on the substandard housing of imaginary friends

The wind howled through the frame. Jagged metal stuck out from damaged joints. The bespectacled, high heeled woman pulled out her notebook, jotting things down.

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“Really, Lily, just because he’s an imaginary friend doesn’t mean you can get away with substandard housing. You’re what? Six years old? Old enough to take responsibility. After all, you imagined him. The least you could do is throw a tarp over the frame. Keep out the rain. This is hardly a proper stable for a unicorn of his sensitivities. Maybe build him a tree house. Imagine him some wings.” She sighed. “I’ll have to give you a citation.”

Bewildered, Lily took the paper the woman handed her. “Is this real?”

“It’s as real as that imaginary friend of yours.” The woman pointed her chin into the air and walked off through the forest, losing her balance here and there in her pointy heeled shoes.

Lily decided to get started on a tree house. Just in case.

the long-lost friends we find in dreams

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Deep in her dreaming, she found the forest she once knew as a child. The pixies who told her stories, the goblins that played hide-and-go-seek in the gullies, even the mean old witch who lived in the hollow tree – they were all still there.

“Of course we’re still here,” said the pixies. “This is our home. You’re the one who left!”

“You abandoned us for your growing up, didn’t you?” The witch’s voice still sounded as hoarse and bitter as she remembered. “Didn’t you ever realize that growing up and friends like us are not mutually exclusive?”

She sat down on a fallen tree as the realization washed over her. “I never did.”

“At least you’re here now,” said the goblins, hugging her knees. “We’ve missed you so.”