I wrote the following story for my creative writing class at Full Sail University. It went through several drafts before I felt confident enough to turn it in. The above graphic is the movie poster that I created for this short story. Maybe someday I'll produce it...
Her tear-stained face looked around for someone, anyone, to hold onto. Delilah watched as the other neighborhood kids ran through the wooded forest. She longed to run with them, but knew that she didn’t fit in. No matter how much she wanted it, she knew that they could never be friends. She imagined what their lives might be like and what it might be like to be friends with each and every one of them. A boy her same age whispered in her ear, “Let’s go play.”
Delilah turned around, but saw nothing.
A gust of wind blew through the trees and Delilah’s hope of seeing her speaker was gone. She trudged through the brush knowing that it would soon be time for dinner.
“Did you make friends today, Delilah, or did you get scared again?” her mom asked as she set a plate of peas and mashed potatoes down in front of her eight-year-old daughter.
Delilah thought about it for a moment. “Someone talked to me, but I didn’t make any friends. I got scared again.”
“Honey, I’m sure they would be happy to accept you as their friend,” her mom said, while tearing some chicken onto Delilah’s plate, “All you have to do is ask. It’s not that hard.”
Delilah sniffed her warm plate of food and pushed it away from her. “I’m tired of eating chicken.”
“I know, Honey,” her mom said as she walked away.
Delilah stared at her plate, trying her hardest to hold back tears. She thought of all the kids who were still out playing in the woods and wondered what they might eat for dinner. “Probably not chicken,” she mumbled to herself.
“Probably not,” she imagined the boy from the woods whispering.
Delilah looked at her mom and wondered if she should tell her about the boy she met that afternoon. The one who peaked through the trees with her as she watched the other kids.
“Well, there is this boy,” Delilah began.
“Really? A boy? What’s his name? Have you held hands yet?” her mom asked.
Delilah swallowed and thought hard about this boy she met. She thought about what he looked like, how he smelled, and what kinds of clothes he wore. He had thick jet-black hair, deep calcite-blue eyes, and olive skin. He smelled like comfort, dirt, and lavender after a rainstorm. He stood just slightly taller than Delilah, and his hands were always covered in dirt. He liked to wear jeans and t-shirts with kittens on them. When he smiled at Delilah, her whole heart swelled; he made her feel like a person. She loved this boy from the moment that he whispered in her ear, “I’ll be your friend forever.”
“His name is Jason,” Delilah told her mom. “And he’s my best friend.”
“That’s wonderful Delilah! I’m glad you finally found a friend! Will I get to meet him someday?”
Delilah took a deep breath, “Maybe, he’s very shy.” She sat for a moment and thought hard about her next steps. Then she gestured to her left and said, “Jason, come meet my mom.”
Her mom stared at the empty space beside her daughter.
“Isn’t he cute?” Delilah asked, an unmistakable smile spread across her face. “He’s going to be my friend forever.”
As Delilah got older, she would often reminisce about her time playing in those woods. And while most of the time she played alone, she always knew that Jason was there trying to talk to her. He understood her.
One morning, while Delilah was in the girl’s bathroom getting ready for her seventh-grade science class, she caught a glimpse of a figure behind her. She turned around to see who might be needing the mirror, but saw no one.
“Delilah, hurry up,” said a girl in Delilah’s class, “We’re going to be late.”
Delilah quickly finished fluffing her hair and turned to walk out.
“Did you see that guy?” Delilah asked.
“Ew! No! Boys aren’t allowed in the girl’s bathroom,” the girl said.
“I know, but,” Delilah could see that the girl wasn't listening, “Never mind.”
Even through middle school and high school, Delilah didn’t make any close friends. She tried. She tried every day. She joined the school orchestra after much prodding from her mom, and even auditioned for the drama club one afternoon. Her nerves would always get the best of her, though; she would clam up when people would try to talk to her and then she would run away. In high school, when a group of girls was forced by the school counselor to ask her to hang out with them at lunch, she found herself hiding in the farthest corner of the school library refusing to eat with them. The pressure was too much. Not just from Mom, but from everyone else around her. She wanted a friend, desperately, but what was so important about finding one RIGHT NOW?! Not everyone has the ability to make friends! Sometimes people are scary! How could they not understand this?
“Mom, Jason asked me to be his boyfriend,” Delilah proudly said one day after school. She was standing in the same kitchen that she grew up in, while her mom sat at the table drinking coffee.
Delilah’s mom stared at her daughter. She took a slow sip of her coffee and glanced in Jason’s general direction, “When did this happen?”
“Today, when I was in the library, hiding from a group of girls. Jason came and sat with me. We read a book together and then he asked me out. We haven’t kissed yet though, so don’t worry about that.”
