The Boy Who Meant Nothing | Teen Ink

The Boy Who Meant Nothing

September 25, 2008
By Ben Levine BRONZE, Bloomington, Minnesota
Ben Levine BRONZE, Bloomington, Minnesota
4 articles 0 photos 2 comments

It was not written on his forehead. No nametag was stuck on his shirt saying, “Hello my name is: the boy who means nothing”, but it was more of prophecy that was inevitable. Without this prophetic tale, which is from an unknown source, coming true lives would be differed. When people walked passed him they did not say, “Look at the boy who is nothing,” because there was absolutely no reason to do so. It was a consensual fact that he indeed meant nothing and to say so would merely be pointing out the obvious.

If one was to walk into the home of this boy it would be evident why he was picked to fulfill the prophecy of nothing. His parents, although not quite nothing, did not add up to much. He inherited the very worst of their lack of self-confidence. The house they lived in was plain. Not the type of plain that is tagged with modern architecture but the plain that is tagged with a lazy denial to do anything colorful or important to the house.
When he got home from school he did his homework but at the same time, with a sort of oxymoronic sense, he never did it. It’s like reading a page in a book and then forgetting everything that was read. He did the homework without absorbing anything he had just finished. He would be the most defective sponge to ever be created, if he were to be a sponge. And when all the homework was done and the wasteful sitting around was over he slept. When he slept he dreamt about nothing. Dreams were not relevant to somebody who was not going to aspire to anything. When he ate he felt no sensation of fullness and when he didn’t eat, hunger was not an issue. It was literally as if he did not exist.
It was the April of 2004 in which the boy who meant nothing incidentally made himself mean something. However, it must be pointed out with great urgency that the change in the boy had a very large effect on the lives of others.

If I were to write the prophecy of the boy who meant nothing the way it was actually supposed to happen the reader might become very bored because nothing would happen. The story would end right now…… But once again I remind you, like a glitchy CD, (that was an effort to push us out of the “broken record” saying era and into the “glitchy CD” saying era because records are so scarce now-a-days) that the prophecy did not come true. This story was never meant to be written and never meant to be read. In fact this story was never meant to be a story because it was meant to be nothing but the boy who meant nothing changed into something, therefore changing the nothingness of this story into something.

Beyond the logic of the gods he became something. It was a cool April night when the boy who meant nothing was sitting in his front yard, ironically looking upwards into space or in other words; nothing. It was this day that he, without any control over the situation, did something. It was with this involuntary act that the boy who meant nothing became, well, something.

While sitting in the yard, staring at nothing, there was a girl—a girl who meant something—in the yard across from him. Although she did see him she knew, somehow without any previous teachings or lectures, that he did indeed mean nothing. Even the young knew. Whether it was a freak form of precognition that people were born with or just a natural sense of things most knew, no matter what the age, gender, size, or color, that the boy meant nothing. So, upon seeing him nothing changed in her life and he once again meant nothing because he did not bear any influence upon her.

She started to play with her ball, which was a red kickball type object, throwing it upwards. Then, on its’ descent back to the earth’s surface, she would catch it and laugh. The boy who meant nothing sat there, silently, for a good thirty minutes until a feeling dwelled upon him. He had to sneeze. Never before had he been in a situation where a sneeze might actually be a noise recognized by others. In school people sneeze all the time; in streets people sneeze all the time; at dinner; in movies; at restaurants; and the list goes on and on but what is not on the list of common places where people sneeze is “front lawn, around eight o’clock at night when only two people are out on their block and no traffic is passing by.” Well, it was around eight o’clock when he decided, for a sure thing, that he had to sneeze. There were no cars passing by at the time and it was silent as could be. The only noise that was audible was the little girl’s laugh from across the street.

