Turns out, one may experience the pain of one Mr. Button with an even worse set of circumstances.

Watching a child which is not yours, operate in a teetering and inexplicable way for years on end is hardly entertaining and develops an honest sense of loathing for the infant, no matter the defense of either youth nor ignorance. It could be considered bitter in one sense, immature in another, for any reasonable adult to be so angered but my defense was solid, or so I was sure.

I was not reluctant nor resentful parent who had upon them forced the charge of some youth of related blood or otherwise. I wasn't someone watching from afar as a lover or friend was pulled away by the seemingly inexorable chains of maternal (or paternal) responsibilities which would make even the most enjoyable of individuals dither and become distracted. It would suffice to say that my situation was on the whole wholly involuntary and completely all-to-personal. And I did many things within my power to bring it some sense of interest to no avail.

For I was not the parent, and I was (with the grace of the smallest blessings) not the child. I was a person who followed the latter and wished the former spoke more interesting things to their child, lest they prove to be as dumb as the words seemed to make them out to be.

I was an 'Imaginary Friend', a person who was impossible, intangible and altogether surreal in my surroundings of the colorful mind of a child. I was not a simple 'Friend', I was a prisoner with no future beyond the scope of the mind and no prospects for teaching it anything of note.

Despite trying, though the vitriol with which I regarded him did decline once he proved himself to me in his own way.

I was not discovered by this snot-filled and dirt-eating mongrel until the latter part of his fourth year at whence point I actually became that 'friend' of sorts. He was not smart enough at the time (as I told myself at least) to recognize my obvious presence. He could only grasp at the very corners of my essence to try and comprehend me, his imagining of it, chubby fingers and creased brow were enough to lessen spite but not much else.

For that year he tried to grab onto me, my words apparently beyond the understanding of a four year old who knew better than to mess his trousers but would do the same for thoughts as simple in their process as 'I'm walking the puppy. He has bags for his business why...' and so forth. Our doubled one-sided conversations got us nowhere, and with his inability to tell what I was saying, and my frustrating inability to crack through a toddler's skull, we remained at stalemate.

Despite best efforts he remained unable to understand me in that first year. Neither word nor meaning could be pushed through his mind with enough force for him to understand the most simple of commands. I accepted this, begrudgingly and spitefully, despite myself. I had spent the past few years unheeded through the disgusting display of his infancy, I could survive a few more years within the thick fogs of miscommunication. It was an odd experience at times, being forced to either think and imagine your surroundings for yourself and entertain, or watch things through the wide eyes of a child. It is less like what one might expect in a movie and more like sitting a most uncomfortable passenger in a vehicle with the front windshield being the kid's wide eyes. It's different because unlike something you see on a screen or in a book you do, somewhat, have a sort of consequential feeling, that is to say that I knew I was connected to the kid's actions and had some investment into them.

That much was clear from the fact I was stuck in his head.

In any event, after he turned four he learned somewhat quickly how to perform some of the most basic tasks on his own. He could scramble around a room or the backyard without constant coddling from his seemingly omnipresent parents and poke about in the dirt or star gob-wide at the sky looking for the avian species. Or if he was particularly lucky (for him), some form of multi-legged member of arthropoda (unluckily for it).

This increase in activity helped alleviate some of my boredom from kicking about doing very little. I required somewhat finer entertainment on most days but watching the activities of a child required enough of my time as it was. I learned that a concentrated burst of intention regardless of what it was would cause the child to throw his gaze to exactly 2:45 and listen like a dog who had heard and smelled a rodent of a sort in the direction. Wholly useless for making any meaningful dialogue but that wasn't my intent. If I was lucky and something waited at that slim area of possibility I ran the risk of actually being able to direct him to a place of interest. It wasn't particularly effective, some might even call it potentially dangerous for a kid to listen to a nascent 'thing' within his head and dash to the ever present right-ly direction. Sometimes into walls when I was feeling particularly facetious.

He almost never cried when I pulled that trick.

I rarely thought of myself and my situation. It seemed foolish to ponder that which could not be explained. It was illogical and silly for me to reside in the head of a child from its birth and no logical explanation could provide answers. So I did not seek them, not from the past which I could not extract, nor from the empty partition of a mind that I inhabited. I left the kid alone more or less and didn't fret. I had all the time this kid did and seeing as he had managed to come so far without sticking a knife into a socket or play with stray cats I was going to be more or less safe for his years as a child.

