The Semester I Failed at College

This week’s Tuesday Tale:

My brother Charlie was ugly. Now I hate to say it because it sounds so mean, but you just have to own up to the way a person looks sometimes. He wasn’t born ugly, he chose it. Okay, well, he didn’t choose it, but he chose to become a boxer. One broken nose can make a guy look distinguished, but repeated breaks on top of busted lips and black eyes has a way of ruining anyone’s looks. Charlie didn’t mind though. Charlie loved boxing.

Charlie and I were at the university together for one year. I was a freshman and he was a junior, and we both had horrible luck with the opposite sex. Charlie had a tough row to hoe with his bad looks and his rigid schedule. Between boxing training, boxing matches and his course load for biology —Charlie wanted to be a doctor if boxing didn’t work— he couldn’t keep a girl interested though he tried.


Susy called me from down the hall in the girl’s dormitory.

“Elizabeth, the telephone is for you.”

“Hello,” I said.

It was Saturday night. Another night where I watch my friends busy themselves with date preparations while I sit on my bed wondering why no one ever asks me out.

When I hung up the receiver, Susy popped from around the corner.

“Did Elizabeth Henry finally get a date?” Her tone was far from sincere as she mocked me.

“No, Susy. It was just my brother.”

“Uh oh!”

Susy ran off with a giggle.

Susy wasn’t the only one who made fun of my ill luck. After all, if a girl had to go out with her brother just to keep from being bored, said girl was in a sad state or just plain ugly. I hoped I wasn’t ugly.

“Hi, Beth!”

Charlie called to me from a booth at the diner. I slid in on the opposite side.

“My date came down with a cold and canceled on me,” Charlie said

I smiled sympathetically, but I knew it was a lie. Charlie always lied about his lack of girls. It helped him keep a happy outlook on life.

“Well, the guy I liked likes my friend Rose,” I said and shrugged.

We chatted for awhile and then Charlie walked me back. It wasn’t the same as having a real somebody to go out with and there wasn’t the anticipation of a kiss goodnight, but still it was something that didn’t make me feel so lousy. I appreciated Charlie for that.

One afternoon at a study session, my friend Jill reprimanded me. “You’ve got to tell your brother to leave you alone. If you keep spending all your time with him, no guy is going to want to date you. He’s hindering your chances of matrimony.”

I rolled my eyes. Jill could be a bit hyperbolic.

“He is not. He’s just lonely. I’ve got to find him a girl, that’s all.”

“No girl’s going to go out with a guy that ugly. Elizabeth, face it. He makes everyone uncomfortable. You’ve got to tell him to leave you alone.”

I frowned because Jill was telling the truth. There wasn’t a girl on campus who agreed to go steady with him. Though I’d tried to set him up with every girl in his class.

Once I invited him to a study session with my friends. We had a lower level mathematics course that was stressing us out and I knew my brother could help so I invited him without their knowledge. I thought that if they could interact with him they would know he wasn’t a monster. The girls shrunk and coward at the sight of him. He had a busted lip from the boxing match the night before and even I had to admit it was difficult to look him in the face.

Courtney Boose

Courtney Boose

“Hi, Beth.”

“Charlie, I’m glad you could make it.”

But the honest truth was I wished now I hadn’t invited him. I got up to hug him just to prove to my friends he wasn’t a monster, but when he pulled away I was afraid I’d embarrassed him.

“What’s he doing here?” Jill asked.

I turned around to defend myself and Charlie, but it was no use. They were convinced he was a monster and Charlie saw right through it. He backed away.

“You’ve done enough, Beth. I do appreciate you trying to help me, but some guys just don’t have any luck with girls. I guess I’m one of them.”

I felt sorry for him. A nice guy like my brother. I quit my efforts though, upon his request. I set to my studies and even found a guy who was interested in me. I sort of forgot about Charlie for several weeks until a classmate named Stacy caught me after class.

“Isn’t that your brother on the boxing team?”

I smiled because she asked in such a pleasant way.

“Do you think you could introduce me? I’m really shy and wouldn’t dream of talking to him on my own, but I have a class with him on Wednesdays and well, could you?”

I stared at her. Out of the blue Stacy Amelia Williams had fallen for my ugly brother.

“You don’t think he’s a monster?”

“Of course not! He’s very nice and polite. I know what the other girls say, but I don’t think he looks so bad. After all, I have a brother who boxes and I think Charlie looks quite distinguished.”

There you have it, I thought, a girl for Charlie. I’m sure the mockers of matchmaking are smirking at me saying love will find anybody you just have to be patient. I floated on a cloud for the rest of the day. I would tell Charlie just as soon as he returned from his out of town boxing match. But that night as I thought of the two of them in love and happy, I was interrupted.

Courtney Boose

Courtney Boose

“Are you Elizabeth Henry?”

The police officer asked as he stood on my dormitory.

“Yes, sir.”

The man looked grave and I could not imagine my worst nightmare stood on the tip of his tongue.

“Your brother, Charles Henry, received a fatal blow in the ring tonight. I’m here to inform you he is dead.”

I don’t remember if I fainted or if I cried. All I could picture was Charlie fallen dead in the ring. I threw up after I told Stacy who burst into tears. My brother Charlie died ugly but not unloved.


Thanks for reading! Artwork credit to Courtney Boose. She makes this story way better, don’t you think?! I love reader interaction, so I’m taking suggestions for upcoming short stories. What would you like to read about? Mystery, romance, something about animals or travel… maybe you had a particular experience that you’d love to see in print. Comment below or email me personally at  


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