01 Feb My Son’s Imaginary Friend.
Kids have imaginary friends, it’s just a fact of life. This is especially true for only children.
My wife works from home so she’s able to take care of my son instead of having the costly bill of childcare added onto our already debilitating financial situation. It works out for us.
Naturally, my son is bored most days, though. He’ll often ask her to play with him, giving her a heartbreaking stare when she says she can’t.
She’s not short with him. She’ll explain, in her best mom voice, that she’s got work to do. But he’s three. He doesn’t understand that we can’t just exist without responsibility, that we’ve got bills to pay.
Recently, my wife tells me he’s been talking to an imaginary friend. It’s a milestone in his development and warms my heart to see him progressing despite the lack of attention we’re able to give him throughout the week.
I asked him about this friend he’s got.
“What’s his name?” I asked, giving my wife a side eyed smile as I did.
“Charlie,” he said frankly. “Charlie Harrison.”
“Oh yeah?” I’d ask, chuckling a bit. “What does mister Charlie Harrison look like?” I followed up.
“Well, he’s a big tall man. He’s got long fingers and a silly laugh!” He replied with a childish grin that would make even those who despise toddlers smile.
Acceptable, but somewhat creepy to think about. I always thought imaginary friends were something kids made up to feel comfortable. I imagined they were children, like the child who was making them up. Not tall, adult men, as he described.
It should have been our first red flag.
We didn’t think much of it that night, however. We just went about our business as usual. I made some dinner, my wife bathed our son and put him to bed.
As my wife tried to leave his room after reading him a short story, just as she did nearly every night, he begged her to stay in there with him.
“Mommy no!” He said longingly as she attempted to walk out of his room. “I want you to stay…”
My wife, being the wonderful woman that she is, agreed to stay. She sat in his rocking chair for nearly 30 minutes as he tossed and turned, fighting sleep.
When she came out I couldn’t help but ask what happened.
“He just begged me to stay,” she replied. “He seemed really sad that I was going… almost scared.”
That should’ve been the second red flag.
Later that night my wife and I were dead asleep in our bed when our door blasted open. It was our son, and he was distraught and on the verge of hysterics.
This was a new occurrence, as he’d always slept in his bed through the night. There was never an instance of him having nightmares or being scared of the dark or anything of the like.
“What’s wrong, baby?” My wife asked, hurriedly sitting up and wrapping him in her warm embrace.
“I had a bad dream…” he said, trailing off. “The man… he was trying to get me.”
He began to break down into tears while my wife and I exchanged concerned looks.
We let him sleep with us that night, cuddling him up and making sure he knew there was nothing that would get him.
The next morning came and went as usual. My wife worked, my son played with his imaginary friend despite the fact that he’d been so scared of him the night before, and I went to the office.
After a long day, I had only one thing on my mind. Food. I’d been forced to skip lunch due to some meetings running too long and had been starving all day.
I shot through the door, ready to make a beeline for the refrigerator, when my front foot slipped out from under me. I went tumbling backwards, sprawling out on the floor.
A sharp pain shot through the back of my head, my ears began to ring and I saw double. The light blurred in my vision and gained an intense brightness.
“Argh,” I grumbled, unable to form a full word.
I laid there for a moment, allowing my vision to clear.
I shut my eyes.
I could hear my wife calling to me.
“Honey?” She yelled. “What happened?”
I opened my eyes. What I was met with nearly caused my heart to burst from my chest.
The blood drained from my face and I felt a bit lightheaded when I saw it. When I saw… him.
A tall, slim built man with impossibly long fingers and large, bony hands stood in the doorway of my son’s room. A snickering grin was stretched across his face, revealing sharp yellowed teeth.
His eyes seemed to bulge from his misshapen skull. The glowing yellow orbs appeared to be fighting to get away from each other. His hair was disheveled and greasy, strewn about crazily on his head.
I involuntarily let out a loud yelp in fear. My breath sped up, forcing air in and out of my lungs as quickly as possible.
I heard my wife scurrying over, but didn’t avert my gaze from the terrifying beast-like man. He was stark naked, and covered in an inordinate amount of body hair. A scene straight out of a nightmare.
As my wife approached, rounding the corner from the living room into the foyer, she rushed to my side. I continued staring at the horrible figure as he retreated slowly and methodically back into my son’s room.
“Honey, What happened. Are you okay?” She asked in rushed excitement. “Oh my God, your head.”
She gasped, holding her hands up over her mouth and looking away in horror.
Was it bad? It couldn’t have possibly been that serious. Just a little slip and fall. It did hurt like a sonofabitch, though.
But the real danger lurked in my sons room, in the darkness that was just beyond his door.
“It’s bleeding…” she said, rushing to the bathroom and pulling a faded old towel from the cabinet below the sink.
Glowing yellow eyes flashed in the darkness of my son’s bedroom for a moment before flickering out in the void.
My wife rushed back, pressing the towel firmly against the back of my head as she helped me up. We left the house, heading directly for the emergency room.
After waiting way too long, we were finally seen. I was given a local anesthetic so the doctor could stitch up the wound. They performed an x-ray, CT scan and PET scan before providing a diagnosis.
“Well, Mr. Harrison,” he said. “You’ve got a severe concussion, minor bleeding and a minor cranial fracture. You were correct to come in here today.”
He looked down, scribbling something on his pad when I made the connection. I did a double take, unsure if I’d heard him right before following up and asking.
He looked at me quizzically for a moment. Only a moment, though. He quickly found his demeanor and bedside manor before replying.
“Yes,” he said. “Mister Charlie Harrison. That’s your name, correct? Single male, no next of kin. You were admitted here 12 years ago.”
He put his pen down and looked at me with remorse before saying one last thing.
“You killed them, Charlie… after you’d fallen and bonked your head you just went off. They tried to get you to a hospital but you refused. Said you didn’t need a hospital. You said you needed to kill the man with the yellow eyes…”
He shook his head, a tremble in his voice. It was as if he didn’t want to tell the story anymore.
“It was your son, Charlie. The man with the yellow eyes was your son… and once you’d done him in, you turned on your wife.”
He hung his head for a moment.
“God, I hate having to tell you this everyday, Charlie. I hate that, despite repeating the words to you every single day, they never get easier to say.”
He stood up, motioning for me to follow suit. I lifted myself up, off the bed of the strange room around me and followed him out of a large door and down a hospital scented hallway.
Metal doors with small porthole style windows lined the area and large men in teal scrubs stood around, arms crossed and anger present in their eyes. It was as if they were bodyguards.
I peered into a few of the windows as we passed them.
One man laid on his bed, bound by a straight jacket and laughing maniacally. Another woman sat in the corner, slumped on the floor sobbing hysterically.
As we came up to a door that felt familiar, but foreign at the same time, the doctor pulled out some keys and inserted one into a small slot. The door swung open and he motioned for me to enter.
“Your head injury,” he said as I stepped into the room. “It did some work on your memory. Something we won’t be able to fix…”