When I was a little girl, I had no friends. I had nobody to play with, nobody to tell all my secrets. But when I was four or five years old, a very special person came into my life. She was my best friend, the friend who was always at my side, through good times and bad; she was my imaginary friend, Irma.
Irma taught me the importance of friendship, and I've never forgotten that. I think real friendship is about the most valuable thing there is, and I do anything for my friends.
Irma accepted me exactly as I was. She was pretty and smart and nice, and very confident. She was everything I knew I would never be. She wasn't even afraid of adults. We would play together by ourselves for hours and hours. We would play with my dolls and we would dress up in Mom's clothes. We never, ever had a single fight, and we trusted each other with our most important secrets. My mom and dad thought Irma was really cute, and they let her live with me in my room. Mom would even set a place for her at the dinner table.
But sometimes Irma could be very silly. Once, I remember, she went into Daddy's wallet when he was fast asleep and took $30. Then she hid the money under my mattress. When my Mom found it, she was very mad at me. I told Mom that my invisible friend, Irma, had taken Dad's money, but Mom didn't believe me. She yelled at me a lot. Irma got really mad when Mom said she wasn't really, so she collected all these dead spiders and cockroaches and put them in Mom's shoes. Mom sure was angry when she found them. Irma and I laughed and laughed.
Irma was my best friend in the whole wide world. We went everywhere together. I took her to birthday parties with me even though she was never invited. She went to school with me and during tests she would peek at my neighbor's paper and whisper the answers to me. And she always protected me just like a best friend should. Like there was this boy in my school who was always teasing me? So one day, Irma tripped him and he fell down two flights of stairs.
Irma and I always had so much fun together. When I got older, I started going out with boys. Irma didn't mind, she just wanted me to be happy. And if a boy I liked didn't like me, Irma would go to his house at night and scratch his parents' car. When one boy was really mean to me and called me names, Irma tried to set fire to his house. I don't think anybody ever had such a good friend.
When I went to see Dr. Shaw for my headaches, he told me that Irma was "a little crazy," and that I should make her go away. But I knew that that was not how really close friends treat each other. Real friendship means sticking by someone even when they do something you don't like. And I'll bet anything that Dr. Shaw stopped thinking that after Irma "fixed" the brakes on his car. But I guess no one will ever know what he was thinking all the way down that hill.
When Bobby and I decided to get married, I was afraid Irma would be jealous, but she wasn't, she was really happy for me. I told Bobby about her right away. I thought Bobby might want her to move out, but he didn't; mostly he just pretended she wasn't even there.
Lately, though, Bobby and Irma have become real good friends. In fact, at night sometimes, Bobby gets all dressed up and tells me, "I'm going to take Irma out for a few hours." And then sometimes they stay out all night.
It makes me sad when they leave me home alone, but I don't complain. If I was jealous of Irma, I wouldn't really be a very good friend. Besides, when Bobby goes out with Irma, my new imaginary friend comes to visit. His name is Ted. And he works in the brake repair shop. I think Bobby is going to meet Ted soon.
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