Shara had taken Benson to the holodeck. As of late, she had made it a point to spend more time with him and really be a friend, or even sister, to him, to make up for all the times she hadn't been so nice as
his keeper. And he was a very nice guy, she realized, now that she had given herself the chance to like him. Right now, as his mind was growing to normal intelligence, he still had emotional problems. He needed friends and family, and she was trying her best to be that to him.
As they hiked through the woodsy program she had selected, they would stop on occasion as Benson would look at something that would intrigue him. She would explain it to him and then they would move on. Hiking seemed like a good outlet for the both of them. Suddenly, Shara found a spot on a bunch of mossy rocks and had them stop. Through the trees was a beautiful view. Benson audibly responded with an intake of breath. She smiled and pulled bottles of water from her backpack.
"I thought you might like that view," she said.
"It's really pretty," he said, as they watched the sun start to set turning the sky a multitude of bright colors.
As he turned to meet her smiling stare, she tossed him a bottle. She opened hers and took a drink. He also took a drink, but continued to look at the sunset. They had an hour until dark.
"You come to this place a lot?" he asked.
"I guess," she replied. "I like to come here to sit and think . . . Its my quiet place."
"This is a good quiet place," he said. "This place reminds me of home," Benson said, looking around. The resemblance to the Canadian Rockies was striking.
"Does it?" she asked. "Did you like growing up in Canada?"
"Canada? Was that the name of the place?" Benson asked innocently.
She smiled as she pulled a couple of pears from her pack and offered one to him. "Yeah, that was the name," she replied. "What do you remember about growing up? Do you have good memories?"
"I can't remember much," Benson said, a little frustrated. "Mom and Dad were good to me. I had a baby brother but I left and I don't know him."
"I'm sorry," she replied. Looking down for a moment and then at the sunset. She took a bite of her pear, for a moment lost in thoughts of her own childhood and the pain that was in it.
Benson bit into his pear. "This
is a pear!" he said, excited. "I like pears!" He thought a little
more. "I remember living in a big city named Ed. And I remember a doctor.
He said he wanted to help, but he
never seemed very nice to me."
"Do you remember his name?" she asked quietly, already knowing who the doctor had been, but wanting to know what Benson remembered. How she hated her Uncle . . . But then again, he wasn't really her Uncle, was he, she thought.
"Nope," he said, matter-of-factly. "Just 'Doctor.'"
She nodded. She wasn't sure if she was happy or not that he didn't remember as she took another bite of her pear.
"Maybe Mr. Wang knows! He seems to know a lot! He's been real good to me," Benson said excitedly.
"Oh, I know who is, Benson . . ." she said with almost a sadness in her dark eyes and in her voice. "Don't worry about it. I was just wondering what you remembered. That's all . . ."
"Are you okay?" he asked, sensing the sadness. A bluebird began chirping in the background.
Taking a breath in and sighing, she
met his gaze and smiled. "Yeah. I'm okay. Just sometimes I get sad about
stuff I know, stuff I can't change and people I can't do anything about. But
I'm okay . . . Thanks for
"I'm changing," Benson said happily. "If I can change, anything can change!" he said.
"You have changed a lot!" she agreed, her smile brightening a bit. "But the person I was thinking about doesn't want to change so it won't ever happen with him . . . But you are doing wonderful, Benson!" she added. "Really! You are making strides everyday, and its great to see." As she finished her pear, she wrapped it in a bag and put it back into her pack. She then took a drink of her water and then pulled out come cheese. She offered him a piece.
"Thank you," he said as he took the cheese. No matter how much he'd changed, he wasn't about to forget his manners! "You've changed too."
"You think I have?" she asked, nibbling on the cheese she had in her hand.
"Yes, you have! You used to
not be so nice to me. You were always ordering me around and treating me like
a monster. But you don't do that anymore," Benson said, a little upset
at the memory of his prior
treatment. "Nobody's been nice to me for a long time until I came here."
"I'm really sorry," she said, as she looked down again, fighting back her own emotions and tears that threatened to mist her eyes. "Coming here changed a lot for both of us, in very good ways, but I want you to know that I won't treat you that way ever again. I am so sorry I ever did . . ." she explained.
"Thank you," Benson replied. Though his intellect had advanced tremendously since the treatment, his emotional responses were still in need of work. Interpersonal relationships were still on a very fundamental, uncomplicated level for him; grudges weren't a part of his world view.
"And if you ever need me for anything you just let me know," she replied with a gentle smile.
"I'll try to remember that, but I don't remember things so good," Benson replied. "Why are you so nice now when you were so mean before?" he asked.
She could sense his puzzlement. "Well . . . She began. "A lot changed with me because of Ming and Karissa . . . Not in the same way as you, but with how I felt about people and about myself," she said, trying to simplify this as much as possible for him. "Also finding out I had a big brother," she smiled brightly gazing at him.
"Mr. Wang's a nice guy," he replied, nodding eagerly in agreement. "I want to be like him! And I want to be a good big brother! I wasn't such a good big brother before..." Benson continued, suddenly becoming downcast.
"Benson, whatever happened back then wasn't your fault," she replied.
"He was just such a little guy, and I'm always so clumsy," he said. "I'm not much good for anything except hurting people." Benson's self-esteem had a long way to go after the years of abuse and exploitation he had endured.
"Your gross motor skills have already improved a great deal," she said. "Besides, I bet he isn't so little now . . . and with Me and Karissa, you don't have to worry about that. In fact, if you'd like to, we can come to this place again and have lunch next time. There's a creek just a little ways from here."
"That would be nice!" he said enthusiastically. "I like doing fun things!"
"Me too!" she replied, "We'll have to do other fun things together too . . . and maybe one of these days you can think of me as a sister. And Karissa too, maybe . . ."
"Yes, that would be good! I like Ms. Bentara, too! She's really nice!"
"Good!" Shara replied, "How about tomorrow afternoon we go to a beach?" she asked.
"Okay! I'll have to ask Mr. Wang if he has anything for me to do first."
"All right, just let me know later, okay?" she said.
"Okay!" he said happily.
Noticing the sun sinking fast, turing
the distant horizon into a golden blur, she stood up and lifted her pack over
her shoulders. "I think we should start to walk again. We can get in about
another 30 minutes
before the simulation ends. Would you like to do that?" she asked.
"Sure!" Benson said, hoisting his pack to his shoulders. The backpack he wore was ridiculously small for his frame; it weighed practically nothing for him.
"Let's take that trail, we'll save the one to the creek for that lunch . . . There way there are Indian carvings on some boulder . . ." she smiled as she started walking, with Benson close behind.
Later Benson returned to his quarters and took out a PADD. Per Ming's instructions, he was writing down things he remembered or wanted to ask about. Using a stylus, he wrote in careful block letters: "My name is Robert Benson. I come from a city called Ed in a place called Canada. I have a mom and a dad and a little brother..."