Reader’s Choice (shiver): The Imaginary Friend

The Imaginary Friend

by Robbie Porter

When I was little my parents decided to move. They said the old place was too small, and they wanted both of us kids to have our own rooms. I never wanted to leave. When the removal van came I threw a tantrum, throwing myself on the floor and screaming.

I knew in my bones that things would never be the same again.

The new house was on a housing estate. We lived on Galalaw Road, which I’m told comes from ‘Gallow’s Law’. It’s where they used to hang horse thieves and the like back in the day, at least according to the older folk.

The older folk had a lot to say. They told us about how ‘the deil’ would go on his ‘nightly wanderings’ about the neighbourhood, looking to catch young children unawares and lead them astray. Best not to be out too late, they said. Much better to be safely home and tucked up in bed.

I never made the acquaintance of ‘the deil’, but I did make a friend soon after moving in. I can’t remember his name or what he looked like. I remember telling mum about him, and mum telling dad that I was ‘sensitive’, whatever that means.

My friend lived at the bottom of the garden. I would go down there and visit before school and first thing after getting home. He lived in a bush, and I although I couldn’t see him I could hear him in my head. He could be quite mean, and sometimes got me into all kinds of trouble.

Once he told me to leave the bath taps on so we could race our paper boats down the stairs. Then he wanted me to sneak into the kitchen when mum was making mince and tatties and drop earthworms into the mince. Worst of all was the time he told me to burn the house down, so I found some matches and tried to light them. When I finally managed to get some dry leaves and twigs smoking in the middle of the bedroom floor my sister panicked and went to tell Dad. I felt the bottom of Dad’s slipper that night.

Soon after, we moved away: Mum said we had to make a new start, for us kids’ sakes.

Now I’m a dad myself.

Little Jack was at the bottom of the garden; I could hear his reedy voice talking to… who was he talking to?

“But I don’t know where to find any matches.”

Robbie Porter is a lecturer and charity worker from Worcester, England.

Our Reader said:

A chilling story of a little boy with a dangerous imaginary friend. An eerie tale.

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