One day I fractured an ankle on the school playground. The headmaster called my father, but it would be a long time before he could find a taxi and come to fetch me. Dan asked his driver to give me a lift home. After that Dan and I started spending time together, and I found him genuinely good-natured and amiable. To my surprise he ate very little; a thyroid problem accounted for his large size. Doctors continued to treat his condition, but he seemed placidly resigned to it.
Finally Dan stopped coming to school altogether. The teacher told us he had become quite sick. Without telling my classmates, I went to see him. When I sat down next to his bed, he smiled wanly. He was writing in a notebook — keeping a journal of his illness, he said, so that he could later tell our class what he had been through. He wanted his classmates to understand why he was so large.
I never visited Dan again. The following week the headmaster announced that Dan had passed away in his sleep.
I went home and looked at the beautiful pen and wished I had openly acknowledged him as a friend.