The Amazing Science Fair Project

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Back to the Book Summary | Contents | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4


Chapter 2: Relatively Speaking

The next morning, Ben left for school a little earlier. It wasn’t that he liked school that much, but thought he might get a few extra minutes to play with his friends before the bell rang.

Ben was just crossing the street into the park when Tim called out. “Wait for us!”

“Yeah, wait up!” yelled Tom.

Ben waited on the grass, standing beside the little wooden posts that ran along the edge of the park. Tim and Tom ran up to him, and then they walked into the park together, heading toward the swings and the school beyond. “So I guess you had fun this weekend?” Ben asked through gritted teeth.

“Yeah, it was awesome, you totally should have been there,” said Tom. “The rollercoaster was amazing, and there were so many rides…”

“But it wasn’t the same without you, so it wasn’t really that much fun,” said Tim, elbowing Tom in the ribs. “But you need to ask James about what happened on the roller coaster, he squealed like a pig!”

Ben paused and turned to look at Tim, eyebrows raised. “But James isn’t afraid of heights - is he?”

Tom winked. “I don’t’ think so. But he might be afraid of girls now…”

“C’mon Tom, he said it was just because Becky squeezed his hand so hard, it was all white when he got off the ride,” said Tim.

“He was holding her hand?” asked Ben, eyebrows even higher. “I mean Becky is an OK kid, but why…”

Tim shrugged. “We may never know. James pretty much had his hands in his pockets all weekend after that.”

By now they had crossed the other street and had entered the grounds of J.P. Watson Primary school. Their shoes crunched loudly in the round gravel.

“Race you to the swings!” yelled Ben, as he started running towards the playground. Tim and Tom ran as fast as they could, but Ben was already sitting in one of the swings when they reached the playground.

“No - fair!” panted Tom.

“…You didn’t - wait” gasped Tim

“…until you said - go!” complained Tom.

Ben just shrugged and pushed off, swinging back and forth with all his might. Soon, his feet were reaching just above the top bar of the swing. “I’m the king of the wooooorld!” yelled Ben.

Tim and Tom exchanged glances and shook their heads. “Ben!” they groaned together.

---

When the first bell rang, the boys reluctantly slowed the swings and hopped off. They were walking toward their classroom when the sound of crunching gravel behind them made them stop and turn around.

James came to a sliding stop beside Tom, then bent over, red faced and panting. His hair seemed messier than normal, if that was possible. “Sorry, I slept in,” he gasped.

“Too many rides, I bet,” growled Ben.

“Nah, Mom forgot to turn her alarm clock on. Everyone was rushing around this morning, but at least I’m not late. Dad was late to leave for work though. Susan has farther to walk, so that’s something,” said James, then stood up. “Maybe she’ll be late,” he winked. “Might get detention.”

“You can only hope,” said Tom.

“That’s not very nice,” said Tim, frowning.

Tom shrugged. “Neither was beating us all at the balloon pop and getting the best prizes.”

Ben cheeks burned red. “I don’t want to hear it, not any of it. It’s not fair that you all got to…”

James quickly interrupted him. “How was the cotton candy?”

“What?” asked Ben, turning toward James.

“Did you eat it all last night?” asked James.

“Uh…nope. I wanted to, but Mom made a special dinner with dessert. I was way too full after. However…” Ben slipped off his backpack and unzipped the main pocket. “…I brought it for my recess snack.”

The boys stared as he pulled a large bag of blue spun sugar half-way out of his pack. Ben quickly glanced left and right, then stuffed it back in and zipped the bag up. “I’ll give you some at recess, just don’t tell anybody else.” You don’t flash cotton candy around at school, or you end up with a lot of extra ‘friends’ who want some too.

James nodded.

Tim smiled as they entered the classroom. He dropped his backpack and sat down beside Alice Wong, who had her book open and pencil ready.

“Did you have fun, Tim?” she asked politely. “My favorite was the log ride.”

Tim nodded, then leaned over and whispered “Ben’s got some cotton candy James brought him from the theme park. Come over to see us at recess, but don’t tell anybody else, it’s a secret."

Alice nodded, lips tight.

For some reason, there was a long line-up when Ben opened the secret bag of cotton candy at recess.

---

The four boys walked home together after school, pausing at the small playground in the middle of the park. Ben looked towards the small forest with one huge tree towering above the rest. “Wanna go checkout our tree house?”

“Nah, we’ve got homework to do…” said Tim.

“…and Mum said we have to do it before dinner ‘cos we didn’t get it done on the weekend,” finished Tom.

Ben turned to James. “How about you?”

James looked longingly over at the edge of the forest, then sighed and turned to face Ben. “Sorry Ben, Mom said I needed to come straight home after school today. She said my Great Aunt was coming to dinner.”

Ben looked at his three friends and sighed. “Well, maybe another day.”

“Sure, Ben - maybe on the weekend,” offered Tim.

They walked to the edge of the park and crossed the road. Tim and Tom waved together. “See you at school tomorrow!”

Ben and James walked together up to James’ driveway, where a large old car was parked. “Well, I guess I’ve gotta go in,” muttered James. “I don’t even remember her, but Mum said we met when I was little.”

Ben shrugged. “It probably won’t be that bad. Besides, your Mom’s a good cook, she may have made something special.”

James perked up at the thought. “Maybe self-saucing pudding for dessert!” He licked his lips and half-ran up the steps to the front door.

Ben chuckled and waved as James disappeared through the doorway. “See you tomorrow!”

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