When Lindsay was born, Bo was there. Standing beside her mother, he was the first thing she ever saw. But he was not her father; her father stood on the other side.
Bo was there until the very moment she died.
The sun shone bright through the windows of her pink-laden room. She loved pink. And black.
“Because Bo is black,” she’d told her parents.
Her imaginary friend, they soon concluded.
“Bo is all black,” she described one night as her father tucked her in, “His skin and his hair and everything. He doesn’t talk a lot.”
Her father frowned.
“He sounds scary.”
“He’s not,” she insisted.
Bo sat on the bed and said nothing.
Her father kissed her good night and turned out the light.
“Why can’t Dad see you?” she asked.
“Are you real?”
“Are you real?” he replied.
“How do you know?”
“Because...I just do.”
The girl and her aunt sat in the car, waiting for the light to turn green.
Bo sat in the back beside Lindsay.
She’d been with her aunt for a couple of days now.
“Bo, where did my mom and dad go?”
“When are they coming back?”
The girl went to her friend’s house one day after school. They played with dolls with haggard hair in a dollhouse where an alligator lived in the bathroom.
She stopped to look at Bo and the other black things. The black things looked at each other as if conversing, but their mouths never moved.
Her new friends couldn’t see them either.
“What are you looking at?” one girl asked.
“Um...that doll,” she lied, pointing to a doll at the top of the toy chest, “Can I play with that one instead?”
Lindsay stole a glance at Bo again, who said nothing.
The other black things didn’t look at her. They never did.
She reached over and picked up the doll.
The girl finished her breakfast and waved her aunt goodbye, the same as she did all the other mornings before school.
“Bo, why are you here?” she asked as they walked to the bus stop.
“I am here to take you away.”
“Take me away?”
“Yes. Someday. When you are ready.”
“When will that be?”
“When you are ready, you are ready. That’s all I know.”
The girl climbed the tree in her aunt’s front yard, to the highest branch that would hold her. She watched people pass by on foot and in cars. Her friends weren’t home that day.
“There are so many of you,” she told him.
“There are a lot of people to take away.”
“Where do they go?”
“Is that where my mom and dad are?”
“Will I go there?”
“Will you take me there?”
There was no doubt he would.
The girl picked an empty corner of the bustling mall as she waited for her friends to arrive. She took out her phone, pretended to dial, and held it to her ear.
Bo took his spot beside her.
“The others like you have never looked at me,” she observed, “They look at you and each other and sometimes at the person next to them, but never at me. Not even a glance. Can’t they see me?”
“They know you are there.”
“Then if they can see me...”
“They cannot see you,” he said, “But they know you are there. I can see you. I can’t see any other people, but I know they are there. Be happy they cannot see you.”
“When they can see you, they will look at you. They will watch you. Any around you will watch you. At least one pair of eyes will be watching you every moment of every day until you are ready. When you are ready, we will ALL take you away. But it is a very different ‘away’ from where your parents went.”
“Do you mean like...Hell?”
“Get them to see you and you will find out.”
“I don’t know. But I don’t think I’d recommend trying.”
The girl flossed her teeth and flashed them in the mirror like a snarling dog.
Bo stared at something she could not see.
“Bo,” she said to the reflection, and he turned to her. “Can you smile?”
“Are you going to smile?”
She knew he wouldn’t, and she smiled instead.
Soon, the girl was no longer a child. She grew up, found a career, and built a family of her own; Bo by her side every step of the way.
She grew older... but not old enough.
“No! I’m not ready!”
“You are ready.”
He took her away against her will, despite the years she would’ve had left, despite her husband and children, farther than she’d ever been, to a place she’d never seen and would never see again.
“You must go alone from here.”
“No! Come with me! I love you, Bo. Please! Let me stay a little longer!”
Her pleas were heard, but it could not be done. And against her will, she continued on.
Many like Bo stood beside him, their tasks all the same.
“I heard that one,” one of them had said to Bo, “’I love you, Bo.’ Could that be you?”
“She’s called me ‘Bo’ since she was very young.”
“She’s seen you all this time?”
“She’s seen me since she could see at all.”
It was – all along, Bo knew he would never find another "Lindsay"...
And he was right; he never has.
To this day, he's still not sure if he cares.