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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Cultural · #2322253
Caliban decides that it's time.
Caliban’s Decision

It was time to tell the boy. No, it was way past the time to tell him. It was now twelve years since his twelfth birthday and it should have been done then. So it was, shall we say, rather pressing that he should be told now, on his twenty-fourth birthday.

A lousy birthday present, it’s true, but it was Caliban’s reluctance that had made it so. He must bite the bullet now and tell the lad.

Well, the man.

Good grief, the fellow was thinking of proposing to his girlfriend, after all. He was grown up and Caliban should face the fact. What space is left in a man’s life for an imaginary friend once there’s a wife to consider? He shuddered to think of the odd triangle that would result from such an arrangement.

The irony of Jeremy sharing with his imaginary friend the most intimate details of his affair with Lydia, struck Caliban with redoubled force now. Jem would be furious when he revealed the truth to him.

Still, it must be done. Of course Jem would never speak to him again. That was the whole idea, wasn’t it? And yeah, it meant that Caliban must fade away into nothingness over the next few weeks, but Jem would recover quickly. In a few months he would have entirely forgotten the friend of his childhood. And teenage years. And early twenties.

Damn, this was ridiculous, thought Caliban.

But it must be done. And at the earliest opportunity. Caliban steeled himself for the moment when he must reveal his imaginary status.

The time did not present itself all the day of the birthday. Jeremy was busy with other friends, allowing himself to be drawn away from the house so that others could prepare the place for his surprise party.

Caliban hung around the house with depressed face, dreading the moment when he must confess.

There was even less opportunity in the evening, when the party was in full swing and Jeremy becoming too drunk to understand a word Caliban said anyway. Caliban watched with growing frustration and a feeling of doom hovering above him.

It was not until late in the morning the next day that Caliban had his chance. Jeremy came staggering from his bedroom to set up the coffee pot with ham-fisted awkwardness. He collapsed on to a stool while waiting for the pot to do its thing. Jeremy touched him on the shoulder.

“Happy birthday, Jem.”

“Shh,” said Jeremy, waving a hand in front of Caliban’s face. “No need to shout.”

Caliban waited a moment, then continued with lowered voice. “Got something to tell you.”

“And you couldn’t pick a better time?”

“Well, no actually.”

The coffee pot ceased its groaning and bubbling to send the last few droplets into the cup. Jeremy reached across for it.

Caliban tried again. “There’s something you need to know,” he said.

Jermy was inhaling the steam from his coffee as he waited for it to be cool enough to drink. He looked up at Caliban with sudden awareness of his surroundings.

“And what if I don’t need to know it?”

Caliban was taken aback at this response. For a moment there was silence between the two as they regarded each other. Then Caliban decided he must press on.

“Oh, it’s something you need to know alright. You can judge when I’ve told you.”

Jeremy shook his head. “Nope. Don’t wanna hear. And you should have a better opinion of my intelligence before you go around thinking that I don’t know a thing or two.”

“Well, you don’t know this.”

“That’s what you think. I’m not stupid, you know.” He lifted the cup and slurped some hot coffee between his teeth.

Caliban’s shoulders tightened as he prepared himself for battle. “Look, Jem, the plain fact is that I’m -”

Jem slammed a hand in front of Caliban’s face. “Nope, don’t say it. If you say it, I lose a friend.”

Caliban stared at him in surprise. “You know?”

Jeremy returned to contemplation of his coffee. “Of course I know. I’m twenty-four, you know, and not as stupid as you seem to think. No one can last as long as I have without being fully aware of what’s going on.” He looked up at Caliban. “And I’d rather retain a good friend who’s given me sound advice over the years, than dump him just because he can’t keep his mouth shut.”

“But there’s the marriage, Jem.”

“Yes, there’s the marriage. Does that mean I have to dump all my other friends too?”

“Well, no. But there’s some marriages where…”

“Jeez, Cal, give me just a little credit, please. You’ve known me all these years and still think I’m that stupid?”

“No, Jem. But I thought…” There was a pause and then he added, “I thought it was time I left you to get on with your life. That’s what they tell me, anyway.”

“Okay then, we’re decided. Not a word about this between us and we carry on as normal. Although, you’re not allowed in the bedroom after I marry Lydia.”

“Wouldn’t want to be,” said Caliban.

“And no interrupting me when I’m talking to someone else. Don’t want to look an idiot.”

“Perish the thought,” agreed Caliban.

House Martell

Word count: 876
For "Game of Thrones The North Remembers, Fantasy Task 41
Prompt: Your main character has been wrestling for years over how to tell their lifelong best friend that they are actually imaginary. Usually, they reveal the truth when the person is 12 years old. They disappear and the child has no memory of them. It’s now 12 years past the “due date” and each day the prospect of telling them and disappearing is getting harder and harder.
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