Was her brother a dream?
The boy in the garden was resurfacing. They’d played make-believe siblings before those words; “You know, don’t you?” She’d read his hurt at her confusion as anger, so had retreated. Spikey adults argued above them. Fragments of that conversation, and one other ambush cut deep enough to scar.
His echo became an imaginary friend, then guardian angel, then shadow. She forgot the name she hadn’t liked in her princess days, then misplaced his memory for decades. But he never left her.
It was weird loving someone you weren’t sure existed.
Then Darren’s letter arrived.