Imaginary Friend

"The Broken Man
Tell me you troubles, and they will be fixed.
Give me your broken heart, and I will repair it.
Tell me your deepest worries, and they'll become my own.
For I am the fixer, the worrier, the lover,
I take all your troubles, and make them my own.
Come to me, the broken man, keeper of all souls."

Joselyn White

If I asked, would you answer me honestly? If I told you that I was everywhere and nowhere at once, would you really, truly believe that what I just said made all the sense in the world? Would you believe I was the girl next door, the lover in your arms, that girl you hate so much…would you believe it was in yourself I existed?

I was the imaginary friend.

I could only watch them move around her in urgent haste. The line reality had on Helena Owens' world and my world was fading into one thing. A single entity among others. But the brunette wasn't taking the transaction of the two worlds very well. In fact her body refused to accept room for the other organ. She had been having heart problems ever since she was little. It was hers. Helena's body belonged to Helena. And she wouldn't go down unless it was a fight. She wouldn't give it up until the end. Spiritually or physically. Give her a good reason to share, and Helena Owens would share.

I had known Helena ever since she was seven. Ever since she was a chubby little girl with hazel eyes that glittered white and gold. And yet, I had known of Helena all my life. For the longest time, when she wanted to have a friend to play with, I was there. While she had no shoulder to lean on, I became the shoulder. Whenever she needed someone to talk to I was there to listen, holding her hand and watching her grow up from a little girl with flowers to a chubby teenager with braces, and then a slim figure with new, perfect teeth and a wide smile.

Despite everything we'd gone through, though, eventually Helena met Kimberly and then she became what my world knew as the Broken Man. They were best friends though, so I guess I could understand, so long as she played with me as well. But Helena was growing up fast. More and more time was spent with Kimberly and eventually I became a distant memory. Really, that was all I was. I changed as she changed; when she came home from school beaten up, I was there to give her piece of mind, but Kimberly was there too, and the Broken Man was there to give her love when she needed it the most. I felt that Kimberly was feeding her lies.

The Broken Man, the Broken Man, I thought with a small smile. She was not allowed to come in. Not yet anyway. Kimberly was outside, pacing, tormented, and scared. No one could tell her what was going on, even though she already knew. And for now, it gave me time to Helena, time to sink my feelings into her dreams. Maybe then I would be a saved entity, instead of a disappearing one.

Helena's eyes were closed now. Her pale skin a dull gray, even her cheeks but her lips were still pink. The rise and fall of her chest was so small, that even then, without the heart monitor, I think everyone would have thought her dead. I think I would have too. Of all things, I couldn't muster up the courage to cry. When I commanded the tears, all I got were dry sobs and pains in my chest. The doctors surrounded her were gone now, passing by me, passing through me, an entity that only Helena could proclaim to see.

But that wasn't why I really wanted to stay, though. Helena was so weak; I don't think she would survive if he came. The Broken Man was outside; she could feel the sterile air become colder, as he, Death, watched Helena's dying gasps for air. He came to claim her as a new prize. I felt it too. Except, the Broken Man had done her part. It was time for me to do my part.

The deal was his, and so was Helena.

"If she cannot, will not accept the fate handed to her, she is no longer yours to keep alive." That was the deal. That was what had happened all those years ago. That was why, though all imaginations change, or change along with it, the entity that was me would not accept going away. I was here from the very beginning.

All those people who were so close to death, who saw a light, who claimed to see an angel; do you know who those angels were? They were the beckoners of Death. Like Uncle Sam, he wanted you. And right now, he wanted Helena to die and become his.

"What beautiful hands she's got," it was nothing more than a raspy whisper in the room. I jumped, and my eyes searched. It was ice in here. Death, he, was coming to get her. But I wouldn't let him and the Broken Man wouldn't let him. My lips tightened into an angry thin line, and I saw him, dressed in black, scythe in one golden brown hand the other caressing her face. When he moved, it was sure and elegant; confidant and arrogant. He had a tux on. Black and complete with a tie. His blonde hair was combed back. His dress shoes clicked like boots on the tile as he walked. "And her hair," he grasped the long, dark, wavy tresses and lowered his head, seeming to smell, "such fine silk. The smell of rain at the beach."

