"Yes, and I have to get up early. I know." I pick up the teapot and pour some Earl Gray into the usual delicate teacup.
"It's nice to see you. We've missed you."
I nod but say nothing to this statement.
Mr. Gryphon and I are sitting on a smooth white ledge, the tea service on the floor between us. Our legs are dangling over the edge, and out beyond is the dizzying view of the universe. We on the observation deck of a vast spaceship. The deck looks much like giant cake dome. The transparent substance which surrounds the deck is impossibly thin, only a few atoms thick, and stronger than almost any substance in the known universe. It feels like we sitting on a white circular platter, suspended in the middle of space.
It has been many months since I've talked to him and even longer since I've been in this strange world I created. I look down, getting dizzy. Below me are more stars and the endless blackness of space. I kick my legs a few times.
"I've missed you too," he says, pushing his blond hair out of his eyes. I look at him, frowning. I'm so used to him being big that it's weird seeing him so small though he's still taller than me.
A year ago, Valentine's Day, Mr. Gryphon woke up in the morning and found that he had turned into a human being, a guy around my age. No matter what he or anybody else tried to do, he could not turn himself back into a gryphon. Yes, it's true, I just haven't mentioned it to anybody. I have a draft blog post to prove it. I wrote the post "Imaginary Friend" and in it he keeps talking about how I have to write a story about us, and how everything has come to a standstill. I'd figured out how to overlay a gryphon facade on him but it's impossible to maintain for any length of time. If you're paying any attention in that post, I'm having difficulty looking at him.
"I was uncomfortable," I say, "Still am but clearly the story needs to be written. I just don't know when I'm going to get around to it. There's a lot going on." I kick my legs again and focus on a steady point of light that appears to be directly in front of us. A planet of some kind, obviously.
"Things seem to have come full circle. Because you didn't want to write the story down, other things happened."
"Do you really believe that? You're just a character in one of my stories. You're not real," I say. I am very tired but this conversation needs to take place.
"Stranger things have happened."
"You're still stoic, Mr. Gryphon. How did that happen? How did it happen that you are stoic?" I say, leaning towards him. He merely rolls his eyes and picks up his teacup. "Look at what I've done! Gryphon and Mock Turtle are always together. It's built into your nature. You can't leave, not ever!"
"No, Miss Turtle, that's not true. You can't leave. It's your nature," he says. In the months I've been avoiding him, he has clearly become comfortable with his human self. He picks up small cake slice and offers it to me. Our fingers brush. His hand is very warm.
"Goddammit!" I yell, startling him. He blinks rapidly for a moment. His eyes are a very warm shade of light brown with pronounced gold flecks. I miss his great yellow eyes. And his wings.
"Sorry, I'll take the cake back if you want," he says. I carefully put the plate down then I start to get up. "Please don't leave. It's been a long time since we've talked. I would very much like it if you would stay for a little while." He looks sad.
I settle back down. I stare back out into the infinite empty space in front of us. "Ever wonder if certain things are worth it?"
"Never?" I look at him again. "Don't you get tired of waiting around for me?"
"Nope," he says, taking a sip of tea. "I don't mind waiting for you, Miss Turtle, because it's always worth it."
"I know what this is about," he says. "This is a fair bit of self-torture, don't you think?"
"I prefer to think of it as hashing things out."
"We could talk about it directly, you know. It might be a good thing."
"This is a public blog. We can't talk about it directly."
"Suit yourself," he says watching me. "You went through Heaven, Hell, the Garden of Eden, New York City, and Purgatory to find me, your imaginary friend. You know something about whether difficult situations are worth it."
I ignore this last comment. "Some people say, Mr. Gryphon, that one shouldn't do something if it's not easy, if you're not going with the goddamn shit flow of the motherfucking universe. If it's difficult or uncomfortable, you shouldn't go there."
"Yes, and people also say you should just 'be,' exist." He has taken the small cake he offered me earlier and is eating it with delicate bites.
"Yes, Miss Turtle, I believe that's the right attitude. If everyone just did what was easy, there would be no progress, and there certainly wouldn't be any stories."
"Thanks for your support. I know it's built into your nature to support me but I appreciate it anyway." I push my teacup away and draw my knees up, wrapping my arms around them. "Don't ask me what I'm going to do," I say.
"I wouldn't dare," he says. We stare out into the millions of stars. Right now, everything and anything is happening around us, around me. I ponder the worth of things and how painful these discoveries can be.
***I posted this last December then took it down again. I thought it was about a person I was hashing things out with but it isn't at all. This post is about something bigger and wider. The story. My own fears about how I'm living my life and how much risk I want to take. People to hash things out with come and go. Friends and family stay. And my imagination is a constant. There's a weird kind of comfort knowing that Mr. Gryphon will never fail me. It's good to have imaginary friends.