by: André Martins
Portugal, Lisbon, 2002
Some people are born with a very fertile imagination. In my case, I was always a kid on the creative side. I enjoyed writing, drawing, making up stories. I also had a pretty lonesome childhood, thus, I made my own imaginary friends. Most of which were based on cartoons or silly commercials. I talked to them and in my head, they replied to me.
However, there was always one imaginary friend that was special. His name was Angel. Angel was a tall figure, and I must have been around 8 years old when I first saw him. He had messy black hair an apathetic smile that stayed static most of the time. What I find weird now, looking back, is that I did not know how to speak English at the time. Even though some of the TV programs I watched were American or British, I had no Idea whatsoever what ‘Angel’ meant.
This imaginary friend I had made was, well, of course, imaginary. Surely my parents or grandparents could not see him. But he talked to me a lot. Angel named himself, contrary to my other imaginative characters. Almost felt like having a big brother at times. I can distinctly recall him giving me advice on people, girls, teachers, which in retrospective is quite weird. A product of my own imagination knew more than me. He always talked calmly but was very expressive, in a slow manner. He smiled and laughed without a sound and almost never physically touched me. He hanged mostly in the back of rooms or people.
You can argue that it is extremely rare for an 8-year-old child to have such vivid images of an imaginary friend. The truth is he was much more than just that. He was always very present around certain hours and I couldn’t just shut him off whenever I pleased. Looking back, I believe he was triggered by my early traits of anxiety. And overall, he was everything I wanted for a friend. He played, talked and even fought at times.
See, Angel had the bad habit of messing with people that couldn’t see him. I recall looking at my mother one time and he was behind her making faces, which then got me grounded for laughing at her. These imaginary friends make a kid question his sanity. But then they become something else.
I stopped seeing Angel as often, growing up. Which was good, I was a developing teenager, going through puberty. Having an imaginary friend wasn’t part of my agenda and I had friends now, social media, and so many distractions. I didn’t feel alone and I didn’t feel the need for him. But he came again.
Around my 11th birthday, my dad had kidney stones one night. He and my mother left the house at two in the morning and left no warning. I woke up with the banging of the front door and got up. I assumed something had happened and went for a glass of milk from the fridge before resuming my sleep. What followed was beyond any logical line of thought. I did not believe in God and I tried to justify supernatural phenomena through science. But nothing beats doubt like ‘seeing it believe it’. Angel was there…
He was standing still, leaning on the wall of my kitchen. Same black messy hair, same tall and slender figure looking straight at me like a cat does in the dark. A look that always stuck with me. He didn’t make a sound and he did not move. I took a while to understand that it was him and not my sleepy eyes confusing it with a piece of furniture. My muscles twitched after a brief second and I felt baffled by the dark silhouette in front of me. In the blink of an eye, he was gone again.
Again, my logical self tried to explain the phenomena as something a young mind would think. I was a teenager and I was home alone on that fateful night. It was late and I had just woken up. Arguably my mind could be playing tricks on me and it was all a product of my sleep. But I myself cannot begin to express the experience, and I distinctly recall not being able to sleep after. I kept waiting to see if he would show up again but he just would not. I tried picturing him in my head like before, like when I was a kid, like when he used to stand in the back of my room just below my bed… but it just didn’t feel the same.
As time went by, the memories grew smaller and he was once more just a remembrance.
Some years later in high school, we started studying psychology. I learned how deceiving the human mind can truly be. One thing in specific I learned was a mental disorder called Dissociative Identity Disorder in which a person suffers from multiple personalities and can imagine different characters as real as you and me. I was incredibly fascinated by this fact for it could justify what Angel was. A mere, an elaborate product of my unconscious self.
Now able to think rationally about things that formerly scared me, I dug deeper in about ghost stories and the occult. I read reports that displayed similar behavior to what I had experienced with Angel. People claiming unwanted appearances of familiar or unfamiliar figures in their lives. It was the first time I ever considered Angel to be a ghost. The first time I considered him to be beyond my imagination. But why could no one else see him? That question always haunted me.
I never saw Angel again. And at this point, I hope he does never come around. What was once a friend now feels like one frightful bad memory.
Imaginary Forces, Imaginary Animals, Imaginary Beings, Imaginary Girl