How to Talk to Imaginary Things

Real soft and gentle, but confident too, like they’re skittish horses or panicking children. The trick is making sure they’re safe here and they know it, something like hey now, you don’t have to hide, I know you’re there, like we’re all a little lost and a little lonely, you’re no different from the rest of us, and it’s just me, what’s there to be afraid of? See, darlin’, the world’s built on the faith that everything’ll turn out okay in the end, so you gotta remind them, make sure they know it. Just ‘cause most folks don’t want to see them doesn’t mean they’re not there, doesn’t mean they’re not important too. It’s easy to tease ‘em a little, let your words be sort of wry but sweeter than honey at the same time, get them laughing in the shadows where you can hear them but not see them. Echoes are child’s play. Anybody can do that, and who’s got time for the parlour tricks?

Let’s skip to the ending instead – you gotta coax ‘em out, see, make ‘em trust you. Way out in the open where you can see them through and through, no secrets here anymore. When they’re laughing in the open air, when they’re letting you get a look at the glint of sky off their wings, when the clouds pause overhead and don’t know what to make of a shadowed thing brought to light – that’s when you know you’ve got ‘em, sure as sin.

What do you say to them, though?

That’s the thing, now, isn’t it. See, darlin’, it’s tough to talk to imaginary things. Not because you need a full moon or newt’s eyes – no, no, this type of magic is harder ‘cause all you got is your words. You talk to ‘em like they’re real as anything, just need a little soothing, somebody to tell ‘em it’s okay to quiet down. Once you’ve got them in the sunlight you could do anything you want with them, but you gotta treat them all like porcelain lawnmowers or they’ll hide in the shadows again. Devils could be angels if you talk to them the same.

See, the thing about the imaginary ones is they’re invisible, don’t know how to stop talking ‘cause nobody’s ever been around to listen. That’s why you want to quiet them early, let ‘em simmer down soon as you can so you can start doin’ the talking. They were burnin’ long before you brought them into the light, darlin’, and don’t you forget it.

Unless you want to listen.

Now, it’s tougher goin’ down that path. Not gonna lie to you, ‘cause the imaginary ones know the best stories. Hell, their atoms are woven out of stories, they’ve got so may it drowns them, and who’s to say you won’t get caught up in the riptide? If you wanna listen, some days they’ll surround you, choke you in smoke and stardust. All those things the sun can’t reach.

But darlin’, I’m gonna let you in on a secret: the devil’s nothing more than a drunken angel, stony-eyed and steely-hearted and goddamn tired of being underestimated. You know how it is with impossible things – they only stay that way till you start believin’ in them, the stories they tell. Who ever heard of a witch letting her familiars wave the wand? You’re gonna be chewin’ on your own ribcage sooner or later if you sign up for this, but darlin’, you mark my words: when the world crumbles, the ones that don’t exist are the ones who’ll make it out alive.

So fine, maybe you let them stay in the shadows. They’re creatures of the night, so maybe you forget about sun. Sit under the porch light. Swat moths and listen to invisible crickets and let them whisper secrets in your ear instead of the other way ‘round. Might do you both a bit of good, don’t you think? That’s all they want, darlin’, they just want to be heard. And don’t we all.

So maybe you let them be make-believe, if only ‘cause nobody else is. Maybe you just listen. Listen. Listen.

Who even knows with these imaginary things, but maybe that’ll be enough.