Her Imaginary Friend Named Evan

Gabriel Escandon

Gabriel Escandon

It was a quiet afternoon, the air hung stagnantly, devoid of disturbance. Clouds splayed over the sky, dark enough to obscure the sun, though too light to precipitate any rain. In the midst of this monotony, central to the very essence of the day, a small teddy bear peered around the corner, and made its way towards Emma. She was sitting in her playroom, coloring in her notebook, making sure to color inside the lines, so as to not disappoint her mother, and did not even take notice of the peculiar walking stuffed-animal until it was a couple inches away from her. Startled by the appearance of the foreign creature, she innocently greeted him with a wave, refraining from engaging in verbal conversation, lest her mother enter the room, and do away with him. He responded quaintly, having gotten the sense that she was afraid. "Hi, my name is Evan. What's yours?" Before responding, she took a minute, or two, to examine him closely. Her stare tacitly conveyed the mistrust she had, in him, and yet, he did not mind, politely waiting before her. It was Evan's semblance of patience, as well as respect, that captivated her immensely, while simultaneously leaving her puzzled. As seconds turned to minutes, she figured that it was time to formally introduce herself.
"My name is Emma. It is nice to meet you, Evan. If you do not mind me asking, why are you in my house?" Invigorated by the response that she had produced, he walked up to one of the chairs on which he situated himself, readjusting his clothing, so as to not appear disheveled. After taking a rather profuse sigh, he told her,
"Emma, I have absolutely no idea; I could only wish to understand why I am here."
"What are you talking about!" she asked frustratedly, her cheeks turning red, eyebrows furrowing. There was a sense of confusion with which she was overcome, and this uncertainty made her feel as though she was out of control, stripping her of her identity. Overtaken with fear, she stared into the eyes of this teddy-bear, only to see a reflection of herself. Taken aback by this disconcerting mirage, she calmly asked him again, "Why are you here. Who sent you?" This time, her tone shaky, on the verge of reducing to tears, yet she persisted onward, maintaining her composure, as best as she could.
"I don't think you understand: I did not choose to come here; I was brought here." Swiftly thereafter, he took a page out of her notebook, and began drawing, in hopes of assuaging the perturbed little girl. Emma, phased by what had just taken place, sat there in disbelief, attempting to process what he had just said. After a while, she began asking herself whether or not she was under some sort of delusion, and that, perhaps, Evan was just a figment of her imagination. As she sat there in the depths of thought, Evan interrupted her.
"Look, I finished this drawing!" He was holding up a perfectly colored-in picture, with his name, as well as the date, printed in the top-right corner. Emma, now transfixed on the flawless piece, was overcome with jealousy. For years she had made an effort to produce art that bore semblance to nothing less than perfection. As trivial as it was, she felt it was incumbent upon her to do so. And perhaps there was some pressure on her; Emma's mother was a rather harsh figure, and never abstained from making clear her distaste for inadequacy.
After some time, Emma gestured for him to get up, and had him follow her into the kitchen, where her mother was situated, preparing lunch.
"What do you need, dear?" she said sternly. "You know not to interrupt me when I am cooking."
"I was just going to fix myself a glass of water."
"Well, next time, make sure to do that before I am cooking, dear." Emma walked solemnly towards the cabinet, and then to the faucet, filling up her cup, with Evan following in her tracks—her mother did not say a word about him. Shortly afterward, she made her way back into the playroom, sitting back down,
In spite of the tumult that she had just endured, shaken by her confrontation with Evan's bewildering existence, she sat in agony, her stomach tying up into knots. All she could think about was her mother's remark, her mind fraught with self-loathe. As she felt herself reducing to nothing, she saw Evan beginning to tear apart the picture he made, with a tear streaking down his cheek. Pulling herself back into reality, she quickly, and frenetically, questioned his abrupt change in character: "Evan! What are you doing?" and continued, "That picture was beautiful."
"Don't you see this?" pointing to an iota of ink, printed outside of a line. "There's no point in keeping it." As she began to see him morph into something completely different, extremely self-critical, willing to endure inordinate amounts of self-agony, she had an uncharacteristic desire to give him a hug, though did not.
After having mused in his acute self-scrutiny, she turned her attention towards Evan, diligently coloring-in another page. His focus so intense, a strike of thunder could only aspire to fragment his train of thought. And she just sat there, mesmerized by his tenacity, wondering if she could ever attain such resolve.
As she sat there, trudging on through the abyss of what was believed to be her mind, trying to conceive of this puzzling figure, there was a sense of disingenuousness to it all—she knew where he came from, and knew that his vigor was hers, and yet, she never let herself fully realize this.