Friday, July 22, 2016

Tauy Creek Digest #16: My Friend Max

Ryan and Max walked down the road toward the creek where they always hung out. Ryan was only a week away from turning nine and he was getting excited about his birthday. "Are you going to have a party?" Max asked. "Invite some friends over, get a giant cake, open tons of presents?"

"It'll be a small party. I'm only turning nine," Ryan said. Ryan and Max had been best friends since Ryan was born. They had always hung out together and they knew everything about each other. Max was there when Ryan got punched in the eye. Max was there when Ryan got run over by a bully's bicycle, Max was there when Ryan was thrown up on while riding the bus. Max was generally unable to help Ryan avoid things like that. While Max could talk and touch things, he was also just a cat.

Max was a tangible figment of Ryan's imagination. A lot of kids had them. Ryan, as an infant, created an orange tabby cat who could talk and who wore a leather jacket. The two of them arrived at the creek and began climbing a tree and onto a platform that Ryan and his friends had built in it. It was supposed to be a tree house but no one really knew how to do that so they settled for just a simple platform.

"So what are you deciding?" Max asked.

"I haven't decided yet," Ryan said. "It's a hard decision. You're my best friend but I want to be a filmmaker."

Max lowered his head. "We should finish the tree house," he suggested softly. "Remember Shelby? He had that club house thing in his backyard and you were scared to climb the ladder into it?"

"I was six. It was really high up," Ryan said, as they sat on an unguarded wood platform at least twenty feet off the ground. "I think it would've been nice to finish this tree house but it's too late now. The three of us barely fit up here anymore."

"Remember our detective agency?"

"How could I forget? We had to make up mysteries to solve."

Back in second grade, Ryan and his friends started a detective agency. They spent several recesses solving made up mysteries out on the playground. They tried to make it work but it ultimately failed like so many other eight-year-old business ideas. It did give Ryan story ideas that he wrote down and thought would be good movies when he got older. Ryan enjoyed writing and had been praised by teachers since Kindergarten about how inventive his writing was. His writing had been encouraged by his teachers and parents so it was something that he truly believe he could make a future out of.

"Hey, Ryan. Max," shouted Alex, one of Ryan's friends. Alex had turned nine a couple months ago and with his birthday, his imaginary friend, Toro, a cow with the head of a bull, disappeared. Alex climbed the tree and joined Ryan and Max on the wooden platform. "What are you guys doing?"

"Just talking," Ryan said. "Remember our detective agency?"

"Yeah," Alex chuckled. "It was terrible."

"Did I show you my new story about our detective agency?" Ryan suddenly remembered. "I finished it a couple days ago."

"No. I can't believe you still write those," Alex said.

"Come on, let's go to my place. You can read it and then we can go over to Aaron's," Ryan said. The three of them began to climb down the tree and began walking back to the neighborhood of houses. "My Mom bought me this comic book. You should take a look at it. Maybe you'll like it."

"Cool. Okay."

As they all walked back to Ryan's house, Max thought about everything he had been a part of in Ryan's life. He thought of when he was first created. It was interesting to see that he was a normal cat, just able to talk and wearing a leather jacket while other kids had combinations of animals, hybrids, odd-looking humans, amorphous blobs. It was also interesting that this boy, who didn't necessarily need an imaginary friend, had one. Max thought about the eight birthdays he had witnessed and when Ryan learned to ride a bike. Ryan learned to ride a bike just last year and did it without training wheels because he thought that a seven-year-old with training wheels would look silly. Max thought about all of this but knew what was going to happen. Ryan had a bright future in creativity ahead of him and Max couldn't be the one thing to stand in his way.