Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Imaginary (Kids Part 2)

Imaginary By Wolfgang Kaiser.
(Be sure to read "Kids" first!)

     I remember when I was a little girl. Things were much easier. I remember growing up with my two best boyfriends, Jeremy and Cecil. They were the best anyone could ever ask for.
     I remember when “putting out” wasn’t such a big deal, no boy had matured enough to think of putting anything inside of me. Thinking about it now, it’s so hard to find a boy that doesn’t want just sex. I’m sure it sucks for guys too, lust must be stressful.
     I was better friends with Jeremy throughout elementary school than Cecil. Jeremy and I, and he probably wouldn’t tell you this, but he and I still had imaginary friends until the end of the sixth grade. We always talked about having them, and how they always helped at the worst times when no one else would. That’s what sort of separated us from most kids.
     I didn’t live next to either of Jeremy or Cecil, but from kindergarten to third grade, I had my Dad drive me to Jeremy’s house once a week. Jeremy’s parents were extremely nice, they called me the daughter they never had. I always found that funny, because then Jeremy’s Dad would say, “Wait, I already have a daughter.” Of course he was talking about Jeremy.
     I remember in the second grade, Jeremy told me he had a crush on me. I didn’t take it too well; we didn’t talk for a couple of weeks. The reason I didn’t want to date Jeremy was because he was too good of a friend, and I was a smart enough little girl to know that I could have lost him, had the relationship gone sour.
     After the third grade, my Dad bought me a bike. It was about a ten minute bike ride to Jeremy’s house, but I needed the exercise. Not that I was fat, don’t even envision that in your head. I was a skinny little blonde girl.
     The fun that Jeremy, Cecil and I had was… Odd. We had this deal where after two fun boy things we would do, I could pick one fun girl thing to do.
     For example, one day, Cecil was in charge of the first boy thing we did. He chose mud tag. To add to the effect, we dressed in white clothing. Whenever it rained in Florida, it got extremely muddy.
     This was at the beginning of fifth grade. There we were, running around playing tag. I was the last to fall down in the mud. Any normal little girl would have cried when they got mud in their perfectly straight blonde hair, but not me. I laughed, grabbed some mud from my hair, and threw it at Jeremy. It hit him in the face, and that made him laugh twice as hard as I did.
     We played tag until we couldn’t breathe. All three of us fell to the ground in the warm mud, and began to head home to get a change of clothes. Whenever we met back up, Jeremy was in charge of the next fun boy thing. He decided to play Cowboys and Indians. We got sticks and toy guns to play. I never thought that was fun because I was the only Indian. However, I was pretty cute with a black bandana and a feather sticking out from it.
     What was great about Cecil, Jeremy and I was the fact that I could sleep over at their houses. It didn’t matter that we were the opposite sex, our parents trusted us. That night, I went home to grab some things for the sleepover and the fun girl thing.
     As I ran back down to my living room, my parents were sitting there waiting for me. They asked me to set down my big backpack and sit with them.
     Right before I was ready to have so much fun that night, my parents explained to me that my Dad was being sent out to the war in Iraq. It was an utter buzz kill for what could have been a perfect night.
     My Dad said, “Alicia, there’s the slightest chance that I may not come home, that I may die, that I could be killed on the battlefield.”
     I remember being so scared for my Dad. I remember being so depressed at the fact that I might not see my father again.
     But most of all, I was angry at the President of the United States. It seems that every single fucking war we have in this world has to do with religion.
     Yes, President Bush may have said that we sent in the troops for multiple things; To protect the citizens, to kill off terrorist groups… Yet we attacked the wrong people and I believe that we turned most of the world against us.
     Half of the people we are fighting believe that their God is telling them to kill us. Our God must’ve told us to go in and kill people for more oil, right?
     Religion doesn’t make any sense to me anymore. The Afghanis say that their God tells them to commit suicide, to take down to planes, to bomb a car, to bring down innocent people with them. Here’s what I have to say to that: I hope your seventy two virgins are all greasy, fat, and have penises.
     Jesus Christ follows one motto, and it’s, “I LOVE YOU… Unless you don’t believe I love you. Then I’ll damn you for eternity.” Call me wrong, I dare you.
     If you ask me, religion seems like something used more for profit these days. How many times has the bible been sold with a new cover and maybe some new pictures? How much money have those people made?
     Anyways, I couldn’t handle staying home. I went to Jeremy’s.

