Junior year of high school. History and Use of Magic 2. I had seen Benjamin (usually just called Benji) around school off and on through my high school career, but he hadn't been in a single one of my classes until now. He had top grades in all of the magic subjects so everyone questioned him about homework and explanations of magicians and wizards, dates, and events. He was always happy to help someone out even though there was no evidence that he knew or used any real magic.
However, today, he came late to class with a dead look in his eyes, like he hadn't slept in days and spent most of that time crying. If anyone else noticed it, they didn't say anything, because they continued to ask him questions as usual and bother him about his homework. He responded with a faint smile and quiet answers.
High school students can be utterly savage. I shrugged, none of my business really, too much energy to ask about anyway.
After class, I waited until everyone had moved out of the room to go to my next class; fighting the flow of traffic was too tiring. I noticed that Benji was still sitting at his desk, next to mine.
"Hey, uh," I began, "You know class is over, right?"
"Over…" he glanced up at me as I slung my satchel over my shoulder. "…right." He then packed his things and stood.
The ten-minute passing periods were awful in all respects in a school of 1200. People dodged through the halls, bumping and tripping over each other, some in a hurry to get across the school to their next class, others to find their lover, or any person willing to waste a moment, and make out until right before class started. Benji followed me to my next class, which we also shared, Magical Chemistry.
I kept an eye on him during the period and wondered if he was even paying attention. I made sure my pencil took extra notes for him by casting a little "extra detail" spell on it. It wasn't any more work for me, so I figured I might as well.
After the lesson, I packed my things and reminded him to go to his next class which was different from mine. He slowly packed and stood obediently while I stood over him and watched him. I frowned. I usually didn't like interfering with people's personal problems, but I hated to see him mope more, so before he walked out of class I pulled him aside in the hall.
"Hey, are you okay? You seem kind of gloomy." I knew he would respond with "I'm fine" so I followed with, "It's okay to tell me you're not fine."
I saw a slight glimmer of life come back into his eyes. I knew he needed to talk this out. I pulled my wand out from under my shirt (we weren't supposed to have it on school premises) and quickly made magical copies of us. After telling me which class he was supposed to go to, I also made self-writing pencils for the copies and sent them ahead to class for us.
"I didn't know you knew such advanced skills," he commented as we sat down in the cafeteria.
"You learn a lot when you're lazy," I replied apathetically, "What's the matter? I've hardly ever talked to you, but it seems like everyone here is pretty oblivious to life. So, I figured I should ask (it's also a good excuse to skip class.)."
"You're going to laugh if I tell you," he sighed.
"You really can't say anything that would embarrass me, a bystander, too much."
He hesitated then began, "I had to dump a girl yesterday because she cheated on me."
I nodded knowingly like some sort of therapist. "I see. You really liked her?"
"I thought I did, but as I thought about it last night, I noticed all of the little things that were wrong in our relationship which made me feel worse." He placed his face to the table and sniffled. "How could I have been so stupid…" he moaned.
"Do you want to tell me how you found out she was cheating on you?" I asked purely out of curiosity and less for his concern.
He started in. "We had been dating since the beginning of Junior year and she told me that she loved little magic tricks. So, I decided to start studying them more intently by taking classes. I texted her two nights ago and said that I had a surprise for her. She didn't reply until yesterday when she said 'cool wanna show me?' So, I took that as my cue and did some transportation magic to appear where she was, out of a murder of crows, with her favorite coffee in hand. When I appeared, she was sitting and sharing a smoothie and breakfast with some random punk guy! They were drinking out of the same smoothie with the same straw!" He spread his arm out wide, "That's gross! Think of the bacteria? And he had his arm around her shoulder like they had been dating for a while! Worse yet, she didn't even seem surprised to see me! She only said 'Oh' like it was some trite inconvenience then introduced me to the other guy whom she introduced as her real boyfriend. I didn't know what to say. I was shocked."
"Did you get the crows out of the shop?" I asked in a worried tone—those poor restaurant people…
"I said, 'well I guess we're not dating anymore…' and you know what she said?"
"Seriously, the birds…"
"'We never were!' I can't believe it. I just can't! Then I went home and thought about all of the little things I noticed that should have told me…"
I slapped my hand on the table. "Benji…did you take the birds out of the restaurant?"
He had his head in his hands. He paused and seemed to think for a moment, "I don't remember."
I shook my head. "See this is why people consider magic to be an outdated problem-causer. What are you going to do now?"
"I…I guess I'll just move on."
"Okay, that's good."
"I'll find a different girlfriend."
"Okay…is that a good idea? Cause it doesn't sound like one."
"Why not? I've always had a girlfriend since 8th grade, I don't know what I'd do without one…"
I grimaced. I'd never even dated once how could this plain-looking nerd date so often? And how many girlfriends has he gone through? I stole a glance at my watch and noticed that it was 10 minutes until the end of class so I stood to go.
Benji was mumbling to himself about stuff which I couldn't understand. I lifted my leg over the bench and stood quickly. He looked up and said, "Hey thanks for…wait I don't know your name…"
"Molly," I replied sullenly, slightly worried about his becoming an abandoned puppy following me because of this.
"Thanks for listening to me, Molly. See you in class…"
I nodded then transported to the upstairs for my next class.
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