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The Ignoring Game

by Molly Wiseman 4 years ago in friendship

An Imaginary Friend's Perspective

David’s room is like a home to me. Every inch of the place has been marked with memories that he and I had together. The walls are covered with pictures he drew. I stare up at each one, smiling. I watched David draw them himself, and I critiqued each one as he taped them to the wall. Of course, I always told him that his works in crayon were the best I had ever seen. They splatter the room’s gray walls with color, lighting up the room with their joy. My favorite drawing of his was hanging above his bed. It’s a crayon sketch of both of us with our arms around each other and red, curled lines representing our smiles. In childish handwriting above David wrote Me and Buzz.

David still has crayons lying out on his desk. I walk over to gather them up, but the picture beneath them distracts me. They rest on top of a piece of paper with an unfinished pink dinosaur scribbled on it, tipping his top hat slightly with a grin on his face. David has a fascination with dinosaurs. There are plastic dinosaur figures lining his dresser with their pointy claws outstretched and aimed at each other. We play with these all the time. I start to cross the room towards the toys, but I kick something that rattles. I freeze, afraid that David’s parents downstairs heard me. I stare at the closed door while bracing myself for the handle to jiggle. Nothing happens.

I look down to see what I had kicked. It’s Candyland. David must have forgotten to put the game back into the closet the last time we played it together. It’s David’s favorite board game, but I’m not much of a fan. I get bored drawing the cards and I start to tell knock-knock jokes instead. David always laughs at them, and I keep telling them until he is doubled over, gasping for relief from his laughs. I liked playing outside more than with the board games. I love to run around, chasing David, until our lungs are about to explode. We usually get so hot that sweat starts to run down our faces, so we break out the water balloons. There have been many water balloon battles held in David’s backyard. Sometimes we would throw them at unseen enemies, other times at each other.

I listen to the muffled sound of David’s mom. I can hear her high, squeaky voice clambering away about the town’s local gossip. David’s parents don’t like me. When I first came to David’s house they were nice and would even join in on our tea parties and fort building competitions. They used to have fun with us, but soon they began to ignore me. They refused to even acknowledge me, pretending that their son’s best friend didn’t exist.

On one occasion, David’s mom stopped him in his tracks when we were sprinting out of the house and into the yard to go play baseball. She grabbed him by the shoulders and crouched down to his level. “This has got to stop,” she had told David in a firm voice and with a slight shake of his shoulders.

I remember David’s confused look on his face when she had told him this. His eyes grew wide and he looked towards me for help. I could tell that he was worried his parents were going to stop us from being friends. He looked back at his mother and said, “But Buzz is my friend, Mama.” His mother just rolled her eyes and released his shoulders. I was dumbfounded in that moment. There was nothing I could say to change his mother’s mind, but it’s not like she would listen to me anyway.

I shake my head, clearing it from the memory, and sit on David’s bed. I run my hand across his bedspread, studying the galaxy print. Little astronauts are hidden among the stars being stalked by goofy aliens who peek around colorful planets. David had told me before that he wanted to be an astronaut when he grew up, and I believe that he is smart enough to make that happen. I flop down on my back onto the space blanket. I shut my eyes and remember that warm, sunny day.

It was summer and school had been out for a few weeks. David was outside finishing up his spaceship made of cardboard and tape. I walked up behind him and watched as he carefully drew on the last of the ship’s designs with marker. I admired his work in silence as I let him concentrate on the finishing touches. He sat back and motioned to the ship. “What do you think, Buzz?”

I told him it looked like the best rocket ship I had ever seen. David tossed his marker aside and it rolled into the grass. He climbed over the side of the cardboard ship and looked back at me. “Aren’t you going to hop in with me?” he asked.

I hesitated. The ship looked so perfect; I didn’t want to mess it up. David motioned for me to hurry up. “I can’t go to space without my best friend,” he called out. I remember my heart leapt in my chest when he said those words. Best friend. I repeated them over and over in my head. I climbed over the side of the ship and sat behind David. We played as astronauts for the rest of the day, but my mind was stuck on David’s words. That was the first time he had called me his best friend.

The sound of the front door squeaking open and closed rouses me from my memories. I feel my heart start to hammer and I can barely contain my excitement. David is finally home. I bounce off of his bed and stand in the middle of his room, watching the door, ready to greet him as soon as he walks in. I hear his footsteps as he ascends the stairs to his room. I grin wildly, ready to see my best friend.

