The shift in my life began the day I discovered someone had broken into my car. The thief took nothing, but managed to leave behind a wallet containing the ID of a Miss Bunnie Baker, a name that unfolded long-forgotten childhood memories of better days filled with innocence, laughter and tears. This wallet belonged to my imaginary friend.
Well, perhaps imaginary wasn’t the best word to describe her, because she was real, only no one else could see her. We used to chat all the time about so many things and I loved conversing with her because she was so much smarter and worldlier than me, but when my parents grew concerned that I was talking to myself too much and considered psychiatric therapy, Bunnie and I began communicating telepathically, which was harder to master than one might have imagined.
But as I grew older—and Bunnie remained the same—our conversations became more casual and her visits decreased in frequency. She had supposedly found a crowd of people just like her—non-imaginary but unseeable—during the times we were apart and I had to admit that I was a bit relieved. She had a privileged air about her that I admired at first but eventually came to despise because she pranced around like the golden child and sought to one-up me at every possible turn. Then came the day of the big argument, the day she went away, and I forgot about her in the same way people tended to forget their dreams. She simply evaporated from my mind.
What prompted me to post the bizarre occurrence on my social media accounts was anyone’s guess, and I was well and truly roasted by my friends and followers, but then weird responses began appearing. It turned out that I wasn’t the only person who knew Bunnie.
A nonbinary librarian in Nowhere, Colorado, claimed to have been in a relationship with Bunnie but was forced to break things off after she lost her struggle with mental health and started becoming violent.
An industrial engineer in Nothing, Arizona, accused Bunnie of stalking him and harassing him with phone calls, text messages, and on social media insisting she was his wife and berating him for abandoning their children, which led him to file a restraining order against her.
And so on. Over a hundred posts of insane encounters that covered the span of nearly twenty years. But why had Bunnie broken into my car only to leave her wallet without a word of explanation? I kept turning it over in my mind and the longer I attempted to unravel the mystery, the more memories I unlocked, such as the only tv show that Bunnie enjoyed watching with me, the one about this little animated frog who had to solve puzzles in order to have friends to play with.
I did a quick search on YouTube and found an episode of Phroggie Phriends, which was laughably bad and it was clear why the show hadn’t had the staying power or reboot potential of its more successful competitors. And that was when I felt a tiny tingling sensation at the nape of my neck, followed by a soft female voice.
“Did we actually like this show?” the voice asked.
I turned in my seat and was surprised to see Miss Bunnie Baker in the flesh, fully grown now but still recognizable as the little girl I once knew. If her features revealed anything to me, it was that time had not been kind.
“No, we loved this show,” I answered.
Bunnie pulled up a chair beside me and we sat in my kitchen and watched the episode all the way through, laughing more at ourselves for having devoted so much time and attention to Phroggie, than at the childish humor the show served up.
I closed my laptop and we sat there in an awkward moment of silence, which I eventually broke by saying, “So, you broke into my car.”
“I didn’t break anything. I opened your car door,” Bunnie corrected.
“And how did you manage that?”
“It’s been a while since we last saw each other. I picked up a few skills along the way.”
“And you couldn’t have just come to me directly?”
“We didn’t exactly end on the best of terms,” Bunnie said, staring at her feet. “I was scared. I didn’t know if you wanted to see me again.”
“Can I be completely honest with you? I had forgotten all about you until I saw your ID. Nice photo, by the way.”
“Thanks. And I get it. Folks like me are typically the out of sight, out of mind sort.”
It was my turn to stare at my feet. “I posted about you online. I don’t know if that breaks some kind of cardinal law—”
“Don’t be silly.”
“Well, some people, a lot, actually, responded with some pretty disturbing stuff.”
“Pay them no mind,” Bunnie said.
“I mean, really disturbing stuff.”
Bunnie shrugged. “Chalk it up to growing pains. It was hard surviving without you.”
“Oh, so this is my fault?”
“Sort of, yeah.”
