I’ve always had an overactive imagination. I can’t remember a time before I constantly dreamed beyond the boundaries of reality. I saw fairies in our back garden or riding on the backs of bugs flying around. I heard animals talk to me and tell me about their adventures beyond my fence. I tasted the tea I was pretending to drink as plush toys sat in silence during tea parties. I can look back and know none of that was real, but I wonder if younger me could tell the difference between the fantasy in my head and the reality outside of it.

My father thought I was crazy, but my mom thought I was special. She used to say my imagination was so strong that it leaked out into reality. And sometimes it seemed like she was telling the truth. Nothing crazy or magical, usually something small like running into a person I had been previously talking about or dinner happening to be what I had really wanted. My mother would ruffle my hair and tell me it was my gift; by father would say it was a coincidence.

As I grew older – and I actually learned what the word meant – coincidence seemed to be the more logical choice, yet what my mother had said always stuck with me. I didn’t believe there were actual fairies in my backyard, but I sometimes would wonder if my imagination was strong enough to leak into reality.

It would explain a lot.

My brother and I had a great relationship when he lived with us and he always encouraged me in my made-up adventures. He would be a guest at my tea parties or a pirate with me at the park, holding me up as I swung on the monkey bars like I was climbing onto an enemy ship. He would build forts in our living room and shine a flashlight on the blankets and use his hands to make shadows acting out the stories I would tell him. And even when he visited from college he would ask if I had any new stories I had come up with or any new adventures he could share with his friends he had made at school. At that point I didn’t really have any, because everything had begun to go downhill once he left.

I didn’t have anyone encouraging me to have the positive adventures I imagined, so I stopped imagining them. And as this happened I began to be old enough to learn just how terrible our world is. I learned that people could be married but not like each other. I learned people could fight so loud it would make the walls shake. I learned that a couple could be married with kids and then decide to leave each other anyway. I learned that some people were too scared of what would happen to them if they tried to leave.

And all of the sudden our world grew dark, as my imagination went from happy fairytales to grim reality. I imagined my parents fighting, and they did. I imagined my dad becoming abusive, and he did. I imagined my mother becoming too weak to calm him down or even fight back, and she did. I imagined my brother not caring and not replying to my messages, and I didn’t hear from him again.

I tried to blame it on coincidence, but this seemed just too close to everything going on in my head. I had worked so hard to go back to my happy adventures, but it felt like a door had been closed in my head and I could never reenter it. So I tried thinking about dark things that didn’t exist. I thought about vampires and grim reapers and any fables that seemed to cause misfortune. But I always tried to not think about people I knew because the last thing I would want to do was cause more harm than I already had.

That’s when the bullying started. As I became self-conscious about how people saw me I imagined them hating me; hurting me. And they did. They did everything they could to make me feel like nothing, and they did well. I was considered a pushover by everyone in school, but I would rather be a pushover than a real life Carrie.

Yet I felt like I had been. Seeing my greatest bully’s photo in the school gym shocked me more than I had ever been. My whole life I had seemed to always see whatever was going to happen coming, yet this I didn’t. And no matter how much I tried to shake the thought out of my head I knew I should have, because this was my fault, wasn’t it? It was my fault she was dead.

Because I imagined it happening.


ella ♡
ella ♡