He waits for them at night to come shuffling out of the closet, lining up against the side of the bed and whispering to him their secrets. This is their nightly ritual, and it has become so that he cannot sleep without feeling the cold air whistling against his neck as his head fills with images of what they have told him.
When he tells his mom about them she waves her hand and dismisses his imaginary playmates as nothing more than typical childhood delusions. One morning while she was flipping pancakes he tried to let her know that it was not him who dumped out the toy box after dark, or rearranged the books and shoes on the shelf. But the hand that reached out and clamped down over his mouth reminded him that this secret was one he had to keep.
Most of the time what they tell him is not bad, twice he found small treasures in the backyard. There are some he would rather not hear, but he has to bear witness to what they want to tell him, he has to lend a willing ear. Or else, they may ask that he look at them, and that above all else is something he does not want to do. Deep down in the bottom reaches of his stomach he knows that it will not end well, knows that seeing the imaginary whispering train would leave him in fear.
So, each night he waits patiently with closed eyes and tight chest as the closet door creaks open and he hears the first footsteps scratch their way across the floorboards to his bed. And then, then he listens.