Imaginary friends are stupid.
I was sick of watching Emma play with her ‘special friend’: Imogene DeLaRose. Emma would block the TV and have tea parties. She would talk to stuffed animals and herself.
I listened to the grownups. They say it was a ‘coping mechanism’. Her parents were braking up.
My mommy was sick and I only saw her once a week and you didn’t see me holding my little finger up and talking to Imogene about shoes and matching hats.
My babysitter put me in a corner when I sat on Imogene. I never liked her. I never liked Emma either.
When Miss Maggie called me out of the corner she told me to apologize to Emma and then make up my own ‘special friend’. I said sorry, but I went back to the corner 3 times before I gave up and made my imaginary friend.
I sat at the coffee table and pushed the stupid tea party out of my way so I could draw my new excuse to get two snacks after lunch.
I drew me with a little boy. Smaller than me because boys my size tried to push me around. That usually got me put in a corner for hitting.
I drew him with dark hair and eyes because mine are light. I drew us flying because Miss Maggie always laughs at how good my imagination is when I draw me flying. I laughed just thinking about it.
When I was done, I took the picture to Miss Maggie. I thought my punishment was over. I was wrong.
Now she wanted to talk about it. More punishment.
“Manen, tell me about your friend.”
“He flies with me.”
“How old is he?”
I thought about that and decided. “4.”
“Where is he from?”
I didn’t have a house anymore so I decided that he didn’t either. “He lives in a trailer. The hurricane messed up his neighborhood.”
“What about his family?”
“He lives with his dad. His mom is dead.” I don’t know why, but Miss Maggie started crying and sent me outside to play.
I went to the sandbox. I liked the sandbox because none of the other kids did and I could ‘play’. I could take my shoes off and change my feet. Paws, then claws, then talons and monkey feet. It was fun to sit by myself and practice even if Carol said I wouldn’t be allowed to run for a long time.
I started thinking about my imaginary friend. I guess it wouldn’t be so bad to have a friend. A friend that wouldn’t feel sorry for me for having a dead daddy and a sick mommy. A friend that wouldn’t freak out if I showed him I could change. A friend that knew what it was like to be around people and still feel alone. So I introduced myself to my friend.
I started talking to him every day. We didn’t have tea parties because that’s stupid. We played chess once.
He beat me. When I thought him up, I should have made him dumber.
I told him I could change; that I am a shifter. I was afraid that he wouldn’t be my friend anymore, but he told me that he liked Opossums because they were misfits, like us. So I told him I’d try it.
Carol let me run around the back yard as a opossum, so I made sure to thank him for the idea. I couldn’t fly, but I did swing from my tail in the tree. That was almost as good.
A few days later was my birthday. Carol took me to see my Mommy at the hospital. I took my friend with me to meet her.
Mommy had bought me a book called Stellaluna and Carol brought a cake with us. Mommy and Carol whispered about a coping mechanism again while I read my book to my friend. I don’t know why they whisper, they know how good my hearing is. Unless it’s because they don’t trust my friend yet.
My mommy and Carol both cried while they sang happy birthday. I don’t know why all the grownups around me keep crying. It’s annoying. It makes me mad when they won’t tell me why too.
Everybody tells me to try to be normal. I’m only 6, but I’m pretty sure nobody else cries all the time like this.
When I bent over to blow the candles, Mommy told me to make a good wish.
Hunter whispered in my ear. “Wish for a family.”