Imaginary Friend by Katelynn Andrews

Matt and I, we are each other’s only friends. I am Fritter, named after Matt’’s favorite donut. Matt is a 14 year old boy with floppy, light brown hair, hazel eyes, and an innocent giggle. His favorite food is chocolate ice cream with yellow sprinkles; those are his favorites. It’s a pretty substantial choice, if you ask me. He once enjoyed going outside to make those yummy mud pies which are obviously close enough to chocolate ice cream. When we aren’t outside, he writes in one of his many journals. He only started writing to avoid his father, and now he’s the illustrator of his own dreams.

When Matt was eight, his mother was taking him to his first day of third grade. She wanted to get his attention so he’d see one of his favorite things; a contrail that was colored by the orange sunrise. She reached to tap his knee, and looked at him with a smile saying “look, Matty!”. When she went to turn back around, she had just missed a red light at an intersection and was hit by another car. Matt has held himself responsible for her death since the moment it happened. 

His father, Christopher, was the only  family he had left. Unfortunately, Christopher also holds him responsible for her death. Matt has always held that on his conscience, and doesn’t talk to anyone but me, really. During recess, he sits on an old, noisy swing, and gently glides his feet through the damp mulch. I try to get him to go down the slide. His excuse for not going down the slide is  that it reminds him of a curly fry, and he doesn’t play with his food. You’ll never hear him say that when it comes down to those mud pies, though. 

We do everything together. What we do depends on the season. In Spring showers, we dance, and then we make little flower armies. Quite similar to chess. Buttercups resemble the pawns, where dandelions resemble the bishops. In Summer, we go to the creek at the bottom of the mountain, behind the house to find all of the skipping stones, and salamanders under the stones in the creek bed. Fall consists of him binging on Halloween candy, and jumping into only the biggest of leaf piles. It’s a given that there isn’t a single day of Winter that we don’t have a snowball fight, and hot chocolate with those miniature marshmallows. In between it all, Christopher has his fair share of ups and downs, for lack of better words. Most of the time when there’s the downs, I manage to get Matt into his room where he can lock the door, and continue on with his night. Every time something like that happens, I encourage Harry to write it down in one of his journals. Since he likes to read, and write, I figured it’d be a good coping mechanism. I’ve also tried to get him to show Christopher the journal so he could see; Harry wasn’t quite as open to that idea.

Matt had opened up, over time. He’d made many friends. I was fortunate to see him grow up, and consider what happens at home irrelevant. I just remember when he wouldn’t socialize with anyone, some changes are good. At the end of the day, he and I would read the assigned sections of his books from class more than we would anything else. We’d occasionally take a few walks, and have a few conversations. By the time he was seventeen, I felt him fading away, but maybe it was me fading away from him. I can’t live in his mind forever. You may have all the care in the world for someone, but they may not even think about you anymore.

 Matt had friends, I just wished I was one of them again. He still goes to sit on the swings, and glides his feet through the damp mulch. That’s where he goes when he needs a moment to think. It’s what he did this evening. He thought about how much he misses his mom. I know because that thought was sitting right next to me. 

When he got home, he forgot to take his shoes off. The mulch that was on them tracked through the house. Christopher said some pretty irreversible things to 

Matt that night. It made him feel worthless, made him think that nothing had any meaning, and that all he does is ruin things. The following day when Matt was walking out of the house to go to school, he stopped mid stride. I felt the wheels in his brain grinding. He took the journal out to set it on the floor as if he’d “accidentally” dropped it. Matt was never physically abused, his father loved him. He was neglected, more or less. When Christopher paid any mind to him, it was simply to blame him, or argue with him. That evening, when Harry got home from school, Christopher had gone through the journal. He looked at Matt with empathy. He apologized to him in his low, raspy voice, as he gripped the journal. He then sat down on a stair in silence. He told Matt that it wasn’t anyone’s place to place blame. And if anything, they should work together to get through it, not against each other. From that night on, they created many memories until Matt turned twenty. At first, there was a slight tension between the two. After a while though, they’d be working on homework, reading the assigned sections of books together.

Matty goes to his parents graves on occasion, when he needs a moment to think. He knows that what happened wasn’t his fault. In time, he forgave himself.

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