“I thought there would be some sort of nostalgia…waking up here in this room. But too much has changed.” The boy rose from the bed, pushing the blankets off to sit cross legged on the bed. The morning sunlight fell across his face to make his light brown skin seem translucent
“Well, it’s been years since…you know”
“I’ve been imaginary? Yeah I know.” I ran my hand over his black hair, relishing the feel of it as I had never been able to before – not like this anyway
“You’re not imaginary, you’re…”
“I’m not real either. That’s okay. This is better I guess. I don’t get to grow up and have a beard like you old man” The boy stretched his legs out on the bed, wriggling his toes into the crumpled bed-covers.
“I’m not old” I teased. He smiled with both his dark eyes and his lips
“Stresses of life got you so caught up in life, you can’t see those old man lines etching across your forehead.”
“I’m twenty five monkey!” I shouted in mock anger but he laughed as his sad eyes fell upon me.
“Thirteen more than I was given.” I sighed. He continued
“Don’t worry I’m not trying to make you feel guilty or anything but I just want to let you know I’m ok. I’m imaginary after all right?”
“Of course not! You’re not…” He slid back onto the bed, putting his hands behind the back of his head
“It’s strange how we hold on to the pieces of the past while we wait for our futures…that’s something I read once but is relevant to us now isn’t it? Except…I don’t have a future, you know? And you are continuing on as you should.” he smiled broadly at that but his face was down – disheartened.
“Hey listen now…”
“Nope sorry old man, not listening. I’m here to say good bye. You don’t need me anymore, not like you did back then…afterwards”
“You mean after you died.”
“I prefer passed on.” we both stared at each other, I fought the coming emotion welling up within me.
“You’re right, I couldn’t imagine life without my best friend – not then. How else could I have kept you in my memory except by recreating you as you are now. I mean when you started getting sick…” He rolled off the bed and walked across the room to the window, his face looking up towards the streaming light.
“You’re all grown up now. You don’t need me to fend off evil villains from another dimension or power up to levels over 9000 in order to save the galaxy. You got your whole life ahead of you but…don’t forget me okay old man. Remember me for who I was not what I’d become. Remember me during all the good times, all the fights both fake and real. Most of all, remember the dreams we had and fulfill yours as I would have wanted mine.”
I continued to stare at the empty space, hit by the sense of loss I’d once felt all those years ago when I’d lost a friend. It was still real, even now. I guess some imaginary friends never leave, especially when they were not so imaginary to begin with.
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