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The Red People

by Kristin Dreyer Kramer

How could a four-year-old girl have a conversation with someone who had died the day before? And who are the 'red people'? Are they purely the figment of a child's imagination?

I’ve always found small children to be pretty amazing (loud, but amazing). They learn words and phrases and sentences at breakneck speed. They treat everyone as equals because they know no prejudice. They can entertain themselves for hours with nothing to play with but a cardboard box. And they see things that no adults can see – like green elephants in the front yard or monsters under the bed.

One of my friends has a four-year-old daughter, Katie, whose 'imagination' is rather eerie. A while ago, her dad told me about a quick trip he’d taken with her one Sunday morning to the coffee shop. Since he was just going to run into the shop, get a cup of coffee and leave again, he left Katie alone in the car. When he returned a few minutes later, she was chatting away with some invisible friend.

“Who are you talking to?” my friend asked her.

“Derek,” she told him matter-of-factly. She was talking to one of her mom’s friends. And as the two of them left the parking lot, Katie called, “Bye, Derek!”

Since my friend and Katie’s mom are no longer together, it wasn’t until later that he discovered that Derek had died that Saturday night – just the night before – in the same parking lot where Katie had been talking to him.

We all brushed the incident off as a pretty amazing coincidence. Maybe she had recently seen Derek at the coffee shop, we figured. But then we heard the next story.


Katie recently celebrated a birthday and I was one of the guests at her party. While the kids ran around the room and played party games, the adults sat at the table, sipping soda and talking about Katie’s newest imaginary friends. She says they live at her mom’s house.

“My imaginary friends are all red", she’s often told her family. “They melted and I’m sad".

Knowing Katie’s history, her dad decided to do a little research. When he looked into the house’s past, he discovered that the house burned down thirty years ago – and four people were killed in the fire. Katie’s friends could very well be more than just imaginary.

It seems as though the list of stories about Katie is only growing. Whether the stories are just extraordinary coincidences – or Katie’s a real-life remake of The Sixth Sense - we’ll probably never know. Because it sounds like Katie’s already becoming 'grown-up' enough to tell herself that she’s just being silly … it’s just her imagination.

© Kristin Dreyer Kramer
Nights and Weekends


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