Imaginary Friends pt 1

Kylie Rae
3 min readMay 2, 2023

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Icy fingers touched my arm, and I jerked awake. For a split second, I thought something sinister stood over me in the dark, but then my brain became alert and I realized it was my son.

“Jake, what are you doing out of bed?” I rubbed my eyes and pushed myself into a sitting position.

“Water, please?” Jake, only three years old, twisted his little fingers together and smiled.

“Sure, okay. Let’s get you some water.” I tossed the blanket off me and glared towards my husband’s sleeping form. He’d be getting the next one, that was for sure.

This had been going on nearly every night since we’d moved into my mother’s spare bedroom. We’d put Jake to bed at nine, as usual. Then we’d go to bed around eleven. And by two in the morning, he was at my side asking for some water. I’d started putting a cup next to his bed when we put him down, but either he was drinking it or spilling it, because by 2am, it was empty.

“What’s going on, Jakey? What’s been making you so thirsty at night?” I held his little hand as we walked down the hall to the kitchen.

“I no know.” He shrugged. “Hat man talk lots. I talk lots. Thirsty.” He shrugged again.

This wasn’t the first time he’d mentioned the man in the hat, but it never failed to send a chill up my spine. Ben insisted he was having a dream and remembered it when he woke up. I wasn’t so sure about that. My mom said I’d said the same things as a child and Jake slept in my old room now. But somehow that didn’t make me feel any better, either.

It was useless to ask Jake any more questions about it. He called the hat man the hat man and would say they talked. But anything more than that was ‘I no know.’ So, instead of asking, I refilled his cup of water and took him back to bed. With a kiss on the top of his head, I returned to my bed and fell asleep.

The next night, I decided to find out more. Ben thought I was being nuts, but I didn’t care. I set an alarm for 1:30am and made myself get out of bed. I crept down the hall and stood outside my old bedroom door to wait.

As the minutes ticked by, I leaned against the wall, then slid down to the floor to hug my knees. I wasn’t sure what time the hat man showed up to talk with Jake, but it was 1:50 before I heard anything through the open door.

“What?” Jake’s little voice, thick with sleep. “I tired. Play ‘morrow.” There was a moment of silence and at first I thought that would be all, but then Jake’s voice came again, more alert and sounding a little irritated. “No. I tired! No talk hat man. Play ‘morrow.”

A few seconds later, my son’s bedroom door snapped shut. My heart leapt into my throat and I scrambled to my feet, but before I could grab the doorknob, it was already opening again.

Jake stood there, rubbing his eyes. He looked up at me, barely registering my presence.

“Mommy?”

I scooped him up into my arms. “Yes, baby? What’s wrong?”

“Water, please?”

“Of course. Let’s go.” I hugged him tight on the way to the kitchen and ignored all the questions pinging around in my brain.

Instead of taking him back to his room, I brought him to bed with me. I nudged Ben over and he grunted as he shifted out of the way. In the morning, I would tell him what I’d discovered. And then we’d go apartment hunting. This would be the last night we stayed in this house.

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Kylie Rae

Independant author | Book lover | Whiskey Drinker | Mother of two crazy boys | www.kylieraewriter.com