Imagine That (5-26-18)

[WP] You’ve had an imaginary friend ever since you were a small child. You still see and interact with them even as a teenager even if no one else can. They are your oldest friend and closest confidant. Starting today, everyone can see them too. [Link to post.]

“I think Karen saw you,” Maria spoke to the bathroom mirror. A freckled girl with coppery red hair stood behind her own dark haired reflection, but she knew the girl did not have a physical presence. The red-head shook her head.

“Nah, you’re the only one that can see me,” Amber, the freckled girl said. Maria knew Amber was right, she invented the pale girl to be her friend when no one else would. It surprised her that Amber stuck around until high-school, but after learning how to communicate with her in public without making a fool of herself she enjoyed having Amber’s company at school. “Hey, let’s get back to class,” she added. It amused Maria that her imaginary friend was the responsible one of them. 

Maria agreed and the two girls made their way back to class. As she found her seat Maria noticed Karen staring at her, but not quite staring at her. As if the head cheerleader looked past her, but not in the usual condescending way. Throughout the rest of the Spanish class Maria noticed Karen looking around the room, but her gaze always stopped for a minute when Amber entered her line of sight. The bell to start lunch rang and Maria stood in a hurry from her seat, then bolted out the door. 

“She definitely sees you!” Maria hissed toward Amber as she navigated the flow of students. 

“Yeah, you’re right. I noticed it too.” Amber agreed, but offered no helpful suggestions otherwise. 

“I have a plan, and I’m sorry. If it comes down to it though, I have to pretend you’re not there,” Maria apologized. She ran through several scenarios instead of paying attention during Spanish class. Each one involved Karen trying to goad Maria into embarrassing herself by harassing her invisible friend. Then, she felt Amber’s hand on her shoulder. The imaginary girl’s touch felt strange whenever they made contact. It felt as if her mind knew there should be something touching her, but did not know what. So she felt all kinds of weird pressure at once. Not painful, but definitely unique and unsettling at first. She grew accustomed to it over the years. 

“It’s okay, she’s been on your case since Elementary school. Do what you gotta do, we’ll always be friends,” Amber said. Maria felt a stronger pressure on her shoulder and interpreted it as Amber squeezing her shoulder in support. 

“Thank you,” Maria said. She made her way through the lunch lay to grab a tray of food with Amber sticking close behind her the whole time. Once she found a seat it did not take long for Karen and her entourage to appear across the table from her. They stood directly behind Amber. 

“Hey, Scary Mary. Who’s your friend?” Karen asked. Maria ignored her and ate her tater tots.

“Beat it Karen, I’m eating,” Maria said. The two girls flanking Karen let out immediate “ooooooooooooh”s. 

“I said, who’s your friend?” Karen raised a hand and tried to place it on Amber’s shoulder. However, the imaginary girl tended to remain intangible unless she had something specific she wanted to do. Karen’s hand fell straight through the empty air, the momentum caused her to bang her head on the lunch table. 

“You’re obviously drunk or high. Leave me alone or I’ll grab the nearest teacher and tell them that,” Maria said. “Unless the two idiots next to you also see my imaginary friend,” Maria used air quotes to make them feel stupider. Both girls shook their heads.

“Just an empty seat,” one of them said. The three girls walked away with Karen still rubbing her forehead. 

“Sorry,” Maria apologized again to Amber. “I hate pretending you’re not real,” she shrugged. “But, you’re not.” 

“Hey, I’m gonna go take a walk. I’ll see you in Algebra,” Amber said referring to Maria’s next class after lunch. 

“Ugh, another class with that bitch,” Maria complained. “Maybe you should skip it?” 

“Nah, it’ll be fine.” Amber waved, then walked away. It was one of the quirks Maria got used to over the years. She did not know much about other imaginary friends, but she knew hers seemed to have an excellent sense of autonomy. One time Amber disappeared for a whole month, then returned to tell Maria about all the wonderful sights she saw around the world. 

After lunch Maria found her seat in Algebra, then waited for Amber to walk in. Her smile brightened when the red-head stepped through the threshold. Maria’s best and only friend walked to Maria with her own broad smile.

“It worked!” Amber said in a loud whisper to avoid drawing attention from the rest of the students. 

“What worked?” Maria asked. 

“I’ll explain later, but whatever happens in class go with it, okay? Best friends?” Amber held out her pinky and Maria did not hesitate. She pulled back from the contact as if she touched a hot stove. She felt Amber’s pinky around hers. The sensation was not some unnamed, unformed sense of pressure. She felt Amber’s actual pinky entangle hers. Amber’s smile grew broader. Before Maria could ask anything Karen ran into the room screaming. 

“YOU FREAK! WHAT DID YOU DO????” She yelled, but her scream was drowned out by the bell signaling the start of class. Maria’s head turned towards the outburst, but in her peripheral she noticed no one else turned towards Karen. 

“Karen, I need you to sit down so we can start class,” Mr. Flores, the Algebra teacher asked. 

“BUT SHE DID SOMETHING TO ME!!!!!” Karen yelled back at the teacher. Mr. Flores walked towards the commotion unfazed until he stood in front of Amber. He tapped the red-headed girl on the shoulder.

“Let’s start class today, okay Karen.” 

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