He was a stranger, and he was strange. He had thick black hair and spiky handwriting and he stuttered.
He was an odd one out, and he didn’t know if he was loved.
His name was Aaron.
Aaron was young, with strong fingernails and a typing score of two hundred words a minute. He didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life. He was in the tenth grade and he was a shunned oddball.
Poor Aaron. He did not talk very much. He had red, scarred fingers from a long-ago fire, and though he was smart, not many of the kids knew it, because he kept his mouth shut.
I think he was silent because he stuttered.
His mother was the history teacher, though they looked nothing alike. He never mentioned he was her son, and she never told anyone at the school. He tried to hide that fact. He was already odd, already shunned and ignored as it was.
Aaron was the lone wolf.
Enna came, and she was fire and fury. She ran against the grain and she was bright and beautiful and, really, the embodiment of a somersault.
She told me she loved somersaults, that they tasted like a juicy primeweed and like sweat and laughter. That she turned one every day, and sometimes twice.
Enna and Aaron.
Aaron and Enna.
Aaron was the lone one, the sad and quiet one. Enna was flame, Enna was sea salt and sharp vinegar and a bursting bubble; she was laughter in the face of sorrow; fire in the heart of a flood; and the bravest one at school.
She was the one who slid down the marble banister at the entrance of the school, a feat that every student had dreamed of and never attempted. She was the one who initiated an abrupt school holiday on National Hiccup Day even though it wasn’t a real school holiday.
She wrote funny anonymous notes in the school newspaper; but everyone knew it was her. She blackmailed the English teacher into giving a test on the Harry Potter books, and then hacked into the school website to change her grade because she did terribly, having never read the Potter books.
She missed on the first try and accidentally changed Jude’s grade.
Jude was another weirdo, but he liked it. He got terrible grades and was proud of it. He asked her to change his grade back. She didn’t. And then she forgot to change her own.
She posted ratings of the teachers on the school website in a tab with its own secure password so even the headmaster couldn’t take it off. Usually the Bible teacher, the one who’d been to Syria and back and lived to tell the tale, minus an arm, had the highest ratings. He was the one who would bring doughnuts on test days.
Enna was running around on the top of the school building during lunch, (“I need to practice running! What if a flock of crying cillerating cranes take over the world and run everyone out? I’ll be prepared! I’ll survive!”), one day, singing and humming to herself as she ran.
She tripped over Aaron.
“Good lampposts in a blizzard!” she cried. “I’m sorry.”
“N-nn-no prob-problem,” stuttered Aaron in reply.
“Why are you here?” She was jogging in place as she looked down at him, curled next to the ventilator with a notebook.
She was wearing rioting orange-and-purple leggings with pompoms sewn on, and an enormous XXXXXL hoodie with golden gleaming dots all over, that almost covered the leggings up. She wasn’t sweating, not even out on the metal roof with the sun beating down.
Enna was like that.
She wore no jewelery but anklets. Her ankles were hidden from the different bracelets fighting each other for a viewing place somewhere on her ankle.
She looked like a sceptre.
She did, and that’s the truth. Her head was crowned with a glowing, gleaming crown of tinfoil, made by her favorite kindergarten kid, (Rudy, who was just as shtrange as she was and the hoodie reflected the sun to look golden. She was thin enough inside the huge hoodie that it bagged down to look like a slim golden stick.
To Aaron, she was a sceptre, and he was in love.
He could not answer her.
Enna slowed her jogging and looked down at him. His quiet, humble look took her fiery, abrupt soul by surprise.
She stopped bouncing completely and flopped down next to him.
Soon they were the talk of the school.
Enna and Aaron.
Aaron and Enna.
Everyone teased them.
They were not in love, said Enna. She thought she did not love him.
Aaron never said anything—people were rather frightened of him and no one asked or teased him, ever—but kids came up to Enna, myself included, and asked her laughing, winking questions.
Poor Aaron. He was already shunned, as I have said, but he took it hardest. It was as though he was trying to decide whether Enna's friendship and love was worth how he was being treated by the school now.
It wasn't as though he was bullied. It was as though the oddball finally came into the open as a kid who had a girlfriend, as a popular kid-- except, he wasn't. It was something school outcasts never did. Or had. Aaron was that oddball.
So he was teased. They laughed behind his back. I am not a hundred percent sure that he never wept over his situation, never went off alone, without Enna, and cried into his knees about his sad life.
But he kept on. He was still Aaron, still one of the smartest kids in the grade, still got better grades than I did. It was admirable, really, the way he kept his dignity in the face of the flood. It was because of Enna. The fire in the heart of the flood. She lit him aflame, and then he was his own fire.
It was beautiful, really.
Aaron and Enna talked together of things. The oddest things, too. Typewriter fonts and the neurotic snapping synopses in the brains of monkeys and the sound of an engine clearing its throat and turning over in the early morning on the way to work.
Enna was comfortable in her own skin as she was, and Aaron was happier than he had ever been in his life.
They were a production, an entertainment to the rest of the school. Enna was already, by herself anyway, but Aaron was not used to being the sensation of the Academy.
Aaron was a closet person, a person used to being subtly watched but mostly ignored.
Now he and Enna were the main excitement at school, he and the girl who looked like a sceptre.
And I? I, the one who got near-perfect grades and quietly watched everyone at school and wrote stories about them? The one whose nickname was Pears because that’s all I ever ate?
I watched them. I wrote a story about them. They were interesting, the lone young stuttering wolf and the fiery bursting wild sceptre of a girl who’d loved him as her own as no one had ever done before.
Enna and Aaron.
Aaron and Enna.