WE ALL USE TO BE SUCH GREAT FRIENDS
I sat alone on our swing set looking in at the dining room where my best friend sat at the dining room table. I sigh as I look at her and frown when she glances outside briefly, her gaze rolling past me. She had forgotten to play with me again. This wasn't the first time either. It was the 3,286th day Lily had forgotten about me. I'd been waiting around Lily's home for 3,287 days. Most people think that when a loved one dies, they just disappear or go to heaven or wherever they go. Not the case for me. I have stuck around like a ghost.
No one saw me, but I was always use to that. Lily was my only friend, the only person I could ever talk to when I was ... alive. Being dead was ... boring. If I could make up my own imaginary friend I would have, I thought about it-but it was not the right thing to do. So I took an alternative route. I played at our favorite spots. The park across the street, the lake near downtown, the hills near the neighborhood canal. We'd roll down the hills repeatedly until our skin was scraped and our clothes stained with grass. It was the best time of my life.
Lily was texting on her cell phone, probably to her friend Jessica. Jessica was so annoying. She has perfect blonde hair, perfect blue eyes, and perfect clothes. Plus she was the same age as Lily. I first met Lily a few months after she was born. I appeared to her, I felt like a guardian angel. I am not sure how old I was when I met her. When she was two, she started talking to me. I knew was alive then, so I counted myself as being two years older than Lily. I may have been two years older than Lily, but these days I looked like a nine year old. I do not fit in anymore, Lily is seventeen. She has shoulder black hair with purple highlights, a nose piercing and eyebrow piercing—she usually wore dark lipstick and eye shadow too. Her clothes were mostly dark with a few colorful embellishments. Her eyes matched mine though, so green they looked like a color sample from a Christmas tree.
I still have my ponytails, filled with light brown hair that is so curly it sticks up at strange angles. I am still wearing my school uniform that matches the one Lily use to wear years ago. Lily looks back out the window and I swear she is looking right at me, but then I see she is staring at the pet dog behind me that also doesn't see me. Frowning I stand and walk past the dog and through the gate. My feet glide around the pavement, never touching the ground. Leaning on the wall behind me, I see kids walking by, heading home from school for the day.
"You really need to visit the club, Flower," a voice alerted me and I turned to see Apple Jack who preferred to be called Jack. Apple Jack was old, old. He looked like a 13-year-old but had been around for eighty years. He got tired of being precise about the days when his best friend forgot about him.
"The club is for people who gave up. I'm not one of those. Lily will remember me. I have a feeling it will be soon."
"Listen Flower, you don't have to come and give up on thinking your best friend will remember you. It's just that some of us have no choice." Apple Jack was referring to himself of course. While imaginary friends died away when their friends died, Apple Jack was one of the first to not suffer the fate. We had no idea why he remained here when his friend passed away five days ago. Sure we were growing accustom to it, but Jumbo died two months ago when his best friend was hit by a car. It was strange that Apple Jack was still here.
I looked at Jack's old striped cotton shirt that was red and white, and black shorts. His eyes still crystal blue no matter how much time passed. His brown hair is cut in a bowl shape, and the freckles on his very pale skin made Jack look more youthful than the average 13-year-old. "I'm sorry Jack. It's just... I feel like I've chosen to give up if I go there. Everyone that goes there hates their best friends. I'm not one of those friends; I just hate all of Lily's new friends."
Jack placed a hand on my shoulder and patted it. "I understand you. But listen Flower, I don't hate my best friend. I never did. So come on down, enjoy some talk, make-believe food and drinks. Don't be afraid to talk. If you go quiet too long... that's bad." Jack was referring to Rainbow. Rainbow had stayed quiet and still so long that she remained stuck in her best friend's house, even though her best friend moved over ten years ago. She couldn't leave his room. She could always be seen sitting in the window. It was rumor that she would stay there until her best friend died. We both looked in the direction her house was and sighed.
"I'll come down there tonight. I'm going to go check out the school first," I tell Jack. It took energy for me to go to Lily's school. When we were younger, it was easy; I could go anywhere Lily went. Now that she forgot about me, it was hard to go too far away where our memories were strongest. Luckily, the high school was around the corner from the elementary school, so it made traveling there easy.
Jack looked at me with his eyebrow raised and shook his head. "You have quite an interest in Lily's school life."
I nodded my head and turned to look at Lily's house before saying, "Yeah."
