The branch snap back and leaves brushed roughly against his face. He winced in anticipation of pain, but the twig narrowly missed. Stumbling forward he realized his memory of the place was all but fading. Through deep forest bushes and trees, he made his path forward using his hands to push most of the vegetation aside. He pushed up his glasses repeatedly as he brushed off any debris on his long sleeve shirt. The simple white dress shirt was now stained with green and brown, and his beige dress pants were getting torn.

His jawline tightened as he pushed on. Anticipation on his face was palpable. Even though his memory had faded over the years he relied on his instinct. Almost every day when he was younger, he made the same trek into the woods south of his hometown. As he pushed deeper into the green abyss his mind wandered to the past…

“Eric, please get your boxes we have to go!” The lady screamed upstairs. Her hair was messy, and she hurried into kitchen to get the last of the boxes.

“Coming mom!” A young voice called from the stairwell. Eric came bounding down the stairs with three boxes stacked on top of another. The top box was slightly leaning, and Eric made a desperate attempt to keep everything in balance until it suddenly eventually fell.

“Be careful hunny.” Eric’s Mom put down her boxes and made her way to Eric.

“Sorry… Thanks mum.” Eric grinned and picked up one of the boxes.

“No problem, I’ll grab that one.” Eric nodded, and brought one of his boxes to the van. They packed almost everything and Eric’s Dad patted Eric on the back.

“Good, job. Now say goodbye to your friend Zim.” His father smiled and rubbed Eric on his head.

“Thanks!” Eric yelled with a shriek. He bounded off in direction of the woods and his Mom and Dad held onto each other watching him go.

“I don’t know about him sometimes.”

“Oh, stop it.” She gently slapped Eric’s father on the chest as they both watch Eric’s form disappear into the horizon. “Let a kid be a kid…”

Eric’s nostalgia got interrupted when he miscalculated his step around a stream, falling face first into the murky water. He got up slowly, mud falling from his face as he took off his glasses. He did his best to rub the mud off with his dirty clothes as he glanced around the forest. Putting his glasses on he winced through the dirt.

“Where the heck am I?” He whispered to himself as he continued his path uphill. He was not even sure why he was here. ‘After all this time, all these years, would Zim still be here?’ He pondered to himself. Looking down at his feet he kicked a few branches aside in frustration. ‘Maybe I made it all up? A lonely kid in a backwater town, what else could it be...’ Eric looked up suddenly and realized he was at his destination.

Eric was standing in middle of a glade deep within the forest. At the center, a large oak tree stood several stories high. The shimmering of the setting sun painted the whole scene in orange. Small leaves and cottonwood spores flew about and trees surrounding the glade blew gently against the wind. Eric’s breath was taking away by the beauty and the lump in his throat from emotional release. Coughing he tried to speak again.

“Zim! Zim!” Eric yelled as he sprinted to the oak tree. He slowed to a canter as he reached the massive tree, but only silence greeted him. He turned around looking frantically around the glade. All he could hear was birds and insects of the forest. “Zim…” he whispered to himself as he fell onto the trunk in defeat. He took off his glasses and wiped the dirt from his forehead. ‘I’m an idiot. If he were real, Zim wouldn’t be here after twenty years…’ Tears started to fall from his face. “Miss you buddy…” His mind drifted again back to the past, but even further.

“Mom!... Dad!” The rain was soaking through his clothes and he could barely make out anything in the dark. The forest was deathly quiet except for the sheets of water and sudden sound of lighting. The tiny boy started to cry as the rain and salt water on his cheeks blended together. He remembered the rabbit he chased ours ago, but not the path he took. He had been walking for hours trying to find his way back, but daylight was gone. Shadows danced around him, and he thought he heard or saw a forest monster lurking in every shadow.

He started to run out of fear and anger for getting himself lost in the woods. He smashed into something hard and fell over. The rain slowly subsided and moonlight hit the object and Eric yelled out. “AAAHhhhh!” He shielded himself with his small arms but when nothing happened, he slowly peeked behind his arm shield. It was simply a large towering oak tree in the middle of a glade. In his exhaustion he passed out there.

Soft blue hue woke Eric up as he felt a gentle hand touch his. It was urging him to get up. Eric grasp the helping hand and stood up rubbing at his eyes. When he looked at the person, he was so surprised he rubbed his eyes again to make sure. A small kid of his same age glowed blue before him. The hair was dark but glowed as well. The apparition wore a simple tunic and shorts and was barefoot. Its mouth moved but Eric did not hear any words. “Who are you? No, I don’t understand what your saying.” Eric muttered quickly still in disbelief.

The blue glowing kid suddenly started walking holding Eric by hand. Eric stumbled forward trying to keep pace with it. “Where are we going?” The glowing kid simply looked back and gave a gentle smile. All Eric’s worries slipped away, and he quickly skipped along with his new acquaintance. “Do you have a name or something?” The kid turned and nodded his head in disapproval. “Oh, okay, my name is Eric.” The small bule person simply shook his hand vigorously and kept walking. “I guess I’ll call you… uh Zim!” The bluish kid did not seem to register the important moment and kept walking. Soon Eric was back at his house, and no matter how many times he told his parents the story they never believed him. So instead, he would go visit Zim everyday until they moved twenty years ago.

Something caught Eric’s eye and he saw a familiar blue face peeking around a bush close by. Eric ran to the small figure and gave it a huge hug. It at first started to run in fear but in Eric’s grasp it simply looked curiously at his face. “You remember me Zim?” Eric asked smile on his lips. He let Zim go and gently placed him back down. He kneeled so he was eye level with Zim. Poking curiously at his face Zim began to remember the young boy beneath the aging skin. Zim suddenly jumped up and down with glee. Eric started to cry again, but this time with elation. Zim grinned and wiped away Eric’s tears.

Leaping backwards Zim turned around as if to go deeper into the woods. Looking behind to Eric it offered a familiar hand outstretched towards him. As Eric grasped the small hand, he let flow away feelings of regret, stress, and failure. Instead those feelings were replaced with nostalgia, adventure, and friendship. Slowly his sneakers gave way to the ground beneath him, and he let an old friend show him the way…

July 21, 2020 04:21

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Rodrigo Juatco
16:50 Jul 22, 2020

Touching story. I have imaginary friends as well. They usually visit me when I have a few beers. Lol Well done Chub. Glad to see you writing again.


Chub Chub
05:58 Jul 26, 2020



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Zion Hintay
04:41 Jul 21, 2020

Beautifully written. Well done for you first story! Best of luck on your future ones.


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