When I am 4, I meet my first friend.
He puts a hand on my shoulder and tells me a funny story.
He is small, like me and very pale.
I call him Ghost, and we giggle together at the dinner table.
When I am scared, he stays close.
And I feel better knowing I am not alone.
He is with me only for a short while.
I wish he would have stayed longer.
But Mom doesn’t like him.
And Dad thinks it’s a demon.
Both are angry, which scares Ghost away.
I am alone again.
When I am 8, I have many friends.
They walk with me to school and stay when I am alone.
No one else will talk to me.
But they always do.
They are boys and girls from my favourite books.
The girls think I’m pretty, and the boys like my stories.
They are much braver and smarter than I am.
We can talk about my favourite things for hours.
My mom finds me staring at the wall most days.
So, I get better at keeping them a secret.
My brother notices I smile a little more.
I feel safest when they are near by.
Like I can be anything I want.
When I am 12, I have my first boyfriend.
He thinks I’m pretty, funny, and he holds my hand when I get really scared.
I imagine we kiss.
No one knows or sees.
I spend all my free time with him, and I tell him all about my day.
Although I begin to understand that he is imagined.
I look forward to meeting with my secret friend.
I feel everything. Warmth and love the most.
Reality is in another realm.
That’s the part the feels the best.
He starts to stay less and less.
I miss him, or maybe just outgrow him.
I get very busy.
Mom and Dad don’t think I am doing enough.
Between housework, raising my brother, and school.
Am I enough?
Will it ever be enough?
My boyfriend thought so.
When I am 16, I have a small group of friends at school.
I have a big family, always around me.
At least I think they want to be around me.
I am happy that I have something real now.
But I find out, that it is only imagined, like my secret friends.
It’s like biting into a beautiful berry only to find it bitter and tart.
My secret friends return as an army,
when I realize these truths.
I think they know I need them.
Soon they move in for a long while.
They wait with me while I cry.
They wait while I break and tear.
They stay while I am so beat down, I nearly lose myself.
I welcome the darkness, I run towards it even.
But my secret friends pull me back.
They don’t want me to go.
That’s nice to know.
When I am 21, my life begins, within me and outside of me.
I break away from the things that pressed and squeezed me.
Although I am better,
my secret friends come back when I am lonely.
I lose myself again and I wander for a long time.
My secret friends keep me smiling.
I tell them my stories, while they tell me theirs.
It feels like the first sunrays after a rainy day.
I like having someone to talk to.
Someone to hear my goals and dreams when the rest deem them unattainable.
When I am 30, I don’t hear them much anymore.
Sometimes I joke to myself.
I sing to myself.
But I don’t need to do life by myself.
Or in secret.
I don’t need to hurt in quiet anymore.
My secret friend, the one I always found comfort in,
became a real friend.
The friend I go to when I am scared or hurt.
The friend I cry to when I am sad.
The lover I seek pleasure in.
Finally, I think.
But I never said thank you.
To the warmth of imagined embraces, that made me feel safe.
Of smiling faces that made me feel heard.
Of funny jokes that made me laugh, for the few moments I gathered to myself
Thank you, these imaginary friends that stayed.
For giving me the chance to grow up.
For helping me find myself.
For helping me find my not so secret, not imagined, real friend.
About the author
I am an aspiring writer from Ontario, Canada. My field of experience and degrees are in Social Work and Political Science. I am currently working on a series of children's stories and I love to read mystery, romance, and fantasy.
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