A Cautionary Tale

It all started when he heard the snoring. Benny, a small five year old boy, couldn’t even hear himself think over the loud, obnoxious, snoring. It sounded like somebody had smuggled a small elephant into Mrs. Gabby’s room. Attempt after attempt to fall asleep went in vain, and Benny found himself unable to do anything but stare at the drawings on the walls until eventually, he knew what he had to do. As if driven by a motor, Benny picked up his blue spider-man lunch box, took a few steps over, and absolutely unloaded the lunchbox on the unsuspecting snoring culprit. Before Benny could even think about what he had just done, a once snoring boy was now fully awake, and in tears. Mrs. Gabby walked over to the two boys, now visibly engaged in a struggle over who was in the right, (clearly not Benny) separated them, and told them to go to Principal Simpson’s office. While waiting on Ms. Simpson to show up, the victim of the brutal lunchbox assault finally said his first words. 

“Hi, I’m Davey, what’s your name?”

Almost taken aback by how calm the previously hysterical kid had just become, Benny couldn’t help but blurt out an involuntary, “Benny.”

“Would you like to be my best friend, Benny?” 

In the most incredibly confusing moment of young Benny’s life, it appeared he had made a new friend. He could not understand why Davey would want anything to do with him. After all, they had been in kindergarten for a whole week and he had not said anything to him! However, in need of new friends, Benny found himself officially having made a best friend right there, in that principal’s office.

As rocky as the friendship began, the future was anything but that. The ensuing days made Davey and Benny nearly inseparable. They would spend day after day together, hanging out around the big red firetruck on the playground, and talking out of turn in class. They were constantly smiling and giggling at what the other had said, and slowly, but surely, the once dreaded act of rolling out of bed in the morning became a moment of excitement for Benny, because he was going to see his best friend.

One day, while hanging out at their usual spot by the big red firetruck, Davey said something that caught Benny completely off guard.
“I just wanted to let you know that if you want to, you could maybe come over for a play date this Saturday at my house.”

Benny could hardly contain himself. This was going to be his first play date, with his first real friend! Without even thinking he blurted out an assertive, “Sounds great!” Thus beginning a ritual that, little did the boys know, would last for years. 

That Saturday, Benny showed up to Davey’s house full of excitement and nerves. He rang the doorbell on the large front doors, and was greeted by a lady that had to be at least eight feet tall. Speaking in a light Persian accent, she said, “Hi, you must be Benny. My name is Mrs. Jackson. Come on in!” While the tall lady and his mom talked by the door, Benny stepped into the coolest house he had ever seen. It had everything: televisions, a deck, a long, winding staircase leading to bedrooms, a Wii in the basement, a large backyard, and even a fire pit where the whole family could have bonfires! Davey showed him everything, and as cool as the house was, Benny really just wanted to spend time with his new best friend. They went outside and began to play in the backyard with all of Davey’s new Nerf guns. In what seemed like two minutes, the sky began to grow dark, and the sun began to set, much to Benny’s despair. However, just as they began to pick up the remains of their Nerf battle, Benny heard a voice.

“Boys, dinner is ready!” Mrs. Jackson shouted.

“Coming, Mom!” Davey yelled back.

Without a moment of hesitation, the boys abandoned their cleanup process and began to sprint towards the sliding glass door separating the kitchen from the deck. 

Walking into the dining room, Benny smelled what had to be the most amazing smell of all time. He had never smelled anything like it. Sitting down he watched Mrs. Jackson carry over what appeared to be a plate of rice, with the entire top of the rice fused together with a golden brown finish. Cracking the hard shell of a finish with her spoon, she used an even larger spoon to scoop the rice from the serving plate, onto Benny’s plate. This was followed by chicken, and eventually tomato; it was wonderful Persian food. It was at this moment that Benny noticed two new people at the table: an older girl, and a middle aged man. 

“Hi there Benny, I’ve heard a lot about you. My name is Will, Davey’s dad,” the man uttered.

“I’m Jenny, Davey’s sister. Nice to meet you,” the young girl said.

