But at the end of the day when every price has been paid If you’re gonna rise and sit beside him on some old seat of gold And won’t you tell me why you live like you’re afraid to die You’ll die like you’re afraid to go
10 years ago tonight, The OC aired its series finale. I, for one, still miss my California family.
Race has been hiding his Prosopagnosia for three years but it just keeps getting harder.
So, I took inspiration from Holding Up the Universe for this but, at the same time, I only took the Prosopagnosia (because I didn’t know about it before). It’s been a long time since I read that book and I didn’t like it much so the ideas are my own.
Race kept his head down on the way through the school hall. It had been three years and, as of one week ago, Race had finally got a diagnosis. After falling from the gangway of Medda’s theatre, Race had managed to knock something in his brain a little out of whack. He struggled to recognise people, not understanding how all of their features came together to form a face that he should be able to distinguish straight away.
He smiled at everyone he passed, waving occasionally as he tried to keep on everyone’s good sides. Race’s number one rule was to be passively friendly to anyone. Make no enemies and you can avoid most of the issues.
This was the worst situation. People who used his nickname tended to be his friends but, sometimes, other kids that he knew from classes would call out to him when they passed. Race felt time running in slow motion as he analysed the person walking up to him.
Tall. Dark hair. Green eyes. Nose.
“I heard you were out yesterday afternoon because of a doctor’s appointment. How are you?” Davey smiled, pausing outside his locker to collect his things as Race came to rest beside him.
He laughed, suddenly nervous as he realised that he’d gone three years, struggling through and managing not to tell any of his friends that he had an issue. Now that he had a name for it, Race should probably let people know but, suddenly, he was worried that people would still laugh at him for it.
Race gulped, considering his options before settling with, “Yeah, good. I’m fine.”
When he turned down the hall, Race smiled when he saw Crutchie heading towards them. Crutchie was the only person that Race could pick out straight away because of his crutch. He had to be careful, however, because he almost got incredibly confused when Specs came in on crutches one morning.
“Race, Davey, have you seen Jack? I need him to paint some last minute set pieces.” Crutchie seemed desperate, he was glancing around quickly, nodding politely to pretty much everyone as he scanned the crowd. He turned back to the boys, seeing Race shaking his head and laughing slightly, “Race, you never know where anyone is. I swear, it’s like you don’t even know who we are half the time!”
Laughing uncomfortably, Race nodded before a pair of hands covered his eyes. He jumped about a mile, trying to shake them off before settling when the person behind him laughed, “Guess who.” He knew that his friends didn’t know what was wrong with him but Race couldn’t help but feel like this was just an unnecessary taunt.
“It’s not Jack because Crutchie would have pounced on him by now. It’s not Specs or Romeo because they come as a double act and I haven’t heard Romeo’s annoying laugh yet. It’s not Jojo because he has more sense than to accost someone in the hallway and it’s not Darcy because he’s usually in the library about now. Albert was a possibility but Albert smells like bubblegum all the time and you have the distinct scent of Lynx so, either you’ve been fucking Spot Conlon or you’re the King of Brooklyn himself.”
When he had to blink against the harsh, fluorescent lights, Race knew he’d done well, “Nice work, Pasta, I’m impressed. Remember though, there’s only one spot in my bed and it’s got your name on it.” Race turned around to see Spot …
Short. Angry. Tooth gap. Lynx.
… smirking at him.
Spot and Race were not involved. They were friends and that was all. Spot’s favourite joke, however, was to insinuate that there could be a chance between them. It was cruel and it was mean but Spot didn’t know that Race was gay so what could he expect? Or that Race was a little bit obsessed with the Brooklyn boy. Just a little bit though. It wasn’t like he was completely head-over-heels for this boy who would probably never even look at him like that.
“In your dreams, Brooklyn.” Race smiled, leaning back against the lockers as Spot leaned forwards with a grin. He couldn’t help but have to flick his eyes away to avoid following slightly when Spot stepped back again.
Rolling his eyes, Davey apologised to Crutchie that he couldn’t help him either before watching him leave, only turning back to Spot and Race when Crutchie had turned the corner. Davey wasn’t blind, he was aware of Race’s potential feelings, they were what made their interactions painful to watch, “I have to head to English now. I’ll see you two at the basketball court later?”