"I will see you at seven then." Jack turned and walked back in the direction he came from, probably to go seek out other imaginary friends to visit the club. I headed in the opposite direction, to head towards the path that lead to Greendale High School. Students would walk through me as they continued to head home in trickles. I noticed Lily's art teacher carrying supplies to the art studio as I walked inside the main building. I followed her closely, which was easy considering people walked right through me, or was it I who walked right through them. Whatever.
Inside the art classroom, I noticed projects along the walls, art books left out for display by talented students. Lily was one of them. I quickly went over to her art book and wished I could will it open, but I could not. Instead, I hoped that today was the day Lily's art teacher Ms. Purdue would check Lily's art book. I'd been waiting for three days already, and Ms. Purdue stayed after school for three hours to check work. An hour passed before she came over to Lily's book and finally she started to check it. I concentrated closely as she flipped pages, looking at her artwork, hoping that maybe I might be in the pages somewhere-maybe she remembered me that way. But most of Lily's artwork featured abstract art with a mix of colors and fancy written words. There was a picture of Jessica in it. And her dog Buck. One of her mother. But none of dear old Flower. Sunken and sullen, I walk away from the art book and start to float back down the hallway and back towards Lily's house. My heart felt emptier than it did in months.
As I walked towards Lily's house, I suddenly remember that the club was open now and that I told Jack I would visit. Turning back towards the school, I make a right at the end of Lily's street and walk towards the park. The park was a sanctuary for the imaginary friends. A gathering ground. And if we headed towards the abandoned area where a building that was built but never finished started, we would reach the club. Parts of the roof were missing and chairs and tables were beyond dusty or dirty. But this was the club. A club for imaginary friends of all types. Jack ran the club, and everyone else hung out. There were two rules of the club. The first rule was to obey Jack. The second rule was to obey Jack.
As I came close to the club, I heard laughter and loud voices. I knocked on the front door and Jack opened the door, smiling when he saw me. "Flower my dear, come on in." I walked in the club and was shocked to see that it was no longer as shabby as I remembered it. My only thoughts were how Jack was able to gather all of this nice stuff when we couldn't move anything nor communicate with the living.
I noticed imaginary drinks, chips, and food on a table near the back and went to grab a bottle of apple juice. Then I realized it was cold and dropped it. I could imagine something being cold and imagine feeling something…but I felt this bottle and it was cold. I stared at the bottle as it rolled on the floor towards the middle of the crowd. "I felt it." Jack appeared next to me and picked the bottle back up to hand it to me. "It's cold, how it possible?"
"Anything is possible Flower," He said as he me in the eye and gave a wink. I stared back at the bottle in my hand and unscrewed the cap, drinking the juice inside. It was sweet, liquid and cold. It felt real. Jack moved towards the middle of the room and other imaginary friends began to look his way. I looked back at the table and noticed that a table next to it had several piles of clothes-a large variety of sizes and styles. It was mildly confusing.
"My fellow friends I have gathered you all here today to announce something. Something tremendous has befallen me. We are imaginary beings, but we were real to someone once. We were created!" I grip the apple juice in my hand tightly as I listen to Jack speak, other friends moving closer to Jack and others sitting down because they've heard something like this from Jack before.
"We were real! But we have all died. But I was reborn again," Jack spoke as though he was some sort of preacher, justifying his actions. People that sat down had started to look at Jack more intently. I looked at the food on the table and noticed that I could smell the chocolate. I was never able to smell before, well other than when Lily wanted me to smell what she smelled.
"It is true my best friend died, but it was not from old age. No, he died by my hands," Jack said, his voice filled with righteousness. Friends started to gasp and shout in shock at what was being said, but Jack continued. "I was given a weapon... and I used it. When he died, I was reborn. I can touch, I can taste, I can smell, and I can feel. And you all can too. I've place in the food and drink here…magic. With it you all can begin to sense the world like never before." Some friends began to yell in anger, while others looked confused. Others looked intently at the food and back at Jack. "I have a spell that will make us all real. Every single imaginary friend in this club will be made real. As I grow my power in the future, I can make all the friends in this state real. And then possible the continent. You all will be seen; never will someone forget you again!" Jack raised his hands in the air and continued to shout, but this time he was using another language. I felt the ground shake beneath me and gasped at the sensation. It was impossible. I looked at Pounce and grabbed his hand to keep his and my balance. A bright white light exploded across the room from Jack's body. Pounce and I fell backwards as the light burned across our skin.
I stared at the night sky as the white light faded. I felt my eyes become wet as I began to feel the wood beneath my skin. Then... everything hurt. The next thing I heard was screaming. I was screaming and everyone around me began to scream.