The importance of Imaginary boyfriends for the end of the world:

His name was Onyx,

He needed to have a name that was transcendental. I had been learning about the spirit world and how each demon had an archangel to fight it off. I had learned about the Archangel Michael of course, but there was also Felix, Tola and Tor, Ebed-melec, Altos, Anaya and the list went on. All exotic names of powerful figures from the spirit world sent to guide us through the end of the world.

But Onyx was my boyfriend.

I named him after a trip to the Indian store on the 3rd floor near the Sannoyima train station in Kobe, Japan. The store, sandwiched between a dollar store and a comic book store, was a place I usually went after a few hours of passing out posters and begging for money. The commune would send us kids into town every weekend and after begging for about 3 hours I would feel justified taking 100 yen ( a dollar) from the money that was meant to support the cult. Sometimes I would save the money but this time I decided to head to the store and buy a small trinket. There were a lot of them, beaded purses, incense, jewelry… my eyes settled on a shiny black rock that I had never seen before. The label read “Onyx” and it only cost me 30 yen which meant I had 60 leftover to buy a drink from the vending machine.

I felt guilty stealing the lords money, but I was sure the lord would understand. I would justify myself when I got to heaven which was supposed to be very soon since Y2K was coming up and that would begin the war.

I was 14 and in desperate need of a boyfriend. After all, what kind of girl grows up in a sex cult and doesn’t even have a boyfriend?! I had boyfriends growing up. One of my first memories is being encouraged to make out with a boy while the adults stood around watching us, but that was Gypsy night so it was normal, there was always a lot of sex on Gypsy night. I was 5.

But here I was almost 10 years later and no boyfriend, so when I got home I asked the Lord to send me a boyfriend and who should show up but Onyx! He was a warrior in the spirit world and he loved the fact that I was a tomboy. I would hear from him and write his messages in my prophecy book. He told me he liked the fact that I wore boxer shorts to bed. I felt beautiful for the first time and seen in a way no one had seen me. I lived with 36 people in a commune in Kobe, but no one paid attention to me the way Onyx did. Soon I found myself sneaking away to write and “hear from him” just like I was taught to “hear from the lord”.
The cult had mandated prayer time every day and I would spend that time hearing from Onyx about all the way’s he loved and appreciated me for who I really was.

He did cheat on me once, but I forgave him because I wasn’t in the spirit world so I couldn’t be jealous that he had sex with the Holy ghost. The Holy ghost was Gods mistress / Jesus’s mom and he wouldn’t have been able to say no to her anyway, you couldn’t turn down sex if the leaders above you demanded it. I understood his predicament.

Obviously, Onyx had long shiny black hair. He looked a little American Indian and a little hispanic … but that would change based on my tastes. When he described himself he was vague, but he promised he had big lips.

I would talk to him and share things that bothered me, like that one night when a woman in the commune demanded I share a book I was reading with her son (who I hated). I’d refused, and when she asked me if I wasn’t giving it to her because I thought she was a bitch, I had yelled “well if the broom fits, ride it!”

The room paused. She couldn’t believe it, I could barely believe it and braced for the fallout. Talking back to an adult in the commune was forbidden in the first place, but the fact that I had talked back AND implied that she was a witch? I knew the punishment wouldn’t be good, it would probably be more than the beatings I was used to. I ran to my room and started to hear from Onyx, I asked him to help me because I didn’t know what I had gotten myself into. He showed up immediately and soothed me, told me it would be okay, that it wasn’t my fault I’d had an outburst. He knew I shouldn’t have done it but he assured me things are never as bad as they seem.

My dad knocked on the door, he was usually the one to pass down punishment. He came in and sat too close to my Prophecy book. He glanced at it but didn’t pick it up, I hoped he was impressed to see that I was praying about it. He sighed “I heard what you said to her” the tone of his voice wasn’t angry, in fact… was that… was that amusement ? I heard Oynx encourage me in my head so I doubled down “yeah I said it, because sometimes she’s a witch”

I’d done it, I’d gone all in.

My dad started to laugh. This was unexpected. “you know sometimes she is isn’t she? (this is when I found out he disliked her too) I mean I have to say I punished you so how about you say sorry, then do kitchen stuff for the next week? “

I was fine with that, I’d been cooking meals for the commune since I was 12.

“ fine I’ll do kitchen stuff but I won’t say sorry.” Even as I said it I knew I had no choice, even Onyx knew it and let out a groan.

Ten minutes later I walked out to apologize to the woman, who stood smugly with one hand on her son and the other holding the book. I didn’t know how she got it, likely someone in the commune had seen my outburst and snuck into my room to give it to her. Through gritted teeth I apologized for my behavior. “don’t worry I have the book now so it doesn’t matter” was her response. My blood boiled but at least I had Onyx to go back to. He would soothe me. He would remind me that things weren’t as bad as I thought they were. He would get me through feeling un-loved and neglected until I naturally stopped hearing from him. Maybe he got busy, maybe I made friends, who knows what it was for sure.

I haven’t heard from him in a while. Even as the “end of the world” rears it’s ugly head time and time again, I haven’t felt the need to reach out. Perhaps it’s because 20 years later I have learned to love and pay attention to myself, to soothe the terrors and find beauty in the story.

Recently I was chatting with a friend who joked that she’d been alone so much this year due to the pandemic that she had to create imaginary friends. I told her about Oynx and she laughed.
But I will never underestimate the importance of an imaginary boyfriend for the end of the world.

I grew up in an apocalyptic cult. I tell those stories.