All rights reserved by Ragazza
There is something I wanted so badly as a child but never had: an imaginary friend. I was absolutely fascinated with the premise of having this friend who could be eight feet tall, speak with an Irish accent, and make balloon animals if I so desired. All over Saturday morning television there were these shows portraying children and their imaginary friends. They always seemed to have so much fun together and I longed to know what that friendship felt like.
It’s not like I didn’t really try to invent my very own imaginary friend, since the name implies it is totally up to the person to create this fictitious character. However, no matter how much I tried to commit myself to the idea of this invisible person that accompanied me everywhere, I just didn’t buy it. Half the time I’d forget that I’d invented this person at all and usually let one of my siblings sit on him at the dinner table. It wasn’t that I was devoid of an imagination as much as I was easily distracted.
Looking back I should feel relieved that I didn’t honestly have an imaginary friend since popular psychology states that this is a sign that the child is out of sorts. However, I strangely always wanted to be that kind of kid because I thought it would be cool. I thought I was too plain in all areas and I longed to be different. I wanted my name to be Laurel, instead of Anna, because that sounded like the name of an artist who marched to the beat of their own imaginary drum. Somehow, some way I wanted to stand out from the crowd and be bold and thereby, I concluded, interesting.
Another trait that I longed to have was a psychic ability. I felt that if only I could tell the future or read minds or even palms then I’d be truly happy. These types of people, although considered outcast in society, are also valuable resources. I began focusing the attention once dedicated to inventing an imaginary friend into cultivating this talent. Devastatingly I proved to be a failure at reading minds, since I could never tell what anyone around me was thinking, let alone get them to tell me straight out.
Since my options for living a weird life were running short, I decided that I’d go into the field of mind control. My very first opportunity to hone this skill came when our Nintendo started malfunctioning. All of my brother’s usual tactics of pulling out the cartridge and blowing on it wouldn’t get the game system to work. Frustrated, Ronald reverted to hitting the side of the TV to make Mario Brothers pop up on the screen. I had been sitting quietly on the sofa waiting the hour and half before my turn to play the game. My turn was up and my brother had apparently played the game so long that he had overheated the system thereby rendering it useless. This would not do at all. As Ronald proceeded to bang on the side of the TV, I closed my eyes and focused. The Nintendo works. The Nintendo works. The Nintendo works. I kept repeating those words in my mind, while simultaneously seeing the game actually working in my mind’s eye.
“Finally!” Ronald shouted as the game chimed signaling that it was working once again.
My eyes flew open and proudly a smile burst across my face. I extended my hand out, “Give me the controller, it’s my turn.”
Pulling the game controller out of my reach my brother shook his head, “Nah, give me five more minutes.”
That wouldn’t do at all. He had been asking for five more minutes for half an hour. I closed my eyes and started the chant in reverse. The Nintendo doesn’t work. The Nintendo doesn’t work. The Nintendo doesn’t work. A minute later I skipped gleefully out the front door to play outside while Ronald resumed banging on the television.
I was now utterly convinced that I had the mind control that I needed to control electronics, but I wasn’t fully sure how much that extended to other things. These kinds of skills take practice, which lucky for me there were hours during the school day where I had nothing better to do than work on my mind control. I always wondered what would have happened if I would have been successful at getting the chalkboard eraser to fly across the room and hit Tommy Teague in the head. There were probably too many distractions in that setting and therefore I wasn’t able to truly connect with that magical power. Furthermore, just the point of getting something to move wasn’t a big enough motivator and I think having the right incentive was always key to my success.
There are no better motivators than embarrassment, experiencing extreme cold, or boredom. One day after my mother had picked us up from school and we were headed home on a frigid February day our Toyota station wagon stalled at the light in town. My mother instructed my brother and sister to get out of the car and start pushing while she steered the car into a parking lot. She rolled down the window so that she could give them orders and the piercing cold winds flew back to where I was ducking down in the back seat.
“Why doesn’t Anna have to help?” Katie yelled as she pushed alongside Ronald.
“Why do you think? She’s eight, Katie! And she’s not necessarily a large and strong kid. Push harder!” Mom commanded from the front seat.
Feeling slightly glad to be young and little, I shot a smirk through the back window at my sister who was freezing her ass off pushing the car. Suddenly, a bus of my classmates came buzzing by and some of their eyes met mine and I felt their judgments. I sunk down lower on the blue vinyl seat. Fifteen minutes later my siblings had managed to get the car pushed off the road and into the parking lot of the Western Wear Store. Everyone piled back into the car, shivering and red faced. Mom turned the key in the ignition and pushed on the gas. The car reared and reared, but didn’t turn over.“Come on!” mother coerced the car.
She tried again and then again and then again.
“You’re gonna flood the engine,” Ronald hollered from the passenger seat. “And can you roll up the window? It’s freezing in here!” He exclaimed frustrated and exhausted.
Giving him a dirty look, mother shook her head, “I know that. And no I can’t roll up the window. I’m smoking.”
“Well stop!” Ronald suggested with a force.
“Be quiet, I’m trying to think!” our mother shouted as she flicked an ash out the window.
I pulled my hood over my head and drew the drawstrings tight so that it closed in around my face. Closing my eyes and trying to block everyone out I began a chant in my head: The car works. The car works. The car works. Simultaneously I imagined the engine starting successfully. Then all of a sudden there was the very real sound of an engine turning over. I opened my eyes as I saw my mom throw her hands up in the air, “Hooray! It worked.” She patted the dash board lovingly, “That’s a good car.”
I figured this was probably my moment to come clean and get my due credit. “Ummm, that was me,” I explained.
“What was you?” Katie asked beside me.
“I fixed the car, with my mind.”
Ronald and Katie began laughing, as my mother pulled the little station wagon out onto the road. “Don’t laugh,” I whined. “I have a sick sense. I can make things happen with my mind.”
“You’re sick alright,” Ronald suggested through his fits of laughter.
As she extinguished her cigarette my mother gave me a look over her shoulder, “You don’t have a sick sense.”
Oh great, now my own mother didn’t believe in me, I thought.
“It’s sixth. Sixth sense,” She explained over the twins continued laughter.
“And you don’t have that either, Anna,” Katie commented.
Feeling embarrassed and deflated, I looked at the empty seat beside me and shrugged my shoulders. If I couldn’t be psychic or have mind control then at least I could be weird. “Fine, I don’t care if you don’t believe me,” I fired another evil smirk at my sister. “Laurel believes me and that’s all that counts!”