“Well, you should take things slowly, you have all the time in the world, Honey,” her mom said, still staring at her daughter. She silently watched as Delilah and Jason turned around to head up to Delilah’s bedroom, then she dropped her head into her hands.
Months later, Delilah walked through the living room wearing an aqua-blue dress that shimmered in the dim light and hung just below her knees. Her hair was done up in a loose bun and she wore a pair of her mom’s dangly silver earrings.
“You look beautiful, Delilah,” her mom said, “Have fun at the dance tonight.”
“Thanks, Mom! Jason and I are going to meet some friends there.”
“Have these friends met Jason before?”
“Well, we are at the same school, but they haven’t officially met yet. He doesn’t talk to anyone but me. I’m going to introduce him tonight, though,” Delilah said.
“How do you know these friends?” her mom asked.
“They’re from the drama club. Jason wants to help out backstage, which is why I’m introducing him to them. I think they’d all get along great.”
“Honey, can I talk to you and Jason for a minute?”
“Okay, but we don’t have much time. The dance is going to start soon.” Delilah sat down on the couch next to her mom, leaving room for Jason beside her.
“Jason thinks you look pretty tonight. He’s very happy that you think we make a cute couple. He said that maybe someday you can be his mom too,” Delilah interrupted. “You know, like get married.”
Delilah’s mom reached for her daughter’s hand. “Honey, I think I’ve put too much pressure on you to find a friend.”
“If you hadn’t, I wouldn’t have met Jason,” said Delilah.
“Yes, I realize that now,” her mom said. “I remember you talking about Jason when you were a little girl.”
Delilah smiled at her mom and remembered the first day she told her mom about him too. She remembered how she felt when she finally met someone who understood her and listened to her and actually wanted to be with her. She remembered how lonely she had been before Jason and how awful it was that her mom kept telling her that she needed to make friends. She knew she would make them in time, but it was taking too long and every night was the same with the questions. Until Jason showed up. She told her mom about Jason and everything was better. Mom stopped asking if she was making friends and would instead ask her about Jason. She loved talking to her mom about Jason. Better still, she was never alone, Jason was always there to cheer her up and help her with her homework. Jason was her best friend, her boyfriend, and maybe her future husband.
“Mom, we really have to go to the dance. We don’t want to be late,” Delilah said.
“Honey, you can’t introduce Jason to your friends in the drama club,” her mom finally said.
“Why not? You don’t think they’ll like him?”
“I think they’ll like him just fine, but, Delilah, you need to understand something about Jason,” Delilah’s mom swallowed hard. “Jason isn’t real.”
Delilah stared at her mom, her mouth slowly opening as she started to question her mother’s statement.
“Mom, what are you saying? You’ve known Jason since we were eight. He’s here,” she gestured to her left. “Wait, maybe he went in the kitchen. Jason!” she called.
“Delilah,” her mom reached for her hand again.
Delilah stood up, “Jason?” She looked around.
“Delilah, he’s not here. Jason isn’t real,” her mom stood up too.
“No, Mom! You’re crazy! He just walked away for a minute! He’ll be back! We’re going to the dance together. I’m going to introduce him to my friends! He’s going to help out backstage. JASON!” She called again.
Delilah desperately looked around the room. Her mom stood watching. Delilah’s face contorted in despair.
“Delilah, I think you need to stay home tonight,” her mom said.
Delilah sunk to the ground and began to cry. They were quiet tears at first, then her body began to tremble as she started to sob. Her mom held her in her arms and slowly rocked her back and forth.
“I’m sorry, Baby,” her mom said.
“I don’t believe you,” Delilah choked through frantic sobs. “He’s real.”
“Honey, I am so sorry,” her mom said as she began to cry with her daughter. “Life’s not fair. Sometimes our friends leave us forever. Sometimes they go off and create a new life of their own. A life with a new family. A life that doesn’t involve you.”
“She’s lying,” Delilah heard him whisper. “I’m not going anywhere.”
Delilah sat up and stared at her crying mother. “Mom, you know Daddy’s not coming back.”
“I know, Honey,” Delilah’s mom sobbed, “I am so very sorry.”
It was Delilah’s turn to hold her mom in her arms. “Jason’s not going to leave us,” Delilah said, “He’s better than that.”
Delilah and her mom sat there on the floor together, crying and pushing each other’s hair out of their eyes. They looked at each other, both recognizing just how much pain and hurt they had each endured; understanding their individual loneliness and embracing the truth of what they had both become. They saw each other now through their tears and understood everything.
“I’ll be your friend forever,” Jason whispered, “I’ll never leave you.”