Junior Winner, Rosie Seager, Age 11, Whitchurch Community College, Whitchurch, Bucks
I was never really a lonely child. In fact, I had a lot of close friends. There were Kate, John, Peter, Jone, Lauren and Sarah. It doesn't sound many, but I was only little. So I don't know why I needed an imaginary friend.
I was about three when it started. I began to imagine that I had another friend called Garry. I kept it to myself at first, only telling my sister and my mother, who told my father.
It all started when I had a dream. I dreamt that I had a new friend called Garry, and when I woke up he was sitting right beside me. He followed me everywhere. I burst into my sister's bedroom. "Holly, look, this is Garry, my new best friend."
Holly was getting changed for school and shooed me out, telling me not to be silly. After that I kept it to myself, only playing with Garry when I was alone. Only I could see him. I couldn't understand why no one else could. We did everything together: ate our breakfast, played around the farm and had our naps together.
I then started playgroup. I stayed silent about Garry at first, but I told one of the nice ladies at playgroup. I was surprised at her reaction. I expected her to laugh or tell me not to be silly. So you can imagine my surprise when she said, "Oh really dear, what's his name?" I told her and she replied: "Well you and Garry can go and sit on the carpet with a book, and I'll get some drinks." She then brought in a huge tray piled with chocolate digestives and cups of milk. There was an extra drink and biscuit for Garry. So my imaginary friend was included in everything.
One day my mother went away and stayed a few days. When she finally returned home she had a special surprise. It was a baby boy! He was called Harry. I was really excited at first, but then I no longer had any attention. When people came round they came to see Harry, not me. I became number 2 instead of number 1. Harry was taking over. I was feeling more and more left out. I started using this as an excuse to play with Garry.
I left playgroup and the nice ladies who understood me, and started school - a brand new world, new smells, new sounds. I was lost. I couldn't play with Garry. I had to sit next to a boy who smelled funny and always had a runny nose. It was awful. I started to play on my own with Garry, leaving my other friends behind.
Harry moved into my room, and I had to share with my sister. We had bunk beds. I couldn't play with Garry any more. Nothing was private. I became naughty and blamed everything on Garry. My mother got angry and told me to stop being stupid. I was angry because no one would listen to me.
One day I woke up with an empty space beside me. I looked around calling Garry's name. I was frantically searching my room when my mother walked in. "I can't find Garry mum - he's gone." I said desperately, with tears in my eyes. She sat down and said soothingly: "Look Rosie, he was just a made-up friend. You're growing up. I'm so sorry, love."
Garry came back in a dream that night. But only to say goodbye. Just as quickly as he had appeared, he disappeared. Just like that.
* Rosie says she only thought of Garry again "when I was asked to write about something I remembered". Her teacher, Janet Bayley, says Rosie has excelled in class writing assignments before. English is certainly one of her favourite subjects: "I'm better at indoor things like writing than outdoor things like sports," she says. Janet found the experience of Write Away, using the booklet and entering the competition, worthwhile and believes winning has given Rosie's confidence "a tremendous boost". Rosie, who also enjoys drama, has a sister at a local secondary school and an eight-year-old brother who has special needs. "Writing," she says, "is a career I'd like to pursue, especially stories for children."