Fiction: My Imaginary Friend Bonnie

By Ashley N. Goodwin

A chilling draft encircled Lucille as she jolted awake from her nap, a telltale sign that Momma had opened her door and Bonnie was nearby. If only Momma listened to Lucille’srepeated pleas to keep the doors closed, but no, Momma only repositioned Lucille’s bed to face the wall, as if shielding her from a dark hallway during the night would stop her overactive seven-year-old imagination. Lucille’s fairy drawings hanging beside her desk had shafts of orange light beaming from the window, marking the commencement of Bonnie’s countdown. 

Lucille stared at Bonnie in brief intervals. When she stared for more than a second, she redirected her attention to the wall, alleviating the rapid beating in her ribcage. Bonnie’s peeled flesh hanging down from her eyes like a windchime, but instead of gentle chimes, gasping sounds escape from where Bonnie’s mouth should be. 

Lucille sighed with relief when she saw the white dress. Bonnie's good side was out. Lucille didn’t mind engaging with Bonnie in this state; she considered Bonnie the most beautiful woman she had ever seen. Her features are like the latest "it girl" in prominent movies, with a button nose, rosy cheeks, full lips, almond-shaped lime green eyes, and long blonde hair. However, when her bad side emerged during the night, it looked like a cranberry pie exploded on Bonnie's face, transforming her cheeks and mouth into remnants of pie guts. Lucille feared that indulging in too many sweets could lead her to a similar fate—cavities exploding with half her face leaking cranberry pie remnants—prompting her to abstain from sweets. 

Lucille grabbed Bonnie’s hand as it transformed into wisps of vapor, reminiscent of a warm breath during a wintry night. Five minutes, Lucille told herself. That would be enough time to please Bonnie and escape before her transition.

Lucille settled into the rocking chair in Jesse's room. Momma envisioned this room as the nursery for Lucille’s yet-to-arrive sibling. It boasted a pristine wooden crib, and a box tucked away with Lucille’s old toys. You’ll forget all about your imaginary friends when your baby sister or brother arrives, Momma often insisted. Lucille would consider Jesse a baby brother if he could walk, talk, or play, but he was no older than one. The mystery of how Bonnie and Jesse ended up in this house and how long they had dwelled here remained unknown. Lucille felt like a caretaker tending to Bonnie’s emotional needs; it was a tedious yet frightening chore. 

The once white walls transformed into faint purple bruisesgarnished with a spider web of veins darkening with every passing second. Upon colliding with the wall, the rocking chair left two indents resembling craters as serous fluid leaked out of it, and she stood up. If she had punctured a hole in the drywall, blood would have oozed out of it. A rhythmic pulse reverberated against the walls, as though the room were a vessel, its walls were flesh, and Bonnie was the heart.

Lucille attempted to sneak out of the room, hoping Bonnie wouldn’t notice. Upon reaching the threshold, Lucille grabbed the doorknob, satisfied with her escape plan. However, as the latch glided against the metal plate, Jesse’s laughter ceased as the door slammed into the wall. 

“You leave every chance you get,” tears fell down Bonnie’s face, “You’re a stranger, Jason. I don’t even know who you are anymore and neither does Jesse. 

“Who’s Jason?” Lucille asked. 

“Do you even know who you are anymore?” 

“What are you talking about?” 

“Ever since Jesse was born six months ago, you’re never home and when you are, there’s alcohol on your breath. I don’t know what’s gotten into you, but I’m sick of this. I’m sick of indulging in your delusions that everything is okay.”

The translucent walls pulsated as blood coursed through the veins, vibrating the floorboards, “You’re scaring me, please stop!” Lucille said. 

“You’re such a coward! For the past six months I’ve felt invisible and unappreciated!”

Bonnie’s words transformed into static, enveloping Lucille as if she were confined to a dim room with only a television emitting white noise. Where closing her eyes offered no relief, as if the television were an X-ray machine casting radiation through her eyelids. And covering her ears couldn’t drown out the deafening sound waves.

“We’re not a family!” Bonnie said. 

“Stop!” Lucille yelled. 

Bonnie rushed over to Lucille, “Shh, it’s okay. I’m here. I’d never let anything happen to you.” 