Regardless, it would be within the year his Aunt would reappear after from her extended absence if only to grace the family with a closed casket that was sealed solidly shut. Neither the child nor myself gave much thought to it as the woman had disappeared not long after he had come into the world. The parents on the other hand were beside themselves with grief at the loss of what I would come to learn was the remaining relative outside the parents themselves. No grandparents, no aunts or uncles, no cousins of any sort, all were passed on or somewhere nobody had found quite yet. It was an interesting tidbit for passing analysis though I would ultimately just come to decide the family was somewhat short in span of life and not blessed genetically. The child cared even less, though as he was my singular ticket to experience the world I had to hope he would break the familial trend.

It was that year, 1998, that we moved out to the North. I don't think we ever learned why, as there were still friends if not family back in the States. The parents simply seemed to believe that it was time to move on quite literally with the kid, the clothes, and the memories.

It was an odd affair to watch from the perspective of the child. I myself had no possessions nor real connection to the area as my home was the head of a then 5-year-old. Hardly royalty but it was not going anywhere and moving to a new country would hardly take that away from me unless the scamp was weak to the cool. The kid however seemed much more solemn to leave than the parents who had lost blood and cared for it.

As the time approached for the move to take place however the child became much more reserved about the departure. He neither talked about it nor thought about it from what I could tell. He was slightly slower at times, seemingly lost in thought or some such before he would continue puttering about. On the week of the move however it seemed he was ready to say goodbye to his old haunts.

He wandered about the old yard looking at all the rocks and plants and other recreational components of magicks that a child would find necessary and would sigh, move them about, and leave them in a slightly different condition from before.

Considering his age and propensity for playing alone I was surprised he was not doing more to either remember or hold onto the patchy and uneven yard. he was done in a day and went about his business (as much as a child can have business) as normal in the next days as the parents made the ferries and haulers. He played inside, seemingly avoiding the yard as he read and mucked about with what he could in the last few hours before he was strapped into his car seat and told to wait.

As the mother was about to leave she had a sudden burst of mothering condescension when she asked the kid whether or not she needed to help its 'imaginary friend' buckle in.

It was almost insulting being referred to in such a manner. I was neither imaginary nor its friend! I was someone who was forced to play roommate in the mind of a child, not some jovial figment of said toddler's incessant fantasy.

As I fumed the child only sighed with a tone beyond his years as it shook its head side to side in a slow fashion one might attribute to the slow, though it looked oddly sagely.

"Ma, she isn't sitting." His little voice carried a tired aspect as he tried to impart the fact I resided within his cranium to the mother. "You'd be able to see her otherwise."

If I were being honest in speech and had a chance of actually being heard by the child I might've pointed out that if I were imaginary the woman would not be able to see me sitting or not. I didn't, and couldn't, so I simply waited for whatever the woman might say.

She shook her head and her lips curled into a smile that someone could immediately use to tell she was thinking 'D'aww', but in a way which was derisive. Or maybe at the time I was just irritable over being called a figment of imagination.

"Then you had better go get her, else we might leave her here." She warned playfully as if to try and get some reaction from the child mirroring alarm. "Unless she has the power to just appear out of nowhere with magic."

She accented the last word with a poke to the kid's side, one I nearly felt with my metaphysical existence. She was probably trying to be playful and make light of the existence of her son's 'best friend'. She had taken it roughly in the past, though it was no fault of her own I must admit.

Despite my unease with being labeled an 'Imaginary Friend' it was not the first time such a label had been used to describe my presence. Once when I was trying to point out something to the kid the mother noticed and asked him what he was looking for, to which he replied something to the effect of 'she's telling me to look at something but I don't know what it is'.


'The lady.'

From there came the stack of books on child psychology and meetings with unconcerned psychologists and counselors (more for her than him). He wasn't the most sociable in preschool even with being not the only person with some imagination running wild. He thought of them somewhat insane, ironically enough.

It had taken the last couple of months for the mother to come down from her near-hysteria at the possibility of having a child plagued by imaginary voices. Recently (probably at the push of his father) she had begun the process of interaction with 'me' in the ways she read in the books. Not crushing the illusion just yet, but trying to get a feel of where it was running in his head, what he thought the imaginary was doing.

