Created for the imaginary friends competition. It completely morphed away from what I had intended, but I'm happy with it.


1. Imaginary Friends.

She came to me in a flash of light, or at least that’s what I told everyone. To be perfectly honest it has been so long that I can’t really remember what happened, just the story that has been told so many times that it is impossible to remember whether that light was supposed to have been green or blue, hot or cold, a flash fire or a long burn. Of course, she’s no help. Whenever I asked her, she denied there ever having been a light. I guess that means I can tell this story however I want. There is just something so annoying about forgetting all the details. Something is nagging at the back of my mind, something I’ve missed, something that has been long forgotten in the labyrinth of memory.

I shouldn’t even be thinking about her. She’s not real, or she’s wasn’t supposed to be. She’s always felt real to me and I regret to say that I became quite violent in my opinion as a small child. Several psychiatrists and a few MRI’s showed that I seemed to be a perfectly normal child, and my parents had to at last give in to the reality of my reality. Not that they ever came to believe me, they just had to humour me or risk going insane with the attempts to shake me out of my delusions.

The odd thing is She doesn’t have a name. Most imaginary friends have names, don’t they? Silly, childish things like Bob or Muddy or Flower Pots, but not her, never her. I think she does have one, but she never told me and despite my apparent overactive imagination, I never created one for her. She was just She. I guess I spent so much time trying to prove to everyone that she existed that I was too busy to come up with any other name for her. By the time I turned sixteen, I was finally ready to admit to myself that She was starting to become a bit of a problem. It’s all well and good to have someone trailing you around when you’re a lonely five year old just trying to fill in the long, boring hours, but sixteen? I mean I had friends then, sort of. I had those friends you have when you’re sixteen. The people in that phase of your life where everyone is so worried about fitting in that sometimes you all treat each other like rubbish. Those friends that all end up doing things later in life that take them far, far away and you never see them again. Sure, I guess I was still a bit lonely, but by then I had figured out enough that I should be lonely and alone and I was determined to find out what was going on.

I visited everyone from a psychologist to a psychic. Hours on google and sitting on a small chair in a cramped room told me absolutely nothing. The psychologist said something about wanting to hold on to the past. The psychic said I was being trailed by a spirit entity and that I was a sensitive soul capable of seeing such beings and google gave me thousands of searches, the majority of which said something along the lines of “imaginary friends are a healthy developmental tool for young children”. Absolutely useless.

And the thing was She didn’t really do anything. I had never been urged to go and play outside or burn the house down or smash toy trucks together. She had always just sort of… been there. I had no idea what that meant as a child but at sixteen, well, it started to look a lot like some of the doctors I had seen. The way she watched me, the way she tilted her hear inquisitively when I spoke to her, the way she would occasionally twitch her hands as if taking notes on some invisible notepad. I started to feel studied. What’s more, she didn’t exactly look… human.

It took me a while to figure it out, but there was something about her face, it was too symmetrical. Her hair was a bit too glossy and dark, her movements too graceful, fingers and limbs a little too long and every once in a while I would see something out of the corner of my eye. It would never be anything big, just s flicker of motion, just a little glitch in the air, like heat waves. Every time it happened I could have sworn there was something underneath the image she showed me. Maybe there were tentacles, or extra limbs, snakes even. It looked like grey vines twisting around themselves and moving with the image.

At the age of eighteen I had finally had enough. She freaked me out. Maybe she had never hurt me, but I didn’t know what she was or what she wanted. No-one else could see her and things had been happening. I would wake up in the middle of the night and she would be hovering over me, so close to my face that if she were human I should have been able to feel her heat along my skin, smell her breath as it hit my face. There was none of that, though. The area above me felt colder, and my skin always felt clammy. She would retreat, but there were other things. Cuts and bruises I couldn’t explain – but everyone gets those, right? Not like these. My wrists were ringed in red, tender flesh and so were my ankles and around my waist. Track marks appeared down my arms and along my belly. I started losing weight almost scarily fast and I had to eat like a trucker to keep up with my metabolism. A scar appeared over my spine in my lower back almost overnight and my hair went from a pale blonde to a dark brown in the space of a week.

