Hello, My Name is Nobody

For anyone who hasn't seen the post in my former blog, this is a story I started in junior or senior year of high school. It was inspired by someone I actually knew, who actually did some of the things that Seth does in the story. Hint: choose the most awkward scene. That's the one that happened.

Anyway, I hadn't touched the story in a couple years. Then one night, all of a sudden I realized why I had to write it, where it was going, and that it was way more important than preparing for my Media Writing class the next day by reading the elusive Zinsser text, which had finally came in at the book store that afternoon.

On a side note, I totally stole the name "Brown Car" from Allison.

Without further ado, please enjoy "Hello, My Name is Nobody."

At first we were amused by Seth’s total goofball attitude, his lack of social graces, and his few inhibitions regarding classroom conduct. At first, his lack of direction and motivation in life seemed normal attitudes for a teenage boy. At first we laughingly blamed his alternating hyperactivity and exhaustion on obsessive video gaming habits and a fictional addiction to Mountain Dew. At first, we poked fun at him for the way his shoulder blades stuck out like little wings that never got the chance to grow.

All that changed when I “adopted” Seth.

Seth was in my journalism independent study first semester of senior year. He was, in fact, the only other person in my journalism independent study. Consequently, I learned a lot about Seth just from working overtime on layout. I couldn’t believe how little I actually knew about him. We ate lunch together with a few other guys and girls, drove around town listening to ska and reggae music with that same small crowd, played some video games in our spare time – but what did I know about his life? Nothing.

In Journalism, I learned that Seth’s parents were separated. He lived in town with his mother, while his father lived upstate – far enough to be forgotten for the most part, but close enough to stop by and stir things up whenever Seth and his mother least expected it.

I had never met either of Seth’s parents, but from what I could tell, well, let’s just say that the irresponsibility and quirkiness we all knew and loved in Seth were not unprecedented by any stretch of the imagination. More like “inevitable.”

His father spent his free time (which he had in abundance, as he was unemployed) on eclectic projects. He was big on “routine” home maintenance – that is, hollowing out the walls so he would have somewhere to hide his valuables, which consisted mostly of comic books but may have included several thousands of dollars in cash. He was also fond of elaborate culinary endeavors whose products he rarely consumed, but rather concocted in bulk as though for a huge, imaginary crowd. In Seth’s own words, “the man is definitely not all there. Christ, he gave me a power drill for my fifth Christmas.”

Meanwhile, his mother scraped up enough money working at a nearby factory and performing various odd jobs in the community to pay rent on a townhouse each month. Because of her erratic and time-consuming schedule, she was rarely home.

Second semester rolled around. Once again, Seth and I were the only students in fifth block Journalism independent study. The more time I spent with him, the more I tasted the off-color, bitter, lonely flavor of his life. He didn’t let on much – I mean, when he told me about his family, he stated things as cold facts with a practiced indifference and discussed their abnormalities as though they were some kind of joke to be laughed at.

And I played along. I laughed. I didn’t know what else to do. He seemed okay with the way things were. I got the feeling he didn’t know any other way of life existed. The best thing I could do for him was to continue being his friend in a school that, with the exception of the five others who ate lunch with us, left him to fend for himself on the outskirts of high school society. The most I could give him was a companion when he was comfortable being the odd one out because no one ever let him in.

And that was all.




“Could you… uh….” He tapped the keyboard lightly, uncomfortably. “Could you come to my house and help me do my laundry?”

I had to laugh. “Do your laundry? Where’s your mother?”

I regretted that comment the moment it passed my lips. I kept forgetting that things didn’t work that way in Seth’s home.

Seth shrugged. “She went away. On business, I guess.”

On business? What business? Factory workers don’t go on business trips. There was still so much about Seth’s family that I didn’t know. Like why his mother would leave a kid like Seth to look after himself over an extended period of time. But it sounded like Seth knew no more than what he’d told me, and I couldn’t hold that against him.

“When will she be back?”

Seth shrugged again. “Dunno. But my laundry and dishes are piling up, and I’m hungry.”

