Author's note: Just yesterday I read a book called "The Odd Body" by Dr Stephen Juan and it was interesting to know that there is a real possibility for anyone of us to have had a dead twin during the first month of pregnancy in our mother's womb. About a dozen "vanishing twin" studies appeared in the medical literature beginning in 1979. The reason was survival. To increase the changes of survival of one of the twins, the other twin "vanishes" due to the natural absorption or rejection processes of the mother's body. It was intriguing but I shall not bore you with the details. Anyway, the story is like this. What if our dead twins never die away mentally? Hmmmmmmmm..............

Chapter One

Six year old Zhen Yun jumped into her bed with the special Barbie mattress, pillows and sheets.

"Goodnight mommy." She piped happily. "Thank you for the wonderful birthday."

Mrs Zhen smiled indulgingly down at her daughter's small face peeking out from the covers.

"Sweet dreams sweetheart. My little girl is all grown up now so no more climbing into my bed at night ok?" She replied, bending down to kiss Zhen Yun's forehead.

"But mommy, I will be scared." Zhen Yun murmured, wondering if she could get her way again by whining.

"No, Zhen, we have talked about this before. You promised me, remember?" Mrs Zhen held up the little finger of her right hand. Reluctantly, Zhen Yun reached out her own hand and hooked her little finger around her mother's. It was their symbol of keeping an important promise.

"Sweet dreams." Mrs Zhen said. Then she departed, closing the door behind her.

Zhen Yun lay back, feeling restless. The room was completely dark because she had also promised that she won't use a night light anymore after her sixth birthday.

She stared into the darkness of her room, trying to see by stretching her almond eyes wide open. Finally, the moon light started to show her the dim outlines of the objects in her room. In the dark, the pile of towels by the bed looked like a coiled up snake. Her teddy bear was staring at her from across the room, its glass beady eyes having a gold fish effect under the moon light.

Zhen Yun gulped and the back of her neck pickled, which was never a good sign.

"There's nothing to be scared of. There's nothing to be scared of...." Zhen Yun murmured to herself, clutching the spare pillow tight to her chest.

"I want mommy. I want someone to be here with me." These were her last thoughts before Zhen Yun drifted off into her dreams.

Zhen Yun looked around in delight. She was in a beautiful garden with a playground. There was a little fountain, spraying clear water merrily under the bright sunlight and a small bird bath nearby. She walked around, smiling as she bent to breath in the scent of the numerous flowers in the garden. There were rose bushes and daisies and blue forget-me-nots and catmint and morning glories with their tendrils covering the garden walls.

Zhen Yun ran to the playground. It was made of wood and built in the fantasy of a castle, with a slide, two swings, and a small little moat.

She sat down on the swing and started to swing, picking up speed and going higher and higher until she started to laugh and sing nursery rhythms at the top of her lungs, feeling very content and happy as the wind hit her on the face. She lifted the face to the sky and pretended she was flying.

A tiny noise caught her attention. It sounded like someone crying.

Curious, Zhen Yun got down from her swing with a practiced jump. She looked around and thought that the sounds came from behind the old oak tree. She hurried over thinking, "If it is a small girl, I will invite her to come and play with me."

When she finally walked behind the oak tree, she saw that it was a little boy.

She regarded him thoughtfully at first. The boy was very thin and pale and he was sobbing into his knotty knees so that she could not see his face. His small shoulders were trembling with hiccups from all those crying. He was dressed in a typical outfit, a shirt with a blue-striped sailor collar, blue shorts and trainers.

"Hello, who are you?" She asked politely, secretly feeling disappointed that he had not been a girl she could play with.

The little boy looked up and Zhen Yun saw that he had almond eyes with a small mole above the right eyelid just like hers.

"I...... I am....a boy." He sniffed, looking both very frightened and very surprised to see her standing there, as if he thought that she was a ghost or something.

"Don't be ridiculous! Of course you are a BOY, I want to know your name!" said Zhen Yun.

The boy looked confused and bends his head. "I don't have one." He answered.

"How can you have no name? Everyone have names? Didn't your mommy and daddy name you?" Zhen Yun asked, squatting down beside him. Up close, he looked eerily frail. His skin was so pale it was almost translucent. Zhen Yun studied the blue lines of blood vessels that showed up faintly under his skin.

