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I have a friend that Mommy and Daddy say that I pretend is there but they're wrong, he really is there, and his name is Yabe and we play together and talk whenever we want to. I have to stay in the backyard, 'cause there's cars in the street. There's trees in the backyard and a big stone wall all around the yard that reaches almost up to the sky. I climb up the tree sometimes, but I'm careful, and I look over the wall. Yabe says there's always a way to get past a wall.

Mommy and Daddy told me someday I'm going to grow up and be a man like Daddy. I told Yabe that and stuck out my chest and looked important and Yabe said that's for doing in front of girls and that made me laugh and Yabe laughed too.

Yabe told me that grass is for keeping the dirt from getting away, and I made it look like the dirt was crawling out from under the grass, to make fun. After that I had a dream when I was sleeping, and I saw a big wind pick the dirt right up and blow it around in a big circle, up into the sky, and I heard Yabe and he sounded like thunder, and he said, don't be afraid.

I said Yabe could sit in the extra chair and have supper with us and Mommy said that's okay and looked at Daddy, and Daddy said that a friend could sit there, even one we couldn't see.

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The following comments are for "my friend"
by johnlibertus

i love the childlike voice you use in this.. you pulled it off perfectly..

certain images really stand out.. like the idea of grass being there to keep the dirt from getting away.. that does sound like something an innocent mind would come up with..

i'm not sure if i'm over-interpreting here .. but i got the feeling that Yabe could possibly be the child's way of referring to God.. or some sort of religious concept.. with him sounding "like thunder..." and something about the last 2 lines also gave me that impression although i couldn't really say why exactly.

i know a lot of people don't like explaining their work and prefer to leave the reader's to interpret it any which way they will .. but i really am curious...

( Posted by: pixie [Member] On: November 29, 2003 )

you really are amazing
I'm surprised at how much of this you seem to have intuited by feel alone. The sound "Ya," in Hebrew, often appears as a prefix standing for the name of God. Thus, "Yabe" would mean, in English, something like "Be God."

As for the voice like thunder: Rev. 14-2 "And I heard a voice from Heaven, like the sound of many waters, and like the sound of loud thunder..."

As for our young narrator's saying that Yabe could sit in the extra chair and have supper with them; this came to me from Jesus' statement to the Angel of the 7th Church, in Revelations 3-20: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and dine with him, and he with Me."

Some people tell me he isn't really there, but he is there, and we talk when we want to.

And this may surprise you: grass is really there for keeping the dirt from getting away. In the Great Depression of the 1930's, a combination of drought and overcropping turned much of the Midwestern U.S. into the Dust Bowl, as they called it; wind would pick much of the dirt, no longer bound by grass roots, off the ground and into the sky, in great storms. I remember being caught in such a dust storm, years later, when I was a boy.

When I was a little boy, my little sister, a year younger, was my closest playmate and friend. But my wife, an only child, had an imaginary playmate. After she died, I got to thinking about her as a little girl, playing alone in that big backyard, with the big stone wall all around it, and I realized who she was really playing with.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust; but, like he tells me, don't be afraid.

Like I said, some people don't see him, so I have to sneak up on them. Like it says in the last sentence of the first paragraph of the story.

( Posted by: johnlibertus [Member] On: November 29, 2003 )

wow.. that verse from revelations (3-20) gave me goosebumps..

honestly.. i had hoped that i was right.. it's a beautiful story.. i read it again after reading your comments and it was even more comforting the second time round.

it reminded me of two things that have been told to me..

one was told to me by my sister who has a son who is almost a year old now. she had noticed that when he was in his nursery.. he would smile and laugh at one particular corner of the room.. she asked her priest about it and he said it could be because there is an angel there.. i know most people would be skeptical about something like that.. but i like to believe it is true..
i'm egyptian.. and we have a saying in arabic that when babies smile in their sleep it's because the angels are playing with them.

another story that was just told me to last week by a mother of two children.. her daughter is about five years old and her baby is just a few months old.. she heard her five year old going into the nursery and stood by the door to see what she was doing and she heard her say, "can you tell me what Jesus looks like because I've started forgetting?" I think that just speaks for itself.

have you read elphaba's story called "Jesus in my Pocket" on this site? if you haven't i really would recommend it.

( Posted by: pixie [Member] On: December 1, 2003 )

I liked this, too. It comes from a sweeter, less complicated place than my own story. And this one reminds me of my own younger daughter and the imaginary friend that she had when she was four.

Your flash fiction is very effective and affecting.

( Posted by: Elphaba [Member] On: December 1, 2003 )

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