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  • Writer's pictureerikaraskin

friends, real and imagined

So I was looking up the asking price of a relocating neighbor’s house (I’m a writer, consider it research ) and happened across a site that lists occupants of a given address. I typed in ours and watched in astonishment as on the screen a roster of long-moved-out family members and a long-term guest appeared.

Which was creepy enough.

But even worse,  it also listed a Mr. P.

Who I don’t know.

Keith was out of town (of course) so for days I found myself eyeing the basement door like an unnerved babysitter in a horror movie. (It’s a part of the house that I avoid anyway — I once discovered a snakeskin down there).

But then I remembered Donal Mackel and CleeClee, two invisible roommates with whom I have shared digs. Donal was an imaginary playmate of the delinquent variety. He belonged to my much younger brother and would regularly set him up.

(‘I didn’t do it–Donal did!’)

One of my clearest memories of the guy was when I climbed into the car and Noah started screaming, ‘You’re crushing him, you’re crushing him!’) causing my middle school self to levitate up off the backseat and hit my head on the roof.

(A few years back, my daughter Maggie called her uncle and asked to speak with Donal Mackel. Somewhat alarmingly Noah told her to hang on a minute.)

Maggie herself had CleeClee who hung with our family for a whole year of nursery school. CleeClee’s presence caused Maggie’s Irish-twin brother Zack (he was four, she was three) to invent his own imaginary pal named ClaCla. Both of Zack’s sisters treated ClaCla like the poser he was.

CleeClee eventually up and moved to Denver with no forwarding information.

(Which I found more upsetting than my daughter did.)

Bringing me back to Mr. P.

Perhaps he is a member of the same population, just hunkering down next to the furnace until his next placement comes through. Perhaps he has invited some of his chums (Donal, CleeClee and maybe even ClaCla) over to play foosbol and ping pong. Maybe between games they comb through outgrown toys and school notebooks thinking back fondly on days gone by.

In any event, I’m staying upstairs.


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