Imaginary Friends – Chapter 4
Ten-year-old Paige Holley has made a new imaginary friend. A talking cricket named Chuck.
Chapter Four – Therapy
“And what does ‘Chuck’ tell you to do?”
“He doesn’t tell me to do anything. He just wants to be my buddy.”
Ten-year-old Paige Holley is sitting grumpily with her arms crossed on a couch in the office of child psychologist Dr. Norma Petty.
“You’re getting in fights at school, Paige.”
“The kids at school are mean to me.”
“Does this have anything to do with you finding the body of your friend’s mother in the woods the other day?”
“I don’t have any friends.”
“Paige, do you ever find yourself thinking about death?”
“I am right now.”
Chuck snickers, seated on the arm of the couch and Paige turns to him and smiles.
Dr. Petty frowns. “What are you looking at, Paige? Is it Chuck? Is he here with us now?”
Paige turns back to Chuck who shakes his head. “No, he’s not here.”
Dr. Petty jots down some notes and Paige sits up. “I’m not crazy, you know.”
“I know. It’s just that you’re at an age where speaking to imaginary friends is considered an…eccentricity. I’m going to write you a prescription for Ativan. It should calm your nerves and keep you from getting into anymore fights. I’d also like you to see me once a week so we can continue our discussions.”
Paige gets up to meet her mother in the lobby. Chuck hops on her shoulder and, unbeknownst to her, makes a throat-slashing gesture at Dr. Petty as they exit the office.
Mrs. Holley is clicking away on her cellphone while driving and speaking to Paige in the passenger seat. “So, tell me about Chuck. What’s he like?”
“He’s like my friend.”
“Well, I know that. What’s his personality like? What are his hobbies?”
“He smokes a lot.”
“He’s really funny.”
“Is he friends with Dorothy? I haven’t heard you talking to her in a while.”
Paige rolls her eyes. “Dorothy wasn’t real, mom.”
Mrs. Holley glances at her daughter with concern as the car pulls to a stop. “Ugh, look at this traffic.”
A few minutes later, the Holleys’ car pulls up to the cause of the delay: A car wedged gnarly into a thick old oak tree, surrounded by police and emergency personnel.
Mrs. Holley rolls down her window and waves over a nearby officer. “What happened? Drunk driver?”
The officer shakes his head, removing his cap. “Damnedest thing. Lady just slammed right into that tree, stone-cold sober. Not another automobile in sight. Almost as if she did it on purpose.”
“Who was it?”
“Schoolteacher. A Ms. Osborne.”
Mrs. Holley’s face goes ashen white and Paige’s eyes widen as she looks down at a grinning Chuck smoking a tiny cigarette in the palm of her hand. Chuck gives Paige a wink and her eyes roll back in her head as she passes out in the passenger seat.
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