     Whenever I got to Jeremy’s house, I immediately ran into his arms and cried. It was great, he held me tighter than I’ve ever been held. I told him everything about my Dad, and we sat there and talked about it for quite some time.
     I knew then and there that I was destined to be with Jeremy for the rest of my life. Even as a kid with an attention span measured in milliseconds, he listened to me. He really did. I knew then that I was in love with Jeremy.
     After we talked, Cecil opened the door and invited himself in. He had asked what Jeremy and I were talking about, and Jeremy said nothing. Cecil disregarded it and pointed at the bag, asking what was in it. I told them to close their eyes, and I put on blindfolds. I then told them to reach for the sky.
     I put dresses on them.
     I dressed them up as girls.
     I bet if Jeremy wasn’t crazy, and Cecil wasn’t dead, they would probably tell you this never happened. But it did.
     I applied all sorts of make-up. I took off the blindfolds and their eyes remained closed, to put on eye liner. They looked BEAUTIFUL. I put two pairs of high heels on their feet, and that’s when they began to grow suspicious.
     Right before Jeremy opened his eyes, I got out my camera and took a picture. It’s still on my wall today.
     Jeremy was wearing a purple dress that was somewhat low-cut. He was so skinny that the shirt hung lower than expected, and his right nipple popped out. It made me giggle.
     Cecil wore a salmon colored dress, but it didn’t cover much leg. He never had much leg hair as a little kid.
     You should have seen their faces.

     The last day I spent with my Dad was the last day of summer. It was unbelievably hot. We started taking a walk to an ice cream shop.
     Sherbet ice cream. That was always my favorite. I never liked getting cones, because they always melted in the hot Florida sun. I got a bowl with five scoops, and I averaged at a scoop per minute. I never had brain freezes, and I wasn’t fat either. Don’t even think about asking me that. I was a little bright blonde girl that was sensitive about her weight.
     My Dad took me to get some school supplies. I was entering the sixth grade, and that was the top of the food chain at my elementary school. He bought me the most expensive supplies. I was entering school in style.
     The last thing my Dad and I did together was go to the Build-A-Bear Workshop. As soon as we got inside, he said, “Go crazy!”
     I got a dark brown Teddy Bear. We had a lady stuff the bear for us, then we had to do the heart ceremony. As a little girl, I was always so excited to do it, but the now that I remember it; the lady was just making random bullshit up as we went along.
To make the heart come alive, you must:
o   Jump on your left foot three times.
o   Jump on your right foot four times.
o   Pat your head twice.
o   Twirl around until you get dizzy.
o   Kiss the heart.

For the last step, I ran up to my Dad, got on my tippy toes and put the heart to his lips. He kissed it for me and laughed.
     After that, the lady sowed up the bear, with the heart inside. The heart was fully functional. I didn’t put any clothes on it, no pretty dresses or shirts. However, we did get the birth certificate for it from the computers, paid for the bear, and headed home.
     That was the last thing I ever did with my father.
     One day, towards winter break of sixth grade, Cecil, Jeremy and I were playing in the back of class when we were supposed to be working. We had discovered the disastrous combination of rubber bands and paper hornets.
     When I accidentally shot a hornet to the front of the room, our teacher was answering the phone. It hut her hand and she dropped the phone. It made the three of us giggle. She looked back at us with a stink eye and said, “Alicia, pack your backpack, you’re going home.”
     At first I thought it was because I hit her.
     It was odd, my Mom and I didn’t really talk, and we hadn’t had any plans to do anything during the day. I hadn’t heard from my Dad in a month. Cecil and Jeremy both waved good by as I headed out the door.
     I think it sort of hit me whenever I saw my aunt in the front office to pick me up. I never really talked to her outside of family gatherings. I walked in, and she had extremely red and irritated eyes, I could easily tell that she had been crying. I guess that was when I realized that my Dad was gone.
     My aunt didn’t say anything the entire ride home, she was sniffling and looking over at me, then crying even harder. We got home and I saw that there were several parked cars in front of my house, and there were at least six people on my porch.
     I hopped out of the car and ran up. I pushed my way through relatives and family friends, and my Mom was just sitting there on the porch. I took off my backpack and I got down on my knees next to her.
     Mom was looking down at the phone in her lap.
     She saw me kneel down next to her, and she looked up.
     I let a single tear drop from my green eyes.
     “Daddy’s gone, Alicia.”

     About a month before my Dad passed, Jeremy and I dated. I was ashamed of our relationship, it didn’t last very long. I had already kissed a few boys before him, and I knew how to make out. Jeremy, on the other hand, had never kissed anyone before.
     I guess I sort of surprised him when he felt my tongue behind his teeth.
     Our relationship went to shit because of Cecil. I really thought Jeremy and I would last forever, and when I finally gave us a shot, Cecil ruined it by telling Jeremy that he loved me. Jeremy, being the great person he is, didn’t want to ruin his friendship. Jeremy told me that he wished Cecil weren’t alive, so he could date me.
     Hahaha. “Be careful what you wish for.”

