Macy pulled her unicorn beanie on before climbing into bed, but when her mom came in to say goodnight, Macy stuffed the hat under her pillow. Moms and Dads don’t believe in special dreams. Macy tried to tell them about her dream friends once, how they came into her room one night, but her parents just nodded and did the grown up pretending-to-listen thing.

After Macy’s mom kissed her and left the door cracked, Macy yanked her beanie back on. Her dream friend Elenoir said that without the hat, Macy wouldn’t be able to see them anymore. But the first time Macy saw them, she didn’t have the hat on. She hadn’t done anything different that night except wake up mid-dream to find shadows crowding her bed. Elenoir had been there and Franny and Teddy. Their parents were there too, probably to make sure they made it safely. At first, Macy didn’t think they could talk. When she asked how they got in, they didn’t answer. Instead, after an hour of staring, Elenoir spoke up, “You’re not afraid?”

Macy had shook her head. “Why would I be scared? I’m dreaming.”

From then on, Elenoir had visited Macy every night that Macy had had on the beanie. Laying back, Macy squeezed her eyes shut and pretended to sleep until Elenoir showed up. “Macy, are you sleeping?”

Macy grinned. “No.”

“But we’re here, so you must be asleep and dreaming.”

Macy sat up. “I don’t think I’m sleeping. Pinch me.”

Elenoir backed up. “You can’t touch me, remember?”

“I can’t touch you. I have to wear this hat. Why are there so many rules?” Macy pouted.

“Because only special people can see dream friends, and the only way we can figure out if you’re special is by seeing if you follow the rules.”

Macy huffed. “That’s silly.”

“You’re silly.” Though Macy couldn’t see Elenoir’s features, she could hear the smile in Elenoir’s voice. “Let’s play one of your board games.”

Macy jumped up and went to her closet to show off her stack of games. “Pick any of them.”

Elenoir knelt beside Macy. “Let’s play your favorite.”

Macy reached for a glossy red box in the middle of the stack. The tower tilted, showering her with boxes and playing pieces and cards. Yelping, she hurried to adjust the boxes, but the hall light clicked on, flooding Macy’s room. Elenoir disappeared, Macy shoved her unicorn hat under her bed, and Macy’s mom stepped through the door. “What are you doing up? You should be asleep.”

Heat rushed to Macy’s ears. “Me and Elenoir were just playing.”

“You can play with your imaginary friend tomorrow.”

“She’s not imaginary!” Macy’s hands shook with rage, taking her and her mom by surprise. Tears stung Macy’s eyes as she knocked the rest of the board games to the floor. “Elenoir is my best friend! She’s real!”

The anger drained from Macy’s mom’s face, replaced by worry. “Macy, honey, I know moving to a new house and a new school is hard, but you’ll make friends before you know it. If you’re mad at me and Dad, we can find someone else for you to talk to. For now, just go back to bed and we can clean this up in the morning.”

Sick to her stomach, Macy let her mom usher her into bed. Once the hall light was off, Macy closed her eyes and rolled to face the wall, mad at Elenoir for getting her in trouble.

“Macy, don’t be mad at me.” Elenoir’s weak voice sounded off in a way that Macy couldn’t place. Macy tried to ignore her, but she felt Elenoir creep closer. “Please, Macy. You’re my best friend too.”

Macy kept her back to Elenoir. “Are you imaginary?”

“Do you think I’m imaginary?”

“Maybe. Why can’t I see your face or your clothes?”

Elenoir didn’t speak. Annoyed, Macy rolled over to face her. The darkness covering Elenoir’s face was gone, replaced by a face of scarred flesh. “I was real once.”

Fiction

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