This was during Nebula’s time as host of this body. Watching her memories is like watching a film. Between the years of 2005 and 2013, I wasn’t present. But I still have access to these memories. Or at least to most of them. This happened in 2007.
I’ll always associate a particular movie with this event. Spiderman 3 had been out in theatres at the time and Neb went out with a group of friends from middle school. At the time, Neb was 13 dating a bloke named Illusion, a couple of years her senior.
The irony of the name is not lost on me in later years.
Illusion probably did exist outside of us, at one point. Back when Shadow was around, Illusion was his best friend just down the street. The three of us were thick as thieves. I knew Illusion to be a tall, lanky, blue-eyed boy with dyed black hair and that Hot Topic mall-goth aesthetic we all knew and loved back then. He was a big softie. He loved cats, ice cream, and the colour blue. I think he also had a penchant for Three Doors Down. He was born on January 13th. His given name was Michael. It’s amazing how all these details still come flooding back to me, even years later.
I remember Illusion seemed to be what made Shadow human. Like Wilson with House, like Watson with Holmes. I suppose that’s always why I’ve adored that dynamic.
Illusion seemed to disappear off the face of the earth after Shadow died. Maybe he changed schools. Maybe he moved. Maybe he died and just hung around me as a ghost after.
But something definitely changed.
After Shadow’s death, Nebula was devastated. I honestly forget how she even met up with Illusion again, but it had been about two years since she’d last seen him. He definitely grew into himself a lot more– looked exactly like that blue-eyed emo guy (later, girl) everyone was catfishing with. I think Neb believed it was him. They found comfort in each other for our shared grief and ended up dating.
I never do go for the dopey, sweet types but Neb tried. After all, the boy was lovely.
Of course, Neb mentioned this to her friends. They were very eager to meet him. Hell, why not? They were all going the cinema anyway, it’d be a good chance to meet.
Everyone gets there. Illusion was running late. Neb’s Virgo ass was anxious, and trying to talk her friends out of hassling her. He even said he’d be in the back of the theatre. Suddenly, Illusion stopped texting back. Suddenly, Neb couldn’t find the texts on her phone.
Unable to explain it, she suggested that perhaps he was in the back and that Illusion’s phone had lost service. Neb’s friends, a group of thirteen year old girls, swarmed the back of that small theatre as if they were hired to be the paparazzi.
And Neb saw him.
White-faced, stiff, curled in the back as if he had never agreed to meet her friends in the first place, anxious and hiding.
He was visible. But just to Neb. And he looked so scared that she would’ve felt guilty to push the issue.
No one else saw him. And Neb didn’t know why.
Even when Neb’s friends began hassling her, ‘Oh, you lied, you made your boyfriend up.’ It wasn’t a huge betrayal in those days. Everyone knew at least two kids around school who believed they were a wolf.
Neb felt embarrassed, ashamed, and overall just sick. She even kept turning around during the film. Sometimes she’d see him, sometimes she didn’t.
Illusion had explained that he was simply just too nervous, but it didn’t explain why no one else saw him.
Was he a ghost? A hallucination? An alter? Was she one of those people who thought they were friends with celebrities? Were thirteen year-olds just really bad at finding emo boys that had catfished a better-looking version of themselves through their facially-blind girlfriend?
She just knew that she’d always feel slightly queasy whenever she saw Spiderman 3 again.
But hell, I’ve seen that film since, and that might have been a lasting effect anyway.