"I don't have a mommy and daddy." The boy replied, frowning at her as if she was asking him a very difficult trick question.

"Why not?" Zhen Yun asked.

"This boy is lying for sure." She thought to herself. Still, she decided it would be more fun to play pretend along with the boy.

"I don't know. This place only has me. This is where I live and play. No one else has ever come here besides you. Why are you dreaming of me?" he asked, turning warm brown eyes on her.

"Dream of you?" She asked, thinking that the pretend game they were playing was quite fun. She sat down beside him, leaning onto the soft bark of the oak tree.

"Yes, only people who dream of me can find me here." He said.

Then he looked at her and smiled, "I'm glad you dreamt of me. What is your name?"

"Zhen Yun." Zhen Yun said.

"Zhen Yun...... That's a nice name. Do names have meanings?" the boy asked, looking sad again.

"Yes! Zhen means real and Yun means cloud in Chinese. Mommy and daddy say it is a very special name because I am a very special girl." Zhen Yun replied, grinning proudly.

"I wish I had a name." The boy said. Zhen Yun looked at him and hoped he wouldn't start crying all over again.

"Oh alright, let me give you a name instead." She said, sighing loudly to show that this was a great burden to her.

"Really? You will?" The boy suddenly brightened and clutched at her arm. Even in his excitement his clutch was so weak Zhen Yun hardly felt it. But because she did not want him to cry again, she smiled back and nodded.

Zhen Yun studied the boy thoughtfully. Her mother had told her that names had to have a hidden meaning that is linked to the person who shall be named. Right now, he seemed like a shadow, as if he was made only of one- half realness and the rest was just air and sunshine.

Zhen Yun cleared her throat importantly. "I've got it, you shall be Yin Jun. Yin means shadow as you are so weak and pale, and jun means gentleman. You certainly do not seem like the ruddy boys I fight with at my school."

The boy's ears seemed to pick up slightly at the sound of his new name. He grinned widely for the first time and repeated his name over and over to himself, rolling the sound over his tongue as if he was savoring some kind of strange and beautiful flavor.

Seeing his reaction, Zhen Yun felt very proud. "I know more than just how to name people. I also know how to bake birthday cakes. It was my birthday today and I helped mommy bake a beautiful chocolate cake with silver icing and cherries and berries and peaches on top." She boasted shamelessly. In actual fact, she had been more of a finger licker and berry thief than a baker in the kitchen that morning. But Yin Jun looked at her with huge respect and Zhen Yun felt her chest swell with pride. It was rare that a boy will look up to her so much.

So she begun to relate to the boy all the things she thought she knew, gesturing animatedly as she talked about her preschool, her teachers, her mommy and daddy, her friends, he toys and of course, her birthday party.

The boy listened as if in awe, his admiring expression only spurring Zhen Yun to say more and to add exaggerated details to her stories.

"....... My birthday cake was THIS WIDE" Zhen Yun spread her arms as far as she could, "and everyone was so happy because the ENTIRE cake was made of chocolate ICE CREAM! Yum! And my followers gave me so many presents, I had one hundred presents! I got very single version of Barbie that anyone has ever seen.. Lawyer Barbie... surfer Barbie......... "

Yin Jun never interrupted her or disbelieved her. And so Zhen Yun would happily tell him everything about her life as he sat there listening rapturously with his mouth slight open.

And so it was, that for the next twelve years of her life, Zhen Yun somehow fell into the habit of dreaming about the same garden and the same boy over and over again.

In her dreams, Yin Jun grew too, until one night when she was sixteen he finally became taller than her. He also seemed to be stronger, which gave Zhen Yun a prideful feeling as she felt that it was her leadership that made him strong. Sometimes they sat at the oak tree and talked about Zhen Yun's life, other times they sat on the swings or climbed the oak tree.

Zhen Yun loved her "dream buddy" as she grew to call him. Sometimes she did think it was strange that she should dream about a total stranger that she could never recall seeing in real life. But then she would just shrug it off as her own fantastic imagination. Besides, Yin Jun had become more than just a friend. He was like a brother or a best friend even. Sometimes when Zhen Yun felt down, she really did wish that he could step out of that garden and meet her in reality.

But never in Zhen Yun's dreams did she think that that could ever happen.