I’d developed a soft spot for Seth, and he didn’t need to add “I ran out of ramen” for me to agree to go help him out.


I waited in the parking lot after school. Seth didn’t drive. It wasn’t that he couldn’t if he wanted – he just hadn’t gotten around to getting his license.

Seth would be nineteen that summer. I figured it was about time he started taking care of himself, especially if his mother made a habit of up-and-leaving for indeterminate amounts of time. Call it maternal instinct, but I was ready to take on the challenge of preparing this kid to face college in less than a year.

“Your car smells like a box of crayons,” Seth commented as he ducked into my 2003 Volkswagen Golf.

“Just what I needed to hear.” I checked the rearview and backed out of my parking space. “Look, I got it used from this eccentric little old lady. And the air freshener is pine.”

“I didn’t say it was a bad thing.”

“All right.”

Seth played with the knobs on the radio while I dreaded the state of his house. I’d never been inside before, though I’d seen the place when our friends dropped him off after long drives and Denny’s runs. Parking on the grass (the driveway was full), I couldn’t help noticing that the townhouse seemed a lot bigger from the perspective of a housemaid.

“Come on,” Seth said, popping out of the car like a Jack-in-the-box. “We can just go in through the garage.” I followed him tentatively. The garage didn’t look too bad. But that didn’t necessarily indicate anything. Maybe Seth never made it out to the garage with his trash.

Seth crashed through the door without holding it open for me, and I tripped along behind him. Yes, the garage had been a poor litmus test for what lay inside. I tried to pretend it didn’t smell too bad and waded to the kitchen through clothes, soda cans, junk food wrappers and other debris. I had to ask: “How do you live like this?”

Seth shrugged and laughed. “It’s easy. Too easy.”

I sighed. “All right. Let’s start with laundry. Do you have a basket?”


I looked around and found a basket on top of the washer machine. “Put your dirty clothes in here,” I said, passing Seth the basket. He looked sheepish. I sighed in exasperation. “Okay, I’ll come.”

Like scavengers, we rooted through the carpet of crud. I wasn’t too picky and let him judge what needed to be washed without commenting on what was left behind. He must have owned as many pairs of jeans as I did. And as many shirts, and as many pairs of underwear – which is especially scary because I have this weird compulsion that my panties and bra must match the rest of my outfit, so I have a lot of underwear.

“Umm… I think I need to wash these pants,” Seth said apologetically, indicating the pair he had on. Without further warning, he pulled them off and threw them in the basket.

“Oh my God, Seth!” I shielded my eyes in horror.

“It’s okay. I’ve got boxers on.”

“I don’t care. Put something else on. You must own something that isn’t currently carpeting your floor.”

I toted the overflowing basket downstairs and ran the load of laundry, showing Seth which buttons to push. “How do you know that?” he asked in awe. “This isn’t even your washer!”

I stared at him in disbelief. “Uhh…. They’re all pretty much the same. How about some food?”

That piqued his interest. I dug through the fridge, trashing several leftovers that had seen better days. Seth watched in amazement as I scrambled four eggs that seemed fresh enough to eat. He remained oblivious to my requests that he hand me a spatula or a plate, so it was dinner-and-a-treasure-hunt for me. I threw some bacon on the side and toasted a few slices of bread. Seth wolfed it all down while I loaded the dishwasher.

“You’ve got to rinse them before you put them in the machine,” I explained.

“Mmhmm,” Seth said around the largest bite of eggs and toast I’d ever seen anyone take.

“Wanna help me get some of this trash out of here?” I asked when he was done.

He looked at the wrappers, cans and pizza boxes on the floor. “Looks all right to me,” he said calmly. I noticed he still wasn’t wearing pants.

I snapped. “Seth, I’m not your mother! I don’t mind helping you out, but God, you’re going to have to get it together! People won’t just do this stuff for you your whole life. What are you going to do when you go to college next year?”

“I guess I’ll figure it out when I get to college next year,” he said, pairing the statement with his classic reply, the shrug.


