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At first Shirley Watkins tried to comfort Mumfrey, her imaginary friend, with messages she drew in crayon on pieces of construction paper. “Don’t give up!” she scrawled on one. “I’ll be there soon!” she wrote on another. She pressed them against the window, hoping they would lift his spirits. Once night fell and it began to rain she didn’t think he could even see them anymore. And the terrible noises coming from his crushed body were beginning to scare her. She first met her imaginary friend in 1999, shortly after her mother died of complications due to a routine surgery. At first they didn’t get along very well, Mumfrey and Shirley. Shirley had her way, and Mumfrey his, and it took a while for them to work out their differences. But when her dad re-married, she and her imaginary friend grew very close. Which is why what happened this afternoon has gotten Shirley so, so sad. Shirley and Mumfrey were playing make believe in the backyard, pretending to play explorers of an abandoned Ogre Kingdom, when the accident happened. Mumfrey was on his stomach, peering through a telescope when a thick branch from the big tree snapped and landed on him with a sickening crunch. Alarmed by the commotion, Barbara, her new mom, ran outside with a phone in her hand and began yelling at her, as if she was the one who made the branch fall. “What are you doing! What have you done!” Her new mommy was dragging her by the arm. “Why can’t you just stay inside and play a god damn game.” But Shirley wasn’t paying attention to her. She was craning her neck, staring in shock at Mumfrey. He was in a lot of pain. He was groaning and bright red fluid was foaming around his mouth, like he was in the middle of brushing his teeth with blood. The branch had fallen flush on his back, and snapped it. His legs were twisted under him in grotesque angles that made her tummy feel yucky to look at. He was moaning, lifting one of his arms up, pleading for her to come back for him. “Please, Shirl, please, don’t leave me here, please…” his words faded, lost in a hacking red spray. Shirl wanted to run to Mumfrey, but she was too weak to break free. “Barbara, please, we have to help Mumfrey he’s hurt. He needs our help!” Barbara slapped her in the face. “What have I told you about calling me that. I’m your mother now like it or not. And how do you think your dad will feel if I tell him about your imaginary friend again. Remember last time. Remember the pills?” Barbara dragged her stepdaughter into her room and locked the door. Shirley had a window facing the backyard and ran to it. She tried to lift it, but her parents had installed guards. Mumfrey stared at her messages longingly at first. But eventually, as he came to grips with his slow death, a look of desperation was replaced with indifference -- vacant glazed, glassy. He had begun to groan a long, repetitive, droney sound, like the wail of an air raid siren. She was worried he wasn’t going to make it through the night. Now, Shirley curled up in a ball on her bed, crying real tears for her imaginary friend, the pillow squished against her little ears, hoping, hoping, hoping the noises would stop.

Date Written: June 29, 2005
Author: scoop
Average Vote: 3.875

07/1/2005 Will Disney: Hey this reminds me a little of that Murakami book Hard Boiled Wonderland. Doesn't it to me do that?
07/1/2005 Mr. Pony: A lot of stuff reminds you of that book!
07/1/2005 Will Disney: That's because it's the only book I've read in the last five years!
07/1/2005 Will Disney: Have you read it, Pony? I think you in particular might enjoy it if you know what I mean.
07/1/2005 Will Disney: Because it was written by a Jap I mean.
07/1/2005 qualcomm: i am gladder than ever to have not read that murakami book.
07/1/2005 Kenji X (4): "Like he was in the middle of brushing his teeth with blood," makes me happy. Oh look, a rainbow!
07/1/2005 scoop: Too long, but very "creative."
07/1/2005 TheBuyer (5): A well deserved bash in the face of innocence.
07/1/2005 qualcomm (3):
07/1/2005 Jon Matza (4): Good premise, well-written. A bit overcalculated, perhaps. But I liked it. But it could've used a dose of manic energy. But it was still pretty solid lumpo.
07/2/2005 Klause Muppet (4):
07/5/2005 Litcube (4.5): Huh. I really enjoyed this story. I like how I'm still sort of waiting for some point to it all besides the realization that it's all just a horror story. Scoop, you're twisted.
07/5/2005 Mr. Pony (2.5): I liked this, but I think is incorrect to suggest that it's "creative". I think it's an interesting premise supported by a well-woven web of clichés. To call something "creative" would suggest frantic stabs with the "brush" at the "canvas", or a more pronounced sense of self-importance than is apparent here. That said, I liked this. Did I already say that? It should be noted that this 2.5 is very clearly a revenge vote, not to be taken seriously; hurting me far more than it could ever hurt you, beloved author.
07/5/2005 scoop: But when you are hurt, cherished friend, I am pained in ways that simple words have no ability to communicate. So by hurting yourself you have inadvertently caused me more anguish that could ever be dreamed of with a million of your computer machines.
07/5/2005 Mr. Pony: And knowing that I have hurt you with my pain redoubles my suffering! Is there anything more wondrous or less reasonable (in this place we call the Universe) than a simple feedback loop? And despite these mysteries standing naked in the same room as we, how can concepts like Honor, and Love, and Mayo and Team Sports escape you? How can this be, oh Friend of friends?
07/5/2005 scoop: I don't know about your household, treasured comrade, but in my room the mysteries are sensibly attired in form-fitting tighty-whities.
07/7/2005 mr.coffee (4): wow scoop...posting your own short with a "creative"! Ballsy dude.