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Many children had imaginary friends when they were little. My daughter, on the other hand, had an imaginary bully by whom she continued to be tormented well into her teens. My wife would have consoled her if she was still here, but she was gone and I suppressed the desire to remarry; I dated, but none of the relationships lasted more than a year. Most of the time, I brushed my daughter's horrors off as a thing of the past until they began again. Most of the time, she was a cheerful young girl. Months passed without incident, but then one night it all came crumbling down once again.

All her progress gone, she cried hysterically and crawled up into a ball at least once a year, being a shadow of her usual self. A lot of the incidents happened in November, escalating in frequency and impact around her birthday. Although she seemed to have finally accepted that her nemesis was not real thanks to years of therapy, she still collapsed into a panicked state of helplessness when the annual rape rolled around.

Rape is the only word I can think to use. Really, as uncomfortable as that word makes many people, the effects of her experiences were increasingly similar to those of rape. Rightfully, I do have to admit that I had my reservations when she herself began calling them that, but when she sat down one night to detail the worst of the night terrors, I was convinced that it was appropriate.

As she revealed the darkest secrets she had thought shameful, explaining to me that the imaginary bully was not merely verbally abusive but also got on top of her and inside her and more, I began to feel dizzy and sick to my stomach. All of what she said from that point on was too much to register at first. A man had entered her room and done all manner of carnal things to her, all of which I could see in my mind's eye. As unreal as it sounded, all of it had been real to her. All of it was real. All of it. A tear rolled down my cheek as it hit me that the intruder was sitting in the same room as us, smirking at me from the shadows, but that it was not him who had tortured her all these years. All those years, all those women... all in my head.

My only consolation was that she was not my daughter. After all, it was not my seed that led to her conception; it was the monster's that had been slowly pulling the strings ever since my wife died in labour. Rough as it was for the girl to finally open up, it was made clear when she did that that had been the only reason she was ever even born. Aware of the facts, I had nothing left to do but end it all.

Maybe in another life I could meet my wife again, fall in love again. And this time, we could have children who would not need to lie to call me their father. Real children who would grow up and find their own path in life. As I drifted away, my mind was heavy with guilt, fear and longing.

Written by VerminGoat
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