Their friend group always met at the basketball court when school ended. It had benches in the shade for whilst they waited for everyone to turn up and, for those that wanted to, they could have intense mini basketball matches. Race used to love basketball. He was really good at it, as well. Unfortunately, since he’d hit his head, he couldn’t play. The split second you got to decide whether you wanted to pass or not wasn’t quite long enough for him to figure out who the person standing to his right was or whether or not they were on his team.
When Spot and Race nodded, Davey smiled, closed his locker and went on his way to English with his arms full of books that weren’t always particularly necessary. The two boys watched him go, neither quite understanding why you would take more supplies than you needed. Race showed up to lessons with a pen and that was all. Occasionally, he took a pencil instead.
Race had been let out of class early and was dribbling a basketball around the court as he waited for his friends to be let out. He smiled, feeling the roughness of the ball under his fingers before shooting and watching the ball sink easily through the hoop. He shot again and again, scoring every time, before running forward for a layup, slamming the ball into the hoop and hanging for a moment before dropping to the ground and collecting the ball.
“Jesus Christ, Pasta, you’re bloody good! I want you on my team today.” Race jumped as he swung around, seeing someone standing and watching him, clapping as they stepped onto the court.
Shaking his head quickly, Race let the ball drop to the ground and bounce away from him, cowering from the idea of having to take part in the match when the others showed up, “No, I- no. I don’t play basketball.” He watched tentatively as Spot grabbed the ball, bouncing it a couple of times before passing it to Race and nodding as his instincts quickly brought his hands up to catch it.
As Spot chuckled, he flicked his eyebrows up and gestured for Race to pass it back, “I think you do.” Race and Spot passed the ball between them for a few minutes, showing off with trick shots and technical dribbling.
When more of their friends started appearing, Race checked them off one-by-one in his head. Albert, Finch, Darcy, Buttons, Jojo, Katherine, Jack, Davey, Sarah, Crutchie, Specs, Romeo, Elmer, and Smalls. Teams were made on the go, with Albert, Jojo, and Smalls joining Spot and Race to play against, Finch, Katherine, Jack, Sarah, and Elmer.
As the game got underway, Race tried to avoid the ball as much as possible as Spot and Smalls led the team. He ignored the funny looks from Spot as he flinched back from the ball when it was passed to him, freezing and panicking when he caught it before throwing it to Elmer, despite Elmer being on the other team.
He would block Jojo instead of Elmer but no one quite understood why. Whenever Race was near the net, he scored perfectly. The problem was that he kept passing to the other team so that they could score too. Eventually, Spot pulled him away in a timeout and made him look at him, “Hey? What’s going on? You distracted or something?” Race simply cleared his throat as he pulled away from Spot, turning to see all of his friends watching them before cringing towards Spot again for protection.
“I’m just not good at basketball. I forget who’s on the teams.” Poking his head out and seeing that no one was watching anymore, Race took a step back as his shoulders sagged.
Spot laid a hand on Race’s shoulder to keep him in place as he stepped after him, “If you still can’t remember that we have Jojo and not Elmer then maybe you should get that checked, Race? I’m only worried about you.” He watched Race’s eyes, obviously trying to watch for a slip up as Race simply stared back in defiance.
Tensing his shoulders and pushing Spot away slightly, Race brought his posture as tall as possible to tower over the Brooklyn boy with a snarl lingering on his lips, “I’m fine! I told you, I just don’t play basketball! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I forgot something from my locker.” Race shoved Spot out of his way as he barged passed, ignoring the confused stares and whispers from his friends, ones he couldn’t be bothered to identify for that split second.
As he stalked down the corridors, anger bubbling behind his eyes, Race heard an, “Oi, Higgins!” over his shoulder. ‘Higgins’ was common for his friends. He wouldn’t have been surprised by, ‘oi,’ either, and the tone, although harsh, wasn’t particularly out of character for Spot or Finch. So, Race turned around and walked closer, ready to confront them about following him.
Feeling a shove on his shoulder, Race furrowed his eyebrows. The boys stood in front of him were identical, or at least, Race thought they were.
Dark hair. Twins. ???
There was a part of Race that wondered whether it could be Jojo and Darcy but those boys were too gentle. They wouldn’t be shoving him around and snarling at him. However, Race didn’t want to just punch them incase it was two of his friends.
“We heard you’ve been sniffing around our sister.”
So they were definitely brothers but they weren’t Jojo and Darcy. Those two didn’t have a sister. They definitely weren’t any of his friends because no one cared anymore, Jack had dated basically everyone anyway, and Race hadn’t met any of their sisters. Although Race was very gay, he also wasn’t out so the rumour wasn’t too far-fetched but it did mean that he had absolutely no idea which female they were referring to since he wasn’t actually at all interested in any.