The feeling of this sneeze was stronger than ever before, as if the sneeze itself knew that it had more meaning than just to relieve a feeling. No ordinary sneeze was as strong as the one that the boy who meant nothing released. The sneeze was one of epic proportions in which only immortals, before that night, had ever sneezed. But, with a lack of confidence and a sense of bewilderment, the boy who meant nothing let go one of the loudest and irregular sneezes of the 21st century. There was no way of stopping the freight train sneeze and he released it without any control. At this very moment the ball that the girl was playing with was in mid-air and upon hearing the sneeze she turned, looked at the boy who meant nothing, and gave a smile. The ball, being forced by gravity and not by choice, came rushing down towards the little girls grinning face and smacked it with the utmost authority sending it into the street. While this happened a car came whizzing by and swerved to get out of the way of the ball that went so astray. The car, without control, went flying up over a curb and into a bunch of bushes preventing it from crashing into a house.
But, more importantly something else was prevented. The driver of the car that swerved out of the way of the ball was driving drunk. There was a four way intersection about thirty feet ahead and it was also a four-way-stop. It was, through the all knowing eyes of the road, obvious that the drunk driver was unaware of the stop sign. There was another car crossing that intersection, though, and if the ball would not have gone into the street those two cars would have collided and the innocent sober driver of the other car would have been six feet under. In the car was not only the sober driver but his new bride. She, although at that very moment unknowing, was pregnant. Therefore, without being under a grand spell or illusion, the boy who meant nothing all of a sudden did indeed mean something. All it took was a simple, involuntary sneeze to bring him to life. Before the sneeze the world was something that meant nothing to him just as he meant nothing to it. Now, although it was only a sneeze, his status had been raised a thousand ranks. Or had it?
When the mother of the girl heard the crash and the crying of her daughter, who was crying more due to the smacking of the ball to her face than the ever real dramatic crash that had unfolded in front of her virgin eyes, she rushed outside to see what the matter was. Running towards her daughter she picked her up and asked, “What happened? Are you okay?!”
The future of the boy remained in the little girl’s hands, however, because nobody knew that it was his sneeze that had caused the accident. Whatever she said directly impacted the boy who meant nothing. He knew this also.
“I was throwing the ball into the air, when…when,” and all she has to say is “when the boy sneezed” but instead she pursued the path of, “…when I heard a noise and I looked away from the ball. It hit me in the head and then bounced into the street.” She heard a noise. That was it, though. Only a noise, she heard, but not a sneeze. It was not verified that the boy had actually done anything important. Although he had saved a life, possibly more, it went without any recognition. He was still the boy who meant nothing and it did not look like that was ever going to change. Inside of him, with a great emptiness, he felt nothing. It was of no surprise to him that his part in the situation would go unnoticed. To him the prophecy was the truth. It was simply the truth and nothing, no matter of what degree, severity, or importance could change the truth. Mathematical solutions are not swayed, they are fixed solutions and every time the same solution is given to a certain problem. He was given to fulfill nothing. Or was he?
Fast forward nine months. Now it was around Christmas and the boy who meant nothing was wandering around the town. It was a neutral wandering, wandering for an actual purpose was of no business to the boy who meant nothing, and there was no destination. He was like a leaf blowing in the wind, but the wind had no source. He was in a free fall wandering state, one could say.
On his body he wore a coat. The coat was gray and had black buttons down the front. He had black mittens on his hands, jeans on his legs, and white shoes on his feet. Nothing noticeable; nothing. But as he walked, in his coat pocket, money began to slip out. Now, the money he was carrying was to buy a present for his mom. In order to fulfill his destiny of meaninglessness, he had not put thought into the Christmas gift for his mom and decided to just get anything that fit the amount of money he had. But, the money started to drift out of his pocket due to the motion of his arms while he walked and also the cold breeze that flowed through the city and finally with one big sway of his arm, and a little help from a rush of air, the money fell out of his pocket. Oblivious to this he kept on walking and nobody picked up his money because he was the boy who meant nothing and nobody noticed him; except for a small family.
“Hey, you dropped some money,” however the boy who meant nothing barely heard this for he would never believe anybody would talk to him. “You dropped some money!” the man said louder this time, yet he got no response from the boy. So, intent on giving the boy his money back, the man walked towards the boy and put his hand on his shoulder. In that moment the boy who meant nothing froze. What would he do? Run? Stay? What is going on?
“Hey kid, you dropped some money. Here ya’ go,” the man said in a kind, gentle voice.
“Th-thanks sir,” the boy who meant nothing said. And after he thanked him, the man smiled and walked away towards his family; a wife and new born baby.
Somebody thought of him. Somebody thought of him. The boy who meant nothing actually meant something to somebody. However unconceivable it may have been to people it came true. He meant something to somebody. The man who gave him his money back helped him figure it out but it was, with clarity, the boy who came to realize that he meant something. It could have been ignored but it wasn’t; finally the boy realized he was more than nothing.
Upon this great self-realization of meaning, with help from the man but not because of the man, “the boy who meant nothing” ran into the closest jewelry store, picked out a pair of earrings that he knew without a doubt in his mind his mom would like, and ran home. He wrapped the present up and put a bow on it. Then, he taped a card to the top of it and signed it, From Johnny.
The road to self-discovery is as hard as any other. There is a catch, though; the ending to self-discovery is owned by the individual doing the discovering. Nobody can define who you really are. Johnny finds himself with a little nudge from the man who gave him his money but it was on his own that he realized he was more than just the boy who meant nothing. Who are you? It’s in your hands to figure it out.

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This article has 1 comment.

dreamer said...
on Oct. 1 2008 at 5:24 pm
this story is magnificent. i love it so much. when i first started to read it, i didn't know what to expect, but it turned out to be great. you are a very talented writer.