     We had three weeks left of school until Winter Break. I took a week off, and I dwelled over the loss of my father.
     It was the next Monday when I saw Jeremy walking up my driveway. He ran the doorbell and I stayed in my room. My Mom answered the door and invited Jeremy in. I got out of my bed and put my ear up to the door to listen to their conversation.
     “Hey, Jeremy.”
     “Hi there, is Alicia okay?”
     “I don’t know, she’s been sitting in her room.”
     “How can I help?”
     “Go up and visit her, see how she’s doing.”
     I heard steps come up the stairs, and I realized that I hadn’t showered that day. I brushed my hair and got back into bed.
     Jeremy knocked on the door.
     “Come in.”
     “Hey Alicia, how are you?”
     “I’m just great.”
     “You are?”
     “No, I’m being sarcastic!”
     “Being what?” Oh Jeremy… You were always more textbook smart than street smart.
     “Listen, Alicia I walked here thinking about what I was going to say to make you feel better, and I can’t think of anything. I’m sure Sally could help you more than I can.” Jeremy said.
     Sally was my imaginary friend. Yes, I still had an imaginary friend in the sixth grade, so what? She had been fading along with my childhood. Jeremy’s friend was named Oliver. He took the name from his favorite movie, Oliver and Company.
     As soon as I heard Jeremy tell me that Sally would help me more than he would, I knew what I had to do for my father.
     “Sally IS better than you and Oliver combined. She’s imaginary, and she helps more than you do. That’s pretty sad.” I told him.
     “Whatever Alicia, I’m just trying to help.” Jeremy said.
     “Well, as soon as you walked in through that door, Sally disappeared, so you aren’t helping much, are you?!”
     Jeremy was trying to help, I could see that. But I needed to use him to prove a point.
     Jeremy got up and left the house.
     I went to school the next day.

     That day, I avoided Jeremy. I got to school, went into class, and sat right by him like I always did, but I didn’t even make eye contact with him. Cecil sat in front of Jeremy, and he could tell something was up. He kept turning around, looking at both of us and making awkward eye contact.
     To make Jeremy even more irritated, I talked to Cecil and everyone around him, EXCEPT for him. Jeremy just sat there, patiently waiting for me to say something to him.
     The bell rang for our math lesson to end, and we were sent outside to play. I ran out in front of Jeremy and went on to the swings. That was my favorite thing to do, and my second favorite thing was jumping off the swing when I was done.
     As I swung, I looked around the playground for Jeremy. I saw Cecil move from tetherball to four square. I expected to see Jeremy playing four square like he always did with Cecil, but there he was, sitting at the edge of the playground, his face buried in his arms. He may have been crying.
     He sat up and caught me looking at him, just like I wanted him to. Jeremy got up and began to walk over to me. I jumped off the swing, and started walking away, slowly enough for him to catch up to me.
     “Alicia, wait!” Jeremy said.
     “What do you want?” I asked back.
     “Can we talk?”
     “No, I’m hanging out with Sally.”
     “Sally isn’t real.”
     “Shut up, she’s better than you and Oliver.”
     “No, she’s not; I’m your best friend.”
     With forced anger, I lunged at him and we both hit the ground. Some girl screamed, “FIGHT!” and a circle began to form around us.
     Jeremy refused to fight back, and I jumped on top of him, and pinned his arms down with my legs. I sat up. I hit him multiple times, but they were more slaps than punches. I slapped Jeremy about five times on each cheek, and they were hard slaps.
     I got off him and he didn’t run to a teacher. He didn’t run back to class. He didn’t run to the principal’s office.
     Jeremy ran home for the day.
     The teacher watching the playground grabbed my arm and walked me to the office.

