Quick little piece inspired by…well, a lot of things. Real life, mainly. Dashed off in a burst of random inspiration and probably full of contradictions and things. The title was inspired by a typo, as many titles are.

Enjoy.

"Imaginary Fiend"

My name is Kira.

I'm not a particularly special girl. I won't pretend that I am.

But then, how could I be special when nothing is really special? It's just something parents like to tell their children to make them feel worthwhile. To make them feel like they're different.

The world is made up of different people. And that makes us all the same. Because in a place where everyone is special, where no one is "not special," the word loses its meaning.

Does that make any sense?

I don't suppose it does.

So why am I here? Why am I telling you anything? If I'm not special, why should you listen? Why should you care?

I don't suppose you should.

But I hope that someone will.

- . - . - . -

I wasn't always the way I am today.

I used to be happy all the time. I used to smile when people spoke to me with bubbly little phrases that didn't mean anything, when someone patted me on the head, when someone told me I was a good girl.

I don't do that anymore.

Now my friends think it's special when I smile.

It's cute, really. They're sweet people.

They don't know the heartache, they don't know the pain. They say they do. They say that everyone feels something like this. I'll bet.

But I'm not "everyone."

I don't feel the same kinds of things, I don't feel them in the same way. No, I sold my soul when I was a little girl and I can't get it back. Who am I? I'm an outdated shell of a person who might have been.

Why? Because I made a choice.

Maybe it was stupid. Maybe I shouldn't have done it, shouldn't have said "no."

But there's no taking it back now. It's been far too long.

Those people, my friends? That's only sometimes. Only when they're not working their magic and trying to change me back. Back to that naïve little girl who would smile when a person patted her head or told her she was right.

But that little girl has been gone for a long time.

They don't know that. I won't tell them.

Maybe I should. It might solve a lot of problems.

But I can't.

I know. I've tried.

What built these walls? What shut out these people trying to help?

Betrayal, pure and simple.

When that little girl still reigned, when she was still naïve and nice the way little girls should be, she tried to make friends. She tried her very hardest. And it worked, sometimes.

But then she and her friends started growing up. They grew out of the play dates and midmorning snack time. They stopped needing hugs and kisses when they got boo-boos. They stopped wanting mommy and daddy around all the time. Her friends stopped wanting her around at all.

Why?

Of course, because she was different.

She didn't run from boys because she was shy and they were cute. She didn't spend all her money in one place when the newest fashions came out. No, she played with the boys, then she hung out with the boys, then she talked with the boys, as she grew up and each term was replaced. She saved her money or spent it on video games with blood and books for people interested in figuring out just what was going on.

Then they stopped paying attention to her at all, and the little girl went away.

She was just an imaginary friend, after all.

Now there's just me.

That naïve little girl was what got me attention, after all. Now I'm just a shadow on the wall.

No one hears me speaking. No one hears me.

So there's no reason to speak, anyway.

But still they ask.

- . - . - . -

"How're you doing?"

"How was your weekend?"

"Are you all right?"

"Is everything okay?"

"Are you upset about something?"

"Things going well?"

- . - . - . -

"Yes, I'm fine. And you?"

- . - . - . -

Then they'll say something short and simple, something like "Mm-hmm," and then later, we'll be in the same room with someone else.

They won't be speaking to me.

But I'll hear them.

- . - . - . -

"I had the worst time yesterday. You know that Emma was having a party, right? So I went over with Amy and Michael, and they spent all this time trying to hook me up with Charlie…"

- . - . - . -

I ask them how they're doing.

They're doing okay.

Why should I be any different?

I'm just a shadow on the wall, anyway.

They're satisfied when the shadow says everything is okay. They'll listen when nothing is wrong. They'll demand that something must be bothering me, or why would I be so distant and I should talk to them about it. I'll say that everything is okay. Really.

They won't listen.

But they'll tell me everything is okay.

They're wrong.

- . - . - . -

"Minna, you want to come to a gallery with us next weekend?"

"Yeah, okay."

- . - . - . -

I'll wait for them to ask me. I'm sitting right here.

I don't really want to go.

But how do they know that? I went last time.

They don't know. But they don't really want me to go, either.

I'll wait for them to ask me.

But I know they won't.

They know they won't. I don't even know if they notice me. Shadows blend into the wall, after all.

Until you need them, that is.

- . - . - . -

"Help me with this paper, would you?"

"What was the reading about last night?"

"Can you draw the hands for me?"

"What'd you put on number nineteen?"

"Let me see what you said?"

"Six was really easy, right? So what'd you get?"

- . - . - . -

"Let me check…"

- . - . - . -

Why do I help? Why do I have all the answers ready? Why don't I say "no"? I've done it before. A long time ago, I said "no"…

And it just made everything hard.

Shadows blend into the wall.

If they can't do anything else…

Why not let them help?

No one else will do it.

Everyone else is spending their time forgetting to help the shadows on the wall.

- . - . - . -

"You're going to be my project, Kira. I'm going to make you more social."

"What?"

"I'm going to make you more social. I'm going to help you get out more. Next time Emma has a party, you should come."

"I might, if anyone told me Emma was having a party."

"Invite yourself."

"That doesn't solve the problem…"

- . - . - . -

It's happened before. I've tried to keep in touch with the only friends I ever kept when they left. My last shred of sociability, my last connection to other people.

It never works.

Everyone leaves.

They take their connections with them.

The ones who don't leave, the ones who take the others' blank and open spaces, they try to help. They see the grieving on the inside—they think they do. And they want to make it go away.

But no one really tries.

Promises are nice.

But no one really tries.

So as I'm sitting here in the hallway of some dorm on some campus in some place in some country, as I'm listening to Emma and Laci planning their next party in the room next door, as I'm looking at the whitewashed walls and thinking that someone ought to paint them black and spatter it with red and silver…

As I'm sitting here, and as my blood pools…

As it sets into the white carpet that hasn't been cleaned in days…

I wonder if any of them will remember.

I wonder if they'll remember that they never really listened.

When I tried to tell them…

Anything.