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Imaginary Friends – Chapter 2

Posted in erbooker by erbooker on 11/13/2015


Chapter Two – The Woods

Mr. Holley slams the patio door. “She’s not in the backyard.”

“She’s not in the basement,” Mrs. Holley says worriedly, coming up the stairs.

“I’ll check the attic.”

“You don’t think someone could have taken her,” Mrs. Holley frets.

Mr. Holley shakes his head. “I’m sure her imagination just took her on another one of her adventures. Just wish it wasn’t on a school day.”

Ten-year-old Paige Holley is resting against a towering oak tree miles deep into the woods behind the Holley house. Her pajamas soaked in sweat, her chest heaving as she grasps at fallen autumn leaves on the verge of a panic attack. She had run all night after encountering a talking cricket named–

“Chuck!” Paige shrieks, hiding her face behind her hands.

The cricket stands on a nearby stump smoking a tiny cigarette. “At your service, madam.”

“What are you doing out here,” Paige chokes.

“What are you doing out here, kid. It’s November. You’ll catch a death of cold. Where’s your coat? Look at me, we just met last night and I’m already mothering you. Apologies, I’m just very protective of my friends.”

“How did you catch up to me, I’ve been running all night.”

“Look, I’m not gonna be able to explain everything in one day. Some of this you’re just gonna have to take for granted at face value. Answers will come in time.”

“Am I–am I crazy?”

“Now why would a pretty little thing like you say something like that?”

“I’ve heard my parents talking about me. They worry because I talk to my imaginary friend, Dorothy. Dorothy is why Mrs. Miller called my mom and I had to leave Stacey’s sleepover last weekend. The other kids think I’m weird. I think my parents want me to see a doctor.”

Chuck nods and butts out his tiny cigarette. “Yeah, I know about Mrs. Miller. Look, since you met me have you spoken to Dorothy once?”

Paige thinks. “No, I guess not. Since I met you I’ve spent most of my time sprinting through the woods in fear.”

“See? Don’t sound crazy to me. Now…” Chuck leans in conspiratorially. “You wanna see a dead body?”

Mr. & Mrs. Holley are on the front porch speaking to Officers Ricky Faulk & Harry Schette.

“Dark brown hair, freckles,” Mr. Holley lists. “Pale skin, talks to herself a lot.”

Officer Faulk nods as he jots in his notebook. “White girl with brown hair. That narrows it down.” Faulk rolls his eyes at his partner.

Mrs. Holley frowns. “Hey, I saw that.”

Officer Schette steps in. “Ma’am, we’re going to do everything in our power to find your daughter. But chances are she’s just run away from home and she’ll be back in time for supper once she starts getting hungry.”

Paige clutches her belly as they trudge further into the woods, “Chuck, let’s go back. I’m starving.”

“I saw you puttin’ away that cake last night. You could stand to lose a few.”

“You know, you’re a real ass–holy smokes.”

Paige and her cricket friend are standing at the top of a ravine looking down on an older woman’s body partially hidden by leaves, the color drained from her face.

“Pretty cool, huh?” Chuck lights up another smoke.

“How did you know she was out here?”

Chuck turns to Paige with a grin. “Because I put her here. For you, kid. That’s Mrs. Miller. She won’t be sending you home from any more sleepovers now.”

Paige’s face goes white and she totters on her heels. “Why would you–“

“Because I’m your buddy.”

Paige collapses to the forest floor.

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