Once upon a time, as all great childhood stories begin, there was a girl called Ilanna. She was a painfully introverted child but also extremely extroverted at the same time. She loved people, a social butterfly would be the way you could describe her, but she thrived on time alone just as much.
But she was never alone, even when she was spending time by herself. Her imaginary friend Benny was always by her side and kept her company all the time. They did everything together, played games, sang for the Teddy bears. With Benny asleep on her pillow right beside her bed, she always felt, safe, loved, and cared for. Benny knew all her little secrets and woes. He knew her intricate little personality traits that others may not have been able to understand the same even though they wanted to and tried.
As far back as Ilanna could remember, Benny had always been there. Benny was like a little light in the darkness that was there for her before she even knew he was. Benny was there before she even knew existed. Watching over her from the day she Ilanna was born. She could never remember when she realised he was there, but she could sense him. The day they met properly has never been known to this day, but I suppose that is the beauty of it.
She carried him around in her pocket, her parents were even so aware of his importance to her that they pretended to speak to him as though he were a real life friend. Which to her, he was. Her mum and dad would pretend to lift him off the sidewalk and in to the car as Benny was too little to get in himself.
Benny was his own little character. Benny was warm, loving, sympathetic, loyal, and protective. He made Ilanna laugh when she was feeling sad, confused or lonely. He loved her with all his little heart, she was his everything. It was a special bond and a personal relationship that no-one else she ever met could come close to. If you can imagine a pet you’ve ever had, like a dog, you will understand they are so in love with you, they are your most loyal friend. You are their person, their only person. The wait for you to come home and when you do it makes their whole day. They miss you when you are away from them. You are the only person they care about in that special way. They have feelings and emotions. They care how you feel and what you are going through in your life. They go through it with you. They are the only creature or human that see every side of your personality that others don’t. They are there when you cry, and they comfort you when you do. They are there when you’re angry, and never hold it against you or think differently of you. They forgive straight away without thought and want to reassure you in whatever form you are in.
That’s what Benny was like.
As Ilanna grew up through elementary school, she became more and more outgoing, yet she was being badly bullied at school. Benny was her only comfort. She would come home and cry herself to sleep, all the while Benny was laying beside her loving and comforting her. She couldn’t understand why they hated her at school, but she knew Benny didn’t. He was her only friend.
It became more difficult for society to understand and treat Benny with respect as she reached adolescence, and she was worried what she was going to do. Benny wasn’t the type of creation that you could forget about, Benny was a strong part of her psyche, and they had been through so much together. In the recent time thay Ilanna was agonising over what to do about Benny, her little niece was diagnosed with Asperger’s. She was a very bright child, yet she lacked the same social skills her Aunty Ilanna did at the same age. Ilanna was in so much mental agony as to what to do about Benny. I mean, he could stay in her head, but she wouldn’t be able to socialise with him the same way she could as a child. Then there was the added problem of being branded with some sort of mental disorder if she were to keep him in her mind as much as she had done growing up. So one night, after many hours of questioning and worrying about little Benny and her Little Niece Hila, she came up with the most beautiful way of helping the problem for both her favourite people. However, this came at a painful price for her.
The next morning, she went downstairs to see little Hila as she was staying the night. It was a Saturday morning so there was no school for either of them. Little Hila was restlessly watching cartoons and seemed to be feeling a little agitated. Ilanna put her arms around her and instantly little Hila felt better. The comfort she craved, as Ilanna did as a child at her age was a temporary but poignant solution to Hila’s problem.
“I’ve got a present for you Princess Hila”, said Ilanna.
“Have you bought me sweet Aunty Ilanna?” replied Little Hila
“No better than that, but you have to close your eyes, use your imagination and your heart, Can you do that for me?”
“Now, on the count of three you have to open your eyes and hold out your hands, okay? Said Ilanna.
1………. 2……… 3.
Hila opened her eyes and Ilanna placed little Benny in Hila’s cupped palms. Instantly Hila knew what had happened because everyone knew who Benny was.
“Is Benny coming to play with me today?” Hila asked.
“No my little princess Hila, Benny is your friend now, you can keep him as long as you want. He’s yours!” Said Ilanna, with tears in her eyes but joy in her heart.
“Benny is my friend now? And only my friend?” Hila was so shocked and excited!
“Yes my princess, he is your friend now. But you have to look after him, play with him, bring him with you, and tuck him up beside you at night”
Right away, Hila jumped from her seat with a smile that Ilanna had never seen before. She knew that smile already although, the same smile she had when she found Benny when she has Hila’s age.
The change in Hila after she and Benny had bonded and made their own relationship like the sunshine had come back in to life. They did most of the same things Ilanna and Benny did together, but obviously Hila was her own person, so they developed new and enjoyable games to play and conversations between them. They didn’t even have to speak words sometimes for Benny and Hila to talk to each other, they just knew each other that well.
As Ilanna watched the friendship and relationship develop between Hila and Benny, she knew she had done the right thing. At this point Ilvanna was entering Junior High. Obviously, This would have been a point in her life that she would have needed Benny the most as she was nervous about meeting new friends and being in a new place. But Benny had taught her over the years so much, and she was a much stronger person now.
Although she missed Benny terribly, the most beautiful part of the whole thing was, she could still sense Benny in every way. Yet she didn’t need him the same, she knew Benny was with her. When she minded Hila, she could feel his presence so strongly and that brought back all the comfort and love she needed from him all along. Of course, now she could see the guidance Benny was giving to Hila and the change in this beautiful child was indescribable.
Ilanna had given little Hila the most important gift she would ever have been given in her life. And to this day Hila remembers what her loving Aunty Ilanna done for her.
But….. where did Benny go?? The story may continue 😉
Written by Alana Faith Lucas