When I died I thought I would go to heaven, but I didn’t. I didn’t go to hell either, to be completely honest with you I’m still not sure where I went, or where I am. When I woke up after dying, which seems like an insane thing to say, I woke up in a field and the only thing that was there was a picnic basket and a sheet laid on the ground.
“Would you like some tea?” I turned around and squinted as my eyes adjusted to the light. It was a little blonde girl in a purple floral dress.
“I’m sorry, where am I?” I said looking around, nothing but trees surrounding us.
“Well, you’re in my backyard silly. What’s your name?” She said shuffling over to the picnic basket and opening it up.
“My name is Susanna and where is your backyard? What state are we in?”
“Oregon… Do you want some tea?” She asked again holding out a tea cup half full of water.
I walked over towards the little girl slowly and sat down cross legged. “So, what’s your name?” I took a sip of the water, a little warm from sitting in a thermos for who knows how long.
“Olivia.” She said dragging on the O.
We sat there for quite a long time, talking about little girl things. She didn’t ask me many questions and I didn’t ask her many either, she was just a chatty kid. I kind of appreciated that at the moment because I wanted to think about what was going on. Where was I? Why was I here? Is this heaven? Is this hell?
I was snapped out of my thoughts when Olivia asked me if I wanted to come over to her house. I thought for a moment I was probably quite older than her, but I agreed anyway, I could just tell her parents that she was alone and I was worried about her. We walked for about 10 minutes, quite a long way to walk alone for a little girl. I was watching my feet kick the gravel stones around when she started running, I looked up and there was a cute little house. A two-story farm house, off white with a green roof. It kind of looked like a dollhouse, it seemed perfect for this little girl. I walked up the front porch steps and Olivia was holding the door open for me and I walked in cautiously so I could quickly explain what was happening if they were waiting for their daughter.
There was a woman sitting at the kitchen table sorting through various bills and fliers. She didn’t look up when I walked in or when Olivia walked in she just absent-mindedly said hello to Olivia and kept going through mail. Olivia didn’t answer her she was too focused on untying her shoes, placing them on the shoe rack when she was done. She hopped up the stairs quickly.
“Come on Susanna! I want to show you my room.” Olivia said holding out her hand so I could take it.
I could hear her mother get out if her chair and start to walk towards us, “Olivia, who’s Susanna?” She said looking around, obviously worried that there was a stranger in her house.
“She’s my new best friend, see?” Olivia pointed at me. Her mom looked in the various direction that Olivia pointed in. Her expression changed, sort of relieved and held her hand out a foot away to the left away from where I was standing.
“Hello I am Tanya, Olivia’s mom. It’s very nice to meet you.” Tanya moved her hand up and down as if shaking my hand. Why couldn’t she see me? Olivia stared up the stair case again and I followed. Her room was Yellow with a canopy bed and bean bags at the end of it, you could tell that one was sat in more often. She sat down in it and patted the other for me to sit in, I sat down but the chair didn’t move with my body.
“Olivia, can I ask you a question? You may not know the answer to it so don’t be upset if you don’t” I said leaning forward and holding my hands together.
“My dad always says that I’m really smart so I probably know the answer. What is it?” She lifted her feet up underneath her.
“Why can only you see me? Your mom can’t.”
“Oh, she says they are called ‘Imaginary friends’ I’m not really sure what it means but no one can see them except for their owners or something. So, I guess I own you now.” Olivia shrugged and stood up, walking towards her little book shelf.
I whispered, ‘Imaginary friend’ to myself multiple times. “That’s really getting annoying Susanna. Can you stop?” I looked up and nodded. We played for a long time, she even set a place for me at the table. I sat down but couldn’t eat, I wasn’t exactly hungry but also, I physically couldn’t pick up the fork or anything. After dinner, we got ready for bed and went to sleep. I couldn’t sleep though, I had too many questions but no one to ask. The next few days went by fairly quickly and me and Olivia were getting along really well.
One night when we were getting ready for bed I was sitting at the end of her bed and we were talking, I was still having trouble sleeping. At night was normally when she asked me about my pre-imaginary life. Tonight, she asked me why I became an imaginary friend. Olivia was a smart girl so I’ve learned that child answers don’t satisfy her.
“Well Olivia, to be completely honest. I didn’t choose to become one, I didn’t know that it was one of the options.” I told her, letting her see me be vulnerable. She was the only person I had now so I might as well let her see who I really am.
“What do you mean options? Like what you wanted to be when you got older?” Olivia said sitting up in her bed to listen better.
“Kind of yeah, but you might have heard of Heaven and Hell?” I asked her and she nodded, “Well you have those two options but there’s also one that I don’t think anyone knows about. Imaginary friends.”
“So, you died?” Olivia’s voice got quite and more child-like.
“Yes, but it’s not bad, don’t be sad. Now I have got you as a best friend.” I tried to make her hopeful again. She didn’t smile.
“Why did you die?” This conversation took a turn for the worst.
I sighed, and for a moment thought about what my reason could have been. I couldn’t lie to her though, and I decided to tell her the truth. “Olivia, Sugar girl. I don’t want to tell you this because you are too young for this but you’re strong.” I took her hands in mine and continued, “When I was 23, the age I am now, I was sick. Not with a cold or the flu, it was more of a cold in my mind. I was really sad all the time and nothing could make me happy unfortunately. Sometimes I would eat too much and make myself sick or sometimes I wouldn’t eat at all for a very long time.” Olivia was nodding like she understood, I don’t know if she actually did but I continued anyways. “So, one day I was really very sad and I was driving and I accidentally got into a car crash. The thing is part of my brain wanted it to happen.” I felt tears start to fall down my face but Olivia wasn’t crying, she didn’t seem to have any emotion on her face.
“What did your mom say?” Olivia asked getting out from under the covers and sitting on her knees.
I started crying harder thinking about my mom and dad and how they probably reacted. “I’m not sure, I couldn’t see. I assume they cried though, It’s a very sad thing.”
“You know when you have a birthday party and you have a big birthday cake for all your friends Susanna?”
“Yes, why?” I was confused. Did she really not understand what I was saying? Was she thinking about cake this whole time? I knew she was way too young for this story.
“If no one comes to your party you get all the birthday cake to yourself. In your mind you’re like ‘Yay I get a whole cake.’ It seems really exciting but then after you eat a bit you realize that it’s not very good because you don’t have anyone you love to share it with.”
“Okay Olivia, that makes sense but what does that have anything to do with my situation now?” Olivia sat up and wrapped her arms around my neck.
“Heaven is like the birthday party. It seems all great but it’s not. Please don’t go to heaven Susanna.” I could feel Olivia’s tears soaking through my tee shirt.
“You have to promise!” Olivia sat up again and let go of me.
“I promise, I’ll be here forever Olivia.”
Olivia is 18 years old now, graduating high school now and happier than ever. She doesn’t see me anymore, she stopped around 10 years old. I’ve been here the whole time though, watching over her. I’ve watched her get boyfriends. I’ve watched her get dumped and I’ve watched her dump people. I’ve watched birthdays go by. I sat next to her when she cried and I stood by and watched her live her life and I always hope that she stays happy.
Even though she can’t see me, I hope she knows I’m still here. I don’t plan on breaking that promise to her.