I had a childhood friend. His name was 'Ben. Pittwater'. He was my friend, my neighbour, my child hood friend, my lover and soul mate. And I like to think that Ben loved me as much as I loved him. Thinking back, the first time I saw Ben was when I was 9 years old. Even though he had a luxurious living style, he was the only child and his parents were usually at work and returned at around 1PM. I sometimes saw him and after that, I let out the courage to say “Hi” to the member of the famous, rich Pittwater family. I still remember the moment he looked up after scratching the dirt then smiling at me with a toothless smile. From then, we instantly became best friends.
Ben had a normal, to be exact, a rich life. He lived in an enormous three storey house uptown, received high education but most importantly, he had a loving family. His family, the Pittwaters were known for going out every Saturday to go to the beach. He had a good life until his parents were faced with bankruptcy. His father’s business’s profit plunged down because a new company was introduced and instantly grabbed the attention of the public. So they had to move downtown were the ‘normal’ families lived in.
I was delighted. Our backyard was connected because there was no fence in between so we could see each other whenever we wanted to. However, happy times didn’t last very long. Ben’s mother ran away because of the ‘low’ living conditions and Ben’s father stopped working and started drinking alcohol.
One day, around November, I heard the front door of Ben’s house opening and closing. I knew that it was Ben’s father so I continued with what I was doing until I froze at the sound of glass shattering from Ben’s kitchen. There were more noises. There were a few bumps and whimpers and I was scared because I was 9 years old back then. My parents were away at work and I continued to listen while frozen.
Then, I heard the door of Ben’s back yard opening so I ran to the back yard knowing that it would be Ben. I found Ben crying behind the bushes while he was covered in cuts and bruises. I didn’t know what it was back then but now, I know that it was child abuse. Ben cried and cried for a long time and I tried to comfort him.
After that incident, Ben and I became closer and a few days later, Ben told me his father begged him to forgive him and that he over drank. However, I could tell that he was getting a beating every single day because the number of bruises and cuts he had kept on increasing. It kept on continuing until I was 11 years old and that was when it happened.
Ben’s father pushed him down the stairs and he fell down the stairs leaving a fractured skull and a nearly broken leg. That was when my parents called the police again (My parents contacted the police a few times before). The police came and arrested Ben’s father. That was the last time I saw Ben’s father.
Ben was the only child in his family and his mother refused to take responsibility for her own child so Ben was left as an orphan. A rich, generous family, the Courtlingtons, hearing this story adopted Ben and they kindly moved nearby to my house where we could see each other every day. We grew up together until high school and we were always together until the point everyone would always say ‘Ben and Jessica’.
Being in a co-ed high school, I naturally developed a crush for a boy in my class. He was tall, popular and handsome and before I realised I was in love with that boy. Whenever the boy smiled or said hi to me, my heart would flutter and I would stutter while blushing. Ben would nearly always come over and take me away while laughing trying to break the tension. My friends often asked me how I could like him when I had the handsome, tall Ben always with me but I always saw him as a friend and I always answered that we were just friends while smiling.
Then one day, a miracle happened. I confessed to the boy I liked and he said yes. I was so happy and I would run to school so that I can see my boyfriend. My boyfriend would hug me, pat me on the head and treat me like as if I was the rarest diamond in the whole entire universe. Ben disapproved with me dating with him and it got into such a bad fight, we decided to ignore each other.
After many days passed, my relationship with my boyfriend continued and same went as my cold relationship with Ben. That was when it happened. My of my best friends showed me a picture of my boyfriend kissing another girl. I wanted to check if it was true so I asked him who the girl in the picture was. My boyfriend suddenly got quiet and said “I’m sorry… Can we break up? I mean like we can still be…” I didn’t listen to the rest. It felt like a wave of emotion just slapped me on my face. Stunned, I slowly walked out of the cafeteria as the crowd in the cafeteria stared at me.
I cried and cried. I didn’t get out of my room and kept on crying without eating, drinking and going to school. I felt like my heart was being broken to pieces but all I could think of was when Ben was always with me. I missed Ben but I knew that he wouldn’t come back because of the many hurtful words I have thrown at him. I didn’t know why I was thinking about Ben when I should be crying over my ex, but I kept on crying silently in darkness.
There was a timid knock on the door. I didn’t respond. It was probably my parents worrying about how I wasn’t eating or going to school. Then the door opened. It was Ben. Ben’s face expression was a mixed emotion of shock and surprise. I don’t know why but as soon as I saw Ben, I started crying all over again and Ben rushed over hugging me and comforting me.
