FriendsA Story by Jasmine Thousand
Sometimes you just can't get any better than IMAGINARY.
Two years ago I said good-bye to the only friend I’ve ever had. Her name was Lily Were, and she was a girl exactly my height (a tall 5 feet for a twelve-year-old-girl) and exactly my age. She had huge sapphire eyes that seemed happy and yet sorrowful at the same time and black hair that reached her waist. I was the only one who ever saw her though, so she went with me everywhere, outside when I was punished, she was with me on my birthday, and she went simply everywhere with me. She was there when I lost my favorite cat and was with me when I got 100 on the biggest exam of the 10th grade.
I myself was graceful (having attended ballet classes since the age of five) with dark hair two shades lighter than Lily’s and dark brown eyes that looked shocked all the time. People said I was pretty, but I myself never saw it. Regardless, I was the social outcast 12 year old amid a bunch of teenagers in 10th grade. I was the lone girl who wore dresses when people wore jeans and shorts, the girl who wrote stories while other girls did gymnastics or played soccer. Lily was the one who always reviewed my writing, waiting patiently if I didn’t understand. She herself wore a little purple dress of gossamer, and hence was never bothered by my own clothes. But the best part by far was that I was the only one who could see her, the imaginary friend.
“It’s right here.” Lily was saying, in her half-singing voice. She picked up the little doll with her rosy red cheeks and bright violet eyes up from the floor, where it was covered from view by a tall bookcase.
“Oh! Can’t believe I looked it over! Thanks, Li!” I said.
Lily preferred to be called Li, and she gave in after protesting for several days that it didn’t seem to fit her. But when I was really, really happy with her, I gave in and said “Li”. I myself preferred to be called Virginia, simply because it was different from Victoria. Not that I don’t like Victoria, because I do, but I like the make-believe world, and chose something other than Victoria for Lily to call me just for the sake of this reason.
I took the doll and put it in my back pack. I was already dressed in a shimmering white dress with slightly puffed sleeves and a slightly puffy skirt, completed by a sky-blue ribbon sash. As it was a cold day I put on stockings too, wincing slightly as I thought about how the other kids at school would tease me. But I simply couldn’t bring myself to wear “normal” clothes. What defined normal, anyway? I’d rather be crazy and be myself than be normal and bored out of my mind.
“Victoria! It’s almost time to go! Hurry up!” My mom was calling.
“C’mon. Time to go.” I mumbled to Lily.
We half-ran down the stairs and I took my lunch before quickly eating a slice of red velvet cake and swallowing my hot apple cider before I proceeded to run out the door. On the way out I glanced at the clock. Below the time was the date: November 18th. My birthday.
I retreated back to the kitchen.
“Mom, is today a special day?” I asked.
“No, not that I know of. Why?”
“No reason.” I mumbled.
I headed back down the front porch to where Lily was waiting.
“Happy twelfth birthday Virginia.” Lily said softly.
“Happy twelfth birthday Li.” I smiled back.
When I was back in elementary school my teachers discovered I was a “genius” for academics. I was pulled out of my cozy little group of friends and was set among people two years older than me; I was made an outcast among complete strangers. I hadn’t wanted it, not one bit. But I was one girl against pretty much the whole school. Even my friends told me to go. I could see it in the shadows of their eyes when they looked at me, silent unspoken words- freak. Finally, one day I couldn’t bear the loneliness anymore and I fancied myself a friend. She had skipped three grades as well, she loved to write stories too, and she accepted me for who I was. She always understood me. Her name was Lily Were. And from that day on, she was my best friend.
“Who know the answer?” Mr. Robin said. “Nobody?”
As a matter of fact, I did. But I had long since learned that to say that I, the little twelve year old girl, knew the answer was like committing suicide. Mr. Robins came over and leaned on my desk.
“Do YOU know it, Miss Virginia?” He said, using emphasis on my preferred name.
“No…” I whispered, hoping I didn’t look like I was lying.
