I was sixteen when I had my first imaginary friend. It was entirely logical I suppose; a girl with an imagination of course needs someone to imagine. It was spurred after reading a book, where there was an imaginary friend, who ends up as some disturbing supernatural thing. That’s why I shut my imaginary friend away, just in case he’d start actually appearing behind me with a knife.
His name was Paris, after a dream I had recently had with a scar-covered boy of the same name. He had black hair, but that was all I could use to describe his appearance. Whenever I was on the bus he’d jump through the trees beside me, or hop on the roof of cars. We didn’t have many conversations, I’d watch him mostly; as he’d sit on people so oblivious to the smile in my head. It only lasted a week or so before I became too scared to let him into my mind anymore. I decided it was best, just in case there was a real monster there, to forget about him. And so I did. My first imaginary friend at the age of sixteen was gone from my life after a week.
I wonder if you see yourself in an imaginary friend, or if you see what you want to be. I think in some ways, I saw that in him. Not that I wanted to be male, but I think it was how he wasn’t afraid to do anything. He didn’t have to be, he could do anything. He was so lively and cheery and he enjoyed every moment. I think the ability to keep up with a moving bus helped. He wasn’t created to supplement a lack of real friends, nor there so we could sit down with a nice cup of tea and chat. He was there so that for a few moments, I could be jumping and dancing in the middle of the room whilst not having to explain the suddenness to anyone around me. He was there so I could go up to strangers and pull their hair, or bash on their windows. He was there so I could be everything I’m not.
I still remember him every now and then, and I’ll smile at him as he once again jumps through the trees. He was never a monster, and if he was then it would be only because I made him one. But he wasn’t, I made sure he left before I could do that to him. Perhaps sixteen is a bit old to have a first imaginary friend, or any imaginary friend at all, but when it’s a friend, you can never be too late. And frankly, a friend is a friend, regardless of whether they’re in your head or not, and you’ll have friends whatever age you are.