They say that children are the most receptive to things of supernatural origin. To angels and demons, the idea of God and, especially, the belief in things unseen. That's why, when Hamish developed an imaginary friend, I didn't think it was abnormal. I was actually a little relieved. The imaginary friend would, hopefully, pull him out of his shell and encourage him to make real friends, and stop ignoring the other kids at school. Though, I blamed myself for his exclusionary behavior. From the first day he came to live with me, I'd filled his head with stories of a man, a legend, who lived completely inside his own head, but who accomplished extraordinary things. A man who shot our wallpaper full of holes at three in the morning. A man who I encouraged Hamish to believe in, though I never gave him a name. And, in believing in such a man, Hamish became a solitary child.
But, an imaginary friend was good news to me. Many times, I would walk into his room to find Hamish mid-conversation with his ghostly playmate. They would 'solve crimes' all around the house together. Once I had figured out that Hamish and his 'friend' were emulating me and my old colleague, I set up some mysteries for him. Hiding the cookies, having my car keys allegedly stolen, and teaching Gladstone to play dead for hours on end while the pair hunted for his murderer. Hamish thought it was all great fun, though, as he continually reminded me, it was all too easy for his friend.
Months passed, and Hamish's friend became a regular member of the family. We set the table for him, made up the guest bed, and Hamish even insisted on drawing him a bath every night. After a while, I was worried that he would grow too attached to this friend. I asked him one night why he didn't bring home any friends from school. "I don't have friends, Dad. Normal people are boring." With that response, I had to excuse myself to my bedroom to get composed. I had obviously told Hamish one too many stories, and helped create the detached world he now lived in. But, telling the stories was my way of holding on to the one I'd lost. The was a tiny knock at the door, and I wiped away a wayward tear and told Hamish to come it. He was carrying a cup of tea. I thanked him, giving him a loving kiss on the forehead. He told me to thank his friend. "He says I have to take good care of you, Daddy."
One day, I realized that Hamish never referred to his playmate by a name. So, that night a dinner, with the table set for three, I asked Hamish if the entity had a name. "I asked him once, and he said his name was of no importance. Only why he was there." Hamish shrugged. Growing wary and a little confused, I pressed the matter, asking what he was here for. "To protect us, Daddy." I had the sudden urge to ask the empty chair, but I kept my questions directed at Hamish. Is he like a guardian angel? "See, I asked that question, too. But, he said he was just a guardian. Not an angel." It was then that it all made sense.
One night, I heard a small scream from Hamish's room. Within minutes, I was up and moving down the hall. I called out, asking my son if he was OK. "It was just a bad dream, Dad. I'm better now." When I pushed open his bedroom door, my breath caught. There was a large pair of silky, black, translucent wings creating a canopy around my small son. But what caused me to cry again was the almost transparent man the wings were attached to. Kneeling on the bed behind, arms wrapped around Hamish's front, was a tall, slender, man. His black, curly head was buried into my son's blond hair, and a translucent blue scarf was keeping Hamish warm. "Don't cry, Dad. I'm OK now. Both you and my guardian are here."
"Hamish, you are safer than you'll ever know." And with that, the man faded from my sight, but never from my life. From that day on, Hamish and I always felt a pair of wings around our shoulders.