When my kids were little we lived in a bedroom community full of stay at home moms. I can’t say that I was ever bored. I was really good at coming up with ways to entertain myself, with some help from my partner in crime and fellow mom. We’ll call her “Taryn”.
A few years after we made up Pedro and Antonio, “Taryn” and I became Christ followers. Our focus changed a bit from ourselves to what we could do to further God’s kingdom. We spent a lot of time helping at youth group and Bible Club. We started talking about how great it would be to go on mission trips. Of course, it was out of the question. The husbands had demanding jobs and we had little kids to take care of.
Since we already had experience creating imaginary friends, it was easy to create Annabelle Freidman, the missionary, and her dog Bailey. Annabelle traveled the world going on mission trips and volunteering at summer and winter camps. Bailey her golden retriever would travel with her entertaining the children with her antics and helping kids adjust to being away from home.
Our imaginary friends always started out as something just between us. We never meant for them to get out of hand but somehow they always did. While we were out and about we would frequently mention what Annabelle was up to and where she was going next, forgetting that while we were laughing people were listening. Annabelle started to take on a life of her own.
When kids from church went camp, we would mention that Annabelle would be there that week. She would send emails reassuring moms that their kids were having a fabulous time and not to worry. She loved our VBS program and although she was too busy to volunteer she sent emails offering encouragement to the director and her assistants. These were sent to friends who knew how crazy we were and we knew wouldn’t be too bothered when they found out that Annabelle wasn’t real. But we always forgot. People talked.
Annabelle did occasionally stop by church functions long enough to buy raffle tickets. This one I did solely to make my friend laugh if Annabelle won, not realizing I was solidifying the fact that Annabelle was a real person. When one of us always had to claim her prizes for her there were more questions. Everyone wanted to know “Who’s this Annabelle?”
This is when our little game got complicated. Our church membership was maybe 150 people at the time. Everyone knew everyone and news spread like wildfire.
People were asking “I keep hearing about this Annabelle, has anyone met her?” If someone asked my friend or I about her we would say she was a missionary friend and laugh it off.
This went on for about six months. Then it happened. Our Pastor sent his wife to find out who Annabelle was because he hadn’t met her yet. Oh man. We were busted. We couldn’t believe it had gone this far. We had to come clean.
When we told him, he laughed and shook his head. He was used to our ridiculousness. We had many a crazy adventures that he witnessed first hand. He called us Lucy and Ethel. A lot. When I look back at that time it makes me smile. I guess it isn’t surprising that I’m a writer. Creating characters has always been a part of my life. Even when I was supposed to be a grown up.
Annabelle makes an appearance in a different form in my book, Breathe coming out Dec. 14. Sign up for my newsletter on the right to get the updates on the launch party and giveaways! If you are interested in a review copy send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org