     “Okay, so tell me what you saw.”
     “I saw… Alicia Beatrice attack Jeremy Everhart on the playground, right under the monkey bars. She tackled him with full force, and Jeremy didn’t see it coming. She pinned him down and slapped him multiple times; Jeremy did nothing to defend himself.”
     “I see… And what do you think I should do to punish Alicia?”
     “One week suspension.”
     “Send her in.”
     The principal’s door opened, and the angry teacher came out. With an angry face, he pointed into the office with his right hand and said, “Go.”
     I walked in silently with my head down and my arms by my sides. The principal told me to sit, and I did as I was told. It took a few minutes before he said anything, which was indeed a good scare tactic. I sat there in suspense, and then he opened his mouth.
     “So do you think that by your Dad passing away, it gives you a good excuse to do whatever you want?”
     “No, sir.” I said back.
     “Does it give you the excuse to beat up a defenseless kid your age?”
     “No, sir.” I said back.
     “Then what were you thinking? You and Jeremy are best friends!”
     “I had my reasons.” I said back.
     “What reason was that?! What made you want to be suspended or a week?”
     “I did it for my Dad.” I said back.
     “Oh I get it; your Dad wanted you to beat up Jeremy.” He said sarcastically.
     “No, my Dad died for Christian’s imaginary friend, didn’t he?” I began to yell.
     “What does that have to do with this, what are you talking about?”
     “I fought with Jeremy about our imaginary friends, because my Dad fought for our imaginary friend. This war is about religion and you know it.” I told him.
     “No, it’s not.” The Principal told me.
     “Yes it is. I fought Jeremy to prove a point, that every war is just as stupid and as pointless as the next. You’re all just a bunch of little kids fighting over imaginary friends, but with big boy guns.”
     He sat there and just stared at me. I’m sure I got to him. He told me I was still suspended for a week, however, that I had a good point, yet it didn’t justify beating up my best friend.
     My Mom left work to come grab me, and boy was she pissed. I wasn’t allowed to watch television or to go outside for the entire week.
     This was the weird part, though. Just two days into my suspension, we had a knock on our door. My Mom answered it, and we had multiple reporters at our door wanting to ask my questions. I answered a few.
     “Why did you do it?” They asked.
     “To prove that war is stupid and meaningless if it had to do with religion. You’re all just kids fighting over imaginary friends.”
     “Anything else you have to say?” They asked.
     “If the President of the United States sees this, this is a challenge to him. The challenge is to solve matters without war or any sort of violence.”
     They continued to ask questions, but I couldn’t stop thinking about Jeremy. I had to go apologize. I left the reporters to get to my bike, and I went to Jeremy’s house.
     I knocked on the door, and I heard Jeremy walk up. He looked at me through his window.
     “Go away.”
     “No, Jeremy. I’m here to fix things.”
     The door opened, and Jeremy walked to his living room, expecting me to follow. I walked in, took off my shoes, and walked down the wood floor hallway to the living room.
     I sat at the edge of Jeremy’s couch, and he continued to watch television. I leaned towards him.
     “Jeremy… Words could not explain…”
     “Why’d you do it?”
     Without answering him, I grabbed his television remote and switched to the Channel 6 News. There I was, and Jeremy understood why I did it.
     He looked at me with a sad expression on his face, and I scooted close to him on the couch. I took Jeremy’s hand and held it, rubbing my thumb up and down on his hand. I looked over and leaned in to kiss him on the cheek.
     “I think I love you, Jeremy.” I told him.
     “I think I feel the same.” He told me.
     I leaned on his shoulder smiling, and we watched cartoons until my Mom made me come back home. I kissed him on the lips and left him. He was much happier then.

     Cecil passed away in a tragic accident just two weeks later, along with his father. Jeremy was the only one to survive; he couldn’t save either of them.
     The entire school was devastated, and Cecil’s Mom was left a widow. Even she told Jeremy not to blame himself, but he did. The guilt slowly ate his brain away.
     Jeremy was seeing Cecil everywhere. He even pretended to talk to him at school; people chose to keep away from him. When Jeremy’s parents found out, they took him to a psychiatrist, where he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Jeremy was sent to a metal hospital. This was about four years ago.
     Just a few days ago, I headed to the mental hospital where Jeremy is staying. He and I have sent letters back and forth but I have not seen him. Has he waited for me all this time, like I did him?

     I walked in and signed myself in as Sally Beatrice, which I started going by around the eighth grade. People found out about my news story, and even though I had no close friends, I was called Sally by everyone.
     My mother did not want me seeing Jeremy, and she did not exactly know that I was there. As soon as I got my driver’s license, I went up to see him with my Mom’s car.
     I walked into the visiting area, and there sat Jeremy. I remembered his face. His long, dark brown hair, his blue eyes… He was much tanner as a kid. He became so pale from having to sit inside this terrible place for four years of his life.
     “Hey, Alicia.” He smiled that crooked smile I remembered and loved. I ran around the table to give him a huge hug, and I kissed his cheek.
     For a while, we just sat around and talked about random bullshit, he told me about the mental hospital.
     “It’s a horrible place… I need to get out of here.” He told me.
     “Do you still see Cecil?” I asked.
     “Not so much anymore. He is fading. I just see him, we don’t talk.”
     “I’m so sorry about everything, Jeremy. I miss you so much; I still love you as much as I did in the sixth grade, if not more. I haven’t dated a single boy; I’ve been waiting for you.”
     “And I still love you, Alicia. I’m getting out very soon, and we’ll be together just like old times.
     A man in the back walked out and said, “Okay, folks. Visiting time is over!”
     I looked at Jeremy. “I can wait. I love you.”
     “Good bye, Alicia. I love you too.”
     “I will wait, I promise.”

(Dedicated to Chaney VanGarderen.)