Saturday, March 19, 2016

Invisible Friend, Joe Persch

             By Joe Persch

My earliest memory is a day when my twin brother and I were playing in our shared bedroom. We were maybe 3- or 4-years-old. I’m not really sure now. That doesn’t seem too weird, does it? I mean, how many people really remember exactly how old they were during their earliest memories? We certainly don’t remember the day we’re conceived (that would be really awkward) or the day we’re born. But, in a way, our earliest memories still shape us. They help us to see how we’ve grown.
 Anyway, we were playing on the floor with our cars. He had a mustang and I had a model of the General Lee from the Dukes of Hazzard. Despite the fact that we were really young, we loved that show. Our parents would sit us down in front of the TV when it came on and we would just watch with rapt attention. Although we loved it, I really couldn’t tell you what many of the episodes were about. It’s another one of those memory things.
 So our mom came in and told us it was time for a bath. But she only picked up my brother. He told her that she had forgotten me, but she replied that I didn’t need one. Even at that age, I thought that was odd because I had been out getting just as dirty as he had. So since I figured I could use one (yeah, I was an odd child), I got up and followed them into the bathroom. I loved getting a bath with my brother. We had the best games we would play and mom would always yell at us both. We’d pretend to be scared, but we always laughed and smiled at each other when she wasn’t looking. Being together gave us both courage that we wouldn’t otherwise have.
 Things were like that sometimes. Mom would take better care of my brother than she would of me, saying I didn’t need things like baths, food, something to drink, or toys. The list went on and on. It was unsettling and I started to get depressed after a few years of being subjected to this. Anytime she did this though, my brother would always share his things with me. Other times he wouldn’t have to and mom would make me a meal with his. She would pick up an extra toy with his just so I would have one. I never understood the inconsistencies though. Either way, my brother truly was a saint. He never argued with me, and if I needed something, he gave it to me. I was always so happy when he did.
 I began to resent mom after a while. As for dad, he was mostly absent. Always working and always away. I decided to just stay away from him. I didn’t feel like I knew him at all, but my brother on the other hand, was fearless when I was there. He would go up to dad and start telling him about the things we did, but dad was always asking why I was being included in the activities. It hurt a lot.
 I honestly think that without my brother, I never would have survived. I just never understood how two people who seemed to be so caring and so understanding to one of their sons could turn their backs on and completely ignore their other son. It just didn’t make sense.
 As we got older, closer to our teens, my brother stopped talking to me and stopped sharing things with me. Not always, but it became more frequent. I’d lay there in my bed and stare at the ceiling when he went out with his friends. Friends I seemed unable to make. Mom and Dad didn’t seem to care enough to come check on me. I was left to my own thoughts. And they became darker and darker.
 After a while, my brother stopped talking to me altogether. He didn’t ask for meals for me or even share them with me. Nothing was shared anymore. It was like……like I wasn’t even there.
 That’s the day I realized. The day I put everything together in my mind. He had created me out of thin air. Out of the desire for a sibling to share things with when he was alone. The reason he got in trouble when I broke the rules. The reason I was ignored all the time. I was his imaginary friend.
 But, why hadn’t I vanished when he stopped believing in me? Could it be that in creating me in his mind, I became a reality, but not as we understand? Perhaps without his belief, he simply can’t see me anymore.

 Whatever the reasons, I know he’ll remember me eventually. Until then, I’ll stay with him. I’ll be sure to remain by his side until the last moment. After all, he’s my brother.


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