Imaginary

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
Jo goes to live with her grandparents following the murder of her mother and younger brother.

Submitted: October 30, 2016

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Submitted: October 30, 2016

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Imaginary.

 

Jo’s voice could be heard chattering away happily. That was good. She had been so quiet and withdrawn since moving in with her grandparents that they had grown quite worried. The doctor said to give her time, that it was caused by the trauma; but that Jo, at five years old, was young enough to make a full recovery.

 

She had been asleep in the house when the intruders had broken in. She had slept through the murders of both her mother and her brother. Three year old Ben had been crying so their mother had taken him downstairs for a while to try to settle him. If he had stayed in his own bed he might still be alive.

 

Jo had woken, walked downstairs. She had not understood why her mother had looked so twisted, or where all the red stuff was coming from. Jo had not understood why her younger brother would not open his eyes. She called him and shook him and got no response. He was covered in red stuff too.

 

When her father returned home he found Jo sitting there with the two cooling bodies. “Hello, Daddy. Ben won’t wake up and Mommy won’t wake up. Will you play with me?” She had held out her bloodied hands towards him and, to his shame, he found himself recoiling, pulling away.

 

He must have phoned the police because they arrived shortly afterwards. If it wasn’t for the fact that he had a cast-iron alibi he would have been the prime suspect. Her father had been at a business meeting along with twenty-five other individuals, all of who would attest to his being there. He was in shock. He could not look after himself, let alone Jo, and that was why she ended up living with his parents.

 

Jo, herself, had never mentioned that night. She had never asked about her mother or her brother. She barely spoke to her father when he came to visit. She just played quietly on her own or looked through her picture books. Jo didn’t want to go out and meet other people, other children her age. She wanted to be left alone.

 

And then quite suddenly she was talking! Her grandmother opened the door and as she stepped into the room Jo became quiet again.

 

Who are you talking to, Sweetie?” she asked.

 

Be......Nobody, Gran. Just my friend.” Jo looked down at her feet. “I’m sorry. I’ll be quieter.”

 

No, no! You talk away all you like, Jo. Do you want me to play with you for a while?”

 

Jo shook her head. “No, that’s okay, Gran. My friend is waiting for me.”

 

As soon as the door closed, Jo’s voice started up again, quieter this time, as though she did not want anyone to listen in to her ‘conversation’. Her grandmother stood outside the door for a moment, shook her head then walked down the stairs. Maybe this was the start of the recovery that they had all been waiting for.

 

But Jo continued to say very little apart from when she was alone in her room. That seemed to be the only time that she ever really came alive – the times she spent with her imaginary friend. And those times were becoming both more frequent and louder. Sometimes laughter would ring out. Sometimes it sounded like there must be more than one child running around up there, judging by the thundering sound of footsteps.

 

Jo remained pale. The dark circles beneath her eyes seemed to be growing ever darker. If there were visitors she would run and hide. Her father rarely came to see her any more; Jo made it clear that she did not want to see him, and seeing her just brought that tragic scene right back to the very front of his mind.

 

When Jo asked for paper and crayons this, again, was seen as a step forward. It was the first time she had actually requested anything. Jo’s grandparents bought her a big sketch block, the biggest assortment that Crayola had to offer – and they were so happy to do so.

 

Jo drew and drew. She kept most of her art hidden, piled upside down next to her; but she would show her grandmother the occasional drawing of a flower, and her grandfather the occasional picture of a house, She always seemed to be having a mumbled conversation whenever she was drawing.

And then there came the day when Jo’s grandmother walked into her room to find crayon marks all over the walls. Jo was adamant that she was not responsible, that she would never do such a thing. But who else could it have been? Her imaginary friend?

 

Jo, herself, was now paper-white except for the purple bruise-like marks that seemed to be covering more and more of her face. She was painfully thin but refused to eat almost everything. The only times she seemed to be really ‘alive’ were the hours she spent shut up in her room alone.

 

Eventually, Jo slipped up. She forgot to hide a drawing and her grandmother was shocked by what she saw. Figures, obviously meant to be Jo’s mother and Ben, standing there covered in blood. Added to the side was a much less developed drawing of another figure. This did not look like it had been drawn by the same person, being more like one a toddler would draw. And underneath it were two primitively written letters – a ‘j’ and an ‘o’!

 

What was the most shocking thing to her was that this third figure also looked like they were covered with blood. Why would Jo draw such a thing? Her grandmother decided not to mention it, not to ask, but clearly this was not the recovery they had hoped it was.

 

One afternoon the shout came. It was Jo and she sounded angry. Was she having an argument with her imaginary friend? Her grandmother rushed into the room to find the girl clearly agitated. She was hiding one arm behind her back and was obviously in pain. When Jo was finally coaxed to show her arm it was bleeding quite profusely. A paper cut?

A very severe paper cut! What else could it be?

 

Even though she continued to spend almost all of her time in her room, Jo was heard to be talking much less. It appeared almost as though she had been involved in a dispute with her imaginary friend, one that she was reluctant to ‘forgive and forget’. She was becoming more and more withdrawn. She would only speak when asked a question, and then she would do no more than whisper a single word in reply.

 

One evening, about a week after the paper cut, there was the sound of a struggle, a fight. Jo’s grandparents raced up the stairs, flung open the door to the bedroom, only to find Jo flat on the floor and covered in blood. But she was not there alone.

 

Standing next to her body was a small dead-eyed boy, knife in his small right hand. The vacant-eyed boy, a twisted little triumphant smile on his face, looked like none other than three-year-old Ben himself. He looked at his grandparents, held out his arms, then vanished, leaving his sister’s body laying there lifeless at their feet.

 

 


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