Chloe sprinted from her home into the wind outside. It was encouraging as it muffled the annoyed yells of her mother coming from the front door. Her mother muttered to herself, shaking her head in disbelief as Chloe ran to the large tree that grew in the garden. She climbed the tree with ease, one hand hooking over a branch to steady her as her feet pushed off the bark sending her upwards. It wasn’t long before she was nestling into the treehouse that her father built for her.
In the treehouse lay a book filled with scribbles, doodles, diary entries and stickers. Chloe knelt beside it and with a pen she had snatched from her mother's collection she began writing again. Writing soon turned to doodles of a world within her mind. It was a bright world, with trees that were never bare due to the cold, but there were plenty of leaf piles to jump in; a world where the waters were refreshing, a world where the hills were tall enough for skateboards to roll down at thrilling speeds, a world with her father.
Of course, Chloe knew that world no longer existed, but that didn’t stop her picturing her late father laughing with her all the way through it. Chloe was young, happier with these thoughts, but it didn’t take long for reality to set in and shift her mind. Now, Chloe was a few years older, sitting in a classroom, with tall figure slouched over her that only she could see. He wore a dark suit, a top hat and a grey face distorted by shadow. Chloe had been diagnosed as a ‘disturbed woman’ a year before meeting Sebastian. She could see things nobody else could and ever since that incident with her mother she never mentioned the ‘illusions’ again.
There was a strange comfort in being surrounded by these creatures and monsters. Each one was horrible in its own way, body broken, ripped apart, bloody, gorey or just disturbing. Sebastian was creepy in his own way, but he seemed to be harmless like all the others. Upon discovering Chloe knew he existed he longed to speak with her, although she made it quite clear to him that she couldn’t talk to him while around other people.
Once the day had ended she gathered her belongings and hung back from the other teenagers in her class. Once outside she fake dialled a number and held the phone to her ear in order to disguise the conversation with Sebastian.
“Do you know why I am seeing you?” Chloe asked the bent over man. His slouch was painful to look at and made more disturbing by the fact he was still much taller than her being so bent over.
“Not sure, not sure,” Sebastian pondered. “But you see, you see. I wish I could speak more clearly, clearly.”
“Don’t worry about it, just...can you stop doing that hissing sound when you say ‘s’?”
“I can’t, but I will avoid it, I will avoid it.”
Chloe rubbed the side of her head, his constant repeating already giving her a headache.
“Tell me something about yourself, Sebastian,” Chloe ordered. “You can’t just stand there and...stare.”
“My name is Sebastian and I am lost, lost.”
“Do you know what you are looking for or are you...dead?”
“I am not dead, not alive, but everlasting and ever-searching, always searching.”
“Not dead and not alive...right, I guess I am mental.”
Chloe sighed to herself and her arm grew tired. She pocketed the phone and the two walked in silence all the way home.
“Can you leave for now?” Chloe asked as she stood by the gate to her home. “I definitely can’t talk to you with my mother around.”
“I...I can’t be alone,” Sebastian murmured worried. “Others are mean to Sebastian, say bad things, many bad things.”
“Have you treed ignoring them? It works for me.”
“I will try, I can try.”
With that Chloe left Sebastian at the gate and made her way inside. Once inside she saw her mother standing by the window, hidden away by the curtain.
“Who were you talking with, honey?” her mother snapped.
Chloe rolled her eyes casually, but inside she was scared. Of course her mother felt like spying on her, it was a new school after all.
“A friend I made at school,” Chloe lied.
“I didn’t see this friend, Chloe,” her mother replied.
“Perhaps it’s because we have a huge ass hedge which you still won’t let me cut.”
It was a clever dodge of the topic and mentioning the unkempt hedge angered her mother enough to cloud her mind. Chloe had grown used to this war of words and it was getting easy to turn the conversation, but she had to secure it.
“You would like her,” Chloe muttered as she walked upstairs to her room. “She thinks I’m crazy too.”
“You know I don’t think you’re crazy,” her mother called back from the bottom of the steps. “I’m just worried.”
There it was. The compassionate mother play, fantastic for tugging at the heartstrings, but best played in a more stressful conversation. Nevertheless, Chloe had dodged this fight and made her way into her room. It wasn’t long before the CD player was playing mellow acoustic while she threw her bag into the corner of the room. With the door shut behind her she stared out at the gate where Sebastian stood.
“Everlasting, huh?” Chloe whispered. She stood there longer, staring at the shadowy face in silence before realizing that Sebastian was probably staring back.
She backed away and sat at her desk. Although quiet, inside her mind she was arguing with parts of herself that said she was crazy. It was entirely possible that Sebastian was just an illusion, like everything else, but what if he wasn’t? Perhaps she wasn’t disturbed, but gifted with an ability to see these creatures. While it was an enchanting thought that she could see creatures from an invisible reality, she knew that nothing was enchanting about the monsters that roamed the streets behind Sebastian.