Clearing his throat gently, Race raised his hands between them to show that he was innocent before opening his mouth and potentially making a fool out of himself, “Look, boys, you’re going to have to be more specific.” Yep, he managed to make a fool out of himself.
A fist was cracking against Race’s cheek before he even saw it coming. It sent him spiralling, smacking against the floor before stretching his jaw out painfully as he tried to clamber to his feet. However, hands pushed him down again, sending him back to the floor before he felt feet landing blows on his side. Over and over again.
“Hey, Oscar, Morris! Clear off!” The Delancey brothers, not twins after all, ran when they heard someone coming down the corridor. Race immediately tried to scramble to his feet, coughing and wincing as he felt his bruises burning as they formed.
Arms suddenly came to help him but Race shoved them off quickly, trying not to show his pain as he stood up straight and disregarded the person who’d helped him immediately. All of his friends were outside so it couldn’t be any of them, “Look, thanks, mate, but I’ve got it, okay? I’ve got to get back to my friends.” He shrugged the boy away, regarding him with hostility to scare him but finding him just watching him instead, “What?”
The boy seemed to take a step back, not quite understanding what was happening as Race just looked at him blankly, “Race, it’s Jack. Did you hit your head or something?” Race’s eyes flared as he immediately took in Jack’s face, piecing together his features for the first time.
Dark hair. Flat cap. Jawline. Paint splatters.
Race backed away, realising that he probably couldn’t keep hiding anymore. It wasn’t like Jack was going to keep this to himself. He was the kind of person who asked other people what to do about situations that he didn’t understand.
Sighing, Race felt his back hitting the lockers and sank down to the floor, “Get Spot.” He dropped his head into his hands, knowing that Jack would probably bring Crutchie and Davey as well. Honestly, that was better. As few times as Race had to explain this as possible was a lot more preferable.
When Jack returned with Crutchie, Davey, and Spot, Race gestured for them to join him and immediately leaned against Spot, who sat next to him. Race mulled it over for a few moments, thinking about how he could say this without offending them.
Your faces aren’t memorable enough for me.
“Okay, um. For three years now I’ve had real trouble being able to put faces to names- as in, regardless of how long I’ve known you. Like, instead, I have to manually put together your distinguishing features and work it out. It just takes me looking away to lose you again and, even though logic tells me it’s still the same person when I blink, I can’t see that. I actually went to the doctor a lot last week and they’ve- um. They’ve diagnosed me with Prosopagnosia, which is the thing that I thought it was.”
Within seconds, Davey was googling and handing his phone around to the other boys as Race sat in silence, waiting for them to say something.
“After you fell from the gangway … Wait, so, if we’re not in front of you, you don’t know what we look like?” Jack asked hesitantly, handing the phone to Spot who was reading quickly, and looked up to Race.
Swallowing, Race nodded carefully before pausing to think about it, “Well, I know that Spot has a gap between his teeth and smells like Lynx and I know that Davey has a strong nose and that you’ve usually got paint on your face but I can’t picture it. You’re easy, Crutch, but I did get confused when Specs broke his leg.”
Crutchie smiled softly, pulling Race into his side when he saw that he had tears quivering behind his eyes, “It’s okay, Race. We’re not going to stop loving you for something you can’t help.” He hugged the Italian boy, accepting the phone from Spot and nudging Race upright and towards him.
When Race looked towards Spot, he saw the boy watching him carefully, offering his arms for Race to fall into, “Race, I think you’re perfect, okay? Were you mixing up Jojo and Elmer on the basketball court?”
Nodding shamefully, Race hid his head in the crook of Spot’s neck as he struggled against tears. He’d been so worried about this for three whole years, hiding desperately as best as he could, and here were some of his best friends telling him that they loved him anyway, “I didn’t have enough time between passes.” Race felt Spot’s hand on the back of his head, slowly drifting through his curls before pulling him away gently.
“Hey, Race? Nobody here is shaming you for this.” Spot stared into Race’s eyes until the boy nodded with him, finally clicking that he was okay. When Race closed his eyes to sigh deeply, he opened them again to find that Spot’s gaze had fallen to below his nose. He snapped back upwards, however, and Race took it as him simply breaking eye contact for a second, “We all love you.”