Sammy the Imaginary Friend
“Cara?” Freddy, the blue Shoyru walked into the kitchen, dragging his long, white blanket behind him.
“Yes?” Cara didn’t turn her head. Instead, she concentrated on chopping vegetables. She was the busy owner of Freddy and Teresa.
“Umm... Sammy wants a paint brush,” Freddy said quietly. He looked down and shuffled his feet nervously.
“I’m sure he does,” Cara answered nonchalantly, reaching for a tomato.
“Can we get him one?” Freddy’s eyes sparkled pleadingly. “Please?” he remembered to add.
“Freddy, you’re too old for imaginary friends.” Cara turned her head this time, her long, blonde hair falling to her shoulders. “Plus, you know that we can’t afford something like that.” Cara quickly turned back around and scraped all the vegetables into a small pot which would hold their lackluster dinner.
“He isn’t imaginary!” Freddy shouted at her, obviously hurt. He quickly turned and dashed out of the room. Why would no one believe him?
Freddy slowly turned the corner to his room, feeling dejected. “Hi, Sammy,” he greeted his friend sadly as he entered the room. Freddy plopped on his bed dejectedly.
“No one believes you’re real,” Freddy said miserably. “But I know you are.” He smiled warmly at Sammy.
Silence filled the room.
After a long time of staring up at the ceiling, Freddy had an idea. He decided to go visit his sister, Teresa, who was a red Acara. Maybe she could help. He slowly sat up on his bed, dangling his feet only an inch or two from the floor before slipping them into his worn-out, gray, fuzzy slippers.
Freddy quietly slipped through the hall and approached a vibrant, pink door with a sign hanging that read: “Teresa’s Parlor: Do Not Enter!” Freddy pushed the slightly ajar door open so he could see through a small gap between the door and the wall. Teresa was powdering her face in front of a mirror with some make-up she probably picked up at the Grooming Parlor.
Freddy thought maybe he could ask Teresa to buy Sammy a paint brush. Cara was always giving Teresa spare neopoints because she said Teresa didn’t spend them on pointless things for “imaginary friends” and instead spent them on necessities. Or at least, she thought so...
“Teresa, where did you get that?” Freddy asked shyly from the doorway.
Teresa’s eyes grew wide when she realized Freddy was watching her from behind her door. She quickly ran a paw across her face, smearing her make-up. She then shoved her make-up kit into her drawer which she closed briskly. “Nowhere...” Teresa wouldn’t make eye contact.
“I thought you were only allowed to buy food and clothes,” Freddy said, eyeing Teresa.
Teresa hurried over to the door. She quickly glanced down the hallway before pulling Freddy inside and shutting the door. “Don’t tell Cara!” she pleaded in a desperate whisper. “I promise I won’t buy it ever again!”
Freddy looked doubtful but nodded.
Teresa let out a deep sigh and reopened her drawer. She continued to apply her make-up as if Freddy hadn’t interrupted her.
“Ummm, Teresa?” Freddy paused, expecting her to turn and look at him, but she didn’t. “Can I have neopoints for a paint brush?”
“I thought you said you wanted to stay blue for the rest of your life?” Teresa eyed him through the mirror.
“No, it’s for Sammy.”
She scoffed. “That imaginary friend of yours? Grow up, will you?” Teresa’s paws never faltered as she applied her make-up cautiously as if the world would end if she messed up. “Now if you’re done, I would appreciate it if you would stop distracting me.”
Freddy’s eyes welled up with tears. He quickly turned and left Teresa who was absorbed in putting on her make-up. Why was everyone so cruel? He dabbed his eyes with his blanket and dashed back off to his room.
Once again, he plopped on his bed and stared at the ever-so-familiar cracks on the ceiling. He could practically remember each one.
“Sammy,” he started. “Why is it that you’re always so quiet? Is it because no one believes you’re even real and you’re too sad to talk?” Freddy tried to imagine what that would be like. His life wasn’t much different, he thought. No one ever believed him when he said anything. It was all the same.
Once again, silence fell upon the room like a heavy blanket. Suddenly, Freddy sprang up from his bed, an idea forming in his head. “I have an idea, Sammy! Let’s go!” He eagerly gestured for Sammy to follow him.
Freddy tiptoed down the hall to the front door. He quickly peered into the kitchen. Cara was looking at a thin, sorry-looking recipe book that had some pages torn out.
“Coast clear,” Freddy whispered to Sammy. He slowly opened the front door, cringing at the usually unnoticed creak the rusty hinges made when it swung open. Freddy slipped out, gesturing for Sammy to do so as well. He then quietly shut the door.
“We’ll be back before dinner,” he assured Sammy.
Cara and her pets lived in a small, shabby house a mile or so from all the shops in Neopia Central. It was the best Cara could afford.
“Come on, Sammy. We’re going to the General Store,” Freddy told Sammy, hurrying along.
It didn’t take long for Freddy, constantly beckoning for Sammy to follow, to reach the main shops. He just stayed on the dirt trail that wound all the way from their house to the shops.
“Here we are!” he announced to Sammy as the shops came into view. He approached a tall, shabby, white store with a blue roof. A wooden sign hung above the entrance porch reading in white paint: “The General Store.”
As Freddy pushed open the door, a small bell tinkled, getting the attention of a kindly yellow Kacheek who stood behind the store counter. He had a small, brown moustache.
“Why, hello there!” the Kacheek greeted Freddy warmly. “Can I help you?”
