My daughter started talking about Mr. Moogy on her fourth birthday. My brother and I lived across the street from one another and we held the party at his house since he could afford a pool and I couldn't. That day, the shift was indicated by a small tug on the skirt. I turned to see the beautiful hazel eyes of Melissa, my daughter, staring up at me.
"Mommy, Mr. Moogy wants to come home with us."
I knelt down to get to her level. "Who's that, baby?"
She looked around as if searching for someone. "He's my new friend! I don't see him, though. He must have gone to grab his coat."
I realized then that my little baby had her first imaginary friend. I nodded enthusiastically, "Of course he can. Mr. Moogy is more than welcome in our home whenever he wants."
I thought nothing of Mr. Moogy, really. Although, things around the house were strange after that and a lot of it had to do with Mr. Moogy. She insisted on having her window open every night, and Mr. Moogy never seemed to want to be in the room with me. Every time I'd ask her where he was, she'd say something like, "he went home for the day," or "he decided to go for a walk around the block." I once jokingly asked if he didn't like me. She looked at me, hurt. "Oh no, mommy! Mr. Moogy loves you a whole bunch! He just gets shy!"
This went on for a year. The only problem was, the more time went on, the more immersed she became in Mr. Moogy. She changed a lot of parts of her personality, which she said was something Moogy wanted for her. My emotions were mixed. Worry and frustration. She would spend so much time by herself. Opting to shut herself away in her bedroom with him rather than go spend her time outside. She refused certain things she used to love, and it was difficult to get her to even go to the store with me.
I'd try to take her to her dad's on weekends, but if I could even get her there without her throwing an enormous fit, I'd get a call within a few hours from my ex-husband, absolutely insisting that I pick her up. She was out of control at that point. She trashed his house on several occasions before he finally threw his hands up and yelled, "God damn it, Mary, take your fucking kid and get out of my life."
She held her head in shame as I explained, while trying to contain my sheer anger, that what she did was entirely wrong. She just kept saying, "Mr. Moogy said it was the only way I could stay with you." I felt fed up, but I was more worried. I wanted to badly to take her to a doctor, but the divorce left us broke and without insurance. Silently, I hoped she would grow out of it.
One morning, I woke up to find that Melissa was fully dressed. Most of the time, she would opt for pajamas. "What's the special occasion?" I asked, treading as lightly as possible.
She had never flipped out and trashed our house, but I still found myself afraid of my own child. "Mr. Moogy wants to play outside today."
I nodded, relieved that she was going to be outside instead of locked away. I decided that I'd do the dishes, so I could stay inside and still watch her playing in the yard. I couldn't have looked away more than a few minutes, but when I looked back, she was gone. Running outside, I screamed her name, but got no reply. I called the police immediately and a search was initiated. Every hour that passed, I prayed to a God that I didn't fully believe in. I prayed for my daughter's safety. I prayed that this was just one of many odd but harmless occurrences. Hours turned into days. Then weeks. Months. Half a year had gone by, and there was no sign of Melissa.
At 2:37 AM on an abnormally warm October night, a call came to the station from a man claiming to have seen someone carrying a body through his back yard. The police caught him in the act. Older man, probably in his forties. Thick glasses, lanky body. Nothing at all special about him, other than the fact that the body he was trying to bury was that of my little Melissa. I'm sure you don't want the gory details, and I'm not willing to relive them.
She had been abused in disgusting, inhuman ways for the entirety of the six months she had been gone. She was so thin and bruised, she was barely recognizable. I was asked down to the station, and had my brother accompany me. They wanted to see if I could recognize the guy. My brother grasped my hand tightly, likely fighting back tears himself, as we stared at this strange man from behind weird mirror glass. It all felt like a bad episode of Law and Order: SVU.
Detective Lorenzo stared with sympathy in his eyes. "Do you know this man?"
I shook my head, "No, I've never seen him in my life."
My brother looked at me with confusion. "What are you talking about? Don't lie to them, Mary."
My head was so foggy, it took a few moments for me to realize what was said and reply. "Uh, no. I've never seen him." He looked a bit angry with me then.
"Are you shitting me? He was in and out of your fucking house for that past, what, year?!" That was the tipping point.
Later, I sat at a metal table, across from Detective Lorenzo. His tone had changed from sympathetic to accusatory. "How do you know Tomas Moony?" He pushed a photo of the man that killed my daughter across the table.
I shook my head, almost too bewildered to speak. "I don't know that man."
He stood quickly, slamming his hands on the table. Yeah, this definitely seemed like a bad episode of SVU. "He was in your house. People saw him walking EVERYWHERE with you and your daughter. Your own brother saw the man come in and out of the house." I think that's when I made the connection. Moony. Moony. Moogy. Moogy.
There was no way. Mr. Moogy was imaginary. It was not possible that a man could have avoided me—BEEN IN MY HOME, WITH MY CHILD—for a year. Yet, the evidence was there. The neighborhood watch had surveillance cameras installed a few years before we moved in. The footage showed Tomas Moony, a man I never met until I saw him in that interrogation room, crawling through the windows of my home, mostly Melissa's bedroom window.
Hell, he even came and went through the front door several times. They asked a few people around the community if they ever saw him. Most of them nodded solemnly. They all assumed that he was a relative or a family friend. He'd always follow at a distance, and I never thought to look over my shoulder.
I never saw him. I never fucking saw him. Not once.