“How do you figure?” I asked.
“You mean, you haven’t worked it all out?”
“Worked what out?”
“I have absolutely no clue what you’re on about.”
“How did we first meet?”
I drew a blank. “I don’t know, you were just there.”
“Yeah, after you dreamt me.”
“After I what?” And as soon as I asked, it all came flooding back to me.
The dream I had with Phroggie, trying to help him solve a puzzle and unlock the door to a bakery so that a cute little bunny rabbit could come out to play. And in that weird dream logic the rabbit was a bunny one moment and a little girl the next, with absolutely no explanation. And when I woke up, the dream faded away but the little girl I named Bunnie Baker remained.
“You created me,” Bunnie said. “You’re my mother.”
“No, that’s not—”
“Possible? You’re an adult talking to something you pulled out of your dreams as a little girl. I think we’re miles past questioning possibilities, here, don’t you?”
“But other people can see you, how?” I asked.
“I don’t know the rules,” Bunnie admitted. “All I know is when I left you, I was determined to show you that I didn’t need you, so I tried becoming someone else’s pretend friend. And it was working until I noticed I was starting to grow older and children became afraid of me, so then I started seeking out lonely people who lived in seclusion and invented perfect partners for themselves, but no one ever taught me how to love properly, so those relationships always fell apart.”
“So, it was my job to teach you how to be what? A person?”
“Yup. That responsibility is all on you, none on me.”
“Then you’ve been shafted, kiddo,” I said. “Look around. I’m nearly thirty years old—”
“And I’m alone. How am I supposed to teach you about love and maintaining solid relationships?”
“I don’t know. You just do it.”
“Yeah, well, maybe you weren’t meant to run off like that. What were we fighting about, anyway.”
“That’s funny because I can’t remember either. But my point is maybe that’s why you were created, so we could be together.”
“You’re my Mom, that’s creepy.”
“Not in that way, silly. I meant maybe we were meant to be companions. You know, do things and go places together.”
Bunnie took my hand into hers. “That wouldn’t be fair to either of us. You deserve to be with real people, building real relationships, and I need—”
“What do you need?” I asked.
“I need to go back to where I belong,” Bunnie said. “Which is the real reason I’m here.”
“Okay, see my expression? This is me not understanding,” I said.
“I need you to undream me.”
“That is so not a thing.”
“It is and I can show you how to do it.”
“And you know this how?”
“I told you, I picked up a few tricks along the way. Unseen people have access to more knowledge than you think and we’re pretty good at disseminating it.”
“Then why didn’t you just undream yourself?”
“Because it can only be done by the creator. That’s you, Mom.”
The conversation then turned to a long-forgotten lucid dreaming technique that was popular during the times when magic was at its apex, allowing a dreamer to pull apart disturbing aspects of dreams, which was typically used to dissolve and control nightmare states.
She began to instruct me in the ways of the undreaming and it was a steep learning curve but, in that time, Bunnie and I were able to reconnect and share our stories with one another and rebuild our once fractured relationship and when my training was complete, I swore to Bunnie that I would never forget her again. She smiled, but I knew she didn’t believe me.
We enjoyed our version of a last supper—tomato soup and salted peanut butter and bacon grilled cheese sandwiches—before I slipped on my pajamas and climbed into bed. Bunnie sat beside me and lulled me to sleep with the lullaby my mother used to sing, all the while dropping suggestions to “Dream of me.”
And I had. When I entered the dreamworld, we were once again with Phroggie but we let him go about his merry way to find more suitable playmates, while we remained in a field of rainbow flowers and took our sweet time saying our goodbyes. And when everything had been said and done, I kissed my dream daughter’s cheek before she transformed back into a bunny rabbit and I began picking at a loose thread of her reality and pulled the string, unraveling her until she was no more. I woke up with tears in my eyes and a profound sense of loss and my apartment seemed somehow emptier and I hadn’t the faintest idea why.
Text and audio ©2021 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys