From: Mrs. Snuggle-Wump – Nathaniel Gilliam
Her fingers were stuck over the “keyboard” (the contraption was an upgrade from the typewriter, if one could believe it). Each finger hit a barrier as it neared a key. This was highly unorthodox and unbecoming of an Imaginary Friend of her status and tenure. She should be above hesitation!
And, yet, here she was.
Once this letter was sent, that would be it. The higher-ups would surely know what she was up to, if they didn’t already, and she would be imagined up by another child in need. There would be no more observing. She would have to return to work. She had become her own worst enemy with all this dawdling. The keyboard was an enemy, too: the confusing nature of its existence had begun to put into doubt its usefulness.
She put an end to the mental rambling and relaxed. She took a far-too-large bite from the coffee cake on her desk, feeling a bit ashamed of her gluttony. She put her hands to her side, took a sip of her Earl Grey, and squared off against the computer screen once more. Her arms rose, fingers positioned above their opposition. With all the care she could muster, she touched the ‘H’ key.
TO: Timothy Carlson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
FROM: Mrs. Snuggle-Wump <email@example.com>
I hope this gets to you, as we don’t really use this sort of communication where I’m from. Not sure how it works. My name is Mrs. Snuggle-Wump, master of hugs and cuddles, and I was your imaginary friend. You forgot me some odd twenty years ago. Now don’t feel bad: that’s quite natural! We’re only supposed to be there for the formative years, lad. Too long and you grow a bit too reliant. Can’t have that! Yes, usually we pop in when you’re still being watered, then pop on out once you begin to bloom. You go on, none the wiser, and we find a new charge.
So you have to understand how extraordinary it is for me to send you a missive like this. Don’t go thinking you're in trouble or anything, little one. You were a perfect little bundle growing up, and you’ve become a splendid young man! You could do a bit better to mind your P's and Q's, but nobody’s perfect. Your punk-rock stint was quite good; I even got into it myself. I recommend The Addicts if you haven’t given them a listen yet. Oh, to see you experience the world from afar has truly been a gift. Your years of schooling and university, your first love (that was a tad messy, wasn’t it?), all of your accomplishments! I don’t mean to gush, deary, but I’ve wanted so long to let you know how absolutely proud of you I am! I want to really stress that, so you don’t think I’m nagging you in this next bit. The real reason I’m writing is the change I’m seeing in you, and not for the better. The last year I’ve watched you become more and more withdrawn from the world. You barely leave the house unless it’s for work. You don’t ring up your friends anymore.
Have you spoken to your cousin in the past three months? You lot were two peas in a pod when you were just babes. I know you still miss your parents, dear. Mr. and Mrs. Carlson were a good sort, and it’s a shame what happened to them. I know it occurred recently, and I’M sorry I couldn’t have been with you for it. You’ve started punishing yourself for it, lad. No one could’ve known what was going to happen, especially you! I can’t fathom why you wish to take on the burden of blame for their passing. You don’t deserve that kind of self-imposed cruelty, little one.
I’m not saying you still can’t grieve. All I’m asking is that you let others in. You deserve all the love and care you desire, and you shouldn’t deprive yourself of comfort. Let yourself cry and weep and be vulnerable. Let the ones that love you see your darker moments and let them help you. Find safety in those that are willing to embrace you and cherish you. You’ve always been there to light up their days; let them brighten yours in kind.
I have to keep this shorter than I’d like, as cross-dimensional communication is especially frowned upon. Keep your diet up: you’ve definitely slimmed a bit (though I’ll miss those chubby little cheeks of yours)! Daniel’s imaginary friend tells me the young man has been worried about you, so do send him a letter as soon as you can! You’re doing splendidly at work, and if you don’t get a promotion soon you should drift on over to a company that can appreciate your effort! Most importantly, stay safe. I love you, Timmy.
Best regards and warmest of wishes,
P.S. You should spend some more time with that nice Pauline girl. She fancies you, that one!
She must’ve scanned through the words twenty times by now. She was on her third cup of tea, this one heavy on the milk to dilute the caffeine. The letter was as good as it was going to get, wasn’t it? If she kept up her fretting she’d put off sending it for another week. She hovered the cursor over the ‘Send’ button, absentmindedly moving it to and fro.
Without any further pomp or circumstance, the newfangled contraption sent her letter. She let loose all the stress that had been keeping her rigid these past few hours. She could already feel her connection to Timothy weakening. It was a dulling of a particular sense: everything was in crystal clarity, except for her thoughts of him. The higher-ups were working faster than she had thought they could. They probably didn’t appreciate her making contact like this, so the reset would be severe. She could feel her very nature being poked and prodded, taking away the specifics of Timothy but leaving in the lessons that were learned. It wasn’t fair. He was supposed to be the one she held onto forever. After they were done, Timothy would just be a number on a record somewhere: Child #3456, Boy. Concord, New Hampshire. October 1995 - December 1997. Status: Resolved. It wasn’t fair, it wasn’t fair, it wasn’t...
Within a few moments, Mrs. Snuggle-Wump’s reset was done. She was a new amalgamation of her entire being, sans any lingering oddities that might’ve prevented her from doing her work. She wiped the moisture from her eyes with her handkerchief, not quite remembering why tears had been shed. She dutifully got to work. She updated her guides on how best to comfort children who had lost a guardian, she added a new lesson plan that should keep little ones engaged, and she put the kettle on in anticipation of another cup of tea. She was in a Rosemary mood, so Rosemary she would have. Her work continued and various other teas were made. She nibbled on cakes and chatted with coworkers as they bustled ‘round the office, all the while waiting.
It came one day. She could feel herself being called away by the whispers of a child in need. She closed her eyes and focused on that tug, easing herself along to its source. She was briefed as she traveled, learning the ins and outs of her new charge. Young girl, not even a few months past three. Single-parent household. Mother's caring…bit distant due to work, but she tries. Crippling fear of the dark.
With a *pop* she was there. It was nighttime, maybe a little past eleven. The room she was in seemed typical, for a child. There were a few posters up, each with a superhero of some sort. Very flashy and colorful, it was. A nightlight stood on the dresser in the shape of an ‘S’ over a shield. It staged the room in bright red and yellow hues and gave Mrs. Snuggle-Wump more than enough light to see the shaking, tiny bundle of covers on the bed. She eased down onto the edge of the mattress.
“Now, now, enough of that. You’re not alone anymore, deary.”
The shaking subdued. A mess of curly hair, followed by brown eyes, peeked up from below the cover. The little one pushed the covers away, recognition showing on her face as she realized her wish for a friend had been answered. She wrapped her twiggy little arms around Mrs. Snuggle-Wump as much as she could. She burrowed her head into her, a whispered ‘thank you’ barely audible in the silence. Mrs. Snuggle-Wump took her in, cooing and running a hand through the child’s untamed mane. She sat with her until the whispers turned to snores, and then she hugged her even more.
This is the one, Mrs. Snuggle-Wump thought to herself.
This is the one I’ll hold onto forever.