Chapter 1

July 10, 2009

by Dahni

© Copyright 6/17/09

all rights reserved


Benjamin Thomas Silent, was a small-town, home-grown guy from the Midwest. He grew up in a good home environment with love, affection and nurturing, for whatever talents and abilities he might have or develop. But it was his name that brought him so many troubles and would be a catalyst for the future.

His mother was a high school English teacher and his father was a truck driver. Education was important to his mother and to his father that only went as far as the 11th grade. His dad had to leave school to care for his own health-failing parents.

Ben grew up without grandparents, so he neither knew them or what it was like to have grandparents.

His world was, his immediate family and he was living in a pro-education home. Although neither his mother or his father openly expressed that he was somehow a disappointment to them, he always felt like they thought this about him His mother of course a teacher, put pressure on him, even if it was unintentional and his dad, always regretted not being able to finish school. So to Ben, average or  just ‘squeaking by,’ he never seemed to gain any special attention or favor.

His spelling was terrible and his handwriting was horrible. His mother often told him he should grow up to become a doctor since, at the time, doctors were writing their own prescriptions in Latin and almost no one could read their handwriting either.

Both his mother and father were busy people and perhaps, they just wanted to conserve time and just simply called him, Ben. He wished they had given him some other name and maybe even a different last name. Even as a kid, people made fun of him. “Ben silent long,” was usually the sarcastic question asked.  Ben considered either not answering or just making up something, whenever he was asked what his name was. Making up stuff after all, was what he was good at, really good!  Perhaps, writing stories was, just his way of escaping (even if just for a little while), the teasing by others over his stupid name. Then too, Ben was naturally curios and had a vivid imagination, but ‘going some place else,’ instead of being where he was, seemed to help the frustration over his name, “those names.”

What’s in a name? Yes he was named after a great statesman and a president, both spoken of as, “founding fathers.”

Ben could relate to them only in the sense that each were writers and he too, had been writing stories for as long as he could remember. But sharing the names of dead people; names not very common now and whatever they did of importance in their lives, put a lot of pressure on him. Who were they and what did they do anyway? Ben had no clue and could care even less.

A young boy and often a young man, usually prefers not to be called by his birth name. His abbreviated name, ‘Ben,’ seemed to be an older and more grown up name, than Benjamin. Being named after some famous and long dead people did not help matters, in finding his place in the world. But he was grateful that no one called him ‘Bennie’ or ‘Little Ben.’ And as he grew older, he was thankful that no one ever connected that famous clock in London, England and never called him, ‘Big Ben.’

His parents were not neglectful of him, they were just busy people. His mother’s work as a teacher was not finished, just because school was out for the day, the week, over some break or holiday and not, even the summer. She was constantly involved in something or another that related to the school where she taught.

Ben’s father was gone a lot as an ‘over-the-road’ truck driver.

Life was pretty good in Ben’s world, but he had to be independent. There were not too many kids in his neighborhood to play with. They were all either too old, too young or too something. Too old or too young was almost like a mantra is his family. He had a older brother and Ben was too young to hang out with him very much. Ben was able to escape the embarrassment of having his brother’s ‘hand-me-down’ clothes, as they each were just different in size and build. His brother got the new stuff and Ben, just had to wait most of the time, until his parents’ ‘ships came in’ or there was some miraculous little extra money.  His brother was always bigger, athletic and popular, none of which were part of Ben’s gifts, talents or interests.

His younger sibling was a girl.  She was usually too young, for him to play with too.  No hand-me-downs for her and no waiting either, she was the only girl.  Being so, what she needed she received.

It was tough being the middle child, but Ben often made up for it with, his imagination.

The Silent’s were not rich, but they were not dirt-poor either. Still, Ben had to ‘make do’ with what he had. A stick, some dirt and his imagination was, pretty much all he had and all he ever needed to amuse himself, for hours.

When the weather was lousy, if he was sick or in trouble – grounded and confined to his room, Ben wrote stories or made them up in his mind. These were his places to go to, especially when and whenever he was teased by, ‘that name.’

Then, it was off to school. Ben would walk for most of his formal education and this allowed him to explore more of the world outside of, his little world.

He was not the brightest crayon in the box, but he wasn’t the dullest either. Whenever a teacher seemed excited about their subject or saw something in Ben, Ben got excited and did extremely well. But for the most part, Ben was a dreamer. He wanted something more, but he just did not always know, what that ‘more was.’

He pretty much kept to himself, not because he didn’t like people, but just to try and avoid confrontation and being teased over his name. Much of what he felt school was trying to teach him was, boring. It was either the teacher or the subject, but Ben spent much of his time in school, staring out of the window dreaming, doodling, writing stories or making them up.

American History really made his skin crawl. He had no interest in such a subject and knew even less about it.

When he finally graduated somehow, from elementary school and entered jr. high school, his opinion of American History was radically about to change!


Click here to:  Chapter 2

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