He thought about his options for a moment, something I listened in on as he tried to decide whether to simply humor his mother - a choice I silently approved of if only for the amusement for myself - or to continue arguing that the 'Imaginary Lady' was not a being he thought of as being around. Or he could just throw a pout. He was leaning towards the last before deciding to just humor his mother, unbuckle and sojourn into and through the house into the backyard.

He turned to make sure his mother wasn't following when he looked up to the sky and let out another sigh. "She's never going to get it." I couldn't tell if the words were meant for me or someone else, not that I could really ignore them. He brought his short hands behind his back and laced the fingers together while he rolled his head around. "I wish you could just tell her."

Well I couldn't do that, could I? And he knew that as well, I thought. He and I didn't ever really try puzzling each other out (or at least him of me). Rarely he would speak into the air but in no particular direction as he spoke, the words the quiet mental meanderings of someone who didn't know what to do, much like absolutely everyone else at his age, though he had a bit more acceptance of the circumstance to my nonexistent ears.

As he reached up with a chubby finger and poked at his temple he turned and walked back into the house with a determined look on his face before putting on an act of coaxing someone significantly taller than him into following. I guessed that was 'me'.

I thought it odd how he characterized me. I had no body outside his mind and despite the fact I was 'Lord of my own Realm' to an extent (conjuring pillows and such to recline and doze on was no difficult task), I never thought about how he thought I looked. From his obviously unwilling dialogue with a parents on the matter, he said I was taller than the father (which was difficult to measure from our shared angle), female and that was about it. I don't know if he made it up or not to sate the desires of his parents but the image worked enough for me. I did not mind such an image, though it was weird that the kid thought of me as that.

All thoughts I mulled over in the many spare moments I had when not looking after the kid, and those are the thoughts I pondered as he walked through the house and met with his father for a short chat.

The father was, in a word, stringy. He was too tall, too thin, the textbook definition of lanky if one was shrunk by a quarter. If adolescent awkward growth was a disease he was the man stuck in palliative care. He was a nice enough man though, his mousy expressions and facial structure charming once you got past the rodent association. His hair had a near-perpetual greasy sheen and was pulled back into a rat's tail behind the base of his skull, streaks of darker and lighter brown-gray traversing from brow to neck. It reached a few inches lower onto his shirt, an older 80s era band shirt which he was wearing while moving the various boxes around. He knelt down and raised a brow at his kid before nodding up at the hall and imaginary specter he was directing like it was a plane.

"Ma told me to get her." Was the explanation he offered with a shrug. He tried to take a look through the corner of his eye at his father who's lips had curled into a smile of sorts. When the child noticed this he let out another puff of air, this time through his nose.

The man backed off with a chuckle, but not before patting his son on the back. He knew how much the conversations about his 'Friend' bothered him and his Mother's way of trying to work around it sometimes backfired leading to the kid clamming up a bit. "That's fine Cai. Just make sure to the car before we leave. We're making sure everything is where it is supposed to be, alright?"

Knowing that the kid would just want to get on for a bit the father stepped out of the way and busied himself giving the kid a semblance of privacy. A child with an unintelligible voice in his head was being forced to give that voice an imaginary body and try to drag it along through miming to humor a parent who was more interested in the 'getting over' aspect of it all.

Ironically, she was unknowingly trying to exacerbate the already odd situation for the kid. I almost felt bad for him, having a mother that was artificially making such a situation worse.

My attention on that particular issue at hand was not kept for long once he threw himself into his car seat again and pretended to buckle me in before sneaking his own restraints on. When he was done he turned his head as far as he could to scan for a passing parent or seemingly responsible member of the neighbourhood before letting out a long groan. It was high, sounding more like a pups than a wolfs as it went low and high for a little bit before ending with a little snarl. His facial expressions through the whole of it were rather convincing, if we was a dog that is, and when he was finished he glanced around again to make sure nobody was coming around to determine the source of his random outburst that combated the tedium of his own 4-year-old responsibilities.

He knew his parents would be in there for at least a few more minutes just making sure and that he was sitting out here so they wouldn't have to look for him when it was about time to leave. A somewhat annoying plan for a 4 year old who figured it out, and he would have thrown a bit of a fit to get some attention if the seatbelt he had not unclasped.

It had only been because the minivan was an older model and the belt clasps needed a bit of a tug to make sure they were set properly, even he knew that, but it gave him an idea. He tried looking up into the tops of his eye sockets to see me of all things.