The class sniggered happily at my predicament. Lily put her hand on mine.
“Don’t say the answer, Virginia, don’t…” she said quietly.
Mr. Robins glared at me one last time. “The answer is 24.37.” he said, resuming his lecture. Mr. Robins always hated my since I was in the same grade as his daughter. His daughter, to say the least, was not one of my favorite companions either.
Next period was Literature, my favorite class, and as we were to be writing today, I was positively jumping with joy! Lily just said I was hysterical though, but I didn’t let this spoil my mood though I did stop jumping up and down. Mrs. Waters greeted me when we went in.
“Hi Virginia!” she smiled. I hadn’t told anyone about Lily, not even my own parents.
When we got settled down Mrs. Waters announced the subject of today’s writing: Dramatic Fantasy. The boys groaned, the girls sighed. Nobody except Mrs. Waters and Lily liked writing, and to boys writing about fantasy was a waste of time that could be spent playing sports. Mrs. Waters simply chuckled and handed our sheets of paper out, and set the timer to one hour. This was for the other students. I finished my story in just two minutes, and spent the rest of the time illustrating the protagonist on the back of the paper.
At the end of class Mrs. Waters collected the papers and winked at me. Lily smiled to me again and squeezed my hand.
“Mrs. Waters is so very nice!” Lily said a sparkle in her eyes.
I smiled back.
“But you’re the nicest friend.”
Lily just smiled at me again, but there was something else in those dark blue eyes- something sad, wistful lurking there.
I didn’t comment on it.
Over the next few days my life had been much happier. When got yelled at for getting a question in geometry wrong, Lily smiled and told me the answer. I never could figure out how a figment of my imagination could wash dishes and answer questions I didn't understand, but I didn’t let that bother me. I had a friend, a true friend, and that was enough.
One morning in mid-October, when I was inside Mrs. Water's classroom doing an extra credit project (everyone else was out on break) I asked Lily what she thought of the main character. We had a conversation, and Mrs.Waters watched, looking surprised. At length she asked, "Virginia, who are you talking to?"
Lily and me both started. We'd both forgotten she was in the room, too wrapped up in ourselves. Dread began to pool in the bottom of my stomach- what would I say?
"Tell her the truth." Lily said, with a slight squeeze of my hand.
So tell I did, and Mrs. Waters understood perfectly. She told me once she had imaginary friend as well- "But, of course, that was very long ago!" She chuckled.
"Did you do ballet today?" Mom was asking.
I never really liked ballet, it was what Mom, and not me, had loved to do. However, I never told her this. I didn't want to hurt her feelings.
"No- I forgot..." I replied.
"You didn't forget, Victoria. You did it on purpose."
As a matter of fact I hadn't. I had done it myself, in my bedroom. I'd learned a new part in Swan Lake. As if Mom would believe me.
"Go do it now. And don't come up till you're done!"
So that was how I ended up not sleeping till 3 o'clock in the morning. But I don't regret it. Lily taught me a new step, and we made our own dance routine, calling it Jewels. There was, however, one downside to this. When I finally came upstairs Mom thought I had been playing on my IPod and confiscated it. Then she put me out to sleep in the doghouse.
Next morning, I'm sure Mr. Robin will yell at me for falling asleep in class. High school does begin at 7:30, and I had about four hours to sleep, and in the doghouse too. Lily slept outside too. She always did, she said she loved the moonlight and the breeze. I enjoyed these too, but from inside the warmth of my home.
Lily wasn't just there one day. She required careful planning. I had to imagine precisely how she looked, the I had to fool myself into believing she was real. After she appeared to me, slowly becoming solid, I had to invent her personality, her clothes. I gave her the life I wished I had. Except for a few differences such as making her a "giant" in height and a "freak" for being in 9th grade when everybody else was in 7th. But, unlike me, Lily wasn't bothered by these things. At least nobody said anything to her. Oh, to be a figment of someone else's imagination!
