“Oh yeah? Well I don’t care. You guys are a bunch of jerks anyway, so there.”
“Hi Ben. What’s up?”
Turning red, Ben looked away and then said, “were you listening?”
“Um, yeah Ben, I heard you talking to yourself. Did something happen at school?”
Ben fidgeted and feigned interest in his galactic fighter pilots, then gave it up. “Well, it’s just that Jeremy and Allan and those guys…they don’t like me. They’ve got it in for me, you know?”
Jennifer frowned. “Ben, last week it was Kyle and a couple of weeks before that it was Stacey and Lou. What makes you think all these kids don’t like you?”
“They just don’t, that’s all. They’re all jerks. I don’t talk to them anymore.”
The phone rang and Jennifer got up and squeezed his shoulder. “We’ll talk about this some more later, sport.”
“Hi babe, how you doing?”
Jennifer smiled. “Hi Colin. Alright, I guess.”
“Alright? Doesn’t sound like it. Is Ben giving you grief?”
Ben had been resistant when Jennifer first started dating again, a year and half after Ben’s father died in a car accident, but he had come around in recent months, and Colin had been able to establish a rapport.
“Oh, he’s still having trouble socializing at school, and in the neighborhood, I suspect. He thinks no one likes him. I don’t know what to do. I talked to the school psychologist last week, but Ben puts on like nothing’s happening when he’s talked to. I don’t know…” Trailing off, she let out a sigh.
“Hey, you know what? I’ve got an idea. Leave it to me. When I come over for dinner Friday just play along with me, alright?”
“Sure. What do you have in mind?”
“You’ll see. Trust me. Gotta go, I’ve got a call on the other line.”
Rummaging around on the top shelf of his bedroom closet, Colin found the box of mementos he kept there. Sifting through the debris he found the small, worn gold medal he was looking for. Smiling to himself, he put it in his pocket. I sure hope this works, he thought to himself.
Jennifer took the roast out of the oven as the doorbell rang. “Ben, would you let Colin in please?”
Colin jumped up from the sofa and let him in. “Hi Colin, how ya doin’?”
“Hey dude! Good to see you. How are tricks these days?”
Ben shrugged. “Alright, I guess.”
“Just alright? Well that’s no good. Maybe we can go fishing tomorrow or something, what do you think?”
Ben shrugged. “I guess.” He got out plates and started setting the tabled.
Jennifer gave Colin a look and they sat down to eat. After dinner Jennifer started clearing the table, but Colin intervened. “Hey, how about if Ben and I take care of this and you go watch some television? Come on Ben, i’ll wash, you dry.”
Ben made a face but trudged to the kitchen. Colin followed and put his plan into action. “Hey Ben, I found an old baseball card I wanted to show you.” Reaching in to his pocket for the card he let the gold medal fall to the floor as he pulled it out.
“What’s that?” Ben reached down and picked up the medal.
“Oh, that’s something I carry with me sometimes when i’m not feeling too good about things.”
Ben gave him a curious look and turned the medal over in his hands. “What do you mean?”
“Well, this a very special medallion, you see. It’s got magic.” He handed Ben a plate to dry and went on without looking at him. “I’ve never really told anyone. But anyway, you and I are buddies, eh?”
Ben nodded and continued to examine the medal. “What do you mean magic?”
“Well, it was given to me by a very wise man when I was about your age. You see, I couldn’t really relate to the other kids I knew. I felt sort of like, oh, I don’t know, like they just weren’t very friendly. But when I started wearing this medal, I found that I could talk to them, and when I did, they were alright after all.”
Ben put the medal down and dried some more, but he didn’t take his eyes off of it.
“You know what? I don’t really need it anymore. Do you think you’d like to wear it? I mean, i’d be honored if you did.”
Ben looked up and smiled. “Gee, thanks Colin. Yeah, I guess I could do that.” He put the medallion on.
“Hey, it looks great on you. Wear it in good health.”
They finished up and Ben ran to his room with a big grin. Jennifer smiled as Colin sat down next to her. “I heard all that. You’re amazing, you know that? But you lied to him. I sure hope it works.”
Colin put his arm around her and leaned in to whisper in her ear. “Sometimes a lie is the best thing.”