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The Boy Who Wasn’t My Boyfriend

Allie Zenwirth | Longreads | October 26, 2018 | 3,360 words
Posted inEssays & Criticism, Nonfiction, Story

The Boy Who Wasn’t My Boyfriend

Allie Zenwirth falls in love within the confines of an all-male Chasidic school.
Illustration by Melanie Lambrick

Allie Zenwirth | Longreads | October 2018 | 13 minutes (3,360 words)


During the short break between prayers on Rosh Hashanah, a month after Shia transferred to my school, his father passed me on his way out to the bathroom. I was leaning my butt on a folded chair. He said: “You and Shia are study partners, right?”

I said yes.

He said something positive. It might have been “Shia likes it,” or simply that we were doing a good job. I went red in the face and looked away. He left.

For a few weeks after that I kept thinking “What an honor it must be that his father spoke to me.” Now it makes me cringe. It wasn’t a natural thought. It felt like someone had told me this was the proper response. So, I made myself think that.


Whenever I think of him my heart feels like it’s slowly being heaved up and down.

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