After a few minutes, I stopped crying and started to feel a bit awkward about the point that Ben hugged me and was still hugging me now.
“Why did you come?” I asked.
“Because I was worried about you, you dumbass.” Ben’s answer was short but it made me smile for the first time in days and it must be my imagination but I saw Ben blushing.
I returned to school a few days afterwards and confronted my ex-boyfriend who had cheated on me. I slapped him across the cheek and swore for a few minutes loudly about how he was a fuck boy in the middle of the cafeteria where he broke up with me. The whole school was there to watch the show and I felt lighter, happier and proud, and most of all, I was happy because I knew that Ben would always be there for me.
Would you find it weird if I said I forgot about my ex in around two months and started liking another boy? Well… I think I started liking another boy called Ben.
Ben was always nice to me. He was nice to everyone. Thinking about it now, I never asked him who he liked. And when I did, all I got was a blush and no name. I teased him about his crush but I felt jealous for the girl he liked. After all, Ben would never view me as a girl because to him, we were practically siblings. I found it really sad about my unrequited love and I often cried at night in bed when Ben sometimes commented about how cute his secret crush was. I tried to get the name of his crush but he told me I’ll figure it out sooner or later.
Then, we received the news that Ben’s real father was released from prison and that he moved to a place close to our houses. To be truthful, Ben and I were scared because of the past experiences with Ben’s father but Ben pretended to be brave and said that he will protect me which I found really cute.
Our high school’s prom was coming up. Some boys asked me out but there was only one boy I wanted to be asked out by, which was Ben. Being popular with girls, I felt scared that he might say ‘Yes’ to a girl but he rejected all the girls who asked him out.
“You should ask out your crush.” I said.
“I want to but she’s really popular with boys and I’m not good enough for her…” He replied.
I answered back saying that he was kind, tall, handsome, smart, rich and had all the characteristics that girls would ever want. However, Ben said that he will ask her out later.
It was the day before prom. I asked Ben if he asked out his crush while trying to cover up my feelings and Ben replied that he didn’t ask her out and that he was going to ask her today. It was a Friday after school and Ben and I spent time until late night buying things for the prom.
We didn’t notice that time was flying and when we realised that we missed the last train and buses, we realised that we had to walk nearby Ben’s father’s house. We walked together arms linked. Our parents were still working and being 18 years old, we thought we were too old to be picked up and kept on walking until we saw a shadow following us. At first, I thought it was a stranger who was drunk but when the stranger paced up, we saw that it was Ben’s real father. His face was so different from before. His clear white skin has gone wrinkly and dark because of drugs, his hair was almost all gone, and his teeth and gums were black.
However, the scariest thing about his appearance was those crazed eyes of his. He was swaying from side to side and he was muttering something like “must kill…” while holding something shiny in this hands. When he got close enough we started running when we realised he was holding a knife. Everything seemed like it was going slow motion as I tripped while running in high heels and as Ben’s father jumped on me trying to hold me down. I screamed. Our town’s houses are very far apart from each other so it would take a few minutes to go to your neighbour’s house meaning that there was no one to help us around.
Ben ran back towards me and landed a punch on his father. Ben’s father stumbled and fell backwards and Ben ran to check up on me. He hugged me and he gasped.
There was a knife through his chest slowing reddening the new white shirt I bought him. I cried out and tried to punch Ben’s father but he was too strong. He pushed me out of the way in a single try and I stumbled to the ground helpless. Ben’s father stabbed Ben once, twice and continuously. Ben trembled and stopped moving. I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t move. Then as soon as Ben’s father walked a distance away, I rushed to Ben’s side.
He wasn’t breathing. I searched in his bag looking for his phone and called the ambulance while crying. Then something inside me snapped.
According to my mother, I was in a half crazed state when the ambulance found me. I didn’t let go of Ben’s body and was continuously repeating Ben’s father’s name and the staff had to force me to let go of his body.
I missed out on the prom but it didn’t matter. Ben was gone. Forever. Ben’s adopted parents knocked on my door and handed me a letter and said it belonged to me. As I opened the letter, I cried and cried over the first paragraph of the letter.
Jessica, I’ve always loved you since the first moment I saw you. You were my meaning of life and I know that it was love at first sight when I saw you… I’ve been waiting to say this for a long time… Will you go to the prom with me as my girlfriend?
Then, there was a golden ring attached at the bottom of the letter. I put on the ring and cried over, over and over again in darkness. In darkness. Alone. With no Ben. With emptiness.
November 21st. I'll always remember him.
To people who has read my real story all the way through, please stop child abuse when you see it happening. It can end like this.