Estimated reading time — 7 minutes
Jessie poured me some tea. We were using the pink tea set today, and I was wearing a dress that matched, with pink polka dots. Jessie had a blue jumper on, her favorite, and her sunshine-colored hair was high up on her little head in two long braids. Jessie smiled at me, and I felt very warm inside.
“Would you like some more tea?” She asked politely, holding up the pink tea pot high in the air. I nodded excitedly, holding out my cup, and she filled it up. The tea was the best I ever had, fruity and smooth and sweet and delicious. I drank it in one gulp. She held her cup to me. “Can you pour me some?” I did so.
Jessie was beaming at me after she drained her cup. She was missing two of her front teeth. She told me that new teeth would grow in to fill the holes. New, big, adult teeth, she said. I looked at her, wide eyed, amazed at how bodies worked and teeth could just grow back after being yanked out. It made me giggle, like it did when those teeth were loose and she would wiggle them around. Finally, one day she gave a gentle tug to one of them, and out it popped! She called for me, and I ran to her, and saw her waving the tooth around proudly. She got a dollar under her pillow that night, and the tooth disappeared. Jessie told me that the tooth fairy had taken her tooth and given her the dollar. I instantly hated this tooth fairy. Why would anyone want a kid’s tooth? What was this fairy doing with teeth that she collected? It couldn’t be anything good. I decided right then that if I ever ran into the tooth fairy, that would be the end of her.
“Sadie, Sadie! I forgot, Mommy made cookies! Do you want one?” Jessie called as she ran out of her playroom. She knew I would love cookies, especially when Mommy made them! A second later, Jessie ran back into the playroom with her hands full of cookies. She set them down on our plates; they were chocolate chip! My favorite! We gobbled them up instantly.
The rest of the afternoon we played tea party, and then princess fashion show, and then watched some cartoons. Jessie’s older sister was home, but Chelsea was in her room and not really paying attention to Jessie. Good thing I was there to look after her! Around four thirty, Mommy came home. Jessie ran to her and gave her a huge hug. I waved at her from the stairs, feeling shy, but she just ignored me. Mommy was the prettiest woman, just like many of the ladies I saw on tv. When Jessie took a nap or left me alone, sometimes I watched grown up tv shows. I saw many women on the shows who looked like Mommy, and I couldn’t help but wonder if any of those women was Mommy.
“What did you do today?” Mommy asked as she took off her coat and hung it up. “Did Chelsea feed you?”
“Sadie and I played all day, and we ate cookies! The ones you made!” Jessie beamed at Mommy.
“You ate all the cookies?” Mommy looked unhappy at this.
“No. I had half and Sadie had half!” Jessie crossed her arms.
“Honey…Sadie didn’t eat any cookies.”
I pouted and crossed my arms just like Jessie. Of course I ate the cookies!
“We also played princess fashion show. Sadie wore the blue dress and I wore the pink one, and we wore crowns and put on lipstick and-”
“Lipstick? My lipstick?” Mommy ran into her bedroom, and made an angry sound. “Jessica! How many times do I have to tell you not to touch my makeup? This lipstick is very expensive, and it was my favorite one. I don’t even know if they make this one anymore…”
“I didn’t mess it up. Sadie put it right back on your table when we were done, and we didn’t break it or anything.”
“Sadie put it back?” Mommy narrowed her eyes at Jessie.
“Yes!” Jessie sighed, frustrated. I frowned, and ran out of the room, tears stinging my eyes.
Mommy had just tucked Jessie in for the night. She ignored me again, so I had to tuck myself in next to Jessie. I don’t think she liked us sleeping next to each other, for whatever reason, but I didn’t let it discourage me. Jessie and I had matching pajamas: yellow with Disney princesses on them. Her favorite was Ariel, and my favorite was Rapunzel. I watched Mommy kiss Jessie on the forehead, then she turned off the light and shut the door most of the way.
“Sadie, does Mommy make you feel bad?” Jessie whispered after a few minutes, sure that Mommy was far enough to not hear us. I bit my lip and nodded sadly. She hugged me tight under the blanket, and I smiled big.
Awhile later, Jessie was sound asleep beside me. I was wide awake still, thinking about Mommy. At first I was sad, but the more I thought about her, the angrier I got. Why wouldn’t Mommy treat me with love, why wouldn’t she even say hello to me? Jessie was my best friend, and she should be nice to me! I quietly slipped out of the bed, and padded down the hallway to Mommy’s bedroom. Mommy was on her bed, talking on the phone quietly to someone.
“I know. What should I do about it? She’s eight years old now, isn’t she too old for an imaginary friend? It’s just not healthy, I don’t think…no, no, I know…maybe I am overreacting, I don’t know…”
I stood frozen to the spot, gaping at Mommy. Was she talking about me? I never saw Jessie with any other friends, outside of school. She must’ve been talking about me.
