Short Story: Weirdo by Sarah W.

You are not mentally ill. One of the great media myths of the… | by Brendan  O'Neill | Medium

Like my story With Families Like These…, this about a character from one of my manuscripts when he was younger. The character in this story, Danny, is in his early 20’s in the manuscript but here he’s 14-year-old outsider suffering from undiagnosed mental issues. I know this is a little on a long side but feedback and comments would be much appreciated. 🙂


I’ve got this problem. I have all these times where I know something is a really really dumb idea but I do it anyway. I don’t even know why I do some things, I guess just to see what will happen. Even my friends think I’m stupid. If you asked them they’d probably say ‘Danny McFarland has shit for brains.’ I guess they’re not really my friends but we hang out together. The other day two of the guys dared me to steal a pack of gum from the gas station. 

I said ‘no way. I don’t even like gum,’ which is a lie. Everybody likes gum. I don’t believe in stealing shit. In my mind there’s a difference between being a troublemaker and a criminal. Troublemakers make teachers mad and get laughs. Criminals go to jail. Look, if I want gum I’ll just buy myself stupid gum. They kept giving me a hard time though and the logic part of my brain shut off and I slipped the gum in my pocket and they all laughed and since Kevin Massie is such a good friend he immediately narced me out which they thought was even funnier.

I didn’t end up going to jail but my dad beat the shit out of me that night. I’m going to get back at Kevin, what a dick. My parents put me on Ritalin when I was eleven because I was so bad at school. I’m twitching all the time (some people think I have Tourette’s) and I keep blacking out and not noticing things around me because I’m so bored. I like math but that’s it.

A lot of the kids at my school hate math but it always seemed simple to me. I confuse people because I’m not very smart but I get better math grades than some of the smartest kids. They think I must be cheating and when I say ‘it’s really not that hard’ they act offended like I’m making fun of them. Sometimes I do people’s math homework and they pay me or give me something we agree on.

I love being able to do something one of the brainiacs can’t do even if they get all the credit. One time this girl from my class Megan was planning to sneak out and go to a party and she wanted me to do her math homework for her. Another boy was going to be doing the rest of her homework.

I don’t go to parties because my parents won’t let me and also I’m never invited so I just make fun of them. Megan’s one of the hottest girls at our school and also pretty smart so I did a little thinking before I said yes. She was offering me $5.00 which was fine but I decided to ask for something else. 

“Instead of money would you maybe go to a movie with me on the weekend?”

“Eww, no.” she looked at me like I had asked her to do dirty things in my parents’ basement.

“We don’t have to kiss or even touch at all if you don’t want to. We could just eat some popcorn and watch whatever you want.”

“Danny, are you even listening to what you’re saying? Just shut up and stop being an idiot before I call the whole thing off.”

I got five dollars but I wish she had gone on a date with me instead. Her friends wouldn’t have to know. The problem is the whole school and the town I live in. People basically think I’m retarded and a retarded guy having a crush on a hot girl is hilarious. I’m bad at staying still and talking to people and figuring the most basic stuff out and I’m not in special ed so people think I’m holding them back.

Parents think teachers are enabling me just because they’re not strangling me and putting me in a straitjacket. I thought I was like other people until I went to stay with my grandma for a few days when I was six and later I heard my dad apologizing to her on the phone. I thought I did fine and I thought she liked me being there, but it turned out my parents were having trouble dealing with me and they wanted me to stay with her longer and she said no.

She said my parents could put me up for adoption or whatever but she wasn’t going to deal with it. Then I realized there was something wrong with me that everyone knew about  except me. I didn’t think it was fair that my dad wouldn’t man up and tell me why he didn’t want me anymore. I remember when I was a little kid I got light-up sneakers so I just started stomping all the time.

I’d stand in line and then I’d start jumping up and down until everyone was looking at me. When I was mad I liked to kick things around and once I kicked a trashcan and shit went spilling everywhere. They made me clean it up but then I found a few things I wanted and stuffed them in my pockets. A few kids saw my pockets bulging out and they started saying I stunk.

I cut most of my hair off last year and I thought it looked cool but my friends laughed their asses off at me. Then my parents had a cow and my mom started crying. My mom cries a lot. Dad says it’s her way of getting attention. I really did like my haircut, I didn’t do it to freak people out. It sounds like I don’t have any friends at all but I have my grandpa. He was a soldier and he has all the coolest stories. I tell him a lot of my secrets because I can’t trust anyone else.

I met this guy named Rick at the beginning of the year and he got me to tell him things I hadn’t told anybody else. It wasn’t weird because he told me private things too but I got out of control as usual. I told him embarrassing stuff like I sometimes peed a little bit when I was asleep or that I had a lot of dreams about girls in my class. He told everybody. He even told some of the girls and he’s dating one of them now.

She still smiles at me and waves sometimes but I can’t look at her. My parents never gave me ‘the talk’ because they couldn’t agree on how to do it. I watched my first porno when I was eleven but I didn’t really get it. I heard some boys at school talking about it and I realized it wasn’t supposed to be weird and uncomfortable.

I figured out how guys were supposed to respond to it and then I watched it a couple times a week and started touching myself. My dad found the videotape though and screamed at me for a whole hour. He didn’t tell Mom, probably because it was his stupid movie. Sometimes I play the movie in my head but it isn’t as good. I think he got rid of it.

I want to get a girlfriend and I know she probably wouldn’t want to do anything serious right away but it would make me feel better about things. I wouldn’t even mind if I just had a plain old friend who was a girl and I could say she was a girlfriend in public.  We could sit close to each other in the cafeteria and hold hands and when we left school we could just talk about TV shows and play video games.

My cousin is dating a lesbian from a Baptist family and he doesn’t even care. She’s nice and she’s pretty and all his friends like her. He doesn’t even mind if she has sex with women because he likes having a girlfriend. I wonder if he ever tried having sex with her and she told him to stop. 

It doesn’t seem like he would have known she was gay when they started dating. I wonder if there are any gay girls at my school who wouldn’t be embarrassed to hold hands with me in public. People don’t like the way I shout all the time and my leg kicks like it’s trying to run away without me but my parents want me to be on more medication anyway.

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