I tried to demand answers, but she would just smile and shake her head at me like I was a puppy that was demanding attention. Sometimes she would even stretch out her hand and stroke my hair in a placating gesture. I redoubled my efforts to figure out what was going on. Surely I couldn’t be the only one that was being followed by some sort of… of alien! And that’s where I turned next. Alien abductions, because what else could I do? I lived the next two years of my life in a near frenzy of desperation, trying to shake off the presence that followed me everywhere, until…

She came to me on the night of my twenty-first birthday, nine months ago, a serene smile on her face. In one hand she held a pale blue orb that was giving off a soft, gentle glow and in the other she held what looked like a giant needle. Placing both very real objects on my nightstand, she turned to me and held her hands out, beckoning for me to come to her. Of course I refused, staring at her in confusion, fear and distrust. What was she going to do to me now?

She walked towards me slowly and when she touched me, all of the fear melted away instantly. It felt like I could breathe again for the first time in years. She murmured nonsense sounds in soothing tones and helped me out of my bed and into a long nightgown that she conjured from thin air. Sitting me down on the bed, she turned to the needle and in a practised move, pressed it into the exposed flesh of my arm. I could feel the liquid rush through my veins. It was a rush of warmth that was relaxing rather than painful and I felt the muscles in my body turn into a quivering mass of jelly. Slumping back in the bed, I watched her with a detached interest. She picked up the orb and cooed to it, stroking the gel-like membrane surrounding it before drifting over to me.

She lifted my nightgown until she could place a cool hand over my belly, stroking the faded track marks and giving me a warm look before pressing the orb into my flesh. Before my eyes, it sank into my stomach, settling under my flesh and making my skin glow from within. Cooing again, she smiled at me, resettled my nightgown and faded out of existence. I never saw her again.

Waking up the next day was like waking from a life-long dream. My head was clear from the fear and anxiety and I was able to go to my job without looking constantly over my shoulder. For the next several weeks, people remarked on how much better I seemed, never really being able to put a name to how I was better. And then it started. Morning sickness. I was confused to say the least. With my stalker around, I had never really had time for decent relationships, so when the doctor pointed to blood test results and said that a baby was on the way, I couldn’t imagine how it had happened. When he said that I was eight weeks along, my mind started churning over, trying to make connections that I didn’t really want to make. You see, despite the fear, the physical evidence and the fact that She had stuck around for a good two decades of my life, I had never been one hundred percent convinced that she existed. Over the next couple of months I had to come to terms with the fact that she did exist, because there’s no way that my now three-day old child is the product of a normal human coupling.

Gloria coos up at me from her cradle with her big black eyes and her dark skin. I look at her and it baffles me as to how she could possibly be so dark with how pale I am. She seems normal enough, to look at, but no human child can make her hands glow light blue or speak directly to other people’s minds. Even now, I sometimes have to just stand and watch her helplessly, running a hand through my short-cut hair. I’m still no closer to any answers. Answers as to why someone or something would stalk a little girl for most of her life only to leave her alone and pregnant. Answers as to what my own little girl will become, what she’s capable of. But at least she won’t be alone.

I never stopped trying to find answers and while there never were any forthcoming, I did find someone else like me. He lived most of his life thinking he was insane and it happened just like me. On his twenty-first birthday he was drugged and his stalker disappeared, only to reappear nine months later with a new-born baby in its arms. We met up while I was pregnant. His little boy was only two and at first it was just to exchange stories and for me to get some tips on what to expect, but it rapidly turned into something more. Gloria and Jason have each other now, two odd children in a planet full of regular old humans. I don’t know if there are more like them out there, but people who are alike tend to find each other, don’t they? And whatever this might mean, there are two things I know now, absolutely. One is that I love my children with a fierceness that will never fade and two is that I love their father just the same. Whatever comes next, we will deal with it together, as a family.

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