Crenchy-Crenchy arrived after dinner. Well, at least I think she did. It’s hard to say exactly when she came because she was hiding under the couch and she was invisible. “Look mommy” my daughter called out from the living room, “it’s the girl.”

“Where?” I responded thinking she was referring to our four-year-old neighbor who Sage likes to watch through the window.

“Here” she replied lowering her belly onto the floor and pointing to the half inch space under our overstuffed couch.

I crouched down to have a peek and saw nothing but dust bunnies and broken crayons “Who is she?” I whispered.

“She’s Crenchy-Crenchy” my daughter answered like this girl had always been a part of our family and why hadn’t I ever noticed.

“Oh,” I said looking over to my husband.

“Imaginary friend?” he mouthed.

We both huddled around Crenchy in excitement. We had talked about this moment; imagined how spectacular it would be to see our daughter invent a person. I had an extra cup and bowl in the cabinet just waiting for someone invisible. Growing up my imaginary friends played such a vital role in my play. There was Dee-Dee, Brian, and Pal the dog. Together we spent hours doing everything from napping in the shade to joining the circus. I wanted to run and get my camera just to mark this monumental occasion but knew Crenchy would never show up on film. Instead we launched into question. If she was going to be a new member of our family we wanted to get acquainted with her strait away.

“How old is she?” we asked.

“Four and six.”

“Wow she’s forty-six. That’s so specific and so grown. Crenchy is now the most senior member of our family. Does that mean she’ll be making the rules?”

Sage thought for a moment, “No actually she is two-and-a-half just like me.”

I breathed a sigh of relief knowing that Crenchy would not be assigning me a bedtime or insisting that I wash my hands before dinner.

“Tell us more…” we encouraged.

“Crenchy is green and she has long hair and it is green and her eyes are green and so is her body.”

Finally we’ll be getting some diversity in this household.

Over the next hour Crenchy danced with us, listened to stories and took at least a dozen naps. “Shhhhh,” Sage whispered protectively, “Chrenchy needs rest.” At bedtime Crenchy curled up under our daughter’s bed and my husband and I looked on like we were watching a new baby. “Awwwww….now our household is really complete!”

“Is this really for real?” we wondered, not wanting to get our hearts broken if Crenchy was gone tomorrow. “Well,” my husband mused, “If she’s still here in the morning then I think she’s here to stay.”

I waited for daybreak like it was Christmas. When my daughter shuffled out of bed I held my breath, “Oh, hi Crenchy,” she said when she rounded the corner. My heart erupted with joy!

But as the day progressed… something seemed to shift.

Sage started to grow nervous around Crenchy and began making comments like, “Crenchy is bad,” and “I don’t want Crenchy,” and “Go away girl.”

Then as we were standing in the yard about to head out for our after dinner walk Sage looked up at the house and whimpered, “I’m scared about the girl…I’m scared about Crenchy.”

“Why?” we asked, wondering what harm this invisible darling could ever cause.

“I think she’s going to light all the candles in the house.”

My husband and I exchanged a troubled look. Could it be that Crenchy-Crenchy was NOT an imaginary friend but rather… A POLTERGEIST? Just like that my mind shifted to a scene from that terrifying eighties movie where a family is overrun my trouble making demons. They throw things around, make the grownups act crazy, and send everyone into complete and utter turmoil.

I spent the next few days keeping a close watch on Crenchy. After all, I was halfway convinced I might have to perform an impromptu amateur exorcism. At times Crenchy was amiable and friendly, she enjoyed having her hair combed and loved snuggles. “Oh, she really is perfect,” I’d think. But then she’d suddenly explode and Sage would run from her saying things like, “No Crenchy, no! Crenchy is very bad. She threw a shoe and hit me. Mean Crenchy!”

And just when I’d get ready to defend my daughter against this force of destruction Crenchy would once again return to her docile and charming self, “Oh, Crenchy is taking a nap.” Sage would say, stroking her invisible back sweetly.

I couldn’t seem to get a bead on this being. She was full of passion, full of mystery and full of contradictions. One minute she’d be helping out around the house, the next she’d be tossing everything off the shelves. She’d be singing sweetly and then flailing around and screeching like an octopus-receiving electric shock. She was at once vulnerable and fierce, contemplative and reactionary, rational and insane. Was she a friend or was she a wild spirit? And then all at once it dawned on me that Crenchy was both of these things.

Crenchy was two-and-a-half.

Just like that Crenchy became as familiar to me as my own imaginary friends. I took a deep breath and braced myself for the amazing highs and the baffling lows.

We now had two toddlers in the house.