Stanley forced a smile to his lips at the memory of the onesided romance; it was silly, after all, a stupid childhood crush. Who’d fall in love with a fictional character? That was the kind of thing you laughed about as an adult. Or at least Harriet had thought so. He couldn’t quite do it, though. Couldn’t quite see it as a joke. It had felt too real, too raw and wild and fierce, for him todismiss it even now. It was love, of a sort, stunted and unformed as it was. For a time, it had kept him sane.
He was everything I needed because his entire character had been molded by my deepest wants and desires. He was my rock when I cried, my playmate when I laughed, and my hero when I needed to imagine that one existed for me.
Severing our young and fragile friendship was a sad ordeal, but sadder still was the fact that this friend found it so difficult to respond to my immediate need, unlike a dreamed boy who always afforded me easy comfort. I couldn’t understand what was so hard about reaching out to hug someone. But judging by Gregory’s uncomfortable conduct I had to assume it was an honest trial.
Well, you’re not exactly social, are you, Mandy Valems?”“Oh yeah, sure, because I’m just surrounded by genius to be social with in this day and age,” Mandy replied with razor-sharp sarcasm. “Hey, I don’t need anyone else! I’ve got you, you’re my friend, and you’ll be with me forever!”“…You won’t be with me forever, though…” said Alecto cynically. “I’m like a spider’s web; anyone who is friends with me gets dragged into my troubles and eventually dies.”“…Poetic, dear friend,” Mandy sighed, shaking her head. “Morbid, but poetic.
Gavin, I can’t talk to you here. People will call me crazy. My imaginary friend smirked. But you’re already talking to me. Well, I have to stop. His smirk grew cocky. I doubt you can resist. And he was right. There was nothing I wanted more than to give my full attention to an imagined shadow and ignore those who ignored me in the real world. I wanted to talk out loud to Gavin―to play and laugh boisterously with him. In a dream I could justify such behavior, but to succumb to hallucinations while wide awake would only prove me insane.
The child psychologist's clinic: where imaginary friends go to die, where dreams go to burn, where creativity goes to drown.
Your imaginary friend isn’t the problem, Amanda. The problem is that you don’t seem to have any real friends.
I know have lived, so many times, that the only thing I have left to remember is my writing, cause every single moment in life it's already written.
Some of the most evil human beings in the world are psychiatrists. Not all psychiatrists. Some psychiatrists are selfless, caring people who really want to help. But the sad truth is that in today's society, mental health isn't a science. It's an industry. Ritalin, Zoloft, Prozac, Lexapro, Resperidone, happy pills that are supposed to normalize the behavior of our families, our colleagues, our friends - tell me that doesn't sound the least bit creepy! Mental health is subjective. To us, a little girl talking to her pretend friends instead of other children might just be harmless playing around. To a psychiatrist, it's a financial opportunity. Automatically, the kid could be swept up in a sea of labels. not talking to other kids? Okay, she's asocial! or imaginary friends? Bingo, she has schizophrenia! I'm not saying in any way that schizophrenia and social disorders aren't real. But the alarming number of people, especially children, who seem to have these illnesses and need to be medicated or locked up... it's horrifying. The psychiatrists get their prestigious reputation and their money to burn. The drug companies get fast cash and a chance to claim that they've discovered a wonder-drug, capable of curing anyone who might be a burden on society... that's what it's all about. It's not about really talking to these troubled people and finding out what they need. It's about giving them a pill that fits a pattern, a weapon to normalize people who might make society uncomfortable. The psychiatrists get their weapon. Today's generations get cheated out of their childhoods. The mental health industry takes the world's most vulnerable people and messes with their heads, giving them controlled substances just because they don't fit the normal puzzle. And sadly, it's more or less going to get worse in this rapidly advancing century.
