Most kids had imaginary friends growing up, but not like mine.
I slowed down near the cypress docks because, like always, they made me think of him. The ocean crashed along the pier and glittered under the dying sun like shattered glass. Since I’d lived my whole life in Weymouth, an ocean-view walk home was a common thing. My “friend” Niall hadn’t been. Years after most kids abandoned their imaginary friends, mine had tagged along right through middle school. I wasn’t stupid—I’d known what the other kids would think, so I’d kept him quiet. And there’d been rules.
He’d only meet me by the sea. I’d come by myself at night, making some excuse to my folks or telling them I wanted to go find shells at the beach.
I’d lied. Covering my tracks the best I could, I’d always brought home a shell he’d helped me find, anything from pieces of clams to slipper’s shells. I fingered the conch around my neck—the last shell Niall had given me before he’d left.
The salty breeze picked up strands of my hair and rippled them like pennants as I made my way down the boardwalk. So, yeah, most invisible friends don’t swim with you. You can’t stroke their wet hair or see the smile in their eyes. Most don’t smell like brine and the breeze. But he’d vanished, same as all invisible friends do, once I’d reached a certain age.
Katherine McIntyre is an author of steampunk adventure, dark comedy, urban fantasy and paranormal romance stories. She splits her time writing and working the day job, but as for creative pursuits, she’s dabbled in a little bit of everything. A modern day Renaissance-woman, she’s learned soapmaking, beer brewing, tea blending and most recently roasting coffee. The one constant from a very young age was her passion for reading and writing.