The rather quick introductions caught Benny off guard, but he was beginning to understand that this was just how the family operated. Giving nothing more than a smile and obligatory, “Nice to meet you,” Benny greeted the two new people at the table. What happened next was truly amazing to Benny. The entire family, with little to no hesitation, began to exchange stories, laughter, and genuine affection with each other. Benny had never seen anything like it. They even included him in the conversation. Within no time, Benny found himself feeling like a part of the family, and what amounted to an hour and a half of dinner felt like ten minutes, just like the rest of the night. Benny’s magnificent time was quickly cut short when he heard the doorbell ring, and his heart dropped to his feet. Saying goodbye to what felt like his new family,  Benny reluctantly met his mom at the door, and got in the car, smiling the whole car ride home. 

The next Saturday brought much of the same: a great time with his friend, sharing food with what was quickly becoming his second family, and heading home. Soon enough, Davey was coming to Benny’s house every Friday, and Benny to Davey’s house every Saturday. For the next eight years, Benny looked forward to these weekends with his best friend, and they never disappointed. The order in which they took place occasionally changed, sometimes even the events changed, but for the most part, Benny and Davey were inseparable.  

Their friendship was still going strong come eighth grade year. The routine staying nearly perfectly intact, and the two were as close as ever. However, little by little, Benny began to notice that something was up. Davey was not his usual cheerful self nearly as much anymore, and Mr. Jackson was hardly ever around. The weekly meetings began to happen almost exclusively at Benny’s house, and he couldn’t understand why. Benny’s house was noticeably smaller than Davey’s house, something that Benny had always been slightly jealous of. He didn’t have the new toys, and he did not have the big backyard. 

One day, Davey did not show up to school. Benny came by Davey’s house with his mom later on in the day, only to be met at the door by Davey. Seeing boxes on the floor, and obvious discomfort in his eyes, Benny asked what had happened.

“I won’t be at school anymore, and I won’t be living here anymore,” Davey said solemnly.

The words took Benny by shock. What was going on? It just did not make sense. Everything in Davey’s life, his family, his toys, his home, had always been so perfect. Unfortunately, as Benny would soon learn, not everything is as it seems. It soon came out that Mr. Jackson was long gone, the home that had once housed the laughter and happiness of five people every week, was now up for sale, and Davey’s new house was a one floor townhouse, near his new school. As hard as Benny tried, he could not get his friend to let him in, and as time went on, they grew more and more distant. As hard as Benny tried, Davey became focused on making the most of his situation in his new school, and they simply could not spend the same amount of time together. They both made new friends, at different high schools, but still somewhat kept in touch. Every now and then they would text each other out of the blue, when something reminded them of each other, and how happy they once were as best friends. Their relationship was never quite the same. 

A few years went by. Eighth grade turned to ninth, ninth to tenth, tenth to eleventh, eleventh to senior year of high school. The once inseparable pair were now mere internet acquaintances. Vaguely keeping track of each other’s lives through what they could piece together on social media. Crazy things were going on in Benny’s life: he had become the baseball player that he and Davey had always talked about becoming in Davey’s backyard. He had a beautiful girlfriend who he knew Davey would approve of, but they had never even met. What once was a friendship as close as humanly imaginable, was now nothing but a memory.

One day, when driving down a familiar road, Benny stopped his car dead in its tracks. There it was: the house that he had spent much of his childhood in. In the driveway that was once home to intense pick up basketball games between Benny and Davey’s family, was a new family. They were young and smiling, and the kids couldn’t have been older than ten years old. None of them knew about the history behind that house, about just how much that house meant to so many different people, they were just beginning their new lives. The sound of Benny and Davey’s laughter echoing throughout all floors of the house had been replaced by a new set of voices. The broken and fractured family that had left the house had given way to a new family, who seemed so happy. Without even realizing it, Benny felt a tear trickle down his left cheek, and after wiping it away with a swift flick of his wrist, he picked up his phone. Still stopped in the middle of the road, Benny clicked on Davey’s number, and listened as the phone began to ring.