11.14.2013 Journal Prompt

Image from The Long Day Closes
Image from The Long Day Closes

November 14, 2013: My brother had a friend.

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4 thoughts on “11.14.2013 Journal Prompt

  1. Lindsay

    My brother has a friend. Someone kind and laughing and always there. In the dark under the stairs and with him in the moments between sleeping and waking. Everywhere that there is no one, there is his friend. He is imaginary, I think. But Thomas never likes for anyone to say that.

    Imaginary friends are for children, he says, and they have names like Barney and Dougall and they drink pretend tea from plastic dolls’ cups, but they never do lift those cups to their imaginary mouths. It is all pretend. Thomas’ friend is different. That’s what he says.

    And children grow up at last and they find their way in the world and they learn that imaginary friends are not real and so they let them go; and it is only a child’s belief that gives those friends their existence, and so they are lost then. Thomas’ friend is not like that. Thomas’ friend stamps his feet when he is cross and he swears and he breaks cups or plates.

    Of course, we all thought it was Thomas at first. And our mam tried to teach him the difference between truth and lie. And she said how it was wrong to lie and more wrong than hating. She didn’t make sense sometimes, our mam. It was like she was talking to someone else and not to us. It was like she had a ‘friend’ and that friend was in the room where we were but was closer to imaginary than to real. What mam said about truth and lie and hating, that was to do with our dad. They were going through a ‘rough patch’ is what mam said. We already knew.

    We knew all kinds of stuff. We knew that dad was kissing our aunt Tilly when she came to visit and touching her under her dress and laughing like he never laughed with our mam. We knew this because Thomas’ friend saw them. And we knew our mam saw them too, because she was always crying behind closed doors; but closed doors are no obstacle to Thomas’ friend.

    So you see, he’s not like a child’s plaything, Thomas’ friend. He is more real than that. More than just a voice in Thomas’ head when he is by himself. And he knows where everything is. Even when a thing is missing and can’t be found, Thomas’ friend knows. His name is Anthony, which is the name that was Thomas’ name right up to the day he was born and then our mam changed her mind. And Anthony is the name of a saint who finds lost things.

    I asked Thomas one day if Anthony was with us in the room. And I said if he was could he hear us talking. And I had a question for him, something I wanted to ask.

    Thomas looked away from where we were. He looked into a corner where it was dark, a space beside the curtains that was out of reach of the light spilling in through the small window. He looked back at me and nodded. I turned to where Thomas had looked and I asked Anthony if he knew where was the love that our mam and dad once had.

    Thomas cocked his head like a bird when it is listening for the smallest sound. I tried to read the answer in his face, but I could not. Then after a waiting time, a time when the air was breathless and still, Thomas turned to me. He said, matter of fact and easy, that love that is not fed and watered is soon a shrunken and shriveled thing. Like fruit that is uneaten and it sits dying for weeks in the fruit bowl before mam throws it out. And he said that sometimes there is no reviving dead things; and he said then that Anthony knew where my keychain was, the one with the small pewter heart on it, and I loved that heart, and I think that was just Anthony being kind.

  2. Lindsay

    Thank you, Judith. I look forward to your comments. They are so kind: ‘all the ends tucked in’ – so kind. And I, too, like the fruit bowl image… it just spilled out… I am sure I will use it again somewhere…

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