I tentatively reached over and pulled Ben’s right hand toward my face. With my index finger, I flipped over his medical bracelet and leaned in to read the inscription.
“It’s titanium. I got it for Christmas because my old one broke.” A look of defeat fell over his face. “How long have you known?”
“My parents told me this weekend, but they said you have Asperger’s. This says ‘Autism.’”
We resumed walking to disperse our nervous energy, Ben re-pocketing his hands.
“Not everyone knows what Asperger’s Syndrome is. It’s easier just to put ‘Autism’ on something like that. Besides, in a real emergency, I’m liable to completely freak out like anyone else on the spectrum.”
“You’re not going to have a meltdown or something right now, are you? I mean because you’re off schedule and all. My little cousin Zak has autism. I remember him screaming one time because I ate the last Popsicle. I think he hates me for that.”
“Doubtful. It’s all the same spectrum, but hate isn’t something we usually deal with. Pain, fear, discomfort…. I didn’t start talking until I was five, but I could read before I turned three. Once I started talking, my mom couldn’t shut me up. I had so much information racing around my head. I’d recite the dates of the battles from the Revolutionary War until I fell asleep at night. Actually, I still do.”
I laughed at his admission. “So, you’ve been Mr. History since you were a preschooler?”
“Yeah, that’s me. A billion and one things about America and you’ll hear them all if you get me going.”
“Then remind me not to. And try not to freak out.”
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