This piece is very different from everything I’ve written so far. It is a letter written by an imaginary friend, to Zach, a teenager, who has now forgotten him, He is fading away, after failed attempts of helping Zach recollect exactly who he is. Through this heartfelt letter, I have explored the ideas of forgotten friendship and the pain of being forgotten by someone who meant so much.
I know you don’t know who I am just as yet, but I urge you to read on. I hope you’ll know exactly who I am, by the time you get to the end of this letter.
Sometimes, I sincerely wish I could erase my memories, and stop feeling so empty.
The flashbacks hit me like lightning bolts, appearing out of nowhere, and casting gloomy spells over my world, that used to be perfect, until not so long ago.
I hear footsteps in the distance, and get desperate to seek cover, as I hear them grow louder.
My eyes dart around the lawn, and I quickly seek cover behind an apple tree.
I catch a glimpse of you, and my heart sinks. It falls onto the grass below, shattering into million, tiny pieces. Tiny, little pieces radiating the warmth and love that used to be there. They emit flashes of dazzling light briefly, and then it all fades away. I knew what it was to live with a broken heart, and I knew what it was like, to be forgotten.
The instant I saw you, I wanted to give up my human form, and curl around the tree like a dainty, powerless creeper. Tears flowed down my cheeks, as I was pulled into a vortex- that abounded in memories from the past.
I say your name repeatedly.
And then a little louder.
What was wrong with you? I tried to run to our favourite spot in the yard, and flailing my hands in the air, trying to draw your attention to me.
But it felt like you were looking right past me.
You had other friends now, but you’ve forgotten your very first friend, Zach.
I helplessly watch you walk right through me, and run over to your friends.
You have plans for tonight, don’t you?
I guess we can’t go to the lake behind your house, and trap fireflies in glass bottles.
Gone are the times we’d lie on the dock and gaze up at the sky.
But that was when you were little, and you didn’t have friends.
You get into a car, and speed off into the night. Chasing you now is fruitless.
I turn around, and rush towards your house. I quietly open the door, and dart up the wooden steps. I go up to the attic, and look out of the small, round window, onto the street below.
I watch the dahlias grow by the sidewalk, gently bobbing up and down to the warm currents of the wind. Remember how we’d pluck their petals and throw them on each other’s heads? I miss those times. But I don’t think you do.
I turn my gaze to the dusty pictures in the attic. I run my fingers over them, and memories come cascading down into my head, like a waterfall.
The first picture is from when you were five.
You loved chasing sulphur coloured butterflies, you loved your swing-set and you loved your bicycle.
This picture was taken the day you first learned how to ride your bike without your training wheels. Your dad gave it a gentle push, and you were cruising down the path. Your eyes looked for me, and there I was. Standing on the sidewalk, cheering you on. Rooting for you.
Nobody else noticed me or acknowledged my presence, Zach. Nobody, but you. I guess that’s what made it even more special. The fact that nobody knew anything about this friendship, this bond we had conspired together.
On Sundays, we’d run across the street, on hearing the familiar bells of the ice-cream truck. Sometimes when I close my eyes, I can still hear them in the distance.
I hear your laugh, and watch the folds around your eyes, True happiness.
That sound still rings in my ears, after all this time.
That sound fills me up with joy, and keeps me warm inside, Maybe that’s what true happiness sounded like. Innocent, Pure, Unadulterated. One hundred percent joy.
I was your only friend, Zach. Our friendship dates back to your halcyon days. You were an introvert- you hated school, disliked sports and always kept to yourself.
Your parents encouraged you to expand your social circles, and talk to more people.
“Maintain eye contact, Zach”, they’d say.
“Say nice things,” they’d say.
“But I have a friend,” you’d say, and signal towards me.
Your parents would give blank stares to each other, and get on with their work. They told you nobody was there, but only you believed that I existed. And somehow, that was everything.
At the park, we would spend hours at an end on the swing set, talking about your day at school, and books.
We made snowmen in the winter, popsicles in the summer, pretended to be sailors and battle with our umbrellas in the rains, and took heaps of crimson leaves to your treehouse in the autumn.
You lost teeth, and with time, all your milk teeth were replaced by a set of permanent ones. That year, you began to forget me. We didn’t speak as much, and you always seemed busy.You started talking to other people, and slowly, I faded into the shadows. Piece by piece.
I’m transported back to the present. I spot a case full of old, vinyl albums. As I move closer, the familiar, musty scent tickles my nostrils. I see the colourful album covers through the periphery of my eye. Somehow, I cannot get myself to look right at them.
Remember how we danced to these songs all those years ago? I’d pretend to strum a guitar, and you would belt out your signature dance moves.
Eventually, you are up, Zach. All my worst fears translated into groundbreaking reality. The memories faded away, and the deluge took away all your memory of me. You had new friends, who invited you to events that interested you more than chasing butterflies or running down to the pier.
Your vision of me had faded as well. You were just like your parents now. You couldn’t see or hear me.
I’d pound my fists on the window outside your room, scream your name, but for the first time, I felt like I was trapped in a soundproof glass box. No sound came in, nothing escaped it.
I felt myself fade away. It was as if you didn’t need me to be around anymore. They say that time changes people, but never had I imagined that you’d forget your best friend. So what if he was just a figment of your imagination? He stuck with you through thick and thin, better and worse, good times and bad times.
As I’m writing this, Zack, I want you to know what it feels like to be forgotten. Without an apparent reason.
I hope you have a great night out, with your friends. I hope they don’t give up on you, like you gave up on me.
As I write this, I’m taking a moment to quote lyrics from our favourite song- Wildest Dreams.
“Say you’ll see me again, even if it’s just in your wildest dreams.”
If this is not enough to remind you of me, I don’t know what is.
– Your imaginary best friend.