Amanda, you finally decided to answer the phone,” her mom exclaimed after picking up at the first ring. “Where’ve you been, what’ve you been up to?”“Mom, do you remember when I was a kid, I had a friend, he was a Personification of the Sydney Tar Ponds, sort of my imaginary friend?” Mandy asked.“No, what in the name of god are you on about?” her mom sighed in exasperation.“Remember? Only I could see him, but he was real and he was my best friend when I was eighteen?” Mandy insisted.“No, I don't remember Alecto Sydney Steele at all,” said her mom all too quickly.
I don’t like psychiatrists,” Alecto told her. “Not because they don’t think I’m real, but because they have no idea what they’re doing.
Why did you revive me?” Alecto repeated. “Well… uh, well….” Mandy hesitated, her voice full of sudden misery. “They say there are five stages of grief, you know… five stages. denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Not in any particular order. Anyhow, I denied your death, I was angry about it, I bargained with Mearth to try and get her to un-bury your site and I was depressed about the whole ordeal. One thing I just froze up on though was acceptance. I just couldn’t accept your death. It was really cruel the way you died, and I missed you so much… Mearth, my parents, the cops, Dr. Pottie, they all thought I was crazy. When people think you’re crazy, that label automatically dehumanizes you, because people can use it to discredit everything you say with, “oh, pay no mind to her, she’s just this crazy lunatic with a dead imaginary friend.” I just wanted to do something, anything to make it all go away, and I decided that I wanted to revive you.
If you were me you’d do the right thing, help your friends, because you’re not a coward,” Mandy sighed sadly. “I covered up a murder because I was scared to go to jail and I did the wrong thing… well, now’s my chance to do the right thing, to save someone’s life, because I don’t want you to die.”“Save someone’s life? I’m no one,” Alecto laughed morbidly. “A hundred and twelve years is definitely way too long to have survived. You’d be wasting your time and risking your own life….”“This is my life,” Mandy declared, smiling sincerely. Alecto just looked concerned and very doubtful as the rain drizzled down the roads and sidewalks, towards the harbour where it fell into the ocean, indistinguishable from all the other water in the world.
I’m considering keeping the shutters open, even if people are spying on me at night from the apartment across the street. Especially if they are spying on me. It makes me feel less alone. I have a mental camaraderie with that imaginary person and their imaginary gaze. I find myself performing myself for them and exaggerating my facial expressions so they can see me more clearly, like actors project their voices on stage. I’m miming myself.
It's like I'm dreaming of the imaginary friend Katie and I had when we were little. She'd been so real to us as kids. We each remembered Anna, that's what we'd called her, just like we remembered bits of our parents. But now, in this dreamscape of Paradise Lost, our imaginary third twin has all grown up.
As an artist suffering from insomnia and working from my apartment, I had an artistic freedom to explore and create awesome stuff. I wore a robe and slippers as my work dress code. These are the days when creativity is my best imaginary friend. And I was crazy enough to create what people would call masterpieces.
I know what I'm talking about, Alecto! When I think of Jud, I think of the times he wanted to be a coal miner, the times he took Wendy and me sailing in the harbour, the times he showed me how to play soccer, but I forgot all the bullying and I’ll never understand why. And now you ask me, you ask me what happened once we were in high school. You said you didn’t understand what having a family was like, so ask me!” Mandy was shouting at him without even realizing it, her words sharp and unforgiving.“I….” Alecto started, hesitating for a moment. “You don’t seem like yourself Mandy Valems, not at all….”“No, go ahead! You want to know what having a real family is like?” Mandy snapped, turning to stare at him coldly. “Ask me what happened, I’ll tell you anything you want to know!”“…What happened?” Alecto asked quietly, looking nervous and confused.“I stayed late after school in shop class when I was in grade 9, trying to keep my lousy grades up. I was building a birdhouse, something like that, and that was when Jud and all his popular jock friends came storming in, laughing and swearing like a bunch of pigs,” Mandy continued. “So ask me what happened next.”“I… I don’t want to ask you what happened,” Alecto replied.“Ask me!” Mandy yelled.“Alright, what happened next…?” Alecto questioned.