“Ummm...” Freddy quickly approached the counter. “Do you happen to sell any paint brushes here? I don’t have any neopoints, but I’ll do anything if I can have one,” Freddy rambled desperately.
“Whoa, slow down there, sonny. We don’t have any paint brushes here. I can’t recall any store that does sell them. They’re mighty rare.” The shopkeeper looked down at Freddy apologetically. “I’m sorry. Do you perhaps need anything else?”
But Freddy wasn’t listening anymore. He was slowly trudging out of the store, his head down and his blanket trailing behind him. “Come on, Sammy.”
Freddy slowly descended the three steps that led up to the entrance porch. “I guess that wasn’t such a good idea, huh, Sammy?” Freddy laughed uncomfortably as he stared longingly at the sky as if he hoped a paint brush would just fall into his lap.
“Well, I guess we should go home...” Freddy trailed off. His eye caught something colorful sparkling in the sky. “Is... is that a rainbow?” Freddy squinted against the red, setting sun as he eyed a colorful ribbon shooting from somewhere behind a clump of trees and up to the sky where it pierced the clouds.
“That’s it! Let’s go to the Rainbow Pool! Maybe some nice neopet will give us a paint brush!” Freddy rushed off, persistently egging Sammy on. He raced through the small clump of trees that separated him from Rainbow Pool. Freddy’s eyes sparkled with hope.
They slowed to a stop in front of the colorful fountain that shot rainbow-colored water up above the tops of the tallest trees before falling down in magnificent, sparkling drops. A few neopets were there, brushing their fur or feathers with their newly acquired paint brushes, smiling widely as they did.
Freddy walked up to a green Xweetok who was holding a Faerie Paint Brush in her paws.
“Hi,” Freddy said shyly.
She gave no response.
“Hi,” Freddy said more loudly. The Xweetok looked up.
“Oh, hi.” She gave Freddy a quick smile before going back to admiring her paint brush.
“I was wondering if you perhaps had a spare paint brush that I could use for my friend, Sammy, who really, really wants a paint brush,” Freddy blurted out.
The Xweetok looked around. “Who?”
“Sammy, my friend.” Freddy gestured to his right.
The Xweetok looked a bit confused, but finally said, “I’m sorry, I don’t have any.”
At that moment, she gripped her paint brush tighter, as if in anticipation. With one sudden stroke of her paw, she brushed herself with the soft bristles of the Faerie Paint Brush. Her green fur rippled and suddenly burst into a warm shade of beige. The tip of her tail and her mane of fur burst into a greenish-blue while stripes of brown splotched her fur, softening the contrast between the blue and beige. A pair of small, translucent wings sprouted from her back, and a pair of antennae shot up next to her ears. The paint brush disappeared in a puff of sparkly, purple smoke and the Xweetok was in the air and flying off before the smoke even cleared.
Freddy looked both amazed and disappointed, but was determined. He went around asking a few more neopets, but most didn’t even acknowledge him, much less talk to him.
After what felt like forever, Freddy sat down at the edge of the fountain, utterly discouraged. He sighed. “I guess this was pointless.” He looked at Sam with sorrow and paused, letting a long silence engulf him.
“Well, I guess we’re late for dinner...” Freddy’s voice trailed off as he choked back tears. He stood up and started walking off, hating everyone for being so cruel.
Freddy turned and looked, briefly running his arm across his face to wipe away his tears. Standing in front of him was a Red Eyrie. In his hands, he held a Starter Green Paint Brush.
“Ummm... I overheard you saying that you needed a paint brush...” The red Eyrie paused and looked down. “I know this isn’t much, but you can have this Starter Green Paint Brush. My owner gave it to me so I could paint myself, but I think I like myself better red.” He smiled and held out his paint brush.
“I... I...” Freddy stammered. He was shocked.
“Oh, it’s okay, you don’t need to say anything,” the red Eyrie chuckled. “My owner says only to do kind deeds if you expect nothing in return, not even praise.”
Freddy took the paint brush, his eyes welling up with tears of happiness.
The Eyrie smiled. “Well, I better get going. I’m a bit late for dinner.” He laughed. “Well, okay. Nice to meet you!” And with that, the Eyrie flew off into the orange-red sunset.
“Thank you...” Freddy finally managed, his voice hoarse. But the Eyrie was already gone.
Freddy turned to Sammy slowly. He could feel himself shaking. “So do you want me to paint you?” Freddy smiled, already knowing the answer. He gripped the paint brush tightly.
Ever-so-carefully, he stroked Sammy with the Starter Green Paint Brush.
A line of bright green appeared in mid-air. Slowly, the line spread and inched its way across what looked like an unseen object. The green spread like a pool of water, slowly but surely forming the body of a neopet who seemed to be appearing out of thin air. In no time at all, a smiling, green Kacheek stood in front of Freddy. The paint brush burst into a cloud of green smoke.
Freddy smiled. “You didn’t like being painted invisible, did you?”
Sammy only shook his head and smiled, but to Freddy, it meant more than words.
Freddy stepped forward and wrapped his arms around Sammy in a hug. “We finally did it!” he said, tears rolling down his cheeks – tears of joy. “Come on! Let’s go show Cara!” He broke off and pulled Sammy along, his blanket trailing on the ground behind him.
And Freddy and Sammy ran off just as the last bit of sun dipped down behind the green, rolling Neopian hills.