Sure enough, I fell asleep in Mr. Robin's class the next day. As punishment he gave me a C in a test whereas I should've gotten an A. He also kept me inside when everybody else was outside playing. If it had been with Mrs. Waters I wouldn't have minded.
Lily, however, began telling jokes.
"Do you know what a muse is?" she asked.
"No..." I whispered out of the corner of my mouth, so Mr. Robin wouldn't hear. "What is it?"
"Well, your muse died." Lily said, aggravatingly.
"What's a muse though?" I asked, confused now.
"Inspiration. A muse is something like inspiration." Lily smiled.
"Well, that's great. My inspiration died. Maybe I should just like give up writing stories. I mean there's no point anymore, right?" I said sarcastically.
Lily laughed, till tears squeezed out of her eyes. I couldn't help it. I laughed too. Sharply Mr. Robins stopped and turned around.
"Anything funny Miss Virginia?" he scowled condescendingly.
The laughter died on my lips.
"You'll be staying after school too."
Mom won't be happy.
She wasn't happy. Not one bit. She yelled at me, saying I couldn't do anything right, I wasn't good at anything, I didn't have any talents. And for the first time in my life, she called me ugly.
The only thing that my mom had ever liked about me was that I was pretty. She smiled at me when I looked nice, complimenting me. Now, for the first time in my life, she said I was ugly. I didn't cry then, and I didn’t cry later. Even so, Lily comforted me. Friends are the best things on earth.
Three months passed, the happiest months of my life. Mrs Waters critiqued my writing, and Lily was the best friend I'd ever had. One day, however, it all came crashing down on my shoulders.
"Why don't you go over to Amy's anymore?" my mom asked.
One reason was because Lily didn't like it. Another-
"She told me she's in 10th grade like me." I muttered.
"Yes, and..." Mom prompted when I didn't speak.
"She doesn't go to school. She's 12 and in FOURTH grade, Mom. Not because she's stupid or anything, but she simply doesn't go to school. She stays home all day fooling around."
"It’s not as if you don’t do the same, Victoria. But still, you need a friend. You said all of your former friends got jealous, and Amy isn't."
As a matter of fact, I hadn't said they got jealous. More like I was jealous of them. Why couldn't I be normal?
"I have Lily. She's my best friend." I ran out the door before Mom could ask who Lily was. But Mom followed me outside.
"Victoria, is Lily-just part of your imagination?"
Lily looked stricken. Stricken was how I felt.
"How did you kn-know?" I stammered in reply. From the look in her eyes, Mom knew that meant yes.
"Victoria, we're going somewhere."
So Lily and I ended up in a big, tall, building that denounced psychologist names in golden letterings on the doors.
"Victoria Tonson?" the clerk called.
I looked up, then to Lily, who was as white as a sheet, then to Mom, who nodded and whispered, "Go on, dear. Nothing to be afraid of.”
We went in. The room was painted white; there was a couch-like chair in one corner, two more coffee colored couches in front of a tall black desk. Behind the desk was a tall woman with her blonde hair pulled into a tight ponytail at the back of her head. Her green eyes glinted.
"Please sit down." she said, gesturing to the chairs.
Lily sat on the couch in the corner, so I sat with my mom on the ones facing the desk.
"I'm Ms. Pinkle. And you are?" she said, talking to me.
"Virginia." Mom let out a sigh.
"Your paper says Victoria though, Virginia."
"I prefer Virginia."
"So why are you here, Virginia?"
I wasn't sure if I liked this Ms. Pinkle, and refused to say anything. Finally Mom spoke up for me.
"She has an imaginary friend. I heard you're the best at getting rid of them."
"Yes, imaginary friends are annoying little pests. It is best to get rid of them as soon as possible." Ms. Pinkle said authoritively.
I was sure I didn't like her now. Lily looked pale.
"She's not a bug or something. She's a person, Ms. Pinkle." I felt my face grow red with anger.