"Get out." I said. Green eyes stared at me, amused and I took my gaze from his. His smirk made me turn cold and scared. Hair rose on my arms and from the back of my neck. And I knew. I knew he would not go away. Not until he got something from this visit. I sucked in air. It was hard to breathe. "The deed is not yet done. Her body can't change over night. And she is still alive." That's what I said. I don't know if he bought it, though it was the truth. Death had a way of extending the truth, or belittling it. It depended on the importance of the person's death.

"That is why I'm here," and he reached to touch between Helena's breasts, where her beating heart thudded weakly. Like a magic trick, his hands began to sink in, readying his fingers to squeeze the life out of her. Helena gave a small surprised gasp and then shuddered. She didn't like the water icy feel closing around her heart.

In an instant, I was there, grabbing his wrist and removed his hand, not yet curved to squeeze. It was perhaps the stupidest thing I've ever done. My breathing was fast, and my body trembled from the cold, from the depth of emotion that everyone thought he lacked. Through all the emotion, Death was heartless, though. That's what the man was. That's what Death is. A heartless man. There was no amusement in his eyes, no smirk of knowing; no nothing. Only the cold emptiness that anger could sometimes give. Sometimes it was fire, and sometimes the ice engulfed that anger and turned it into hatred.

"Let go of me," he said. I shook my head. It wasn't time. Not yet. Death couldn't claim what wasn't his until it was genuinely time for him to take her.

"You can't claim her, yet," I said. My hands were numb and felt like they would break in half if he snatched his wrist away. "You can't. She's still fighting. She's still alive!" I didn't want to panic, but I think I was doing that anyway.

Take me, take me, please, just take me instead. Those were the words I muttered quietly to myself. Death heard. I didn't realize it then. And the Broken Man was sitting down, eyes wide with fear. Kimberly knew what was going on in here. She could see me, could see us. Through all this time she could see both worlds. Like Helena could.

Death, he, bared his teeth in annoyance, in frustration, in anger. His green eyes, the color of life, bore into mine, and I was choking. Hair fell before my eyes, light brown hair obscuring my vision for a moment. He could not take Helena. I wouldn't let him. If anyone had to go, it was me. There was no room for me if the Fixer was here. No room if the Broken Man was here too.

"I'll take you both!" And finally, the cold was gone from my hand, and my body was engulfed in what felt like heated flames. Death was around me now, all over me, pressing his body against mine, one of his hands on my wrist, his other arm on my throat, but not pressing. My other arm was stuck between our chests. His face was incredibly close to mine and I could smell his breath.

I think what saved Helena was the crying. My tears, caused by the pain and panic of Death. His head cocked to the side, easily becoming void of emotion again. His eyes stared into mine. He would not take her.

"You would trade your life for the girl?" He asked me so emotionally, not curiously, no. Death knew what emotions were. It seemed as if he knew what I was going to do.

Slowly I nodded my head. Behind him, in front of me, it seemed the instant I said yes, Helena gasped again, surprise emanating from the way her breath fastened at first before slowing. But she never woke. Outside the door, where the glass window was, the Broken Man gave a smile of sadness, and got up to leave.

Death's body wasn't cold anymore. He wasn't hot either. For the first time warmth came from him. Like he was a living thing. As if none of the coldness he had ever existed. He stepped back, loosening his hold on me, putting his hands behind his back. For the first time, his eyes glowed with warmth and understanding. I think he expected this, what came out of love and friendship for Helena.

I had said to Helena when I first met her that I would be there to protect her, not harm her. Death only made sure I would follow through on my promise. I had known Helena for seven years. The Broken Man only five. Soon, Kimberly would have to fall into death's hands like I have.

Until then, I would have to leave it up to her, the Broken Man. I began walking. Following after Death who had been heading towards the wall, and had turned half way around. I stopped at Helena, placed both my hands around her head, and kissed her forehead. My way of saying goodbye and then walked to Death. There was now a door where the white wall used to be. Everything was silent, solemn. Around his neck, Death took out the bone key necklace and opened the door.

Death stepped aside, waiting for me to go in first. And when I did, white engulfed me. I heard the clicking of Death's shoes. Behind us, the door closed.