Bedda is dead.
Sad but true.
He grew old, got sick, had an accident and then died. All before he could eat his first mouthful of breakfast.
Bedda, for those of you who don't know, is Fred's imaginary friend. We've had him for nearly exactly two years, he joined us on a holiday in Queensland. Recently he became a part of our family, his own parents died and so we kindly adopted him he became Fred and Una's imaginary brother (Fred says imaginary in the same way she might say 'German' - to her imaginary is just another way of being real).
But now, Bedda is gone. Fred is quite sure about this.
Maybe he will come back, I say, far more stricken than Fred about this sad news (she did cry about it, but she was already crying about something else, and conveniently threw Bedda in for good measure).
No Mum, Fred tells me, sadly but firmly. When people die they don't come back.
Maybe he was just sleeping very heavily. Maybe he's not really dead. Maybe it's a mistake.
Fred tells me I need to get over it. Bedda's dead. Move on. She doesn't quite say it in those words, but she does cheerfully inform me that now Bedda's gone Hallie is here! Hallie's come to play!
I remain stubbornly grieved about Bedda. I'm not even faking it. He can't die. He can't. Martin is more callous. He had to go sometime, Martin says. But I don't believe that. Not really. We could have accommodated him forever in some small dusty corner of the house.
Will he be a ghost? I ask Fred.
She shakes her head.
How's Bedda today? I venture at the dinner table, hoping his death will prove to be a temporary affliction.
Fred rolls her eyes. Dead.