Lucille wiped tears off her cheeks. 

“Dinner’s ready!” Momma yelled from downstairs. 

The vessel of the room had darkened, like it had endured harsh beatings, its walls stained with black blood. 

“I don’t want to be scared during the night,” Lucille said and grabbed the door. 

“We’re trapped in here when it’s closed! Why can’t you understand that?” The door swung open, rattling the hinges. 

Lucille glared at the door, apprehensive of Bonnie’s madness, “I can’t sleep at night.” Lucille paused, “because of you.”

“He only comes when the door is closed. He only comes when the door is closed," Bonnie repeated, going faster each time.

“You’re not making any sense, please stop!” 

“Jason,” Bonnie said, her hands quivering. 

While desiring to understand, time was running out, “I just want one peaceful night without your horrifying face.” 

At once, a torrent of tears poured down from the ceiling. 

“I wasn’t trying to hurt your feelings. I really wasn’t!” Lucille said. 

“Get out!” Bonnie yelled as a gust of wind struck Lucille’s chest throwing her out of the room. 

“I said dinner was ready! There’s no reason for you to be slamming doors!” Momma said. 

“It wasn’t me. It was Bonnie!”

“She’s your friend and your responsibility!”

Lucille picked herself up from the floor, “she’s not my friend.” she said under her breath, her elbows were tender. 

Bonnie wasn’t a chosen friend, rather Lucille had grown accustomed to two uninvited roommates only visible to her while Momma refused to acknowledge them as ghosts. As she rose to her feet, she looked at a picture of Momma, Daddy, and her on vacation at six flags two years ago. Anticipating his return from overseas where he protected others, she looked forward to him protecting her from Bonnie. 

The aroma of basil and garlic had Lucille running downstairs. She took a seat at the dinner table with Momma, twirling the noodles in the tomato sauce. A sudden flash of blood dripping down Bonnie’s face prompted her to set her fork down. 

“It’s been months since I’ve made your favorite, so you better eat,” Momma said. 

“I want to, it’s just,” Lucille looked at the stairs. 

She couldn’t recall whether Jesse’s bedroom door wasclosed as she rushed by. Stuck in her chair to avoid upsetting Momma, she feared Bonnie would descend the staircase at any moment. 

“Lucille,” Momma said, nudging her head to eat. 

As Lucille twirled the angel hair noodles in the chunky tomato sauce, she envisioned blood dripping down Bonnie’s disfigured tongue. Bonnie’s flesh hanging below her lime green eyes like tentacles with her scattered teeth resembling suckers on an octopus. Poking her fork into a meatball, the scent of red meat triggered memories of Bonnie’s putrid odor of salty and sweet flesh, staining the furniture, rugs, clothing, and blankets for hours afterwards. Her stomach gurgled as she fought back the urge to gag. 

“So why were you slamming the door upstairs?” Momma asked. 

Lucille had never spat her food out so quickly, “Bonnie pushed me and slammed the door.”

“Imaginary friends don’t slam doors or cause a ruckus.”

“Ghosts can.” 

“Don’t be ridiculous, ghosts aren’t real.”

“It’s not my fault you can’t see Bonnie or Jesse. Grandma can!”

“Grandma’s unwell.”

“What is it going to take for you to believe me?”

Momma swallowed her food before speaking, “You’re grounded for a week. You’re not going to Megan’s birthday party and you’re not playing outside.”

“That’s not fair!” 

“I’ve asked you multiple times to take ownership of your actions and I’m not asking you anymore.”

“I wish Daddy was home.”

“There are consequences for your actions, Lucille.” 

Accepting accountability for Bonnie’s actions would be her fate for the rest of her life. It wouldn’t matter if the truth was spoken or not, Momma wouldn’t believe her—Momma was always right. 

“I’m sorry for slamming the door,” Lucille said.

“That’s a start,” Momma said. “I may reconsider Megan’s party if you behave the next few days.”

Instead of retreating to her bedroom, she helped Momma clean up after dinner. While disposing of the discarded food on the plates, something on the counter caught her attention—a letter to Jason Greene. 