The bedroom door opens and David walks in. He has his backpack slung over one shoulder and his eyes are glued to the phone in his hand. His brown hair is messed up, like he has had a rough day. The blue jeans he wears are clean without a single speck of dirt on them, and his shirt and jacket rest neatly on his torso. I smile at him. He’s grown so much since I first met him, I can’t help but swell with pride to see the young man my best friend has blossomed into. David shuts the door and walks over to his bed. He swings his backpack onto the blanket with a sigh of relief. My smile fades. It’s like he didn’t even see me.

I shake off the feeling of abandonment and approach David. He’s been busy at school today, he’s probably exhausted. He flops onto the bed letting his back face me. I watch as he unzips his backpack and pulls out a large textbook and a binder. He’s getting out his homework. David is such a good student; he always gets his homework done before doing anything else after school. But, I’m growing impatient and don’t want to wait for him to finish his work before we play.

“Do you have to do your homework first?” I complain, “I’ve been waiting for you to get home all day.”

David doesn’t respond. I watch his back as he leans over his notebook, flipping through its pages. He’s ignoring me. We’ve played this game before; it’s called the Ignoring Game. The objective is to see how long you can go before talking, laughing, or looking at the other person. I used to like the game, but I’m growing less fond of it. We play the Ignoring Game too much these days.

“I don’t want to be ignored, David,” I tell him. I walk around to the other side of the bed and sit down so I can see his face. “I want to play with you like we used to.”

David’s brown eyes never meet mine. He scans over his notes, squinting as he tries to decipher his own hand writing. I roll my eyes. “You’re really getting on my nerves today,” I sigh. I wave my hand in front of his face trying to get him to look up at me. He doesn’t flinch, or even blink. He has always been great at this game.

An idea lights up my brain. I lie down on David’s bed and rest my head on his homework. I look up at him and finally peer into his eyes. I laugh, victorious with my win. “Ha, you lose,” I taunt David, “You’re looking right at me.”

I grin at David, but something is wrong. He is looking down at me, but it doesn’t really appear like he is actually seeing me. His pupils move back and forth like he is reading the words printed on his notebook through my head. Defeated, I mumbled under my breath, “You are good at this game.”

From somewhere downstairs, David’s mother calls to him. I wasn’t paying enough attention to hear what she said. David slides off of his bed and closes his notebook full of homework. He opens the door and is about to leave me behind. “Wait,” I call out to him, desperate for him to look at me.

He freezes in the doorway, and I let out a happy sigh. Finally, the Ignoring Game has come to an end. I approach David until I am standing right next to him. David reaches out in front of him and swings the door around. A mirror hangs in front of us with shiny dinosaur stickers stuck to its surface. David and I put them there. David brushes his hair back so that it lies perfectly on top of his head. I peer into the mirror’s reflection and feel my heart sink into my stomach. Even though I’m right next to David my reflection isn’t showing up in the mirror next to his.

I turn to David as he smoothes down a particular disobedient strand of hair. “I hate how you fixed the mirror,” I say, “I think you’re cheating at the game when you make it erase my reflection.”

Like always, David says nothing. He swings the door open and disappears out of the room and down the stairs. I could follow him, but playing the Ignoring Game has made me sad. I walk back to David’s bed, and catch sight of the picture taped above. I approach the piece of paper with a sigh and study the crayon’s markings. David’s arms are red sticks and they’re wrapped around my skinny body in a hug. I smile at the thin red lines on our faces, curled up at the ends to form our grins.

In the corner of the picture I spot something I had never noticed before. It was inked letters in adult handwriting that were out of place on this Crayola masterpiece. I read the letters, blinked once, and then read them again. My breath catches in my throat and I stumble backwards. “This can’t be right,” I tell myself, “This isn’t happening.”

As the realization kicks in, I watch David’s room change in front of my eyes. I see the stickers David and I put on his mirror peel off one by one and disintegrate into thin air. The galaxy patterned bedspread on David’s bed begins to turn into a dull gray. I watch in horror as the pictures David and I had created together are torn off of the walls by some unseen force. The dinosaurs in a line on David’s dresser suddenly vanish along with the Candyland game I had left on the floor. I watch as every memory we shared fades.

I stare at David’s room. The walls were gray and bare along with his dresser and bed. One picture remained taped onto the wall above his bed and I rush over to it. It’s my favorite drawing, the one that caused this room to change. I rip it from the wall and read the message written on the corner: David (Age 6) and his Imaginary Friend Buzz.

I study the letters until I notice that the picture is disappearing in my hands. I watch the crayon drawing of David’s smile disappear into nothingness. It vanishes and I know that the very last memory of me has just been erased from David’s room. It’s as if I had never even existed at all.

friendship

Molly Wiseman

I love creating stories for others to enjoy. I love reading stories as well. When I'm not working on my creative writing, I'm watching my cats, painting, or eating delicious food.

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