[Story] Story a Week 15

[[ Prompt: You are a kid’s imaginary friend. He’s growing up. You are fading away. ]]

It’s almost 3:30 pm. Zoey will be home any minute now. I check the table to make sure everything is perfect; every tea cup centered neatly on its saucer, the napkins folded into triangles. The teapot sits in the center, I can picture the white ribbon of steam. I seat myself in my usual place, and wait. It seems to be taking way longer than usual. I go to the window and pull back the curtain. There, in the driveway! I see Zoey, swinging her pink backpack as she walks. There’s another girl with her, a friend from school I guess. I check the table to make sure there’s a cup for her. We don’t often have visitors to our tea parties, but I always like to be prepared.

The front door clatters, and the girls race up the stairs into the room. They throw their backpacks onto the bed, and open the top drawer on Zoey’s dresser. I’ve seen her open that one before, it has lipstick and other weird things to put on your face. Once or twice Zoey has put them on me, but I can’t say I liked it very much. They don’t taste very good, either. But today Zoey doesn’t even glance in my direction. She and her friend are taking turns, putting the makeup on each other. It’s like I don’t even exist. I wait there at the table for a while, the tea getting cold, before I retreat to the closet. I don’t like the closet. Closets are for monsters, and I’m not a monster. Not the bad kind, anyway. I’ve never seen myself, because only Zoey can see me. But she’s drawn pictures of me, plenty of times, and she always draws me the same. I have shaggy purple fur with blue splotches, little horns on my head and down my back. My paws are big and friendly.

“You’re too old for an imaginary friend”, Zoey’s mother tells her. Zoey used to just laugh at that, but now I worry a little. Maybe she is too old. I set up the tea party every day, but when was the last time Zoey actually joined me? When is the last time we went walking in the woods behind the house, or reading stories late at night? Zoey still does those things, but she doesn’t ask me along anymore. She goes with her brother, or with her friends from school, kids in the neighborhood. I know some of them have imaginary friends, too. I’ve talked to some. They tried to tell me this would happen. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen some of them recently, either. I don’t know what happens to imaginary friends when their children forget them. Do we move somewhere else? Or is it more serious than that? Do we simply cease to exist altogether?

It’s true I’ve felt strange, but I have nothing to compare it to. I figured it was only sadness, or jealousy that made me feel this way. Had I only imagined feeling more tired, less ferocious, weaker than before — or was it some consequence of being forgotten? All my life, I have been defined by Zoey — she is the one who can see me, who named me. What will happen to me if she forgets? It’s a frightening thought. I would ask the monsters in the closet, if any were here. I get the feeling they, too, have long ago left this place.

 

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orny_monster

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