Imaginary Friends – Chapter 10
Ten-year-old Paige Holley has made a new imaginary friend. A talking cricket named Chuck.
Chapter Ten – Storm
Paige Holley pads downstairs in her slippers to a quiet, empty house. She checks the living room before moving on to the kitchen. No one. She moves towards the den, passing the sliding glass doors that lead out into the backyard, when she notices a shadow swaying on the freshly fallen snow. She glances up into the bare birch trees, squinting into the rising morning sun and sees two bodies swinging by their necks from the large ancient oak at the back of the yard. Paige’s heart sinks then rises quickly up into her throat as she recognizes her parents’ limp, snow-white bodies swinging in the chill winter breeze.
Paige shoots up out of her bed with a shriek, soaked in sweat.
Chuck is leaned up against the lamp on her bedside table, smoking a tiny cigarette. “Bad dream?”
Paige sits up in bed. “Did you kill that waitress?”
Chuck butts out his cigarette and thumps the minuscule pack against his palm. “I heard she did herself.”
“Why are you doing all this?”
Chuck stands up and faces her. “I’m only doing what you want, but won’t. You’re my queen, kid. Nah, too young to be a queen. You’re my princess. And I obey your every command. Isn’t that what you always wanted in one of your imaginary friends? Unmitigated obedience?”
“I didn’t command you to do any of this! I’m not a murderer.”
Chuck lights another cigarette. “And you never have to be. I’ll do your dirty work for you. That’s what friends are for.”
“Just because some grownups bother me doesn’t mean I want them dead.”
“Those grownups are just problems. And I’m the solution. I’m your friend.”
“Friends don’t kill for each other.”
“Well then maybe we’re more than friends. Maybe the fates caused us to meet. Maybe we’re meant to be together. You see, Paige, you don’t need teachers or psychologists or cops or even parents. All you need is me. Your buddy.”
Paige looks outside her bedroom window as a fresh snowfall begins to gently blanket the brown-green backyard.
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