Chapter 6.7 – List

Ben finds himself standing alone at the beach, strumming at the strings of Papa Mark’s old guitar.
The ability comes to him with amazing ease and quickness. Perhaps the countless hours spent banging on that old xylophone as a toddler weren’t such a waste of time after all. He allows his anxieties about the disappearing world to also disappear as he plucks out melodies fresh from his imagination. It almost feels as though he can repel the forces consuming his world with nothing more than a guitar.
A new door has been opened for him, providing a way for him to lose himself and forget about the terrifying concept that everything is slowly being destroyed. Ben packs the guitar and drives back home, arriving just before curfew. He lays in bed while visualizing the compositions that have been locked away in his sim brain since infancy. For the first time ever, he falls asleep and dreams of something other than the end of the world.
As the days progress, his visits to Dr. Kennedy continue to help him figure out why he has these feelings. Before his birthday, he had mentioned his conversations with Maria, and her mother’s reaction over the phone when she disclosed her visits to Ben’s house. But Dr. Kennedy dismissed the incident and told him to focus, instead, on his list of things he thinks need fixing. She gently suggests that it will help him to understand his feelings. And it has, to an extent.
The list has definitely evolved over the years. At first it was simple thinks a kid thinks of, like a broken faucet or a squeaky door hinge. But since becoming a teen, that list has become more subtle and meaningful. It often incorporates his new appreciation for music. But sometimes, he puts himself on the list. Dr. Kennedy seems to think it only confuses the problem, and she encourages him to make the list properly. But there are times when he can’t help but wonder if there really is something wrong with him. He has no friends, nowhere to go, and nobody else to talk to about this stuff.
One unfortunate side-effect from his visits to Dr. Kennedy, is that he is always thinking about “the problem”. And it sometimes gets in the way of living a somewhat normal life. If there is one thing that has kept him from “cracking up”, it is his relationship with Sarah. She has always stood by him, quietly accepting the fact that her brother is “different”. But when Sarah’s birthday arrives, her attitude about this changes as well. Ben recognises the fact that his sister has grown up to become the most gorgeous and sought-after girl on campus. She is no longer “Crazy Ben”‘s sister. Unfortunately, he has become Sarah’s crazy brother.
As these anxieties continue to build, Ben becomes all the more reclusive; until one day, when the situation finally boils over. It may have been caused by the very difficult day of criticism and mockery he had endured that day at school. Perhaps it was finding Sarah making out with a boy who ruthlessly belittles Ben. Regardless, the final straw that day is Sarah angrily calling him a big freak when he interrupts, demanding he leave her alone before he ruins everything. Seeing Sarah mocking him with her new boyfriend at her side is too much. And he finally snaps.
His relationship with Sarah now a the top of the list of broken things, he decides to just keep breaking more things to put on the list. He doesn’t remember much about what happened before the police and ambulance came. All he knows is that he did a lot of breaking. He tossed things through windows, shattered mirrors, destroyed expensive vases, and smashed stuff with other stuff. Thankfully, everybody stayed out of his way, because he’s not sure what he would have done.
As the sedative given to him by the EMT’s begins to take effect; and while they stuff him into a “funny jacket”, Ben smiles and feels proud of himself.
Dr. Kennedy will be happy he made such a good list.
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7 thoughts on “Chapter 6.7 – List

  1. I love, love that last picture with the red light on his face and that smile he has. To me he’s always seemed sane and everything around him has seemed off (this might be colored by my knowledge of the back story), but in this update he doesn’t seem that sane. He’s right to add himself to the list.

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    • Heh, it does lend a creepy quality to him doesn’t it?
      Like so many of the characters in this story, Ben is patterned after a good friend from my teen-hood (is that a word?) who suffers from a mild form of autism. He seemed to fit in perfectly well into our little nerdy group of gamers until he landed himself in the psych ward after having a meltdown. All is well with him and he has his own family now. But it just goes to show how you never can tell what’s going on with a person “on the inside”.
      I really like the next couple of posts in the “Ben” story — but back to Doc and Gerard for a bit, first.

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  2. Ben, Ben, Ben. T.T
    Im wondering why Dr.Kennedy keeps pushing him to make those lists of problem instead of trying to get him to fix the problems on the list..well the ones he can fix.
    I can totally understand why Ben lost control, had a meltdown. He kept all the taunting and belittling inside for so long and to see someone that he thought cared about him, his own sister make fun of him just topped the cake. Even though it seemed so scary to have him go off like that and his reasoning of breaking more things, he needed to vent….wish it were more in a positive way like guitar strumming or fishing.

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    • Sadly, Ben is sort of modeled after a friend from my own teens who had a similar episode. I’m happy to report he (my friend) is well and has a great wife and kids. We still keep in touch too!

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