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


Ahhh life lessons. I think as adults we can never reach the same level of emotions because we wear a protective coating around them. As teenagers we lived and died on emotion. And there is no emotion stronger than love unless its having love rejected.

Posted 4 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Philip Muls

4 Years Ago

Thanks for this. Any comments on style or flow ?

4 Years Ago

Flow was good. The voice is definitely one of reminiscence, and it works for this piece. No obvious .. read more
The power that ruins many a childhood dream, captured to perfection in this write. I remember those days of stomach churning confusion and bewilderment like they were yesterday. We live, we learn, but we never do forget. Great write. Thanks for sharing.

Posted 4 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

This is so beautiful and so sad... Life throws lessons at us that just don't make any sense but always hurt. It isn't fair... I'm not sure if the last line 'you can only be truly lovesick once' is supposed to mean what I look at it as meaning but it feels like you only let yourself believe in that hope once and once it has been crushed that vulnerability disappears. It's really beautiful and heartbreaking. I hope somehow you are able to reach that level of awe and wonder and love again.

Keep Dreaming. ^^

Posted 4 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Philip Muls

4 Years Ago

Thanks for the kind feedback!

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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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