At least my teddy bears won't talk...
|Something’s wrong with Jack….
Stuffed animals aren‘t alive--but I can still feel their eyes penetrating my back. I sigh and turn around. It doesn’t much matter if they can see Jack. In fact, I want them to see him.
Because teddy bears that can see an imaginary boy is proof I’m sane alright.
I laugh and fall down on my bed, careful not to jostle my imaginary friend. He’s staring off into space, legs kicking the air. To be honest, I’m a little worried about him. Jack’s usually so bouncy and cheerful, always singing of legends of an earth long forgotten. It wasn’t until last week that he became quiet and listless.
“Hey Jack? No one's home. Wanna play some video games, maybe watch a movie?”
Jack looks at me, eyes glassy with unshed tears. I cringe. I shouldn’t let it affect me--he doesn’t exist. My mom probably dropped me on my head when I was a baby, and the effect was delayed until now. That’s all.
“How about some music then?”
His voice is barely a whisper and his hands are playing with the sleeves of his bright yellow shirt. He looks so lost--I have to help him.
I sigh and sit up careful to keep his kicked puppy dog gaze. I pat my lap gently, relieved when a small smile appears on his porcelain face. He crawls towards me, his hat twinkling with every creep. Next thing I know his arms are around my neck and his legs around my waist.
For a moment all I can do is breathe and stare at the wall. I place my hands on his waist, trying to think of something to say. He’s upset, that much I know--though I can’t imagine why. I feel his body shaking and panic is quickly settling in the pit of my stomach. I look around desperate to find something, anything to distract him.
“Hey Jack…how old are you?”
He backs up a little, eyes searching mine. He bites his lower lip, as if he gave me the wrong answer. I smile and play with the bells on his rainbow colored hat. I have been curious about his age--he can’t be younger than thirteen, even if his face looks like that of a five year old.
“I’m just curious…you never did tell me”
He shrugs and settles his head on my shoulder. I pat his back gently, and look out my window. The clouds are breaking, letting some sunlight through. I’m chewing on my tongue, trying so hard not to laugh. I’m comforting a figment of my imagination. How weird would it be if my parents where to walk on in here, and see me holding air?
I feel Jack tugging at my hair.
“Tell me a story…”
I frown and look at him.
“A story? You’re the one that tells the stories.”
Jack laughs and the room is filled with the sounds of bells and chimes. I join him, hoping that no one can hear me. If only it was this easy to cheer up real people.
“Please…please tell me a story?”
I nod, but I don’t say anything. This is getting ridiculous. First off, I’ve never been much of a storyteller. Second off, I need a shrink because no normal sixteen year old has this problem.
“Um…I’m…I’m not really good at story telling….”
His hold on me tightens and he buries his face deeper into the crook of my neck. I blow out air and let my head smack the wall. Great. I’ve probably made him feel worse. I bite my lip and close my eyes. Maybe…maybe if he gets really upset he’ll go away. Then I won’t have to see him again--I won’t have to question myself every day. But…feeling him tremble like this…the way he’s holding on to me….
“You know…clouds don’t just make shapes on their own.”
He doesn’t move, but his body seems to calm down.
“A few centuries ago, kids didn’t have it easy. All work and no play. It almost seems as though…you were born an adult. Your life was basically already planned for you.”
Jack shifted a little, his eyes facing the window.
“So…um…what happened was that, after years of observing this, a couple of angels decided to give these kids a very special gift. They glided through the flat clouds…and they gave them life.”
At this, I look out the window. Autumn is the best time to gaze at the clouds. Bare summer days are gone, and the rolling grey clouds aren’t quite here yet. This is the time to see anything and everything. Airplanes pulling submarines, ducks wearing goggles, even dragons with trees growing on their backs.
“The kids were so happy…because, for a second, they could look up and dream…for a minute they could have fun. And that was worth so much to them…”
I scoff. Ladies and gentlemen if you please hand me the “Lamest Story Award” I’ll be on my way. I mean, honestly, of all the things to pop into my--
“I came too late, didn’t I?”
Jack looks me in the eyes again, face full of guilt and sorrow.
“I should have been here sooner…but I couldn’t. I’m sorry. We could have had so much fun.”
I think my eyebrows have ascended into space. So this is why he’s been acting all weird. He’s finally figured out that I’m not a little girl anymore.
I should tell him he’s right. He should know that it's wrong for a teenager to have an imaginary friend--that he’s just a hallucination brought up my subconscious, that he doesn’t exist.
Instead, I just pull him closer and run my hands down his back.
“Yea…we could have had so much fun….”
If Jack stays, my parents will find out eventually. Up until now he’s only stayed in my room, but that could change. He might even follow me to school…he’d be pretty hard to ignore. I should let him go. Should push him away.
“But we can still have fun now, you know…”
Jack flies out of my arms and starts to bounce on the bed, the bells ringing louder and louder. He laughs and squeals as he races around the room, singing the story I just told him.
I feel an ache in my chest and a stinging sensation in my throat. I created this. I created Jack. Real or not, he’s part of me. I don’t know how he came about, or why. I’m worrying about college, not dragons and evil wizards. And yet, I’ve just allowed my insanity to stay with me.
At least I know my teddy bears won’t say a word.