Benjamin and I had been good friends since kindergarden, I could easily say that he is the best friend I have ever had. Even when his shrinking problem happened we managed to stay good friends, even though things definitely changed for everyone around him back then.
We must have been around 15 when it started happening. I remember we were hanging out one afternoon at the street like we usually did for our summer vacations when Ben came down the road. He sat besides me on the concrete bench my parents had in the front lawn and we chatted about nothing in particular. It was when it got late and we had to go that we stood up and he looked at me funny.
“Hey Laura, are you wearing boots or high heels or something?” He glanced at my feet questioningly.
“Erm… no” I answered but immediately noticed he did seem kind of shorter. He was still an inch or two taller than me, but there was a barely noticeable difference. I made nothing of it and dismissed it as I left for dinner.
In the coming days the shrinking started to become more apparent. Every day he would shrink an inch or two. Soon everyone in the block was aware of it and lots of the kids started teasing poor Ben, calling him midget, shorty and the likes. I remember one day the shrinking got so bad I had to actually defend him from a group of seven year olds who were shoving and pushing him around like they would with a smaller child.
I chased the kids off and helped Ben to his feet. I felt bad for him, it must have been so humiliating to be harassed by kids half your own age. After that incident he didn’t really come out anymore and started a home schooling program. For over six months I heard nothing of him. I really missed my best buddy, but every time I went by his house his mom would politely dismiss me saying he was ok, not really in the mood for visitors.
One afternoon though I was surprised when I answered the phone and Ben’s mom greeted me on the other end.
“Laura darling how are you?” she said, her voice sounded somewhat strained.
“I am fine Mrs. Rose, what a nice surprise to hear you!” my initial surprise turned to worry in an instant when I thought of how long it had been since I had any contact with anyone from Ben’s family “Is everything aright? Is Ben ok?”
“hmm Yes darling, everything is alright” she answered, again a hint of stress in her voice “Well the reason I am calling you is because I need your help. You know well about Ben’s …er condition. Well the doctors have determined it is not likely reversible, and part of his emotional recovery is to start socializing again. Mr. Rose and myself have been invited to a wedding for the weekend, and we thought this was a good time for him to be without us for some time. It has been a while since we have left him on his own.”
“Oh I would be glad to help out, but I am not sure Ben wants to see me, you know he never wants me to visit anymore, he hasn’t called or answered my calls in months” I said, a touch of sadness.
“Oh but Ben specifically asked for you” she replied “that is why we would like you to stay with him for the weekend and help him out, its not hard work, but we still don’t feel comfortable leaving him on his own”.
“He asked for me? How come he didn’t call me himself?” I asked
“Well darling, when was the last time you saw him?” said Mrs. Rose
“Over six months ago, that one time he had trouble with some little kids…” I remembered hoping not to sound condescending.
“Yes…. Well you had better come over and we can all sit down and talk you will understand I am sure …” she said
“Hm ok sure! Be right there Mrs. Rose” I said. Had been hurt by Ben not calling or wanting to see me, but the thought of seeing him again got me all excited so I put on my shoes and made my way to Ben’s house.
Miss Rose was a pretty lady, probably in her late 40’s with long blond hair and a very nice figure. I had always wished I could be like her, but I would probably need implants if I were ever to match her overly-abundant breasts.
“Come right in!” she welcomed me and gestured me into the kitchen “have a seat!”
I came in and sat on the pantry table as I had done so many times since my childhood. Mrs. Rose had a plate of cookies and milk for us just like in the old days. I sighed, moms will always be moms! I personally did not eat cookies and milk anymore, but the whole setting set me in the mood for a little reminiscing.
“So where is Ben? “ I asked as I helped myself to a chocolate chip cookie. I was kind of anxious, and wondered what Ben would look like after so long.
Mrs. Rose went out into the living room and came back cupping her hands. To my amazement she opened her hands onto the table, and there, right besides the cookies and just under the size of my glass of milk was the tiniest human being I had ever seen.
My eyes widened as I leaned down to eye level with the tiny being. It was certainly Ben, all well proportioned as he used to be, wearing a custom- made t-shirt and cotton pants, standing only inches away from my face.
“Hey, watch out you have about a ton of chewed up cookies about to come out of your mouth Laura!” Said Ben in a tiny squeaky voice.
It was Ben alright! I missed his sense of humor. I closed my mouth and swallowed as I watched him.
“You are sooooo tiny!!” I could not help saying the obvious “I expected you to be small… but this is just too much!”
I reached out with my finger and poked him, sending him tumbling on his butt. In an instant I felt Mrs. Rose protectively take a step forward, but Ben stood up and waved her away.
“Its ok Mom she is just not used to me at this size!” he yelled “and please Laura watch it, your finger seems like a big pine log to me at this size!”
“Oh I am sorry are you ok? I didn’t mean to hurt you!” I said realizing what he was right.
“he he, its alright! Its good to see you again!” he said looking up at me I leaned on my forearms on the table.
“Sure is!” I said feeling genuinely glad to see he was alright, well under the conditions of course. “so why didn’t you call? You know me, I don’t care if you look like a GI Joe you are still my best friend!”
Ben laughed “actually I am about the size of one of those! Well I just felt weird, it has been kind of hard adapting to this, and we did not know when it was going to stop… besides, how the hell did you want me to use a phone properly at this size?”
Ben came over and sat on my cookie plate and we spent the afternoon talking and catching up on each other’s lives just as if we had last met just days before. Mrs. Rose seemed to relax after a while. She must have been afraid I would reject or accidentally hurt her (literally) little boy , but afterwards she left us there until it was late.
It was agreed then, I would stay with Ben for the four day weekend helping him out and keeping him company. During the coming days I came and hung out with him, it was like it had always been with him except I had to be careful not to crush him by accident. It would be a fun time and I was glad to have my friend back.