At first he started by looking up at the roof until his head was all the way back against the neck brace of his car seat. When his head could no longer go back his eyes continued until they were looking right at his brow. After some struggling on his part and getting nothing more than an image of wavering brows and a head of black-ish-brown-ish hair he reached up to try and pull his eyelids to try and see if that would let him go any farther.

I at this time probably should have been a bit more concerned about this than I was, especially given the fact that he obviously didn't know that eyes were not actually just balls in his head magically connected to his brain. I wasn't however and when he gave up he let out his third? Fourth? sigh in the past few minutes. It was cute, I guess, but eventually he just closed his eyes and made a somewhat high-pitched humming noise that reminded me of those faux monks in those cheesy martial arts movies we had had the... Pleasure of seeing from time to time.

The little bugger was attempting to meditate which was commendable even if I thought it might be a bit of a lost cause. He might be a bit calmer than many kids his age but he was hardly a genius or prone to remaining in one spot still for very long. He surprised me though when he started mumbling.


With his eyes closed I could usually still tell what was going on around him but since he was looking in rather than out I couldn't be sure what he was seeing. Unless he was learning how to picture things in his head, which was impressive...? If all younger children weren't supposed to be better than adults at that.

"So are you sitting?"

His mumbled words cut through my own bemused thoughts as I looked up. I was currently sitting on a couple of large pillows that sat in the somewhat discombobulating nothingness that surrounded me most the time. I didn't have real eyes to see but I could sense for lack of a better, less cliche term, what was going on around me. I couldn't see him, though that equal parts surprised and disappointed me. In the months since he had noticed my existence no true communication was available from myself to the outside world. Being able to even communicate with this kid would have been nice.

I stood, as much as one can in nothingness and walked in a direction with was generally forwards. I made three steps before the lack of reference irritated me, from there a checkered pattern spread from my feet out in all directions. I wandered forward until I heard him make another noise, this one of confusion.

"You aren't there."

The answer to that seemed obvious, of course I wasn't there. I had no body. I just existed. Being someplace and existing as a concept to a child were two completely different things. Explaining such a thing was beyond the scope of my abilities though and I simply shrugged.


Before he could say anything more the van tilted slightly as his father slipped into the driver's seat and turned the key in the ignition. It snapped Cail's concentration nearly immediately and he looked around with a bit of a jump. The moment seemingly forgot he reached towards his father's shoulder and asked if they were going to be leaving soon. The father nodded distractedly as he glanced up at his wife who looked to be giving the house one last look before she too got in and buckled in.

Pulling out of the driveway and slowly creeping down the road until the house was out of sight we left behind the symbol of youth and the tipping moments of the sands. The kid watched the scenery pass and I walked back to my place on the 'floor', my mind distracted by the kid's attempted meditation.

Shaking my head I fell onto a bed conjured from the nothingness and looked up at the darkness, the floor disappearing as I pulled my feet onto the blanket. A hand materialized in my view, the form appearing in a block like roughly formed in clay before it created finer and more delicate details. Within a couple of seconds it was formed and I clenched my new hand into a first, the feeling of sinew and muscle odd to me for whatever reason. Another arm appeared just beside it more quickly as it simply mirrored the other.

The sensation of feeling came and passed and with a glance past my fingertips a mirror displayed itself above me and the surface shimmered a moment before coming into partial focus. My hands and arms up until the elbows were visible along with the bed, but the place where a body should have been was simply a dark grayish mass of nothing.

I would have investigated further but the child passed out, unfortunately putting myself in the same state.

His parents thought he was tired at first from what I could tell when they woke him (and I) up at the ferry port. He grumbled and though I had no real physical response to the event he was obviously somewhat out of it. That had been the first time the kid had passed out like that and I found myself a bit puzzled. Looking about I found that whatever creation I had made before had dispelled itself and I couldn't remember much of what I was trying to do.

Without much going on in his head I had to have something or other around visually to try and recollect whatever I was doing at any particular point. My creations were just complex thoughts after all and much like a long calculation the second you move on the specific numbers in the process can fall away from me.

I doubted whatever I was doing was very interesting though and watched the passing scenery of the family as they made their way through customs and looked at the large ship that rested in the bay. They all had to take pause as though there was little point to doing so now would be the last chance to try and turn back.

They didn't. And the ocean wasn't the only thing between them and the past when they arrived in Victoria.