“Who’s Jason?” Lucille asked. 

“A previous homeowner that hasn’t updated their new address.”

Was he trapped in this house like Bonnie and Jesse? If so, why hadn’t she seen him? She began to speak of what little information she knew about Jason and stopped mid-sentence knowing there’d be no point in telling. Thankfully, her words had been drowned out by the sound of running water as Momma did the dishes. If Bonnie weren’t such a roller coaster of emotions, Lucille could ask. She tossed the letter back into the trash then headed upstairs. 

Lucille pressed her ear against Jesse’s door listening intently to the sounds of babbling and pacing footsteps that usually filled the space. However, she heard neither—it was the quietest it had ever been, almost too quiet for comfort. With an urge to open the door, she envisioned the black walls, dripping and panting for air, mirroring Bonnie’s rapid breath, the meat grinds of her face and stepped away from the door. It marked the first night Bonnie had ever kept the door closed, and Lucille intended to enjoy every moment of it. 

She rushed into her bedroom, rearranging every doll she owned on her bed, starting with her favorite, Molly. She reminded them of their significance to her. During her pauses, the silence of the house would settle in, and she would stare at the door. She had become so accustomed to Bonnie’s intrusions she genuinely believed Bonnie would appear at any moment, reassuring herself that tonight was different. 

She unpacked her box of colored pencils and crayons on her table searching for the prettiest pinks, purples, and yellows for the sweetest unicorn in the coloring book she got months ago. While tracing the outline, the floorboards shook, sending a shiver down her spine, rooting her in place. 

In the distance, a vacuum hummed downstairs, suggesting Momma was rearranging and cleaning. As she settled back into her seat, a wailing sob pierced through the hallway flooding her with waves of terror. Convinced that Bonnie had opened the door and lurked behind her, she shut her eyes—she didn’t dare confront Bonnie at this hour. 

Feeling a touch on her head, she jumped out of the chair. She rubbed her scalp, discovering water. Bubbles covered the ceiling as moisture clung to the walls. Grazing her fingers against the damp surface, water seeped into her skin. Bonnie was distressed, yet her impact had never extended beyond Jesse’s room before. 

She knew she was wrong for what she said and should’ve tried harder to apologize. If she didn’t make amends, the entire house could collapse from her wrath. 

It seemed as if the house were alive and crying as water trickled down various paths on the walls. In the hallway, water escaped from underneath Jesse’s bedroom door. She stepped into the water’s path, dampening her socks. She yanked them off and threw them into the corner of her bedroom before navigating through the chilly water. When reaching the door, she turned the knob, but it was locked. She knocked multiple times and waited.

Undeterred, she knocked harder.


She knocked again as the sobbing grew louder.

“I’m sorry about what I said. I didn’t mean it.”  

A chilling scream tore through the air—it was Jesse. Shaking the doorknob in desperation, it refused to budge. Running to the back of the hallway, she threw herself into the door. 

“What in the world are you doing?” Momma asked. “Did you leave the bathtub running?”

“Something is wrong with Jesse!” Lucille said. 

Momma attempted to open the door, “Did you put something behind the door?”

The air grew denser as the temperature dropped and heavy boots echoed through the hallway. Clenching her teeth to stop them from chattering, the cold draft moved past her and toward Jesse’s room. It was only then that she comprehended the distance between herself and Momma. She watched Momma relentlessly slam her chest against the door as a compelling desire surged within to pull her away.

A sudden and loud bang shattered through the house as she collapsed to the ground. Clutching her ears as water soaked into her clothes, a throbbing sensation accompanied the persistent ringing in her head. A metallic smell filled the hallway as a bright light radiated; Momma had opened Jesse’s door.

“Momma,” Lucille said, her voice sounded like a whisper. 

The metallic tang lingered in her mouth as if she sucked on a grimy penny. She heard a masculine voice, its biting tone sinking into her flesh like teeth, injecting an egg sac containing thousands of spiders. She felt them crawling beneath her skin, leaving tiny bumps while burrowing into her flesh like parasites. She wrapped her arms around her sticky torso, realizing she was drenched in blood, down pouring out of Jesse’s crib like a waterfall. The door jerked back and forth as if Bonnie commanded them to leave. Within seconds, Lucille charged at Momma as they fell backwards, and the door slammed shut. 