"Yes, of course my dear." She replied, blowing me off, and instead turned to face my mom. "We'll begin now." She turned to face me again.
"Lily does not exist, Victoria. Virginia is simply a fake identity, so you won't mind if I call you Victoria, right?"
I wondered how she found out Lily's name. I didn't reply, instead I turned around to face Lily. She seemed blurry somehow, faded like an old tape, her edges fuzzy.
"LILY DOES NOT EXIST, Victoria!"
Lily faded. She was crying, crying for the first time in all the time I’d known her. And it was scaring me.
"STOP IT!" I shouted back at Pinkle, frantic. “STOP, PLEASE!”
"THERE IS NO LILY. YOU DO NOT HAVE A FRIEND NAMED LILY. SHE IS SIMPLY, simply, NO MORE THAN A FRAGMENT OF YOUR IMAGINATION." Ms. Pinkle said sternly, eyes glinting as she yelled.
Lily was disappearing, a little by little, only her brilliant blue eyes remaining in shock, brimming with tears, till finally those faded away as well.
Lily was gone.
The only friend I had ever had was gone, and it was my own mother’s fault.
I walked out the door, slamming it behind me.
The only thing I remember of the rest of the two years was Mrs. Waters' death. She had died of a heart attack two weeks after Lily died. I was mentioned in Mrs. Waters' will. She left me a doll, a delicate doll with pink cheeks and blue sapphire eyes and long ebony hair. There had been a name tied to her wrist, the not read, in Mrs. Waters' curling handwriting, Lily.
The rest of the year passed, then the next.
I'd made my plan.
I didn’t do my homework that night, and dressed in the outfit Mom had always wanted me to wear- jeans, a white top with red cherries, and gold sandals. I painted my fingernails blood red, curled my hair and put on makeup.
If one person talked to me. If one person smiled at me. One, and I wouldn’t do it.
No one did.
When I went to Mr. Robin’s classroom, I threw around paper airplanes, not even bothering to pay attention to his lecture. This was how other kids acted, right?
His hands slammed down on my desk.
“VICTORIA. What, exactly, may I ask are you doing?” he sneered through his teeth. I simply smiled in response.
“Why? Is there something wrong?”
He hissed, finally deciding on a punishment. “What’s the answer to number twenty-seven?”
I looked at the textbook quickly, the formulas turning and moving around in my mind.
“Eighty-nine pi over sixty-seven.”
“Square root two over ninty-six.”
“Fifty-eight.” His face was quickly becoming a brilliant shade of red.
“One point twenty nine.”
“PRINCIPAL’S OFFICE!” he yelled, and I slammed the door behind me as I left.
I didn’t go to the principal’s office. I headed straight home.
Mom will be back at six, so I have time.
I collected my Lily doll and all my writings in a neat little pile. Then I went to my desk and wrote a note, taking care and time as I treasured the last time my fingers would touch a pen…a paper…the last time my thoughts would form themselves into words.
Mother and Father-
Don't worry too much about me. I'll be fine. I'm going to Mrs. Waters and Lily now. I miss them. I have some favors I need though.
1: Bury this doll with me please.
2: Publish my stories.
I think that's it. Don't worry too much. Please. I'm just going on an adventure. Be happy.
I love you.
Your daughter, the way you preciously raised her.
I put the note, doll and stories in a box. I wrote another note, and hung it on my front door.
I took my CD player and set it to play some music. Franz Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony.
And I took the knife, the wet gleam of metal gleaming.
And I cut. Red ribbons of blood against silver…
I went to my bed and put my hands folded on my chest, the box in my hands.
And I closed my eyes.
Maybe I’ll have friends wherever I’m going.
© 2013 Jasmine Thousand
Shelved in 3 LibrariesAdded on November 10, 2011
Last Updated on February 23, 2013
Tags: imaginary, friends, come, true, if, you, believe, short, fantasy, realistic, fiction, story, outcast, in, society, social, sad, sorrow, sometimes, can, not, get, any, better, than
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