Christopher Robin was a good friend of mine. It’s safe to say he was my first friend. No other children my age lived near us on South Main Street. I didn’t have any friends of my own until I started attending kindergarten, just my sisters and their friends.

Christopher Robin lived in Virginia. I only saw him when his family came to Wake Forest, North Carolina for some reason. His father and my father were in the same line of work, I guess, preacher-work or missionary-work, I can’t remember.

It didn’t matter.

All that mattered was the fun we had running down the hallway, jumping on the beds, and hiding in my sisters’ closets. I was four or five; he was a year older.

His name really was Christopher Robin.

Except it wasn’t.

His last name was Robbins. But that was a detail that didn’t bother me. To me, he was a storybook come true.

I would line all my stuffed animals up on my bed, and he and I would make-believe them into life. There was Teddy and Panda and Baby Doll. Christopher Robin didn’t mind playing with Baby Doll.

My bedroom was large and drafty. Too large for a little girl. But every room in that rambling old house was large with ceilings that practically brushed the clouds. I had a single bed set deep in the room like a tiny skiff adrift at sea.

Christopher Robin and I sailed the seas on that skiff. We discovered magical islands and tamed dragons. We galloped through the Bad Lands like Roy Rogers on horses that talked like Mr. Ed.

When Christopher Robin’s parents would pack the car and head back to Virginia after whatever it was that had brought them to Wake Forest, I felt bereft. I never knew when I would see my friend again.

And then one night he visited me in a dream.

We’d been playing hide-and-seek, and I was “it.” I couldn’t find Christopher Robin anywhere. Returning dejectedly to my upstairs room, I stopped dead in my tracks. There he was, sprawled across the jumble of blankets atop my unmade bed.

A shiver of fear blew over me.

How on earth had I gotten away without making my bed?

I worried what would happen if Mother found out. She had trained us well. The first thing I did every morning was make my bed. Then I folded my pajamas up and tucked them neatly into my zippered pajama bag. I don’t think they make pajama bags anymore. Some were shaped to look like dolls or flowers. Mine looked like Yogi Bear’s head. Every morning I propped it up alongside Teddy and Baby Doll and my pillows.

Christopher Robin had my fuzzy brown pajama bag on his head.

That’s why I hadn’t found him sooner. I had thought he was one of my stuffed toys.

Christopher Robin was in disguise.

Baby Doll was next to Christopher Robin in the red toy baby stroller I used to push my dolls up and down the sidewalk. The stroller was made of cheaply fabricated tin and was permanently bent from the time I tried to put my baby brother in it. He was a hefty baby.

The baby doll was real. I mean, as I looked closer, I realized it was a real baby. Not a doll. A little girl about three years old. She had a white kerchief wrapped around her arm and tied in a neat bow.

What’s this? I wondered. Why does the baby have a kerchief wrapped around her arm? Is she injured?

I had recently learned to tie a bow. I knew it would be easy to untie. All I had to do, was pull on one of the ends.

I bent down to pull the kerchief loose.

Only it was wrapped round and round the baby’s arm, loop after loop.

I hadn’t anticipated how long it would take to unwind. I pulled and pulled and pulled.

When it finally came away, I found an apple core instead of a chubby arm.

She was a cyborg baby. A Johnny Appleseed Baby.

How odd, I thought to myself as I reached for her arm, wondering what would happen if I pulled the apple core away.

The baby lunged at me, baring a mouth full of razor sharp teeth, long and yellow.

She snapped at my hand.

I jumped back. My movement so sudden I woke myself up.

I can’t remember what happened next. I’m sure I told my oldest sister, Judy, about my dream. She was smart and knew about these things. Surely she interpreted my dream for me.

If she did, though, I don’t remember.

I don’t remember ever seeing Christopher Robin again either

Maybe the snapping baby was just too much for him.

After all these years—well more than sixty—I still remember the tingle of horror I felt seeing that apple core arm.

Maybe that’s why I’m such a fan of mystery fiction these days. And fantastic Japanese stories of magically morphing bodies.