Mommy talked on the phone a little while longer, mentioning something about a doctor and therapy, and then talking about going out to a restaurant with someone named Claude. Finally she hung up, switched her TV on, and laid down to relax. I clenched my fists tightly, watching her through the crack in her doorway, uncertain what to do. I decided she wasn’t worth it, and went back to Jessie’s room. Back to bed.
The next day was beautiful and hot. Summer was the best time of year, because Jessie was home all the time, and we always got to play. Sometimes during the school year I’d go to school with her, but I would mainly stand around the classroom and look at all the pictures and posters and things. I couldn’t really talk to Jessie at all, and I don’t think her other friends wanted me there.
That night, after dinner, Mommy pulled Jessie into her room to talk to her alone. Jessie cried for me to come too, but Mommy said this had to be a private conversation between the two of them, and it was very important. I sat on Jessie’s bed for a few minutes, but eventually curiosity overcame me, and I creeped down the hallway again back to Mommy’s bedroom. I stood outside the door, keeping myself tucked to the wall so Jessie wouldn’t know I was there. I listened to what they were talking about.
“Honey, would you like me to talk to your friends’ moms, maybe Kelly or Melody? Have them have playdates you through the summer?” Mommy asked gently.
“They’re away at camp,” Jessie said curtly.
“What about your sister? Chelsea can take you on trips when she’s not working, maybe go to the movies, or the zoo?”
“Mommy, what are you talking about? I have plenty of company with Sadie right here when you’re not home.”
“Honey…,” Mommy sighed. Then she said, “Sadie isn’t real.”
“What? She’s real. I see her every day. She has black hair and blue eyes, and she loves your cookies. She can fit in my clothes, and we have tea parties just about every day. She’s my best friend. Sadie is real.”
“No! She is imaginary! She does not exist!” Mommy was yelling now, and I heard her get up and start pacing. Jessie began to cry.
“She does!” Jessie yelled, and she repeated it over and over. “She does! She does! She does! Sadie is real!”
“No, Jessie, she is not, and you are going to see a doctor who will help you accept that fact. Sadie is not real, and you need to spend time with real people, with other little girls and boys, other kids from school maybe?”
“No. I want to be with Sadie.”
“We will talk about this tomorrow. Go to your room and go to bed. Brush your teeth first.”
I hurried back to Jessie’s bedroom and tucked myself in, holding my tears back. How could anyone say someone does not exist? Mommy has known me for years, how could she deny me? I was furious. The important thing was, though, that Jessie knew the truth. Jessie knew I was real, and Jessie loved me. That was what mattered. She didn’t need Mommy. I was the important one.
A minute later, Jessie came into the bedroom, sobbing. I hugged her tight.
“She doesn’t understand,” Jessie sobbed. “You’re my best friend, how could she say you’re not real?” I shrugged. I tucked Jessie in, trying to soothe her.
“You are real, Sadie. You’re my best friend…” she was crying as she slipped off to sleep.
I sat on the bed and waited a long time, maybe about two hours, and then made my move. I tiptoed into the hallway, down to Mommy’s room again. Her door was open a few inches, and the TV was droning softly in the background. Mommy was fast asleep, her glasses on her face still. I entered the room and went right up to the edge of the bed, only inches away from Mommy. I stood there, silently staring at her, unsure if I wanted her attention or not.
Yes, a voice inside my head said, let her see me. Let her really see me.
I coughed, and Mommy’s eyes shot open. She jumped when she saw me.
“Jessie? What are you doing?”
I shook my head. Not Jessie.
“Who are you?” Mommy was squinting at me in the dim light. I went over to her desk and turned on the lamp. Something caught my eye: a tiny porcelain box, with the lid half off. I peeked inside. Two small baby teeth laid in the box. The tooth fairy. I was going to keep my promise.
“Sadie,” I croaked. That might’ve been the first time I had ever spoken. “My name is Sadie. Sadie. Sadie!”
Mommy stared at me in terror. “Sadie…is not real…Sadie is Jessie’s imaginary friend…” she was sputtering the words out. Rage welled inside me. I was unaware of my actions, and flew on top of Mommy right there on her bed. My small hands wrapped around her pretty neck, and I squeezed hard. Mommy clawed at my hands, she tried to claw at my face too. I bit at her hand, and she tried to scream. She rasped and flailed for what seemed an eternity, but I didn’t let go. I wanted her to know how real I was. Imaginary friends couldn’t kill. I wasn’t imaginary.
Mommy stopped moving. I tucked her in, and kissed her forehead goodnight.
CREDIT : therealalyrog