Going to Seth’s house after school became routine. I got the house looking habitable again within a couple of days. But the routine stuck even after his mother returned from whatever “business” trip she’d been on.

I look back fondly on those afternoons of studying for my AP Literature test while he destroyed boss after boss on his Xbox. Most days we had dinner together, even if it was just something dumb like peanut butter and jelly. Our friends liked to tease us, saying that I might as well just move in because we were more or less married anyway.

“You should,” Seth told me sometimes. And sometimes I wanted to. I felt like he needed me there while his mother was working, and the more time I spent at his house, the more I realized that she was always working.

Springtime flowered all around us. Unfortunately, that meant exams. I’d never had such a stressful birthday as that May morning when I took the AP Literature exam. When I stumbled out of the testing room, bubbles swimming in front of my eyes, Seth was waiting for me.

“Happy birthday,” he told me. I was flattered that he’d even remembered. “Can I take you to lunch?”

“Seth, we always go to lunch together,” I mumbled.

“I mean, can I take you out to lunch?” he corrected.

Out to lunch? That definitely was not allowed, and I said so. In twelve years of school, I had never cut a class, never left school grounds without permission, never taken any chances with the administration. Why should I start now?

“We have Journalism after lunch hour. Let’s go then.”

He was so persistent about it that I agreed.

Lunch break, although it had never provided enough time for me to eat, stretched out like Laffy Taffy that day. I was famished after my exam. I couldn't help thinking, Seth had better have something really good in mind.

As soon as the bell rang for fifth block, we signed out on newspaper business and headed for the parking lot.

“This way,” Seth directed.

“My car’s over there. Where it always is,” I said.

“But we’re not taking your car,” he said with a grin. He reached into his pocket and dangled a set of keys in my face. “We’re taking mine.”

My jaw dropped. “You got your license?” I squealed. I hated the sound of my voice just then. It sounded like it belonged to a silly fangirl, not an almost-high-school-graduate. I blushed.

“It took me like, three tries…” he confessed. “But I got it in time for your birthday!”

“This is so exciting, Seth! Where are we going to go?”

“Well, since I emptied my life’s savings account to buy this car and have about ten dollars left to my name…. In ‘n’ Out?”
I laughed. That was so typically Seth. He drove us there in this clanking garbage can he appropriately called “Brown Car,” which was covered with more dents than paint and was missing the left mirror. He bought my burger and fries. It was delicious.


My phone rang early in the morning the day of graduation. I knew something had to be wrong the moment Seth’s name appeared on the caller ID. Seth did not make phone calls, not even to me.



“You’re not going to like this,” he said. The static was heavy: It sounded like he was somewhere really noisy.

“Where are you? I can barely hear you.”

“I’m in the back seat of my dad’ car. He’s got the radio up really loud. I don't want him to hear me talking to you, else I’d turn it down.”

I swore. “What the hell are you doing in your dad’s car? We’re graduating today!”

“I’m not,” he said despondently. “My dad wants me to move in with him.”

I was enraged. “And he won’t let you get your diploma first? What kind of father does that?”

I could almost hear him shrug in the silence at the other end. But his answer surprised me. “I don’t know. I want to be there. I was always the Nobody people didn’t expect to graduate. I wanted to prove them wrong.”

I couldn’t speak. Seth cared? Who would have guessed?


“Yeah –yeah, I’m here. What do I do?”

“Do?” he asked, bewildered. “Why would you have to do anything? I was just calling to tell you I wouldn't be there. And congratulations, since I won’t see you later.”

“When will you see me?” Suddenly that question seemed more important than Seth graduating or me being at the ceremony. It’s strange the way habit works on our minds. After seeing him almost every day for the past six months, just the thought of life without him left me feeling aimless and hollow.

“Hopefully soon,” he said. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll dig some of Dad’s cash out of the walls and buy a train ticket home.”


“I’ll do my best.”


“Why is it so important that I promise?”

“Because,” I said. “I need you here.”


Douglas Bessette said...

I don't like this one.. Its sad..

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