1) http://solitaria-fantasma.tumblr.com/post/146478879812/maroonknight14-oh-mother-of-darkness-concept-a Superman (or another super-hearing entity) and the child who has them as an imaginary friend
2) Parent thinks child has imaginary friend. It's not imaginary. -- Anon Guest
"...mom puts shredded pizza cheese on top of the store lasagna? And that makes it super good? She likes it 'cause of how we can feed the whole fambly for seven dollars."
Shawna peeked in on Clemaine, who was sitting by her window and talking to the stars.
"Are you chatting with Peter Pan?" she joked.
"No, Mama. I'm talking to Superman. D'you think he'd come to dinner if'n he knew we was havin' octo-weenies?"
Shawna bit her lip. She dared not say she was embarrassed about their dinners, lately. Surely, it was paradise for Clemaine, with cocktail frankfurts stretched out with broken spaghetti, or store lasagna with pizza cheese, or bargain basement mac and cheese with whatever cheap frozen vegetables she could glean from the clearance section of the store.
The highlight of her kids' life had been the night when dinner was Army Food. Rejected MRE's from the dumpster behind the army surplus store. It had been one lucky find and a night that she cried into her pillow and had her music on so that they couldn't hear.
Shawna worked her every waking hour, and it was never enough to keep things going the right way. Everything went on rent, power, and water. She saved for their school things, and only had change left over for food.
She kissed her babies good night and went out for her third job. Zombie Shift at the All Nite Diner.
They all needed new shoes.
As she pulled her threadbare coat around her, on the way to the bus stop, she could hear Clemaine still talking to Superman. "I feel real sorry for Mama, sometimes. She's been turnin' her music on so's we don't hear her cryin'. And she's been doin' it a lot. She won't say it out loud? But we need help. We don't got no bad guys to beat up, though. Sorry 'bout that."
Shawna's face was wet all the way to work.
There were suits at the All Nite Diner, that evening. One was in black Armani. Another was in a more affordable beige. Black Armani was a weaselly type who was always on his phone and didn't think or care that everyone could hear him saying disparaging things about the staff, decor, or customers. Beige Suit ordered randomly from the menu and asked three questions per plate. Two for a cup of coffee.
Shawna tried to put a positive spin on things. Her family was doing okay. They could pay the rent, and they could eat. And on nights when her boss was feeling benevolent, she could take home some things for the kids' breakfast. Then he asked her about the impact of gentrification on her family.
It was all she could do to not burst out crying. Rent was getting higher. Help was getting thinner. The cops were getting meaner. Crime was on the increase and all the heroes seemed interested in preventing the banks from getting robbed when they were all busy robbing the poor of what little they had left.
She dreaded living on the streets, because the cops loved to shoot people for being destitute while black. Lord knows they shot her husband of ten years for crossing the street while black. And now her only baby girl was talking to Superman. He wouldn't save her from the racist police. Nobody ever would.
"And we have to get rid of that sad-sack welfare queen of a waitress. She's bringing what little tone there is down," said Armani.
It was the last straw. Shawna didn't remember half of what she said to the weaselly white man in the black Armani suit, but it definitely resulted in severance pay. Tomorrow night, she would be scouring the papers for another job, or going to the library to try and apply for things online. What she did remember was that the man in the beige suit had recorded a significant portion of it.
The real difference between the two of them was that Beige comforted her, and hid a tip into her hand. Compact, folded bills that, once she unwrapped them in private, came to three hundred dollars.
That was the night her life changed. Another Armani suit came to her door. A much handsomer man who revealed that he bought the building and was appointing her the new, live-in superintendent. And the job came with a blank cheque to effect whatever repairs and upgrades they needed.
And despite the fact that they could eat anything they wanted to celebrate, the kids insisted on Octo-weenies. She could afford anything good in the world, and had the time to cook it, but they wanted Octo-weenies.
That was the night that Superman came to dinner.
"Ma always had corn when times were tight," he explained, sitting on their second-hand furniture as if it were a throne. "Corn bread, corn fritters, corn pones. Polenta porridge, you name it. If you could make it out of corn, we had it. I've never actually had Octo-weenies. It sounded like a real treat."
And best of all, at least for Clemaine, Superman played with his food.
Diamanté should have known there would be trouble when her husband purchased a castle. But their little princess Mackayleii was overjoyed. She was going to live in a real castle and have a real horse and have her bedroom in the tower and there'd be real live skeletons in the dungeons.
Kennedy Washbrooke drew the line at real skeletons. The dungeons, once properly imported to their estate, would be converted into wine cellars and entertainment rooms. One, he said, would be a cinema.
And shortly after the entire heap was reconstructed and renovated, they did move in. Mackayleii did have a bedroom in the tallest tower. With stained glass windows and one balcony where she could feed the birds. And when she didn't want to climb all those stairs, she had a different bedroom where she had a big-screen television, a top-line computer, and all the toys she could swim in.
Two days following the day they moved in, the Nanny noticed Mackayleii talking to an imaginary friend. The disturbing part was that he was called 'Broken Jon', and had been tortured to death in the dungeon.
Mackayleii had 'met' him in the cinema, watching one of her movies on the really big screen. As she told it, she was scared of his big boo-boos, but he didn't want to hurt her.
Broken Jon liked the magic pictures on the wall. He couldn't eat real food, but he loved to smell it. He called Kennedy the King and Diamanté the Princess Consort. Mackayleii had introduced herself as a princess, so Broken Jon had made assumptions.
Horses did not like Broken Jon. Neither did dogs or cats. Lizards, apparently, didn't care if someone was dead or alive, so Mackayleii got a pet Bearded Dragon because Princesses in towers had to have a dragon, somewhere.
Broken Jon liked to help the cooks in the enormous kitchens. If left paper and a fountain pen (Broken Jon wasn't used to anything that didn't look old-timey enough) he would leave recipes for feasts. In marvellously medieval calligraphy. With spelling to match.
Broken Jon began playing pranks. He would shine shoes. He would attempt to do laundry with urine. He would scatter straw in the dining hall. He would take clods of earth out from around the castle. According to Mackayleii, he was trying to dig a moat.
And, when Broken Jon was having a very bad day, blood would appear wherever Mackayleii said he was standing.
And then Kennedy had to ground Mackayleii for disobedience. She had used a rude word on her Nanny. And she was sentenced to sit in the Reflection Room for an entire hour.
Broken Jon did not like that. He started appearing. First to Kennedy, whenever he looked in a mirror, and then to Diamanté. Broken Jon did not like anyone who Mackayleii was mad at. He stopped attempting medieval housework and bled more. All around the house. Hand marks. Foot marks. Strange, round imprints that turned out to be from the bleeding stump of his arm.
Only Mackayleii could make him stop. She was five years old, and had command of a castle. Yet she insisted that she was only a princess.