fear, inspired by great beauty or the incomprehensible mystifying. It causes us to completely forget ourselves in a moment of great wonder, feeling the presence of something greater.

Yes, right on the mark. I am in awe.

And I am not equipped to deal with it. I manage to say a profound “Hi, yes I do” back at her and she gives me a coy glance that will stay with me forever. A few days later, I even ask her out in a burst of supreme confidence. She hesitates for a brief moment…

That moment lingers on in my eternity. It is a moment in which all is still possible and yet you feel that it is not you but fate that will prevail.

She said no.

Later in life, I learned how to see rejection as a useful step in the pursuit of victory. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and all that.

But back then, it took me apart. When it comes to drama, there’s nothing quite like unrequited love. For weeks I did not sleep or eat. It seemed to me that the meaning of life was found and instantly lost again.

If rejection hurts, rejection without a reason is a killer. It tortured me in the most intense way that she denied me the chance to  that one date. To my endless frustration, guys who were not paralyzed by her loveliness did manage to get on a date with her. And they did it in a casual way, nothing to it.

A lesson in love right there ! She needed a cool guy, a guy she had to fight for. Why did I not know that ? Why was this not genetically pre-arranged in my moves ? Why did all the males that preceded me let me go empty-handed to an unfair fight ?

Thinking back about it so many years later, it makes me wonder. Why was I in awe looking at her and not at other girls, who were in fact even more beautiful ? Why did her smile hold that much power over me, like I felt her sweet innocence was out of this world and I had to pursue her with everything I got?

Exquisitely painful as it was, I wouldn’t want to have missed it. This First Love which did not go beyond “Hi” and yet took on legendary proportions in my memory, inspired me to look for experiences that brought me the same feeling of bewilderment and wonder. But somehow, I never quite reached the same high octane level in my emotional fuel and probably never will.

By design it seems… you can only be truly lovesick once.

© 2015 Philip Muls

Author's Note

Philip Muls
A new version is uploaded, thank you all for your comments!

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Featured Review

A couple really great things here Philip. That last line, killer. The moment she rejects him, devastating. You capture the feel and gut-wrenching anticipation and nervousness of this situation well. Where I think you're lacking, however, is exectution.

This story feels very "explanatory." A lot of extra stuff is included, but it doesn't feel like it's necessary. The extra long song quote, the explanation of the ten different kinds of emotions, the careful examination of the characters emotions in a "play-by-play" style throughout the story, it's all just a bit too much information. One of the things you do well is convey a lot with few words. When you write, "She said no," we feel the devastation the character feels because we've all been there, you don't need to explain every moment of it to us.

Again I'll say that your writing does an excellent job of resonating on a very human frequency, I just think it'd be so much more effective if you got the knife out and trimmed some of the fat away to give us a more healthy dose of the real-ness.

Posted 4 Years Ago

3 of 3 people found this review constructive.

Philip Muls

4 Years Ago

Thanks Hal, I made some changes based upon your feedback. Kind regards, Philip


I agree with Hal, the last line sells it. Truly devastating. As for me though, I write long (with no patience for short attention spans) and I love it when people put extra stuff in stories. It's my opinion that there is no sense in telling a story straight through. How boring would that be?
Keep writing it as it comes, my friend.


Posted 1 Year Ago

I related to most of the part but only lost a thread at a few places to be honest.
though it's very impressive for sure i would suggest you a bit of improvisation in it. however, I am just a learner.
I found it realistic, and alluring.

Posted 2 Years Ago

I remember pretending to listen to a Latin teacher too once, I even remember a Connie and Dexy's too. These were strange times to be sixteen and the most profound sense I remember is the feeling of your gut falling to the floor with that dreaded word NO. Nothing prepares you for that long, lonely walk back and the days, weeks and months of feeling deflated. But as you say, we need that learning curve, despite the pain, to look back on and wonder why they shone more than others. I wonder what the cool guys learnt with never hearing it.You sum it up perfectly with the line "The first love which didn't go beyond Hi." It is the one most remembered.

Posted 3 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

A relatable tale for sure. I suggest instead of telling us about asking her out, you show us the conversation. More build up there. Well composed.

Posted 3 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

this started off as a story, drifted into reflection but ended up as moralizing commentary. Dispose of the commentary and stick with the ethos of the piece.

Posted 3 Years Ago

0 of 1 people found this review constructive.

It is a miracle we survive, looking back over all the pain that tries to pull us down. I relate deeply to this account shared, the emotions pushing and pulling on the heart, and the beautiful pain that only love can give. So profoundly exquisite.

Posted 3 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

A slightly sad, thoroughly charming account--to which most men can strongly relate.
"Cool guys" always seem to make young women swoon; easily-read sincere dudes often get the boot.
What's kinda laughable is, listening to many women in their thirties and older bitching about never being able to meet "a nice guy"--someone they've rarely deigned to grant a second look.
Great write, Philip!

Posted 3 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

What a wonderful piece man. You've captured the situation effortlessly, with directed and effective points. Your skill draws the reader in, connecting with their own thoughts, feelings and experiences, making them feel exactly as the person you've wrote about feels. As a singular small piece, this is great, but for longer pieces your approach would need to be altered or it would lose its effect.

Posted 3 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Philip Muls

3 Years Ago

Thank you for constructive fb

3 Years Ago

No problem man.
Your description of teen infatuation is about 2/3 well-stated from an adolescent point of view (all very true-to-life & fun reading), but about 1/3 of it, you slip back into your cerebral, analytical, distancing "adult" way of defining life (ex: definition of awe - ho hum!) I hope that some day you can let go of your brain & just write from the heart thru an entire piece. I love your cerebral way of describing life, but it doesn't have any meaningful place in this type of story.

Posted 3 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Philip Muls

3 Years Ago

I think you are correct...very difficult though
This story is very relatable and we all can understand the narrator's pain. There were some lines that were very eloquently stated. You did a nice job of putting the reader into the scene. The last line is fantastic and somewhat true. Excellent Piece!

Posted 3 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

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83 Reviews
Shelved in 4 Libraries
Added on September 20, 2015
Last Updated on December 10, 2015
Tags: lovesick, awe, power of a smile, bewilderment


Philip Muls
Philip Muls

Grimbergen, Belgium

Living in Europe, but travelling frequently in US and Asia. I love to combine what I experience during travel with observations and thoughts about the human condition. more..


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