When I first saw him, I don’t know, I just stopped thinking. Just like that! One minute, I was sitting in English listening to you go on about some stupid poem, something about some Greek god that isn’t real. There’s a picture of him in our book. Apollo, that’s the god. I think there’s a car they used to make with the same name. A Buick. My grandfather drives one with those special license plates that say Historical Vehicle on them. He’s so proud of that old car that smells like his cigarettes and yucky cologne.
Anyway, I remember what I was thinking: How could those Greeks believe stupid things like this? How could they believe that there were a bunch of gods? That lived up on a mountain? That the men gods had girlfriends down on earth? And one, that Zeus guy, once he made himself a swan—and then he saw a girl named Leda, and he … yuk. It’s too gross to even think about. And how could the Greeks believe that some of their men gods looked like this Apollo guy? Like this picture? There’s no way that real gods are supposed to be hot. Gods should be old and hairy and religious looking.
And I’ll admit it, the picture in the book made the Apollo guy look kind of cute, not that he is my type of guy or anything. I don’t really like hair that long. Or curly. Well, if the guy is cute and has curly hair, that’s okay. But just curly doesn’t make a guy cute. No, cute makes curly okay. There’s a difference. Think about it.
Anyway, I seem to be getting off the subject here, distracted. I can’t help it. I’ve felt weird ever since that English class. Ever since I was sitting there thinking about stupid Greek gods, thinking that they weren’t real.
And then one walked right in the door. A real one.
And I just stopped thinking.
People were saying things, I don’t know. The teacher was introducing him, maybe, and that weird office girl Whatever Hermes was with him, but she didn’t stay, or maybe she did, I don’t remember. It doesn’t matter. The only thing I do remember is this—his name. Brian Novell. I made my ears listen, I made my memory work, made it record that name in the place where I put things I don’t ever want to forget, but the rest of my brain had quit working. Except for the part that controls the eyes. Now that part of my brain was working just fine.
My eyes were like two giant sponges and Brian Novell was like made out of water and my eyes were like just soaking him up.
And then he was moving along the aisles toward the only empty seat. And right then I wished that the kids on either side of me were absent.
Or dead. Dead would be better, really, because then the seat would be open permanently, not just for a day or so.
But he sat down in the only empty seat, the one right next to that weird Emily girl who reads all the time. I turned clear around in my seat and stared at him. I couldn’t help it! And while I was staring at him, I heard things hitting the floor, books or something, it doesn’t matter.
I waited there, with my back to the teacher, staring at Brian Novell. And then, like magic, he looked at me! And from his blue eyes came a kind of force, something, I don’t know, but it was like a power, a liquid like lava that flowed out of his eyes and burned right into mine and erased from my brain every memory of every other cute guy I’d ever seen.
I felt a hand on my shoulder. But I couldn’t look away from Brian’s bright eyes. I was hearing something from the person who touched me. A voice. A familiar voice. The teacher’s voice. It was saying words I couldn’t understand, like Greek or something.
I couldn’t really say what it was, but it doesn’t matter, because from the moment I saw Brian Novell, I just stopped thinking.