“Who closed that door!” Momma yelled, “no one was in there!”

Through the small hole where the doorknob once was, Bonnie stood with her arms up. She had never seen Bonnie so terrified before. She heard a click, reminiscent of Daddy loading his gun before securing it in his safe. 

“Jason, please,” Bonnie said. 

“We’re finally going to be a family,” Jason said. 

Another deafening bang shook the house as Bonnie’s mouth exploded into cranberry pie guts, drenching the walls behind her. Her eyes rolled back as she vanished into the room. 

A third bang vibrated Lucille’s skull. She kept her eyes shut, terrified of seeing anything else. She screamed, yet it seemed muffled as if her voice had been swallowed up by the depths of a relentless nightmare.


After the ringing subsided and the house surrendered to silence, she slipped one eye open. Nestled in her bed beside Momma, she braced herself for bloodstains, yet was only damp from water. She glanced at Momma who met her gaze.

“Bonnie was never an imaginary friend, was she?” Momma asked. 

Lucille looked away. 

“I’m sorry I didn’t believe you.”

Lucille looked at her as tears flooded her eyes, “Jason shot Bonnie and Jesse.”

Momma stood up from the bed and entered Lucille’s closet, returning with her backpack filled to the brim with clothes, “grab Molly.”

“Where are we going?” Lucille asked. 

“To Aunt Laura’s.”

“But what about my other stuff?”

“We’ll get someone to pack up the house for us. Let’s get out of here.”

Securing her doll, Molly, she observed Momma push the dresser away from the door. Lucille’s heart pounded, apprehensive about what might be behind it. 

“Come on,” Momma said. 

Lucille couldn’t move. 

“Is someone behind the door?” Momma asked. 

“It’s been quiet since I heard the third gunshot.”

Momma caressed her arms “We’re not staying here another night. We must go.”

“But what if he comes after us next? I can’t see him.”

“Can you wrap your arms around me? Promise me you won’t open your eyes? Can you do that for me?” 

She wanted to do it but was terrified. What if she saw Jason? Would his face look just as bad as Bonnie’s?

“Once I open that door, we’ll go downstairs to the front door and leave.”

Lucille took a deep breath and agreed. 

As Momma opened the door, Lucille hugged her as they sloshed through the hallway. The once dense and oppressive air now carried tranquility like the house had released a tremendous burden of tension. But Lucille knew this was just a façade, congestion would build up again. Before she knew it, she was in the back seat of the van. Momma sat in the driver’s seat and put the key in the ignition before turning it off.

“I must go back in and grab my purse. Promise me you’ll stay right where you are?” 

“Please hurry.”

While sitting in the van, a flicker of light caught her attention. Bonnie stood beside Jesse’s bedroom window, peering down at her. The walls were cherry red and glossy. Lucilleaverted her gaze, finding a distraction in the torn section of leather on the back of the driver’s seat. The illuminating light from upstairs dimmed, plunging her into the darkness of the night. Her eyes were drawn to the wide-open front door as a tingling sensation crawled up her arms as if the dormant spiders burrowed inside her from earlier had awakened. With an overwhelming urge to close the front door, she unbuckled her seat belt. Dread lingered as the thought gnawed at her—the unsettling possibility that Bonnie might escape from the house. Momma came running down the driveway and Lucille relaxed. 

As they drove down the street, Lucille was thankful she would never see Bonnie again. However, she had the strangest feeling Bonnie wouldn't let her go—like Lucille was the daughter Bonnie never got to have. Lucille glanced back at the rear window while telepathically saying goodbye to neighbors she would never play with again. While looking through the shadows of the night in the desolate street, a silhouette materialized in the middle of the road as a blood-curled scream escaped her lips.

Ashley N. Goodwin is 29 years old and resides in Arizona. Her work has been featured in The Write Launch and Black Petals Magazine. She loves pushing boundaries and invoking uncomfortable emotions. Her story, "My Imaginary Friend Bonnie" is part of her upcoming psychological horror short story collection.